Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Book Review: "The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch" By Philip K. Dick

Yes I'm still on my PKD trend...next will be my Kyle Mills trend, but anyway, I'm continually amazed at the writings of PKD. (Yes, I've also learned to use his initials to make things easy.) His books have been used as the basis of many movies I'm now wishing that someone would make more from his other stories, including this book.

Before we get into the review first get that Tassimo beverage maker ready to roll, today we're going to brew up some herbal teas. At this point I'm having a difficulty in deciding which tea to go along with the book so I'll give you some choices and you decide which you need at which point. Now keep it herbal, because this book is dealing with some psychedelic material. You could start with Twinings® Green Tea and cleanse the body, but then you may need that extra boost to keep your body up with your not wanting to put the book down, so try Twinings® Chai Tea Latte or once again a soothing Twinings® Camomile Herbal Tea to relax when reality finally settles in.

Wow, where to start. First of all this book is yet again set in the future where Earth has problems and Mars has been colonized. But unlike other PKD stories, there's a twist. No one really wants to go to Mars, yet Earth's surface temperature has risen to where no one goes out during the day unless well insulated and Antarctica is a choice vacation spot. To get more colonists to Mars the UN has instituted a draft. When your number comes up you must emigrate.

Now in order to be able to tolerate the horrible, boring life on Mars the colonists have taken to a recreational drug called Can-D. This is known as a translation drug in which the user can translate themselves from their monotonous, labor intensive lives to a perfect world. The fun part of this is that they are translated into what are called layouts. The layouts are pretty much dolls in which the fantasy takes place. The dolls are Perky Pat and Walt. In a not-unlike Barbie world, the colonists escape to a beach house and live out the lives of the dolls.

While the drug is illegal, on Mars it seems to be overlooked to keep the colonists happy. Major business on Earth is conducted through a company called P.P. Layouts, whose sole function is to create accessories for the Perky Pat doll. The future of the company is decided through Pre-cogs (people who have pre-cognitive ability to predict what fashions will work for Perky Pat.) P.P. Layouts is run by Leo Bulero. His hired pre-cogs are Barney Mayerson and Roni Fugate.

In a humorous aside that is a good representation of some of PKD's humor, is that Barney and Roni have looked into the future and saw that they will be a couple so they just go to bed together and skip all formalities.

Now enter Palmer Eldritch. Palmer has returned from the Prox system and has returned with an alternative to Can-D. A substance he calls Chew-Z. Chew-Z gets approved by the UN and threatens to destroy Leo Bulero's business. So Leo goes to stop Palmer Eldritch. Leo is intercepted and is given Chew-Z intraveneously and this is where the psychedelia begins.

It seems Palmer Eldritch rules all hallucinations created by Chew-Z, and Chew-Z may enable the user to travel time. At this point the story twists and turns and really becomes one of the most magical drug induced hallucinations I've read since William Burroughs' "Naked Lunch." (this was written before "Naked Lunch.")

Throughout the rest of the book the fine line between hallucination and reality become so intertwined that I'm not even sure if PKD could tell you which was which. However I will say that Bulero attempts to kill Eldritch and then tries to stop him through the courts, but we never really know who wins.

Sip the tea, relax and enjoy, this book is full of some great twists and turns.

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