Eye in the Sky (1957)

Introduction
Eye in the Sky was originally published by Philip K. Dick in 1957. It tells the story of a small group of people accidently thrown into a proton beam deflector. This allows some of them to impose their reality on the others, creating a series of bizarre worlds that they need to escape. This takes place in a Cold War setting where loyalties are suspect and the proton beam deflector may be the only way to root out the real Communist in the group. The novel explores themes of virtual realities, surveillance cultures, religious worldviews, and family.

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Character List
Since this novel is based on the shared experiences of eight people who were victims of the accident at the proton beam deflector, a listing of these may prove useful to readers.

Accident Victims
Jack Hamilton—The main protagonist of the novel and government electronic engineer, Jack Hamilton begins the novel about to be fired from his job because his wife is a security risk. He takes a primary role in dismantling all of the mental realms the accident victims travel through. He is not religious and open minded, and fears throughout the novel that his wife was actually a Communist.

Marsha Hamilton—The energetic wife of Jack Hamilton. She is active in many social causes and is well-read, leading to the government’s suspicion that she is a Communist.

Charley McFeyffe—Jack Hamilton’s co-worker, who exposed Marsha as a security risk, although he works to keep friendly with the Hamiltons. He is fond of drinking and prefers direct confrontation when possible. He is also a secret Communist and his mind is the inspiration for the fourth and final variant of the real world, a vision of America as capitalist barbarism.

Bill Laws—A young promising nuclear engineer, Bill Laws is the guide on the tour at the start of the novel. As a black man he is often subject to the racist assumptions of others when he enters the worlds they create. He proves to be very intelligent and level-headed throughout the novel. Edith Pritchet—A doting and anxious mother, Edith Pritchet is responsible for the second alternative reality, a world where anything offensive to her is removed.

David Pritchet—Edit Prichet’s son. Joan Reiss—A businesswoman, Joan Reiss is paranoid. When given the change she establishes her own world on the accident victims reflecting the way she sees the world, everyone is under constant surveillance and everything that goes wrong is the result of an actual conspiracy. She reveals her paranoid tendencies early in the novel.

Arthur Silverster—A war veteran and follower of the cult of Second Babiism, a form of heterodox Islam. He creates the first alternate reality, a geocentric universe, where prayers are answered.

Other Important Characters
Colonel T. W. Edwards—Jack Hamilton’s boss at the military contractor. The novel begins with him forcing Hamilton out of his job on security concerns due to his wife’s interest in leftist organizations.

Doctor Guy Tillingford—The boss at an electronics company. He is an old acquaintance of Jack Hamilton and he attempts to work at his company after leaving the military contractor. He appears in various forms throughout the novel based on the logic of the fantasy realm the characters are within.

Silky—A barfly and prostitute. Jack Hamilton expresses a desire to sleep with her throughout the novel, causing tensions between him and his wife. Silky’s exists in all four fantasy realms: first as a prostitute, then as an asexual bar patron and friend of Marsha, then as a spider, and finally as Communist Party supporter.

eye2 eye3

Thematic Summary
Two important themes intertwine in this fascinating Cold War novel: surveillance culture and subjective realities. Let me come right out and say it. The virtues or terrors of a surveillance state rest entirely on our own subjective understandings of the world. This is the lesson of Eye in the Sky and it is still relevant to us today.

As Eye in the Sky opens, we learn that Jack Hamilton is about to be fired from his high-security military contractor position. He is a skilled electrician, but his wife has been exposed as being too friendly with leftist groups. The investigation is done by Hamilton’s acquaintance and sometimes friend Charley McFeyffe. Before his career can implode entirely, however, Hamilton has accident pushing him, his wife, McFeyffe, and five others into an alternative world. They will need to navigate four of these alternative realms, fantasy worlds, before they recover from the accident and can fully enter the real world. It takes only a few seconds in real time, but covers days in their minds. What is important is that each of the four worlds that they pass through is a security culture with varying degrees of power and control. The “eye in the sky” exists in all four (all five if you include the “real” world.) To list the five they are: a Cold War security clearance bureaucracy, an all-seeing deity, a moral reformer, a paranoid totalitarian (a Stalinesque figure), and a police force controlled by the capitalist class. While all of these are horrible for some of the participants, all of they are acceptable to some of them as well. There is no model of a security and surveillance state that will not be welcomed by some and resisted by others. The creator always defended their surveillance as protecting the common good. The creator is also always in a good position to declare and defend their views, something that they would desperately hide if not in a position of power.

