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THE 3 STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH
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" I mean, after all; you have to consider we're only made out of dust. That's admittedly not much to go on and we shouldn't forget that. But even considering, I mean it's a sort of bad beginning, we're not doing too bad. So I personally have faith that even in this lousy situation we're faced with we can make it. You get me?" -- THE 3 STIGMATA, preamble.

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Writing Date

Pub. Date

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Notes

140

36  

Early 1964

Nov 1964

THE CRACK IN SPACE

THE PENULTIMATE TRUTH

See
"The Days Of Perky Pat"

FIRST EDITIONS

ttsopeFirstx.jpg (9947 bytes)   Doubleday, hb, 65-011537, Nov 1964, 278pp, $3.30, (Tom Chibbaro){Levack: "... 1965... $4.95 ..." "Bound in light grey cloth with black lettering on the spine. '1965' on the title page. 'First Edition' on the copyright page. ... no date code in this book. Also unusual for Doubleday, in this time frame, is the fact that the book is 'perfect bound' (this is somewhat hidden by a headband). This first edition contains a page not found in the Book Club edition, which lists current and forthcoming titles by Dick; some of these titles, such as THE FIRST LADY OF EARTH and IN THE MOLD OF YANCY, were apparetnly discarded before the books in question saw publication. The price printed on the dustjacket is $4.59 which, in all copie seen, has had a sticker placed over it stating "$4.95 D & CO.INC.""}
     
ttsopeCapex.jpg (9273 bytes)   Cape, hb, , 1966, 278pp, 21/- (Jan Pienkowski) {Levack: "Bound in light grey paper boards with gold lettering on the spine. No date on the title page. 'First published in Great Britain 1966' on the copyright page."}

HISTORY

    THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH was written in early 1964, though it could date back to 1963. Andrew Butler sets a specific date for the novel’s completion: Mar 18, 1964.

    Whether it was revised, how it was done or anything else about the novels’ publishing history we do not know. Only the publication date of the first edition. This was from Doubleday publishers on Nov 17, 1964. The Science Fiction Book Club Edition (SFBC), also from Doubleday, came out in Jan 1965.

    The first UK edition was from Cape publishers in 1966.

    In 1965 THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH was nominated by Dick’s science fiction-writing peers for the Nebula Award for Best Novel of 1964.

    THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH was Dick’s first novel sale to Doubleday (one recalls the success they’d had with the SFBC edition of THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE) and, as Sutin notes, they didn’t pay much more than Ace Books – an advance of $2000 on average. But at least it was in hardcover with a dustjacket.

    In 1976 Mark Hurst acquired the rights to PALMER ELDRITCH for Bantam Books.

    Dick, in one of his usual hard-luck modes in 1965 writes of PALMER ELDRITCH in an undated letter to his agent:

    {...} I wasn't able to register my car for '65, and the Highway Patrol gave me two citations, which, if I can’t pay -- as well as registering my car and fixing the muffler -- I'm going to be jailed on April 7th {...} But I can't see borrowing any more, even though the advance from you is down now to $750. What I'm holding out for is the Jonathan Cape money from the U.K. Do you think it'll be coming through soon? I think that good news about that would really cheer me up. That is really quite a lot of money, when you think about it.

    I guess if the J.C. money won't be in for a while I'll have to consider trying to borrow some more. Keerist. How dismal.

    If something extremely good happens you can reach me by phone again: not my own, since the Bell people took it away, but my girl's phone: {...-..._....} That's a bit less dismal.

    I'll hope, then, to hear from you as to the U.K. sum.

    The "Jonathan Cape money" he writes about almost certainly refers to the UK sale of PALMER ELDRITCH to Cape publishers. And as PKD mentions the upcoming date of April 7th we can assume this letter was written before then and the sale to Cape also occurring before this date.

    One day in the summer of 1963 Phil was walking down the path past the cows and his sheep on the way to his hovel, looking forward to another day of writing when:

    … I looked up at the sky and saw a face. I didn't really see it, but the face was there, and it was not a human face; it was a vast visage of perfect evil. I realize now (and I think I dimly realised at the time) what caused me to see it: the months of isolation, of deprivation of human contact, in fact sensory deprivation as such... anyhow the visage could not be denied. It was immense; it filled a quarter of the sky. It had empty slots for eyes -- it was metal and cruel and, worst of all, it was God.

