Eye In The Sky
by Philip K. DickHamilton is a scientist in trouble. He's about to lose his job because his wife, who he loves, is considered to be a security risk. Marsha Hamilton is an intellectually curious woman, and it's her past interests in socialism that put her under suspicion.
They live in paranoid times. Hamilton faces a stark choice: if he can't prove that his wife is no communist he must divorce her or lose his security clearance, and therefore his career.
So it's in a downbeat and divided state of mind that they visit the Bevatron, a fantastically powerful proton beam deflector. Exactly what this device is meant to achieve when it works isn't entirely clear, but it malfunctions to spectacular effect, plunging eight people sixty feet to the ground and into a bizarre version of reality.
Shocked by the accident, but apparently largely physically unscathed, the survivors attempt to get on with their lives. But a sense of unreality gradually intensifies, as various events and people increasingly seem wrong. The usual laws of physics no longer apply, and miracles are not only possible but have become commonplace.
Something very odd is going on, but this is no mere sidestep into a parallel universe infused with powerful magic. Instead Dick is trying to make a point, and he's doing it with a scenario that's both completely absurd and yet entirely logical. Eye In The Sky is one of Philip K. Dick's better novels, thanks to the way he manages to keep the plot together. The characters are believable and down to earth, even the ones he exposes as holding beliefs which, taken to their extreme conclusions, are rather insane. We wonder whether they will all die before they escape, or if they are even beyond time, and the suspense holds up because Hamilton, Marsha, and the others are regular characters who readers can care about. This is a novel that explores what would happen if we could really know people, and how things would be if we could share other people's world views by seeing everything from their point of view. The result is a true eye-opener.
Review © Ros Jackson