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Eye In The Sky
Philip K. Dick
Vintage hardcover $12 / £6.25

review by Mike Philbin

Plotline: (from philipkdick.com)
While sightseeing at the Belmont Bevatron, Jack Hamilton, along with seven others, is caught in a lab accident.


It's a real easy set-up. You visit a science institute and fall into the particle accelerator. Or is it?

Remember, this is a Philip K. Dick novel and a simple accident at a science institute can turn into one sick and twisted nightmare. Jack Hamilton, his wife and six other tourists fall into this particle accelerator, right. They fall right in. Who is maintaining this institution, we may want to ask. Are the eight people killed in the fall? Are they burned to death in the electric fire? These are questions that Philip K. Dick initially sidesteps completely.

The eight hapless individuals end up in another world. Dick loves this device; it's something he used in his novel A Crack In Space (aka: Cantata-140) to great effect. But here, instead of merely regurgitating the same narrative conclusions, Dick takes himself for a ride.

Dick was above all a great thinker and philosopher, why the hell his work is called science fiction, I don't really understand. [Eh? Argh... PKD = SF feh! -Ed] Yeah, I know there's usually some scientific angle associated with his work but this is a backdrop to the mind of the book. It is this psychological element that truly rules the PKD product. Plus, I'll say this again and again; PKD was a very funny writer. Just take this central premise: don't go to science institutes, you could fall into another universe. I mean; if that's not funny, I just lost my smile.

Anyway, back to the book - what happens in this parallel world? How do these eight victims escape their dilemma? That, you'll soon understand, is where the very simple premise of the book unfolds its complex sheathes of narrative possibility to the full. It's not just a simple case of one parallel world. There is an encounter with God at the centre of a pre-Galilean 'Solar system', a house that devours people to survive and a world where sex (in fact all things considered 'dirty or unhygienic') are slowly being eradicated. But this isn't about space travel, aliens and oppressive forces from off-world. Nope, the origin of this parallel world's horror lies much closer to home.

The characters in Eye In The Sky are distinctive. While they all appear very normal on the surface, dark secrets lurk in the recesses of their minds. And these personal secrets are the key to the power of the narrative twists and turns. It's really a book about character winning over narrative, the way it should always be in my opinion. I am so sick of books (or movies) that are just narrative with peaks and troughs of action, merely a tightly written beginning, middle and end. Dick says to hell with that: reader, you will live the world of my characters. I will analyse and figurise them and embed you in the consequences.

Eye In the Sky presents a masterful novelist at the peak of his creative art.
Eye in the Sky

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