    {... ...}

    … Isolation generated the novel and yearning generated the story {"The Days Of Perky Pat"}; in the novel a mixture of the fear of being abandoned and the fantasy of the beautiful woman who waits for you – somewhere, but God only knows where; I have still to figure it out. But if you are sitting alone day after day at your typewriter, turning out one story after another and having no one to talk to, no one to be with, and yet pro forma having a wife and four daughters from whose house you have been expelled, banished to a little single-walled shack that is so cold in winter that, literally, the ink would freeze in my typewriter ribbon, well, you are going to write about iron slot-eyed faces and warm young women…

    The short story "The Days Of Perky Pat" which Dick wrote in 1963 is the one he mentions here. Like THE THREE STIGMATA this story is about Martian colonists in their hovels playing with Barbie Dolls.

    Dick refers to this 1963 vision on another occasion:

    … The Palmer Eldritch novel came out of an actual mystical experience, lasting almost a month, in which I saw the face of evil hovering over the landscape, and the three stigmata were aspects of him that I saw – I mean, objectively, literally – in particular the slotted, empty eyes. It was a true trip before I had seen any LSD, much less taken any. In an effort to help myself I became a convert to the Anglo-Catholic church, but their teachings do not include that of a real, active, evil power who has control – or near control – of the earth we live on. I even took the rite of unction, but it didn’t help, and I wandered away from the church. The point is this: if a person’s idios kosmos begins to break down, he is exposed to the archetypal or transcendental forces of the koinos kosmos, and if the time comes that he lives only in the koinos kosmos he is exposed to powers too great for him to handle (this part of the theory is opposite to Jung’s theory that each of us needs subjective constructs – such as space and time – as a framework structuring "reality"). In other words, we must have our idios kosmos to stay sane; reality has to filter through, carefully controlled by the mechanisms by which our brains operate. We can’t handle it directly, and I think that this was what was occurring when I saw Palmer Eldritch lingering, day after day, over the horizon. Something should have stood between me and it – and the Anglo-Catholic Church wasn’t enough (neither was psychiatry, needless to say). My first LSD experience, by the way, confirmed my vision of Palmer Eldritch; I found myself in the hell-world, and it took almost two thousand (subjective) years for me to crawl up out of it.

    This passage reminds one of the plot notion of the two Zoroastrian deities facing off in the sky above the town of Millville in THE COSMIC PUPPETS (1957).

    Dick’s mention of LSD brings up another matter: that due to the nature of the novel many fans and others have wondered if Dick wrote THE THREE STIGMATA after taking the psychedelic drug LSD. Dick denies this several times:

    (Vertex): You are known as one of the first authors to experiment with LSD. What effect has it had on your writing?

    (PKD): I don't know of any. It's always possible that it's had an effect I don't know about. Take my novel THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH, which deals with a tremendous bad acid trip, so to speak. I wrote that before I had ever seen LSD. I wrote that from just reading a description of the discovery of it and the kind of effect it had. So if that, which is my major novel of a hallucinogenic kind, came without my ever having taken LSD, then I would say even my work following LSD which had hallucinations in it could easily have been written without taking acid.

    {…}

    (Vertex): In the light of your own experiences with acid, how accurate do you think THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH is as far as drugs are concerned?

    (PKD): You remember what happened when they got on that drug? It was bad, wasn't it? It was so bad it taxed my ability to imagine bad. And it didn't do them any good to stop taking the drug because they had flashbacks. And nobody at the time knew LSD was going to produce flashbacks. I had it in mind that the ultimate horror would be to get an addictive, hallucinogenic drug out of your system and you would say, "Well, I'm back in the real world now." And suddenly a monstrous object from the hallucinogenic world would cross the floor and you would realize that you were not back. And this is what has happened to many people who have dropped acid. It was just an accidental prophecy on my part.

    And again:

    … My drug experiences have not manifested themselves in my work. Many critics have said that THE 3 STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH was the first "LSD novel." I wrote that after reading a magazine article on hallucinogenics by Aldous Huxley.

    Drugs have taken the lives of some very, very dear friends of mine.

    And once more:

    (PKD:) I took amphetamines for years in order to get energy to write. I had to write so much in order to make a living because our pay rates were so low. In five years I wrote sixteen novels, which is incredible. I mean, nobody, I don't think anybody's ever done it before. And without amphetamines I couldn't have written that much. But as soon as I began to earn enough money so I didn't have to write so many books, I stopped taking amphetamines. So now I don't take anything like that. And I never wrote anything under the influence of psychedelics. For instance, PALMER ELDRITCH I wrote without ever having even seen psychedelic drugs.

    (A & F:) In Germany the book was titled LSD ASTRONAUTEN.

    (PKD:) I know, Franz Rottensteiner did that.

