The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch takes place in a not too distant future where the Earth is becoming increasingly hot, and many people are forced by the government to "emigrate" to planets such as Mars. These expatriates live in cramped "hovels" and escape harsh reality by taking a mind bending drug called Can-D, which allowes them, for a short while, to inhabit dolls in a playset (not unlike Ken and Barbie), giving the illusion that they are back on earth. Meanwhile, the well known business magnate Palmer Eldritch has returned from the Proxima system with a new drug, Chew-Z. Barney Mayerson (a precog executive) and his artificially evolved boss who owns Perky Pat layouts (read Ken and Barbie playset) engage in a power strugle with Eldritch over control of the drug market. But was it actually Eldritch who returned from the Prox system after a ten year absence, or has he been replaced by an unknown alien?
This report prepared by Scott David Mclemore
The year is about 2016, and the Earth is overheating. The UN drafts involuntary settlers to move to colonies on Mars, Venus, and Ganymede, where life is so bleak that the only way they can survive psychically is by taking regular doses of the drug Can-D, which creates brief fantasies that they are the beautiful and wealthy characters "Perky Pat" Christensen and her friend Walt back on Earth. Barney Mayerson is a Pre-Fash consultant with P.P. Layouts, which designs miniatures for the tiny room and landscape layouts that assist Perky Pat trips. Part of what makes him effective is that Barney is a pre-cog: he can see parts of the future, especially news headlines, as can his colleague and lover Rondinella Fugate. Something ominous appears on the horizon for Barney, Roni, his boss Leo, his ex-wife Emily, her new husband Richard Hnatt, and other characters when Palmer Eldritch, the financier who has been off on a space vogage to Proxima Centauri, is reported to have crashed on Pluto with a lichen culture that supplies a more powerful and lasting drug than Can-D called Chew-Z. This could not only ruin P.P. Layouts but alter reality as humans know it. But is it really Palmer Eldritch, and what is he after? This novel is at times bewildering, with its acid-like alterations of reality and familiar Dick theme of what constitutes sanity.
This report prepared by David Loftus