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3 June 2004


Dear Locus Online,

I am writing this letter on behalf of my mother, who has been trying for literally decades to find the title/author of a sci-fi novel that she began reading in the early 1970s. My father, who had just had a massive heart attack, was in the middle of an extended stay in the local hospital, and my mom was spending interminable hours in various waiting rooms. One night, she picked up a coverless paperback that had been left lying on a table, and read a good bit of it before putting it down to take advantage of the next "visiting hours" period. When she returned, the book was gone. Since she knew neither title nor author, she was never able to track it down and finish it, and not knowing the end has driven her crazy!

Over the years, my mom's memory of the story has grown hazy, but she does recall a few details:

  • The basic plot involves an adult male character who, through observation of anomalies in his environment, gradually comes to believe that he (and the world around him) is not "real"; either he is an artificial person with an artificial memory, or he is part of a complex computer program -- something along those lines, at any rate.
  • One of the details that the man notices involves the place (factory?) where he works. Equipment inside the building is much too large to have fit through any of the doors, making it "impossible" for it to be there.
  • At one point, while the man is driving a vehicle down a road, the road (and the rest of the world) suddenly ends, and he finds himself in a sort of nothingness. He "passes out," then wakes to find the world "fixed."
I know this isn't much to go on, but I'm hoping that at least one your well-read staff members will recognize the story. I've tried asking for help at various libraries and online communities, but have had no luck.

Thank you for your time.

Kristi Stephens
3 June

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