I am looking for the title to a 1960's short story about a man who discovers that he is an android after an accident. He discovers how to open the control panel in his stomach area and finds his programming or his "life" is on a very slowly moving punch tape that is read by an optical scanner. He punches extra holes into the tape and finds that it alters his reality. In the end...

he decides to terminate himself since he isn't human and none of what he perceives is real, it's only programming. He slices the tape just before it goes under the scanner knowing this will end his program and his "life".

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    This isn't a match, but you seen "Demon with a Glass Hand?" from "The Outer Limits," written by Harlan Ellison and aired in 1964? A man named Trent has no memories older than ten days. His left hand has been replaced by a hand-shaped computer. Three fingers are missing; the computer tells him they must be reattached before it can tell Trent what is going on. Well, Trent is not what he appears to be and . . . Mar 15, 2016 at 22:37
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    I added spoiler markup in a suggested edit for the end of the question. I would have not moused over it, in anticipation of reading the story. :-) Mar 16, 2016 at 10:20
  • It's the story of your life... oh wait!
    – Burgi
    Mar 17, 2016 at 10:52

1 Answer 1


The Electric Ant, by Phillip K Dick

"...Garson Poole ... finds out that he is an 'electric ant' – an "organic" robot. He further finds out that what he believes is his subjective reality is being fed to him from a micro-punched tape in his chest cavity..."

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    I was going to say that sounds like any number of PKD stories
    – NKCampbell
    Mar 15, 2016 at 22:47
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    I was going to suggest this myself. It's a very close match except for the end. There is a fuller summary here: philipkdickreview.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/the-electric-ant Mar 15, 2016 at 22:53
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    @rosesunhill how is the end not a match? I'm sure that's what happens.
    – moopet
    Mar 16, 2016 at 9:55
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    @Phil don't forget to click the checkmark to indicate a correct answer.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Mar 16, 2016 at 11:54
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    @moopet The actual story The Electric Ant has a twist ending that is not reflected in the implied ending described in the question, but I don't want to say any more about it because just revealing there is a twist is a spoiler, IMHO. Mar 16, 2016 at 16:10

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