We also learn that there is no clear division between the state apparatus of surveillance and private uses. Corporations—both in the fantasy worlds and the real world—defend and participate in the collection of information. They defend it as a necessary obligation to the higher power, but use it for their own benefits as well. It is for this reason that Jack Hamilton decides at the end of the novel to set out on his own and create a small electronics business based on his love of music.

Family is also at the center of Dick’s mind. In The World Jones Made a family is nearly destroyed because the protagonist had more love for his job than for his wife. Here the job is set aside for family, even as he harbors real doubts that his wife truly is a Communist. He shoots her at the end to break free of the final fantasy world and only then learns that she is not a Communist. Two symbols run through Eye in the Sky that suggest the struggles of family life. One is the return to the Hamilton home. In all four fantasy worlds, the Hamilton home is a base of operations, a site of conflict, or a place of safety and security. The other is Silky, who is an apparent threat to the family. Jack Hamilton is attracted to her and seems to deeply desire her. Her attempts to ensnare Jack appear in various guises as well (a prostitute, a sweet friend of the family, a spider, a Communist party loyalist). Jack resists all of these, ironically making a final effort to restore the normalcy of his family by shooting his wife in the chest.

The fantasy worlds become a means to explore the deep divisions that exist between Jack and Marsha Hamilton. Jack comes to resent much about Marsha’s political views, seeing them as the root of his troubles. He certainly never stops believing that she may be a Communist until the very end. Marsha’s acceptance and even support for Edith Pritchet’s moral reform efforts. Silky is another source of steady conflict between them. Notice that these conflicts evaporate when the conditions that created them (the security and surveillance apparatus) are no longer relevant to their lives. The tension in their marriage was a direct result of the pressure they felt from their place in the hierarchy.

All four of the fantasy worlds seem to suggest some level of mental illness. Because they seem to be based on how the four creators actually see the world, they are fundamentally irrational. Dick may be saying that we are all mentally ill. Perhaps if time allowed, we could have experienced four more fantasy worlds. Perhaps each of us really sees the world differently. It is one thing, for instance, to have a principled critique of capitalism. It is quite another to see the world as Charley McFeyffe did, as a constant conflict between riots and police, or to really believe that capitalists experiment dangerous drugs on live humans (if such spaces exist it was not rational to put that in suburban California). One of the more frightening conclusions of the novel is that we all are really solipsists and see the world differently. While this radical individualism creates a space for freedom (along the lines of what we see in “Misadjustment” or “The World She Wanted”), it seems to destroy any hope for collective solidarity and joined struggle.

A useful lecture on the security state

Chapter Summaries
Chapter One
A newspaper account records the events on October 2, 1959 at Belmont Bevatron, where a proton beam deflector malfunctioned and destroyed a platform holding eight sightseers. The eight people fell to the floor and four required hospitalization.

Jack Hamilton is at work at the missile research lab and is visited by his wife Marsha who invites him to lunch. Marsha is cheerful, but Hamilton is worried that he will get news that he will be fired from the project soon. A note from Colonel T. E. Edwards asking him to his office confirms these worries. In Edwards office, Hamilton is told that Charley McFeyffe—of the department’s security department—has identified his wife as a security risk and that he will be denied access to classified information until the situation is resolved. Hamilton is furious because this will disrupt his work. McFeyffe reveals the specific charges and evidence. The concerns are based on Marsha joining the Progressive Party in 1950 and participating in “pro-left” groups. Hamilton defends his wife, but his they explain that the risks are too high and that they can never look into her mind to know the truth. They tell Hamilton that they need to prove her innocence (or leave her) to have his clearance restored. McFeyffe invites Hamilton and his wife out for a friendly drink.

Chapter Two
Charley McFeyffe is discussing the evening plans with Martha, while trying to explain and apologize for the unfortunate situation they are in. He is attracted to Martha and it is unthinkable for him that Jack would leave her for the job. After witnessing the startup of the new equipment at the lab the three will go out for drinks. Jack Hamilton is shaken by the decision put before him, but he realizes that it forces him to come to the truth about his relationship and values. Nevertheless he is sore at McFeyffe for destroying people’s lives through a paranoid system. The three are joined with a group of sightseers to witness the start of the new particle deflector.