    With that out of the way let’s turn our attention to what Philip K. Dick himself said about his infamous novel. Leo Runcible, the irascible hero of THE THREE STIGMATA, has a little preface to the novel all his own. It’s his credo – and also Dick’s – and shows PKD’s faith in the common man:

    In my novel THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH, which is a study of absolute evil, the protagonist, after his encounter with Eldritch, returns to Earth and dictates a memo. This little section appears ahead of the text of the novel. It is the novel, actually, this paragraph; the rest is a sort of post mortem, or rather, a flashback in which all that came to produce the one-paragraph book is presented. Seventy-five thousand words, which I labored over many months, merely explains, is merely there to provide background to the one small statement in the book that matters. (It is, by the way, missing from the German edition.) This statement is for me my credo -- not so much in God, either a good god or a bad god or both -- but in ourselves. It goes as follows and this is all I actually have to say or want ever to say:

I mean, after all; you have to consider, we're only made out of dust. That's admittedly not much to go on and we shouldn't forget that. But even considering, I mean it's a sort of bad beginning, we're not doing too bad. So I personally have faith that even in this lousy situation we're faced with we can make it. You get me?

    This tosses a bizarre thought into my mind: Perhaps someday a giant automated machine will roar and clank out, "From rust we are come." And another machine, sick and dying, cradled in the arms of its woman, may sigh back, "And to rust we are returned." And peace will fall over the barren, anxiety-stricken landscape.

    He refers to the character of Leo Runcible again, obviously proud of his creation:

    There is in THE THREE STIGMATA and MARTIAN TIME-SLIP something that I regard as funny, which nobody else apparently thinks is funny.
    Let's say that Palmer Eldritch is evil to the extent of being an evil deity. He is not just an evil man, an evil human being. He is like a deity; he is the evil being. And he is defeated by a very ordinary, somewhat vulgar human being. He is not defeated by some noble human superman. I regard this as a very pleasant thing, as a very enjoyable thing, that the evil deity is not defeated by man's finest examples; human beings rising. The standard way that this would be handled would be if an evil being invades the earth and some kind of Flash Gordon-like personage emerges who is the embodiment of all that is noble in human beings. But in my book what emerges to defeat this is some kind of bumbling, coarse, garrulous, low-class person who you would expect to be a loan-shark or something like that; some disreputable, virtually disreputable person.

    By the time of the writing of THE THREE STIGMATA Dick had the confidence to revert to the type of writing he had done in the beginning of his career: fantasies wherein his characters’ thoughts are actualized into the real world. In this regard the short stories "The World She Wanted", "Upon The Dull Earth" and even "A Glass Of Darkness" come to mind. But in regard to THE THREE STIGMATA as a fantasy he said:

     DICK: I remember I had a term I used to defend this kind of internal projection stories. Stories where internal psychological elements were projected onto the outer world and became three dimensional and real and concrete. Scott, my agent, wrote me incredibly long letters saying that there was no such thing. There was the inner world of dreams and fantasies and the unconscious and then there was the objective outer world, and the two never mixed. So I gave up.

    Later, when I’d established myself more securely in the field, I began to go and do it in such books as THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH. I reverted to what I wanted to do and had the nightmare inner content objectified in the outer world. So I slowly began to reintroduce those elements into my writing.

    LUPOFF: Do you do any fantasy now?

    DICK: No. No I don’t. It pretty much cured me of trying any fantasy.

    Dick thought highly of THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH saying,

    An interesting one is THE 3 STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH, as far as I'm concerned. I have read that and have the distinct impression that it was an extraordinary book -- so extraordinary that it may have no peer. It may be a unique book in the history of writing --nothing was ever done like this. And then I've read it over and thought it was completely crazy, just insane; not about insanity, it is insanity. God, it's a weird book.
    (Briggs:) If I were to pick a favorite of mine from among your books, that would be it.
    (Apel:) Right, same here. It is certainly in a class by itself. That's the book that should probably be pointed to as your major work.
    (PKD:) I think if anything I write is to be retained within the cultural flow that THE 3 STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH stands a very good chance. Either it will eventually be consigned to oblivion as a bizarre excersize in madness, or it will be considered a breakthrough book. I have a very strong feeling that UBIK, too, contains some important ideas.

    But, much as he liked his own novel he didn’t like all of it:

    Religion ought never to show up in SF except from a sociological standpoint, as in Gather Darkness [a novel by Fritz Leiber]. God per se, as a character, ruins a good SF story; and this is as true of my own stuff as anyone else's. Therefore I deplore my PALMER ELDRITCH book in that regard. But people who are a bit mystically inclined like it. I don't. I wish I had never written it; there are too many horrid forces loose in it. When I wrote it I had been taking certain chemicals and I could see the awful landscape that I depicted. But not now. Thank God. Agnus Dei qui tollis peccata mundi [Lamb of God who lifts the sins of the world].

