The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch is a 1965 science fiction novel by Philip K. Dick.
This novel contains examples of:
- Evolution Power-Up: "Evolutionary therapy" is popular among the rich. It makes your cranium large and bubble-like, and even increases your intelligence, although in rare cases it can backfire and de-evolve you into a monkey-like state. The best part? It works by stimulating the gland that controls evolution.
- Fantastic Drug: "Can-D" and "Chew-Z".
- Goal-Oriented Evolution: "Evolutionary therapy" is popular among the rich. It makes your cranium large and bubble-like, and increases your intelligence, although in rare cases it can backfire and de-evolve you into a monkey-like state. The best part? It works by stimulating the gland that controls evolution. However, evolution is at least somewhat affected by environment. The evolved people also develop hard ridges on their heads to combat the intense heat of the Earth (which will kill any normal person who isn't literally carrying an air conditioner on his back). Later on, one character runs across people from the future, who look more like The Greys because the Earth is undergoing an Ice Age.
- Meaningful Name: Palmer Eldritch.
- Mega-Corp: P. P. Layouts, Inc. has near-total control over the entertainment available to the Martian colonists, until Eldritch comes along to challenge them.
- Mundane Utility: Two of the main characters are "pre-fash consultants", people with precognitive powers employed to find out whether or not various products will become fashionable before they're accepted for production.
- Reality Bleed: The drug "Chew-Z", discovered by Eldritch in the Prox system, seems to have this effect, although the book is deliberately ambiguous.
- Reality Warper: Palmer Eldritch. Maybe. Some readers have argued that he gives people drugs that let them experience all sorts of bizarre things while, incidentally, causing them to gain Palmer's physical characteristics and think more like him.
- Recursive Reality: It's an article of faith among many Martian colonists that the drug Can-D does this, rather than merely causing shared hallucinations, as most non-users believe. Things get much more ambiguous when Eldritch brings an alien drug, Chew-Z, back from the Prox system.
- Red Right Hand: Palmer Eldritch has horizontally slitted metal eyes, metal teeth and a mechanical right arm: all physical signs of his metaphysical transformation into something very other than human.
- Schrödinger's Butterfly: The novel involves a plot to Take Over the World through hallucinogens that in theory could take a thousand years to wear off. Every main character takes the drugs at one point or another, more than once a seeming recovery is merely hallucinated. By the end, it's virtually impossible to decide what's "real" and what's not.
- Self-Plagiarism: The concept of the Perky Pat layouts used by the characters to escape their everyday lives is recycled from Dick's earlier short story "The Days of Perky Pat".
- Sufficiently Advanced Alien: Palmer Eldritch.
- The Virus: Palmer Eldritch distributes an exceptionally trippy drug with the side effect of causing the users to think more like he does than they used to—and also causes them to spontaneously develop Palmer's "three stigmata", which are artificial eyes, a metal jaw, and a replacement arm.