A young black man leads the tour of the deflector. A young boy (David Pritchet) is eager to ask questions. His mother (Edith) questions the power of the device compared to the power of God. Meanwhile Martha and Jack Hamilton argue about the recent events. Jack tries to red bait Martha, which sparks further argument. As their argument goes on, the Bevatron deflector malfunctions and destroys the walkway. After the accident, on the ground, Jack Hamilton realizes that he may not get up for a long time.

Chapter Three
Jack Hamilton wakes up in a hospital and is greeted by Martha. She tell him that everyone survived the accident, but that a war veteran Arthur Silverster was badly injured. They learn that the government is covering their medical care due to the accident. Jack Hamilton decides that he will need to find work outside of classified, government projects. Martha begins to regret her political proclivities, but Jack assures her that the anti-Communist scare is just a sign of the time. A few decades earlier someone like McFeyffe would have been deemed a fascist. They agree that something feels off about world since they woke up.

The Hamiltons are driven home along with Joan Reiss, a young businesswoman who was also part of the tour. They discuss everyone’s injuries and how lucky they were no one was more severely hurt. Jack lies about the condition of Silverster. A bee stings Jack. At their home, the couple invite Reiss inside for a cup of coffee.

The Hamiltons and Joan Reiss discuss Jack’s cat named Ninny Numbcat. Jack mentions that cats do not have souls. This piques Marsha who remembers that Jack never discussed anything about souls before. Martha again expresses her concerns about how the world changed since the accident. She feels that she is in a “primordial place.” Reiss has a different type of suspicion. She suggests that that accident was intentional and that she was the target. She suddenly expresses disgust and hatred for the cat. This provokes Jack’s anger and he threatens her subtlety. Outside a swarm of locusts descends on them. They escape into the house and Jack Hamilton comes to agree with his wife that something has changed in the world.

Chapter Four
The next morning, Jack Hamilton prays to God for forgiveness for the way he treated Joan Reiss before the locusts descended, despite the fact that he has not prayed since he was a child. He comments that Reiss expressed irrational hatred toward cats, an attitude that leads to Nazism. Bill Laws—the guide from the tour—approaches the door. He asks if anything strange has been happening. Jack makes the connection that he was being punished, first by a bee for lying and second by a locust swarm for mistreating a guest. Laws shows Hamilton a charm he used to cure his own injuries. It was a good luck charm that his sister gave him, but after the accident is developed the power to cure wounds. Marsha enters the conversation and discusses how she had a strange dream that they were still in Bevatron. Other changes to the world are evidence. For some manna can fall from the heavens if asked for. Blessing seem to work. Prayers are answered.

Hamilton drives up to the offices of the Electronics Development Agency, finding his car still at the missile factory. He meets an old friend Doctor Guy Tillingford. He explains why he had to leave government work. Hamilton notices that his friend’s office has a prayer wheel. During the interview for the new position, Tillingford asks about Hamilton’s drinking habits and sexual history. He also asks if he has found salvation through the “One True Gate.” Hamilton is surprised and blames this on the accident. A technician overhears and make a comment about the prophet. Hamilton asks what type of research is being done at Electronics Development Agency. Tillingford explains that they are engaged in theophonics, the technology of communicating with God, a field of research that has taken off since the “War Against the Pagan Hordes.” Hamilton asks about other fields. Tillingford suggest that most fundamental sciences are dead fields because all is known about the universe. All sciences are applied. Tillingford moves Hamilton on to the personnel department, but first explains the pay he will receive. Hamilton will get four credits toward salvation every ten days. Certainly prayer will provide him everything else he needs. He ends the interview with a friendly suggestion that he seek help from the Prophet Horace Clamp who can set him on the right path in following Second Babiism.

Chapter Five
After leaving the offices of Electronics Development Agency, Jack Hamilton is stopped by some men who need to investigate him to complete his employment review. One of them, Brady, asks about his N-rating. They accuse him of being a heathen and then challenge him to an ordeal by fire to prove his faith. He fails by responding with pain when his finger is burned. Angered with the investigation, Hamilton faces another challenge. When he proves unable to cite Ohm’s law, despite asking for help through prayer, Hamilton is exposed as a heathen by Brady. Hamilton proves unable to best Brady, who receives answers directly from an angel. Hamilton turns their logic against them accusing them of sinning in their hearts and hiding their evil motives. Brady and the angel begin a theological discussion about the sinful nature of jealousy. As Hamilton drives away he learns how he can use prayer to operate and maintain the car. He drives by his old workplace, assuming that Colonel Edwards will be worse in this reality and he pulls into a bar called the Golden Glow.

