The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Agent Ann Carter sends writer Jay Vickers to meet a man, Crawford, who says that new products are flooding the marketplace. Such products, including free edible carbohydrates, perpetually sharp razors, and “Forever Cars,” are being made by unknown people to destroy the world economy. Crawford asks Vickers to write a book exposing them, but he refuses.

Vickers’ neighbor Horton Flanders speculates about mentally “listening” to space to learn from aliens. When Flanders vanishes, Vickers flees a lynch mob who believes that he killed Flanders. Confused by memories of a youthful walk in “fairyland” with a girl named Kathleen, he drives a Forever Car to his old house in the Midwest and finds a top. He recalls that as a child he spun the top, watched its stripes spiralling to nowhere, and traveled to another world.

Crawford arrives to tell Vickers that mutants with psychic powers are behind the new products, Vickers is a mutant himself, and the world leaders he represents have a “secret weapon” to defeat them. Vickers drives to New York to warn Ann, who he suspects is a mutant, but he must hide when his parked car is smashed by an angry crowd. Crawford’s people have announced the existence of mutants, who are being hunted and killed. To escape, Vickers spins the top to reach a parallel world that is like Earth but uninhabited.

He walks to that world’s Midwest, hoping to find Kathleen’s house, where his previous...

(The entire section is 556 words.)