The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

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The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch is a 1965 novel by US science fiction writer Philip K. Dick. It was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1965.[1]

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch takes place some time in the 21st century. Under the authority of the United Nations, humankind has colonized every habitable planet and moon in the solar system.

Like many of Dick's novels, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch utilizes an array of science fiction concepts and features several layers of reality and unreality. It is one of Dick's first works to explore religious themes. The novel has elements in common with Dick's 1963 short story The Days of Perky Pat, which was first published in Amazing Stories magazine.

Contents

Plot summary

The novel takes place in the twenty-first century, when, under United Nations authority, mankind has colonized the solar system's every habitable planet and moon. Life is physically daunting and psychologically monotonous for most colonists, so the UN must draft people to go to the colonies. Most entertain themselves using "Perky Pat" dolls and accessories manufactured by Earth-based "P.P. Layouts". The company also secretly creates "Can-D", an illegal but widely available hallucinogenic drug allowing the user to "translate" into Perky Pat (if the drug user is a woman) or Pat's boyfriend, Walt (if the drug user is a man). This recreational use of Can-D allows colonists to experience a few minutes of an idealized life on Earth by participating in a collective hallucination.

Barney Mayerson, P.P. Layout's top precognitive in New York City, has been drafted to colonize Mars. Mayerson has just entered a sexual relationship with his assistant Roni Fugate, although he is still bitter about his divorce to his first wife Emily, a ceramic pot artist. Emily's second husband tries to sell her pot designs to P.P. Layouts as possible Perky Pat accessories but Barney recognizes them as Emily's and rejects them out of bitterness.

Meanwhile, the UN rescues Palmer Eldritch's ship from a crash on Pluto. Leo Bulero, head of P.P. Layouts and an "evolved" human, hears rumors that Eldritch discovered an alien hallucinogen in the Prox system and plans to market it as "Chew-Z," with U.N. approval, on off-world colonies. This would effectively destroy P.P. Layouts. Bulero tries to contact Eldritch but he is quarantined at a U.N. hospital. Both Mayerson and Fugate have precognitions of Bulero murdering Eldritch.

Meanwhile, Emily and her second husband sell her pots to Eldritch and undergo evolution therapy. This causes Emily to devolve and unknowingly recreate pots she previously concocted.

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