Inside the bar Hamilton runs into Charley McFeyffe. They joke about the situation. McFeyffe has realized that this bar is allowed in this puritanical religious world as a necessity to the moral order. Goodness can only exist alongside depravity. Hamilton tells McFeyffe that he plans to see the Prophet Horace Clamp for answers. They nearly fight as McFeyffe tries to take the note with Clamp’s contract information from Hamilton. Bill Laws, observing them, reminds them that they need to work together.

Chapter Six
Laws introduces them to “Grace” a blond women he is with. He shows them something amazing. The cigarette and candy machines have no inventory. They seem to produce items from thin air. They experiment with the device and explore how the machine works. While it seems to work by miracles, it can also copy whatever is near it. They use this to begin create an endless supply of alcohol, which they distribute to the patrons. Laws is still interested in how the miracles work. They experiment with prayers. Laws’ prayers are not answered but Hamilton’s are. “Grace,” whose real name is Silky, invites Hamilton for some private rituals. She has access to an intercom to Heaven. McFeyffe interrupts and begins leading the group somewhere, which turns out to be the church he attended in his youth. It is a church for Non-Second Bab believers. McFeyffe claims that he wants to convert some heathens. The church has seen better days, having had to sell much of its more elaborate equipment. Speaking to Father O’Farrel, McFeyffe asks about the history of the emergence of the Second Bab cult. They force him to put holy water on their umbrella and recite a prayer about going up to Heaven. They umbrella begins to rise into the dark night sky.

Chapter Seven
Jack Hamilton and Charley McFeyffe ride an umbrella up into heaven. As they go up they observe several important characteristics of the universe they are experiencing. First, it is a geocentric universe, conforming to the model of Ptolemy. Second, Heaven and Hell were physical locations in the universe. Third, a cosmic lake that later turns out to be a gigantic eye dominates their field of vision as they get closer to Heaven. The umbrella catches fire and they fall back to Earth, landing in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Near Cheyenne, they see a large skyscraper that was the central temple of the “One True Faith.” Hamilton prays for money and coins rain from the sky (but amounting to less than he prayed for). McFeyffe plans to return to Belmont California, because he suffers from boils as if paying penance for sins. Hamilton, however, chooses to remain to see the Prophet Horace Clamp. The temple looks more like a massive bureaucratic office building than a religious space. Clamp, when meeting Hamilton, tells him that (Tetragrammaton) has announced his visit to him. (Tetragrammaton) is the name that God prefers to be known by. Hamilton asks Clamp a series of questions about Second Bab, often intermixing his own opinions about the faith. Clamp, coming to know that Hamilton comes from another world, predicts the needs for a jihad to bring the message of (Tetragrammaton) to that world as well. Hamilton observes a worship service and takes a look at a massive wall plaque listing all of the faithful, the apparent listing of those saved. McFeyffe’s name is not on the list. One name from the group of accident victims is on there: Arthur Silverster. He knew that Silverster was the key to unlocking this collective delusion.

Hamilton quickly returns home to Belmont and he meets his wife. Marsha declares that she is about to die. Marsha and Bill Laws have been changing based on the expectations of Arthur Silverster. Laws begins to shuffle like a stereotype African-American and Marsha is becoming a cartoon image of a young radical woman. Hamilton warns that they will all begin got change based on Silverster’s beliefs.

Chapter Eight
On Sunday morning, the sermon is being delivered via television by (Tetragrammaton) himself. Laws is beginning to talk in a clichéd variant of an African-American dialect. Along with Charley McFeyffe the four of them form a plan to confront Silverster and escape this world. Hamilton explains that Silverster is not likely malevolent, but they are all trapped in his fantasy-world. This is really how he sees the world and they have the misfortune to be stuck inside of his delusion. They go to the hospital, collect the other three (the Pritchets and Joan Reiss) and confront Silverster his hospital bed. After talking with Silverster, he orders Laws to leave. They refuse to follow his orders and Silverster transforms into a divine force. Aided by angels, Silverster tries to defend his faith from the atheists and Communists in the group. Joan Reiss manages to knock him unconscious by throwing him to the floor. The angels depart and they seem to escape the fantasy world.