    One wonders what these ‘certain chemicals’ were in light of Dick’s denying that he had taken LSD prior to writing THE THREE STIGMATA? Certainly he was ambivalent if not downright apprehensive about THE THREE STIGMATA:

    Reaction to THE THREE STIGMATA was mixed. In England some reviewers described it as blasphemy. Terry Carr, who was my agent at Scott Meredith at the time, told me later, "That novel is crazy," although subsequent to that he reversed his opinion. Some reviewers found it a profound novel. I only find it frightening. I was unable to proofread the galleys because the novel frightened me so. It is a dark journey into the mystical and the supernatural and the absolutely evil as I understood it at the time. Let us say, I would like Perky Pat to show up at my door, but I dread the possibility that, when I hear the knock, it will be Palmer Eldritch waiting outside and not Perky Pat. Actually, to be honest, neither has shown up in the seventeen or so years since I wrote the novel. I guess that is the story of life: what you most fear never happens, but what you most yearn for never happens either. This is the difference between life and fiction. I suppose it's a good trade-off. But I'm not sure.

    And again in his 1968 ‘Self Portrait’:

    I enjoyed writing all of them...
    But this leaves out the most vital of them all: THE 3 STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH. I am afraid of that book; it deals with absolute evil, and I wrote it during a great crisis in my religious beliefs. I decided to write a novel dealing with absolute evil as personified in the form of a "human". When the galleys came from Doubleday I couldn't correct them because I could not bear to read the text, and this is still true.

    And, of course, this novel of ultimate evil concerned Dick greatly after his ‘pink beam’ experiences in 1974.

    But most of all I recall what I saw when I awakened: I saw God, smiling in the sunlight of day. Once, during the years of the Terrible Separation, I saw Palmer Eldritch in the Sun -- I saw God backward, but sure enough, in the daytime sun; at high noon, and knew him to be a god. THE 3 STIGMATA if read properly (i.e. reversed) contains many clues as to the nature of God and to our relationship with him. I was motivated to flee, then, fearing what I saw, so vast was the breach then. it was definitely a true vision of God, but grown (to my blind sight) terrible; still, it was the beginning of my seeing: that I could see God at all, in the sun, showed that I was not entirely blind, but rather deranged. My 3-74 experiences are an outgrowth of my Palmer Eldritch experience of over ten years earlier.

    He sees in THE THREE STIGMATA evidence that this world that we all live in is fake:

    The Gnostic message in my writing can be seen when we realise that it is a Gnostic revelation that this world is a bungled counterfeit of the celestial world, esp. time as a poor counterfeit of eternity. & Palmer Eldritch equals (is) the Gnostic demiurge creator, spinning out evil & false worlds to feed his drive for power. In STIGMATA the evil quality of the creator is expressed, & man (Leo Bulero) pitted against the False evil cosmos & its evil creator -- a very acosmic novel...

    Judith Merrill reviewed THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH for F & SF in 1965. Here’s what she had to say about the novel:

    Philip K. Dick did it better three years ago in THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE.

    I don’t mean, this time, that his new book is similar in theme or treatment. Rather, that I wish it were more so, at least in characterization and structure.

    Phil Dick is, one might say, the best writer s-f has produced, on every third Tuesday. In between times, he ranges wildly from unforgivable carelessness to craftsmanlike high competence. In the case of PALMER ELDRITCH, I would guess he did his thinking on those odd Tuesdays, or rather on one of them, and the actual writing in every possible minute before another Good Tuesday came on him.

    Here is a riotous confusion of ideas, enough for a dozen novels, or one really good one; but the stuff is unsorted, frequently incompleted, seldom even clearly stated. The style is alternately dream-slow-surreal and fast-action pulp. Thematically, he at least approaches, and sometimes stops to consider, virtually every current crucial issue: drug addiction, sexual mores, over-population, the economic structure of society, the nature of religious experience, parapsychology, the evolution of man – you name it, you’ll find it.

    The book, with all this, is inevitably colorful, provocative and (frustratingly) readable. I wish I thought it possible that Dick might sometime go back to this one, publication not withstanding, and finish writing it.

    THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH is a novel of alien invasion but an alien invasion unlike any other ever written. Usually, no matter how weird or horrifying a writer may try to make his aliens, their motives and actions can be directly related to human motivations: conquest, lebensraum, hatred and fear; but in PALMER ELDRITCH Philip. K. Dick describes an alien presence with an unknown purpose that can only be described as pure evil. On reading the novel there comes a point when one realises that Palmer Eldritch is not human and his – its – motives are completely alien and incomprehensible and one’s skin crawls in sympathy with Runcible and his predicament. Even at the end of the novel one cannot be sure that Runcible ever returns to ‘reality’ after he has taken the drug Chew-Z. And even though no time passes in the real world Runcible’s subjective hell goes on forever. THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH is truly a horror story that puts to shame a vast swath of what passes for such today. Down in the hovels of Mars the hovelists, in fear and loathing, rate the novel with minus .


OTHER ENGLISH EDITIONS:      For Cover Pix Click Here:       mylogoInv[1].jpg (3234 bytes)  PKDickBooks.com


FOREIGN EDITIONS:


NOTES

    Rickman in TTHC mentions 1963 parenthetically in passing and Sutin in DI has that it was written in 1964 and notes that PKD mailed it to the SMLA in Mar 1964 (DI 128). Perry Kinman in Rouzleweave #1 accords with Butler that the ms was received at the SMLA on 18 Mar 1964.

See DI 132

SL-38 186. PKD>Scott Meredith, undated 1965. {note: Probably written between March 22 and April 6, 1965. See also OH TO BE A BLOBEL for more from this letter. This letter almost certainly refers to THE 3 STIGMATA, Cape, hb, , 1966, 278pp, 21/- - Lord RC}

See CSVol4 377

See SF Commentary #9, Feb 1970, pp8-10, Letter of Comment by PKD written 8 Jun 1969. Or found in PKD: Electric Shepherd by Bruce Gillespie, Norstrillia Press (Australia), 1975, p32.

PKDS-2 10

THE 3 STIGMATA was first published Nov 17, 1964.
The Washington Post Book World, 3-27-83, has a review of PALMER ELDRITCH on p12.

PKDS-2 13:

I enjoyed writing all of them...
But this leaves out the most vital of them all: THE 3 STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH. I am afraid of that book; it deals with absolute evil, and I wrote it during a great crisis in my religious beliefs. I decided to write a novel dealing with absolute evil as personified in the form of a "human". When the galleys came from Doubleday I couldn't correct them because I could not bear to read the text, and this is still true. {PKD Self-Portrait, 1968}

PKDS-3 7:

Various people have noted that John Lennon once remarked, presumably in a print interview, that he'd like to film THE 3 STIGMATA: if anyone can reference this I'd appreciate it -- I've never seen the quote, though in fact it was me (and Tim Leary) who turned Lennon on to :THE 3 STIGMATA and PKD. {Paul Williams}

PKDS-4 11:

The Missouri Review, Vol.VII, #2 (University of Missouri-Columbia, 1984} has an essay by Douglas Mackey on "Science Fiction and Gnosticism", which includes discussion of THE 3 STIGMATA

PKDS-6 4:

Norwescon Report Gregg Rickman files this report on the PKD doings at Norwescon, 1985:
"Budrys opened by talking about how he had initially seen Phil Dick as a competitor and rival to such contemporary writers as himself, Ted Sturgeon, Robert Sheckley, that his mid-50s, anti-war and anti-technology stories 'began to show us something a little bit different', and by the time of THE 3 STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH, 'I knew I was in the presence of a major writer.' He went on to say that what made Phil Dick special was 'that he was uninhibited... There's a difference between irrationality and lunacy,and his lunacies were rational... (exploring) all the possible ways unreality can creep up on you.'"

PKDS-6 10:

The "slot-eyed masks" of the knights (in ALEXANDER NEVSKY) is reminiscent of the slot-eyed metal face of Palmer Eldritch in THE 3 STIGMATAIs this slot-eyed image a recurring image in PKD's books? Do you know of any of his books besides VALIS and THE 3 STIGMATA in which this "slot-eyed mask" image occurs? {Letter to PKDS from John K. Berner, Oshkosh, WI}
{Paul Williams replies:}
I don't rememberPKD mentioning NEVSKY but maybe someone else does... Our intrepid managing editor {Andy Watson} spent two hours in the library "but could not find any useful photo-frames from Eisenstein's ALEXANDER NEVSKY. Found only one where slot-eyed masks were visible, but they were all blurry and tiny, in the background only... Oh well."

{in reference to the slot-eyed masks see DEUS IRAE; the description of Carelton Lufteufel -- 1997}

PKDS-11 12:

LOST PAGE.

