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I read this short story in a "stories for boys" book in the 1980s.

Its about a boy who starts falling unconscious or going into comas randomly - but he finds himself actually waking up in what is essentially a post-apocalyptic world.

Every time he falls unconscious, a man in a long term coma in the same hospital the boy is taken to wakes up, and doctors realise there is a link.

Eventually, the boy and man spend some time together in "our" reality, and the man explains what is going on - the boy is part of a special part of the human race, and the rest of humanity aside from a few hundred "specials" live in a fake world created by these people. They mentally project the "fake" world to everyone, so all of humanity is basically living a waking dream.

I think maybe that the "specials" are part of a race which long ago destroyed the Earth, and the current situation is their continuing punishment.

The ultimate decision at the end of story is that the "specials" group is split in a decision - whether or not to allow humanity to "destroy" itself using nuclear weapons, allowing the "specials" to wake humanity up to their true reality and thus freeing the "specials" from their punishment.

The boy ends up having to cast the deciding vote - while this is being debated, tensions rise between nuclear powers in our "reality".

The conclusion is that the boy votes against humanity destroying itself - and in our "reality" all nuclear weapons and all knowledge about how to create nuclear weapons vanishes instantly, leaving many people baffled.

I am after the name of this story, and possibly what anthologies it appeared in.

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  • I think this story ID question has been asked previously scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/141303/… - we don't have an answer yet though... – Alith Jan 16 '18 at 21:14
  • @Alith yup, I recognise all of those stories. – Moo Jan 16 '18 at 21:44
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    A guess, based on its title: "Great Adventure Stories for Boys"? amazon.com/Great-Adventure-Stories-Leonard-Matthews/dp/… – Ayshe Jan 17 '18 at 16:38
  • @Ayshe the cover of that book is very familiar, so its definitely one of the multiple books of that type I read as a child - I have ordered it online, so once it comes I will confirm or not. Thanks for the research :) – Moo Jan 18 '18 at 2:59
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    @user71888 bear in mind that that book has several reprints, with different covers - I recognise one cover from 1978 but not the 1983 print, and I read the book sometime in the second half of the 80s... once it comes, I will let you know what stories it has in it, as there are a few others I remember (e.g. man farms giant crabs underwater, is killed by government, but he had secretly bred a genetically modified giant soldier crab army which goes off to kill the government people). – Moo Jan 18 '18 at 8:41
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Science Fantasy Stories by Angus Allan, J.H. Tead, Ross Trapnell, Malcolm Shaw, M.S. Goodall, J. Williams, Lloyd Williams, Richard Grimston.

cover

The story mentioned in the question is called "The Dream-Makers" by Malcolm Shaw.

Other stories in the collection include:

Master of all the world! by Angus Allan - a bullied and disenfranchised child is given the ability to destroy all of humanity through mental abilities by aliens looking for a planet to colonise.

The last day on earth by Richard Grimston - a pre-human humanoid civilisation on earth has just 24 hours left to live, but there's still time for a school trip to a science lab...

In the new beginning by Angus Allan - a space cruiser picks up some humans in hibernation who have been asleep for a very long time.

Old MacDonald had a space farm by M. S. Goodall - a isolated farmer of Wrigglets goes mad with loneliness.

The specimen jar by M. S. Goodall - a colonisation transport ships passenger has a very bad dream that turns true when they wake up.

In the eye of the beholder by Angus Allan - a group of explorers make a fatal mistake when meeting the locals.

Break out on Pris-Sat 9 by Ross Trapnell - a group of prisoners break out from their prison, but they have a traitor amongst their midst.

Sneak attack by J. H. Tead - an old space cruiser manages to beat overwhelming odds when they suddenly face the entire enemy fleet.

Alien holiday by Lloyd Williams - a holiday planet is built between Earth and Mars, but as one boy's holiday progresses, fewer and fewer of his fellow holiday makers seem to be human.

The turn of a card by Angus Allan - several explorers on an alien planet are trapped in a cave by a huge predator, and they draw cards to see who has to act as a diversion for the rest to escape.

Feeding time by M. S. Goodall - a professor tames a seemingly untameable alien humanoid species by giving them sweets, but it all goes horribly wrong when two visitors from Earth get curious.

Doomlist by Angus Allan - a military and scientific base on an alien planet is about to be overrun by an unstoppable local predator, but there is only one ship left which cannot carry everyone and one man thinks he should be on that ship above everyone else.

The Dream-Makers by Malcolm Shaw - a boy starts passing out and having dreams of a post-apocalyptic world, but gradually realises he has more control over the world than most.

Sinkhole One by M. S. Goodall - a crustacean farmer is given government quotas he cannot meet, and when he is killed for resisting his vengeance is unleashed.

Something in the basement by J. Williams - a local man becomes the centre of concern when he displays odd behaviour, and when someone decides to break into his house to investigate, all is not as it seems.

The 'S' stone of Sangros by M. S. Goodall - a group of mercenaries are paid to blow up an officially recognised galactic monument, a massive stone carved into the shape of an S, but rather than destroying it they accidentally awaken something terrifying.

A Question of time by Angus Allan - a group of explorers find themselves deep in earths past after accidentally travelling through a time warp - or do they?

Hi-Fly by M. S. Goodall - a new sport is invented using mutated giant flies, but one bully isnt happy when he loses his match and blames his fly for his loss.

The jokes on you by Malcolm Shaw - a man is picked to appear on a sadistic TV show where your dreams can come true, but only if you overcome your worst fears.

Arkadya by Ross Trapnell - a group of space explorers find a colony of people seemingly dating from the 17th century, but it soon becomes clear that they are never supposed to leave.

Nightmare by J. H. Teal - a group of space explorers discover an alien artefact but are warned off with ever increasing intensity by the artefacts defences. When they finally reach the centre, they discover it was a prison all along and only a crew members cold saves the day.

H.E 11 and back by Malcolm Shaw - a group of prisoners being shipped to a prison planet escape cryosleep and take over the ship.

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  • I guess the editor is not credited? Can you name the author of the short story described in the question? – user14111 Feb 10 '18 at 17:20
  • @user14111 I don't have copy of the book and couldn't find that info online. Moo promised to add details, so hopefully we'll know soon. – Ayshe Feb 10 '18 at 18:51
  • @user14111 no editor is credited in the book, there is no forward or anything other than the stories themselves. Hope the info I have added is helpful. – Moo Feb 11 '18 at 0:25
  • Is this the same Angus Allan, I wonder? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angus_Allan – Gerard Feb 11 '18 at 13:29

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