About 50 years ago, I read a science fiction short story that I'm trying to find today. As best I can remember, it was about a guy who was driving along and the road just ended in front of him. There was nothing past that point, and by nothing, I mean NOTHING! No road, no sky, no trees, NOTHING!

He discovered that he was just an electrical impulse in a computer created by a higher world. The computer was created as a cross-section simulation of a large population, so that they could experiment to see how "normal" people would react to certain stimuli.

Somewhere along the way, we find out that the "higher world" was just another computer that had been created by an even higher world who was stunned that their computer simulation had built their own computer simulation!

1 Answer 1


Could be Simulacron-3 by Daniel F. Galouye, from 1964.

Excerpt from Wikipedia:

Simulacron 3 is the story of a virtual city (total environment simulator) for marketing research, developed by a scientist to reduce the need for opinion polls. The computer-generated city simulation is so well-programmed, that, although the inhabitants have their own consciousness, they are unaware, except for one, that they are only electronic impulses in a computer.

I haven't read that book, but I've seen the movie adaptation The Thirteenth Floor from 1999, which ends with the scene you describe: the protagonist driving until the world he knows ends.

  • 1
    You beat me to it. I read an e-book version of that novel several months ago because I had read there was reason to believe it was the first SF novel to largely be set inside an electronically simulated "virtual reality" environment, although the phrase "virtual reality" was not used in the text.
    – Lorendiac
    Nov 3, 2018 at 8:07
  • Rainer Werner Fassbinder made a movie based on it, "Welt am Draht". Long but worth watching if you like 70s design. Nov 3, 2018 at 17:22
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    My memory of Counterfeit World's ending is that he 'ascends' to the next world and someone points out that the simulation he was living in was unlikely to be real with exotic and romantic names such as 'mediterranean' and 'himalayas'. I don't remember the end-of-the-road scene at all. Nov 3, 2018 at 17:40

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