The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch
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The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch takes place some time in the twenty-first century. Under the authority of the United Nations, humankind has colonized every habitable planet and moon in the solar system.
Life for most colonists is physically daunting and psychologically monotonous so the UN must draft individuals to colonize. Most colonists entertain themselves using Barbie-like “Perky Pat” dolls and the multitude of accessories manufactured by Earth-based P.P. Layouts. The company also secretly creates Can-D, an illegal but widely available hallucinogen that allows the user to “translate” into Perky Pat (if the user is female) or her boyfriend Walt (if male). This allows colonists to experience an idealized version of life on Earth in a collective unconscious hallucination. P.P. Layouts employs several precogs to determine if possible new Perky Pat accessories will be popular.
Life on Earth is also harsh as the global temperature has risen to a level where one can no longer be outdoors without a personal air conditioning unit and Antarctica is the only suitable vacation spot.
Wealthy people often undergo “evolution therapy,” which allows them to skip several stages of human evolution. This causes their craniums to become large and bubble-like and it may increase their intelligence, although there is evidence that the extra brainpower is superficial. Devolution occurs in some cases.
At the novel’s beginning, renegade industrialist Palmer Eldritch has traveled to the inhabited Proxima Centauri star system in search of a sellable product. He has been gone for a decade.