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on December 25, 2002
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch combines what I like most and least about the works of Philip K. Dick.
Dick shows why he is among the best sci-fi writers ever. He makes us question what is real about the human experience. In the three stigmata, this is done by exploring the mind via the use of recreational drugs named Can-D and Chew-Z. As I understand the goal, it is to get at the core of how human experience is a mental phenomenon.
Beyond the brain as experience creating maching, the three stigmata is packed with interesting ideas including pre-cogs (as in the movie "minority report").
Two aspects of the book limited my enjoyment. The first is the slippery divide between reality and fantasy. I'd estimate that 50% of the book is spent in action sequences of unknown reality -- is it actually happening or is it in the mind? -- you don't know. I understand that this relates to the main point of the book, but I tired of the device.
The second quirk that limited my enjoyment relates to Dick's view of the sources of human happiness. In the three stigmata, human colonists on Mars and elsewhere are unhappy because they live in objectively difficult circumstances.
The idea that hard times makes for unhappy humans may seem logical, but all the data contradict this notion. In fact, humans appear to be extremely good at adjusting to any world in which we live. A seminal study of happiness found that people who win a lottery end up being about as happy as those who become crippled in car accidents. See the greed chapter in Mean Genes for a longer description.
All in all, the three stigmata of Palmer Eldritch is an excellent book, well worth the read.
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on November 4, 2015
Its not as good as some of his other books, and I wouldn't pick it as the first book to offer a newcomer to the author. Even as a fan, when I get around to re-reading some of his stories, this won't be the first of his books I read multiple times.

Everyone has a very different opinion of what they like in a book, and so reviews like this have their limits as far as being helpful. So I'll try to be as helpful as I can.

If you haven't read Philip K. Dick before, this isn't the best book to start with. I like the author, and this book contains the typical elements he uses elsewhere, but I just don't think they come together well here. To use a music analogy, this is a "deep cut" instead of a single.

Like a lot of his writing, it is dated from a science perspective, which doesn't bother me in the least--its part of the appeal actually. Same with his treatment of social norms and relationships...its not his strong suit anywhere and that holds true here.
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on May 16, 2017
One of Philip K Dick's classic tales of sci first mixed with a wry sense of humor and some philosophy.
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on September 14, 2013
Ever wondered what it's like to go insane? Did you know in the 1960's the psychiatric end of the medical field experimented with the use of LSD to get on the same mental level as schizophrenic patients? With the use of any hallucinogenic, the line between the "real" and "unreal" gets blurred. This book prompts the reader to sincerely question how do we define "sanity" and if falling into the abyss of "insanity" is the pinnacle of human bondage or the ultimate freedom?
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on July 8, 2016
Looking for the meaning in life with drugs and materialism. Fast paced plot with bizarre and funny wrapped in. Read in one sitting but left feeling like it was still searching for an ending. Would recommend.
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on November 19, 2016
PKD takes you on a mind-bending journey with strange and subtle Christian influences. A great read for those who can think outside of the box. . .way outside of the box.
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on November 11, 2016
I can't believe I hadn't already read this. The characters were practically walking off of the page. I'm going to go read the rest of PKD'S stuff now.
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on August 28, 2016
A classic and must read PKD. One of the first I ever read of his. Nice to reread. Certainly a good intro to his work.
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on March 10, 2015
This is my first PKD but won't be my last. He was definitely ahead of his time and so creative. He makes the incredible seem real. Good characters, great story. Not sure I understood it all but that didn't matter.
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on November 8, 2016
Really mind bending, great story with a deeper meaning
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