Doctors arrive to the scene. McFeyffe’s boils are healed. However Marsha appears to Jack Hamilton to be too thin. He orders her to strip and they all learn that she has no sex organs. They realize that they have entered someone else’s mental realm.

Chapter Nine
In the real world, the right accident victims are still on the ground and unconscious. Within their minds, they are coming to terms with the loss of their sexual identity. Marsha immediately knows to blame Edith Pritchet. Only she could be capable of such a perverse Victorian universe. Jack Hamilton—who is still working at EDA—is bring praised by his co-workers for his success in a pet show, where he entered Ninny Numbcat. His boss is still Doctor Guy Tillingford, but he has become a folksy and relaxed manager who attempts to lead by moral suasion. He explains the job to Hamilton. They are devoted to using the electronic industry to raise the moral and cultural standards of the masses. Tillingford gives Hamilton an article to peruse about Sigmund Freud’s about how the sexual drive is unhealthy in humans and is indeed entirely unnecessary. True artistic ability emerges from liberation from sexual desires. Hamilton’s job will be to help popularize this idea. He also mentions that Hamilton should take it easy because the company orchestra will be entering a music competition. When he leaves the office, Silky—also now asexual—is sitting in his car. She drives him home, but first they stop at the Safe Harbor, where Silky works.

They drive to where the Golden Glow used to be. It is now the Safe Harbor. They share a beer at the bar, which is now remodeled to have white tablecloths and folksy paintings on the wall. The beer is good. She tells Hamilton about the Mobilized Mental Health Association, a group almost everyone is a member of. Hamilton orders meat, which horrified Silky. As a jape, Hamilton asks Silky to have sex, but she seems unaware of what sex is. They leave to return to Marsha.

Chapter Ten
Marsha Hamilton and Jack Hamilton are discussing Silky, who is a prostitute, but since prostitutes do not exist in this world (along with any sexuality). Jack examines the newspaper and learns that the entire country of Russia has been abolished. Jack confronts Marsha on her acceptance of Silky and he accuses Marsha of enjoying a world without sex. Jack threatens to have sex with Silky and he escorts Silky into the basement. The music they listen to is mostly traditional classical music. The more offensive modernist music has been removed from his library. He tries to make advances toward Silky but fails, only piquing her interest about a kiss. Before he can kiss her, she disappears. Jack Hamilton goes upstairs and sees that Edith Pritchet has come to visit. As she arrived she abolished the “cateogory” of women like Silky.

Chapter Eleven
Marsha Hamilton confesses that she was working with Edith in purging the world of distasteful things, including Silky (who was no longer a prostitute since that category was previously abolished). The rest of the group comes in and they discuss playing a game. Bill Laws is happy with the changes as well since he has been promoted to running a research at a soap company (a creation of Pritchett). Jack Hamilton, however, is committed to breaking up this world as soon as he can, despite the desires of his wife and friend.

Looking for Ninny Numbcat, they group learns that Pritchet abolished the category of cat. In secret Reiss confesses to Jack that she, Arthur Silverster, and David Prichet are planning to drug Edith’s drink to hopefully end this world. Jack agrees to help them.

Chapter Twelve
Jack Hamilton, Marsha Hamilton, the Pritchets, Charley McFeyffe, and Joan Reiss are driving on the highway on their way to a picnic. Jack tries to get Edith to abolish the Irish as a jape against McFeyffe. They notice that the most odious factories and other visual blights are abolished from this world. The people in the car offer up to Edith recommendations about things to abolish, many of which she fulfills. As they are driving, Edith is actively reconstructing the world.

Around noon they reach the park. Marsha catches Jack preparing the drugs and the chloroform. She is both opposed to the plan to knock Edith out and fearful that she may decide to abolish Jack if she catches him. As they sit down to eat, Edith continues her reforms abolishing dampness and the green color of the ocean, seagulls, cows, and other things offensive to her or others. Eventually the group pushes her to abolish more and more essential aspects of the world, including basic elements. This destroys Edith’s control over their world. Jack wakes up in a new nondescript world. A voice of Joan Reiss dominates this world and she declares that they will observe them at every moment of their lives.