PKDS-12 7:

{From the Mark Hurst Chronology}

Acquired reprint rights to UBIK, THE 3 STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH and A MAZE OF DEATH for Bantam. {Oddly enough there is no Bantam edition of THE 3 STIGMATA, The nearest to 1976 in date is the Manor Books paperback from 1977 -- Lord RC}

PKDS-22 1:

(Q:) So why did you go off and write a biography of Philip K. Dick?
    It all started in early 1976, when a friend urged me to read THE 3 STIGMATA. It was by this guy named Philip K. Dick who'd just gotten a big write-up in Rolling Stone... I read 3 STIGMATA... I drank 3 STIGMATA down. Gulped it whole.Whoever the hell Philip K. Dick was, he had managed to write a novel in which conventional reality came apart not only for the characters -- there were loads of 'existential' novelists who could handle that dreary chore -- but also for me sitting there in that kitchen. I could see through the grey walls and the grey walls could see through me... {Lawrence Sutin: Confessions of a PKD biographer}

PKDS-22 9:

An article in Locus by the publisher of Apagoremenos Planitis (Forbidden Planet), the only sf magazine in Greece at present, indicates that Dick and Ellison are the foreign authors who have appeared the most in the magazine. His publishing company has already brought out 3 STIGMATA and DO ANDROIDS DREAM in book form, and more PKD titles are planned.

PKDS-22 17:

In France in a poll by Carnage Mondain, from Lyon, PALMER ELDRITCH placed 87th in the top 100 sf books.

PKDS-24 9:

There has been a flurry of activity in PKD futures lately, specifically options on film rights to PKD properties. Two particularly interesting deals have just been completed. One is for 3 STIGMATA, a novel John Lennon once wanted to film. The buyer is Vanguard Films, a New York-based independent film company... Script for THE 3 STIGMATA will be by Howard Rodman.

PKDS-24 20:

John Fairchild spotted the inclusion of THE 3 STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH in Stephen Jones & Kim Newman's critical anthology Horror: 100 Best Books (Xanadu UK, Carroll & Graf US, 1988). The essay on PALMER ELDRITCH is by Tad Williams, author of Tailchaser's Song. {C1988}

PKDS-26 17:

    From Britain's Book Collector, May 1990: The highest listed values are for the first hardcover editions of WORLD OF CHANCE (400 Pounds), A HANDFUL OF DARKNESS (250-400 Pounds), and THE 3 STIGMATA (300 Pounds) with half a dozen books in the 150 Pound range.
    In similar vein, there's a big PKD story in the Winter 1990 issue of Books Are Everything(#16)... Hal Roberts writes an introductory biographical piece, followed by some very helpful checklists of PKD in US and UK paperback, with serial numbers -- thus we see that 3 STIGMATA was published in paper in the US by MacFadden in '66 and '71 (reprints aren't tracked, only reissues with new numbers), Manor in '77, Bantam in '77, and DAW in '83.


In the miserably high-number conapt building 492 on the outskirts of Marilyn Monroe, New Jersey, Richard Hnatt ate breakfast indifferently while, with something greater than indifference, he glanced over the morning homeopape's weather syndrome readings of the previous day.


IPOV 20:

I awoke abruptly to find myself with my Saviour, and then entered fellowship with God (the dreams of the delighting void). Can it be said that this is the rebirth, accomlished by penetration of the Child by the solar spermatikos? Yes, Firebright, brought to life and sustained Greater Intelligence for me, better health, longer life, even prosperity. A certain facility with life. But most of all I recall what I saw when I awakened: I saw God, smiling in the sunlight of day. Once, during the years of the Terrible Seperation*, I saw Palmer Eldritch in the Sun -- I saw God backward, but sure enough, in the daytime sun; at high noon, and knew him to be a god. THE 3 STIGMATA if read properly (i.e. reversed) contains many clues as to the nature of God and to our relationship with him. I was motivated to flee, then, fearing what I saw, so vast was the breach then. it was definitely a true vision of God, but grown (to my blind sight) terrible; still, it was the beginning of my seeing: that I could see God at all, in the sun, showed that I was not entirely blind, but rather deranged. My 3-74 experiences are an outgrowth of my Palmer Eldritch exprience of over ten years earlier. "Faith Of Our Fathers" shows this, too; I knew Him to be real ...but only in UBIK does he begin to appear as benign, especially then in A MAZE OF DEATH. We were coming back together, as friends in the light-struck meadow or forest... the summertime to greet." ** (From THE EXEGESIS, 1975)

*"Terrible Seperation" is a reference to PKD's own sense of the gulf that existed in the 1960s between his own limited human existence and a genuine encounter with the divine as a positive, redeeming force in the universe.
** This final sentence is a paraphrase of the lyrics of one of PKD's favorite lieder by Franz Schubert.

