The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The best stories in this collection are about ordinary persons who have psychic or surreal experiences. In “Don’t Look Now,” John and Laura, an English couple who have gone to Venice to recover from the death of their daughter, Christine, encounter two elderly twin sisters, one of whom is blind and psychic. She tells them that Christine is alive. When they hear that night that their son is ill, Laura flies back to England alone. While she is gone, John is convinced that he sees Laura, in Venice, and in the company of the mysterious sisters. Things become more sinister when he calls England and Laura answers the phone. He is then told by the blind sister that he has had a psychic experience. What he saw, she says, was Laura returning to Venice for John’s own funeral. The story comes to a bizarre conclusion when John pursues a little girl he thinks is Christine but who turns out to be a dwarf with a sharp knife.

“The Apple Tree” is the story of a man who is convinced that a gnarled old apple tree outside his bedroom window is the spirit of his dead wife, come back to take revenge on him for being glad she is gone. Its wood smolders instead of burns, its blossoms are ugly, and its fruit is inedible. When at last, in a blind rage, the man chops the tree down during a snowstorm, his foot gets trapped in the stump, and there is no one around to hear his cries for help.

“The Blue Lenses” is the story of a woman who is given a special...

(The entire section is 526 words.)