The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Jack Hamilton, a bright young engineer; Marsha, his wife; and Charley McFeyffe, their friend, go to witness the testing of a new attachment on the Bevatron, a powerful new atom smasher on which Hamilton has been working. An uncontrolled proton beam slices away the viewing platform, hurling the three of them, their guide, and four tourists through the beam to the floor of the chamber sixty feet below. All are injured and hospitalized, and they recover at different rates.

Jack, Marsha, and Joan Reiss, one of the tourists, are the first to be released. They go to the Hamilton home, where strange things begin to happen. For example, Jack is attacked by a plague of locusts, and Bill Laws, their black guide (who has dropped in to visit), gradually devolves into a drawling, shuffling caricature of a black man. Eventually, Charley also joins them. Jack and he are carried up to heaven while hanging onto an umbrella. In heaven, they are examined by an enormous eye, the “eye in the sky” of the title. Finally, they understand that the proton beam has somehow freed them from the real world and locked them into the world as seen by Arthur Silvester, another of the tourists trapped with them in the fall.

That worldview collapses when Arthur is knocked unconscious, and the group moves on to the next setting. At first, they think they are back in the common world, but once again, things begin to go awry: The newspaper has no bad news in it, there are no...

(The entire section is 429 words.)