Friday, 3 December 2010

SF Masterworks#7- The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

It's been a while since I did one of these, and it may be a while after this as I think I've exhausted my reading of classic Sci-Fi worthy of being on this list. I'm looking to pick up my reading pace and get some more of this great list read...but I've said that before. Anyway, you know how I am at reviews so I'm borrowing one from the great folks at SFSite

A review by Alma A. Hromic

If the world of written science fiction were ever to be translated into the language of visual art, Philip K. Dick would probably be Salvador Dali. His vision does not depend on Picassoesque transformations of the familiar into the grotesque so much as a jumbling of the familiar into sometimes deeply disturbing new combinations, whose disturbing aspect is not attenuated but rather accentuated by their very familiarity. This is the kind of landscape where heads sprout like mushrooms from blank desert sands or weird alien faces stare at each other nose-to-nose with an ethereal ballet dancer formed by the gaps between them. Nothing is what it seems. Nothing is real. Everything is real.

It's a little like being force-fed some of the hallucinatory drugs of "Palmer Eldritch" yourself, before you launch into the novel.

You'll probably know it, or of it -- The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch is a classic, after all. It starts out on the straight and narrow, and then all of a sudden the path does a Dali and you're doing a balancing act on a unicycle on a rope suspended between worlds, trying to juggle knife-sharp objects like Addiction and Responsibility and Immortality and God. Sometimes it all overwhelms me and I'm left sitting there gasping for air trying to figure out where I am -- and if the person sitting across from me on the couch in my living room is suddenly going to stare at me through stigmata eyes. Sometimes I figure it out. Sometimes, like Dick's character Anne Hawthorne, I simply wind up "...terribly, terribly confused... and everything upsets me."

But then, that's Dick.

And somehow I always wind up struggling through the morass, emerging from it on the other side with some key insight held in my mouth like the salmon of wisdom, wondering how that one mind held it all in.

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch isn't an easy read. But then, Philip K Dick never is. Whether any given reader finds in this book the salvation that Dick was talking about or merely comes out of it with glazed eyes and his or her head doing 64 revolutions a second is entirely up to the reader.

Copyright © 2003 Alma A. Hromic

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