Chapter Thirteen
The group awakens happy to be back in the real world. Joan Reiss orders them into the car, telling them that she will drive them back to Belmont, back where they belong.

In the car, Jack Hamilton confronts Reiss telling her that this is not the real world. Reiss confesses that she is in control but that she has created a perfect copy of the real world. Everything has been restored to how it was before the accident. She was waiting for her chance to do this since the accident. As the Hamilton’s return to their house Marsha recommends accepting this change. Things will be back to how they were and although Reiss wants power over them, that is a price they need to pay. Inside the house they find Ninny Numbcat turned inside out, but still alive, dragging himself across the floor. Jack quickly kills the suffering cat and they realize that Reiss must have done this because of her hatred of cats. This world will be as bad as the others since Reiss is a paranoid and a sociopath. They close the blinds and decide to move to the basement. This sparks a conversation about Silky who should be restored in this world. Jack leads the way into the spider-web infested basement. He finds it impossible to go down the stairs due to the spider webs. He tries climbing back up and is thrown down the stairway. He cannot get up the stairs. Bill Laws arrives at the house and helps Martha get up the stairs with the help of David Pritchet. When Jack gets up, he reports that Silky is downstairs but in a different form. Laws says he will help Jack board up the basement.

Chapter Fourteen
The group decide that they must confront and kill Joan Reiss. The world she created was full of predators and other horrors, products of her paranoid mind. They worry that defeated Reiss will simply open up another work. Perhaps they would need to work their way through all eight individual’s delusions. Hamilton insists that the remaining people are realists so this should be the last fantasy realm.

In the kitchen, Marsha is preparing coffee when a can falls on her foot. In this world, a can falling on someone’s foot is not an accident, but a fully plotted scheme just as they are in Reiss’ mind. The water faucet releases red blood into their cups. They realize that the house is a living thing in this world.

The group tries to escape the house. It smells like her boyfriend, who she is fearful of. As they walk through the house takes on more characteristics of a man’s mouth. Edith Pritchet is consumed by the house, but the others manage to escape out of the mouth/door. Joan Reiss confirms that she is still in control of this world, appearing from the shadows.

Hamilton brings out his gun (which only exists in this fantasy realm) and threatens Reiss. Reiss rightfully exposes the conspiracy to kill her, they are not even human. Bill Laws, suddenly in the form of a giant spider as are the others, attacks and subdues Joan Reiss, wrapping her into a cocoon. David Pritchett kills her by feeding on her with his feeding tube. The world changes and they hope to return to Bevatron, but they enter yet another world. McFeyffe announces that this proves he was right about Marsha. A fat man in a black car arrives. He turns out to be Guy Tillingford. He orders Jack Hamilton into the car to become a new test patient for the epidemiology labs.

Chapter Fifteen Guy Tillingford’s car, carrying Jack Hamilton and the rest of the group, dissolves into a shapeless hunk of metal as the world seems to collapse. They must now walk through a working class community in the midst of a riot. They start being pelted by bricks. They argue that it should be a simple matter to escape, they need to only kill Marsha as the source of the world which is a leftist stereotype of capitalist barbarism. It is not a well-constructed world, however, and signs of their reality on the floor of Bevatron peek through. Threats in the form of other leftist clichés such as capitalist as 1930s gangsters, a lynch mob led by capitalists, and active street riots emerge.

Jack and Marsha Hamilton, Charley McFeyfee, and Bill Laws escapes the worst of the riot, looking for the Hamilton house. They find the neighborhood to be a total slum full of decadent establishments, gun shops, and armed soldiers on the street. They decide to wait things out in the Safe Harbor bar. The bar is full of working class teenager, being feed cheap liquor to numb their experience of their harsh working life. Silky is in the bar, back in her role as a prostitute. They share communist slogans and prepare for the upcoming class war. They learn that the bar is a cover for a Communist Party cell. Jack Hamilton flirts with Silky. He shoots Marsha in the chest with a rifle in hopes that by killing her, they will be able to escape this world. When the fantasy realm does not fall apart, he realizes that this was not Marsha’s creation.

