New Wave Sci-Fi 75 (5)
October 29, 2017
One in a series of posts about the 75 best science fiction novels published during the genre’s New Wave era (from 1964–83, according to HILOBROW’s periodization schema). For our complete New Wave Sci-Fi 75 list, click here.
Philip K. Dick’s The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1965).
The Earth is badly over-heated, and the UN — the global governing body — is conscripting settlers to colonize unpleasant nearby planets. Mars’s settlers have become addicted to Can-D, a drug that allows them to escape into a collective Barbie-and-Ken-esque hallucination, the contours of which are shaped by figures and “layouts” they purchase… from Perky Pat, a corporate empire run by the ruthless Leo Bulero (who also secretly manufactures Can-D). Bulero’s hired telepaths discover that merchant adventurer Palmer Eldritch has returned from a crash on Pluto with Chew-Z, a superior drug, one which can put Perky Pat out of business. However, when Bulero attempts to assassinate Eldritch, he is plunged into a nightmarish odyssey of nested hallucations… which causes him to question the very nature of reality itself. What’s up with Eldritch’s three “stigmata” — and where did he get Chew-Z? Plus: double agents, time travel, devolution, alien possession, and Gnostic musings about the notion of an evil demiurge!
Fun fact: A freaky classic of psychedelic literature. Considered one of Dick’s most important books.
NEW WAVE SCI-FI at HILOBROW: 75 Best New Wave (1964–83) Sci-Fi Novels | Back to Utopia: Fredric Jameson’s theorizing about New Wave sci-fi | Douglas Adams | Poul Anderson | J.G. Ballard | John Brunner | William Burroughs | Octavia E. Butler | Samuel R. Delany | Philip K. Dick | Frank Herbert | Ursula K. Le Guin | Barry N. Malzberg | Moebius (Jean Giraud) | Michael Moorcock | Alan Moore | Gary Panter | Walker Percy | Thomas Pynchon | Joanna Russ | James Tiptree Jr. (Alice Sheldon) | Kurt Vonnegut | PLUS: Jack Kirby’s Golden Age and New Wave science fiction comics.
ALSO SEE: 50 Best Scientific Romances (1864–1903) | Radium Age Sci-Fi: 100 Best Novels of 1904–33 | Golden Age Sci-Fi: 75 Best Novels of 1934–1963 | 75 Best New Wave Sci-Fi (1964–83) Novels | The 200 Greatest Adventure Novels of All Time | 101 Science Fiction Adventures