IPOV 75:

STIGMATA portrays the arrogant one, the blind God (i.e. the artifact), which supposes itself to be the one true God & evil delusional worlds are shown: counterfeit worlds. (1978)

IPOV 78:

Isn't palmer Eldritch a kind of parasite, replicating himself or itself using humans as hosts? But my sense about Thomas was of a benign, not evil, intrusion. Still, it was an intrusion into my psyche, a taking over. Are such intrusions always to be deplored? (1978)

IPOV 187:

There is some evidence that the master magician who has us lost in his irreal world where no actual time elapses (called Palmer Eldritch in STIGMATA) is Simon Magus, who lived at the time of Acts, which is to say now. Thus Simon is still alive, and the authentic original early Christian disciples are still alive. (18 Oct 1978)

IPOV 136:

The Gnostic message in my writing can be seen when we realise that it is a Gnostic revelation that this world is a bungled counterfeit of the celestial world, esp. time as a poor counterfeit of eternity. & Palmer Eldritch equals (is) the Gnostic demiurge creator, spinning out evil & false worlds to feed his drive for power. In STIGMATA the evil quality of the creator is expressed, & man (Leo Bulero) pitted against the False evil cosmos & its evil creator -- a very acosmic novel... (1977)

IPOV 178:

To repeat myself -- all this implies that the intervention re the xerox missive was not just to save me per se from a trap, but to keep my actual identity concealed. Evidently originally I knowingly and deliberately entered this "spurious interpolation" in order to call attention to its counterfeit nature, that I might assist in destroying it. Cold-pac in UBIK, the floor of the Bevatron in EYE. Polyencephalic fusion in MAZE, the fake past in JOINT, but best of all, the Satanic bogus worlds in STIGMATA, because in STIGMATA the correct source/cause is presented. & Then in TEARS the true nature -- not of a -- but of OUR Satanic spurious interpolation is depicted -- as well as its collapse and why (xtianity).

Yes -- in TEARS it is shown, through Felix Buckman's conversion, what will pull down the BIP & allow transfer of authority: xtian conversion (from Power to Love) (agape) this adds to what e.g., STIGMATA has told us; we now know the antidote to the "drug" (i.e., to the cancer-like bogus interpolation).

Xtianity is antidote (to a poison). "We need medical assistance." (1978)

IPOV 179:

3). STIGMATA: Who/what deliberately occludes us: the Yaldabaoth Magician evil deity, spinner of spurious worlds creator of illusion & inhabiting, contaminating (unclean presence in these degraded pseudo worlds) (1978)

IPOV 183:

It's odd that it's mainly in the three Bantam books* that the truth (enough of it, anyhow) is told. Plus SCANNER & stories in the Ballantine collection** -- all well distributed. No time passes, in STIGMATA. Eternity can pass: infinite time. & Eldritch pollutes all the spurious worlds -- due to a person taking a drug (cf SCANNER)

*THE 3 STIGMATA, UBIK, A MAZE OF DEATH were all reissued in 1977 by Bantam Books.
**THE BEST OF PHILIP K. DICK 1977
.

IPOV 185:

    STIGMATA is a Satanic Bible: the novel describes the Pattern proliferating itself in, on & through humans. By a study of STIGMATA one can understand transubstantiation, which was my source & theme (my intent). It's even stated in the novel that Eldritch is the xtian God.
    You get a good deal of the story by combining UBIK & STIGMATA.
    But this is not an occluding, toxifying "virus" -- it is an antitoxic, de-occlusive. (1978)


Leo was dumping the entire problem in his lap. It was the first time he had seen his employer collapse; imagine, he thought. Leo Bulero baffled -- by the first competition that he had ever experienced. He simply was not used to it.


TDC 79

(PKD): Somebody has told me that I had to see that film (LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD). Anyway... I don't like DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? at all; I really loathe that book.
(B): Oh good. I have to tell you I detest it.
(PKD:) Yeah, there are certain books of mine I wish I could shovel under, and that's one of them. An interesting one is THE 3 STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH, as far as I'm concerned. I have read that and have the distinct impression that it was an extraordinary book -- so extraordinary that it may have no peer. It may be a unique book in the history of writing --nothing was ever done like this. And then I've read it over and thought it was completely crazy, just insane; not about insanity, it is insanity. God, it's a weird book.
(B:) If I were to pick a favorite of mine from among your books, that would be it.
(A:) Right, same here. It is certainly in a class by itself. That's the book that should probably be pointed to as your major work.
(PKD:) I think if anything I write is to be retained within the cultural flow that THE 3 STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH stands a very good chance. Either it will eventually be consigned to oblivion as a bizarre excersize in madness, or it will be considered a breakthrough book. I have a very strong feeling that UBIK, too, contains some important ideas.