Chapter Sixteen Charley McFeyffe changes and grows, transforming into a massive golden deity known as Comrade Commissar. McFeyffe confesses to Hamilton that he has been a Communist since the Great Depression. He says that he tried to out Marsha because she is dangerous to leftist politics. As a dabbler in politics, she clings to the “cult of individualism” and could not be trustworthy. Hamilton attacks McFeyffe but is quickly overcome by his power and party-loyal workmen. The evidence that they are in Bevatron becomes more visible as the workmen knock out McFeyffe. The other accident victims appear on the ground around him. The real world emerges around him and he is greeted by Marsha.

Colonel T. E. Edwards listens to Jack Hamilton’s report that Charley McFeyffe is a Communist. Although he lacks direct evidence that Marsha is not a Communist, he does try to prove that McFeyffe was using his position to root out potential party enemies. He argues that the same principle should be applied broadly. If Marsha cannot be given the benefit of the doubt, neither should McFeyffe. Unable to reach an agreement, Edwards talks about Hamilton’s future. Hamilton will not go to work for Guy Tillingford. He is not too sore about leaving the defense contractor. He was not a fan of the security culture and the building of weapons of war anyway. Hamilton and Bill Laws are starting up an electronics company together, working out of a small shed making phonographs and headphone receivers for listening to them. He discusses his plans with the Pritchets. Edith agrees with Hamilton about the need for a strong cultural foundation to civilization. Edith has agreed to invest in the small firm.

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About tashqueedagg

Searching for the radical themes in American literature. American literature for the age of Occupy
This entry was posted in Afterlife, Bureaucracy, Childhood, Cold War, Family, Knowledge, Mental Illness, Philip K. Dick, Politics, Power, Religion, Science, Sexuality, Technology, Work and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Eye in the Sky (1957)

  1. EITS was published still quite early in his writing career,and was the best piece I think,among his short stories and novels to date then,and his first,if minor,masterpiece.It was a breakthrough book for him,and a seminal one within the sf genre,that was very well received when it was published,although not attracting the acclaim of more famous sf novels appearing during the same decade.I think it’s amazing,that considering the radical themes contained within the novel,that it passed muster to be published by Ace,who rejected much of his later more experimental stuff,including his next novel,”Time Out of Joint”.I suppose there were obviously commercial reasons relating to sales of EITS,for this.

    Dick,who apparently belonged to no particular group or movement within sf,can be seen through EITS,to very likely to have influenced the 1960s “new wave” before his more famous novels of the next decade were published.He seems to have anticipated it here,without knowing it.I think though he achieved much within the book,that the new,daring young shapers of 1960s sf never did or were capable of doing.I also think it is significant,that the psychedelic hallucinations he describes within the novel,were written long before he took drugs,and would seem to point then,to the strong political and social themes you favor within the plot line,but he was very cerebral though

    The “new wave” however,also preferred more cerebral and psychological themes that took the sf genre away from it’s traditional territory of spaceships,aliens and spacemen with laser guns.Dick was already doing this in EITS,and despite the weak,pseudo scientific premise for the shared fugue of those laying unconscious,and the lack I think of any theological reasons,it was an exceptionally powerful novel dealing with surveillance and subjective or solipsist realities,that was far from the concerns of sf at that time.

    If what you say about a surveillance state is true,saying as much that it’s subject to our own fears and perceptions,then such a society is surely rooted in paranoia.Indeed,EITS is rooted very deeply in paranoid delusions and the fear that accompanies them from being watched.It is interesting here that much of it is of a pseudo religious nature,and that also seems to relate to a morbid,pervasive feeling of being watched by an all powerful figure.It is also alarmingly pertinent to his novelette,”Faith of Our Fathers”,where a totalitarian government similar to the constant surveillance one in George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four”,is in fact really ruled by,albeit an evil,God!It seems in this case then,that the irrational political fears of the characters,could perhaps be delusions created by the eye in the sky in the novel that is supposed to be God.

    Subjective and religious paranoia,would also have deeper meaning in Dick’s personal life nearly nearly ten years after he wrote EITS.In 1964,he “witnessed” a face staring down at him from the sky,that became the basis for the nightmarish but humourous,”The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch”.As we know,the nature of this vision isn’t political,and can it seems,be attributed to amphetamine drugs.It seems in this case then,that surveillance and subjective reality,are entirely cerebral.The apparition though,seems to have stemmed from his interest in Gnosticism,and his fear of this,manifested in his “hallucination”.

    Surveillance and our inner worlds then,are inexplicably linked,and the source of political beliefs can perhaps be found in our subjective realities.

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