Above: Michael Moorcock, as depicted by a fan (airbrushed unicorn and busty maiden on Chevy van sold separately)
This bad review of The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch written in 2003 by Michael Moorcock (sometimes parents unknowingly bestow incredibly appropriate names upon their children) has ruffled quite a few feathers on the PKD-litserv this morning, and with good reason. Moorcock, whose books I've never read, pans PKD rather mercilessly:
"Dick's work only rarely achieved the stylistic and imaginative coherence of those other writers [Ballard, Burroughs, and Aldiss]."
"His style and characters are indistinguishable from those of a dozen other snappy pulpsters. Even his questioning of the fundamentals of identity and reality is largely unoriginal, preceded by the work of the less prolific but perhaps more profound Charles Harness, who wrote stories such as "Time Trap", "The Paradox Men" and "The Rose" in the 50s."
"The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch ends with a question about identity. Unfortunately, I had to leaf back through the book before I could understand the question because the characters involved were so hard to tell apart. It could be true, as Dick so frequently suggested, that we are all actors playing out the dream of a great director in the sky. In this case, given the illusion of free will, I think I'd rather be in the movie."
Ouch! Coming from a far less successful writer one wonders why we should even take Moorcock's criticism seriously. Moorcock's broad generalizations are not backed up with anything other than righteous indignation (and presumably a little bit of envy). His panning of PKD smacks of holier-than-thou scolding. "Why do you all love this hack so much?! Love ME!!!" Thanks Michael, now I'll never have to read "The Dreamthief's Daughter" to determine if it's as horrible as the title makes it sound.