Eye in the Sky Critical Essays

Philip K. Dick


(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Philip K. Dick published his first novel, Solar Lottery, in 1955. Eye in the Sky was his fifth novel and one of the first to take up the theme that would eventually dominate his work: What is real? As Jack Hamilton and his companions move from worldview to worldview, how do they know which is the real world and which is not?

Eye in the Sky is most interesting for its use of setting. The novel employs a frame tale—Jack and the others in the common world—as well as four stories inside that frame, totaling five settings in Eye in the Sky. Among other things, the frame tales setting is marked by Communist paranoia. Marsha Hamilton is a freethinker: She contributes to left-wing causes, subscribes to left-wing journals, and attends left-wing meetings. Therefore, the Establishment sees her as pro-Communist, and her husband is branded a security risk and given a choice: to divorce his wife or quit his job. While under this cloud, the couple goes to the Bevatron demonstration.

Arthur Silvester’s worldview is that of a religious fundamentalist, and the problems of living in a society constructed on the basis of religious fundamentalism are demonstrated in the chapters controlled by him. Edith Pritchett is a self-centered Victorian prude, and when she has control, she eliminates anything she finds uncomfortable, so that her world becomes less and less interesting. Joan Reiss, in her paranoia, constructs a world...

(The entire section is 439 words.)