TSR 58

(PKD:) Religion ought never to show up in SF except from a sociological standpoint, as in Gather Darkness [a novel by Fritz Leiber]. God per se, as a character, ruins a good SF story; and this is as true of my own stuff as anyone else's. Therefore I deplore my PALMER ELDRITCH book in that regard. But people who are a bit mystically inclined like it. I don't. I wish I had never written it; there are too many horrid forces loose in it. When I wrote it I had been taking certain chemicals and I could see the awful landscape that I depicted. But not now. Thank God. Agnus Dei qui tollis peccata mundi [Lamb of God who lifts the sins of the world]

TSR 206

(PKD:) In my novel THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH, which is a study of absolute evil, the protagonist, after his encounter with Eldritch, returns to Earth and dictates a memo.This little section appears ahead of the text of the novel. It is the novel, actually, this paragraph; the rest is a sort of post mortem, or rather, a flashback in which all that came to produce the one-paragraph book is presented. Seventy-five thousand words, which I labored over many months, merely explains, is merely there to provide background to the one small statement in the book that matters. (It is, by the way, missing from the German edition.) This statement is for me my credo -- not so much in God, either a good god or a bad god or both -- but in ourselves. It goes as follows and this is all I actually have to say or want ever to say:

I mean, after all; you have to consider, we're only made out of dust. That's admittedly not much to go on and we shouldn't forget that. But even considering, I mean it's a sort of bad beginning, we're not doing too bad. So I personally have faith that even in this lousy situation we're faced with we can make it. You get me?

This tosses a bizarre thought into my mind: Perhaps someday a giant automated machine will roar and clank out, "From rust we are come." And another machine, sick of dying, cradled in the arms of its woman, may sigh back, "And to rust we are returned." And peace will fall over the barren, anxiety-stricken landscape.

SF EYE #14, Spring 1996, p.38

(PKD:) Yes, well, we touched on another topic in the interview I had with those people and that was my attitude toward drugs. They said, isn't there an affinity between you and Timothy Leary's attitude toward drugs? And I said, well, actually a scrupulous reading of my novels that deal with drugs such as 3 STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH, NOW WAIT FOR LAST YEAR, Faith Of Our Fathers, and A MAZE OF DEATH show the possibility -- again we get into the area of possibility, not certitude -- that there are really just a whole number of things happening in 3 STIGMATA and in NOW WAIT FOR LAST YEAR, The drug is destructive, it's addictive, it's used as a government weapon as a matter of fact.

SF EYE #14 Spring, 1996, p46.

(PKD:) I took amphetamines for years in order to get energy to write. I had to write so much in order to make a living because our pay rates were so low. In five years I wrote sixteen novels, which is incredible. I mean, nobody, I don't think anybody's ever done it before. And without amphetamines I couldn't have written that much. But as soon as I began to earn enough money so I didn't have to write so many books, I stopped taking amphetamines. So now I don't take anything like that. And I never wrote anything under the influence of psychedelics. For instance, PALMER ELDRITCH I wrote without ever having even seen psychedelic drugs.

(A & F:) In Germany the book was titled LSD ASTRONAUTEN.

(PKD:) I know, Franz Rottensteiner did that.

See Vertex, Vol. 1, no. 6, February 1974. Interview by Arthur Byron Cover

See Aquarian, 10-11-78. Joe Vitale interviewer

See TSR 206. "The Android And The Human" 1972

See SF EYE, Vol. 1, No. 2, August 1987, pp. 45-54 interview by Richard Lupoff

See TDC 79. PKD interview with Apel & Briggs, 1977.

See TSR 58

See CSVol4 377. PKD in 1979.

See PKDS-2 13. ‘Self Portrait’ 1968.

See F & SF, June 1965, p74-75. PKD OTAKU # 8, Jan 2003.


Collector's Notes

Phildickian: THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH, Doubleday, hb, SFBC, 1965. VG/VG $20

Phildickian: THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH, Vintage, tp, 1991. FINE $10

Phildickian: THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH, DAW, pb, 1983. G+ $8

Phildickian: THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH, Bantam, pb, 1977, VG $8


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