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“God,” Eldritch said, “promises eternal life. I can do better; I can deliver it.”
When I finished my boyfriend’s favorite Philip K. Dick book last week, I had no idea what to say. That’s probably a sign that I’m not crazy about it, but I generally do like the novel. I’m just not sure what to take away from it.
You know the feeling. We’ve all been there. To me, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1965) wasn’t transmitting a profound galactic message from the future here to Earth as much as it was pondering what’s out there and who’s watching over us. If we sent someone out into the depths of space, like the book did Palmer Eldritch, what would he tell us if he returned?
No one quite knows what Eldritch has seen, but he comes back to Earth (or Terra) … different. At this point, people are probably pretty weird to him, too — most of the world is chewing what’s called Can-D, an illegal drug that “translates” you into a communal plane of being. It’s like getting high and imagining you’re a doll, only all the women go into one body (Perky Pat’s is the most popular), and all the men into another, and you forget about your crummy life for a while. The comedown afterward is what makes users so desperate for more, especially those living out their lives in exile on the Martian colonies. People are depressed and bored.