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I am trying to remember the title of one of my favour science fiction books from the 1990s. It began with an astronaut sent to the stars returning decades later to an Earth empty of people. He finds a computer terminal and gradually dormant dopiter systems wake up and start to find out what happens.

Initially the only working computer function is a story telling module which starts trying to explain what happens. The story moves back in time as the computers search records and focus on a character called (from memory) Peter Devos or similar who starts to dream about a frozen girl on a spaceship. The story is complex and I really want to read it again.

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    What's a "dopiter"? – Valorum Dec 15 '18 at 10:41
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This description could be of Larry Niven's A World Out of Time and the "story is complex" certainly fits, too. On his return, Earth is a very different place than Jaybee Corbell remembers.

I recall that the protagonist is 'sent' as an astronaut (i.e. not as a volunteer), and spends much effort in the search for info about the events that caused humanity's decline.

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    In what way does the story match the description? – Valorum Dec 15 '18 at 13:58
  • @Valorum - it has been years since I read this, but the protagonist is certainly 'sent' as an astronaut (not a volunteer...), and spends much effort in the search for info about the events that caused humanity's decline. – Whit3rd Dec 15 '18 at 20:59
  • The Earth isn't deserted in A World Out of Time. I don't think this can be the book Geoff is looking for. – John Rennie Dec 16 '18 at 10:40
  • Well, no one is maintaining com-watch to talk to returning spacers and the Earth is depopulated enough that Corbell couldn't tell the difference from orbit. But for much of the book the protagonist is a captive of one of the tribes of remaining people. – dmckee Dec 16 '18 at 21:23
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thanks for your replies. I ended up remembering enough to track the book down with Google. It's Portal by Rob Swigart. Seems to be have been reprinted a few times. I am now going to try and find an ebook version.

Book's description on Amazon :

Originally published as an interactive novel on computer disk in 1986, Portal is the story of an astronaut who returns to earth from a mysteriously aborted mission prematurely awakened from suspended animation. One hundred years have passed; animals and plants thrive, cities stand intact. Every human being, however, has disappeared. With the help of a slowly reviving computer network, the astronaut begins to piece together the events of the last century. He learns of the child prodigy Peter Devore, of a world orchestrated by stunning new technologies, and of Peter's race against time to unlock the secrets of the Portal.

  • BTW : You can—and should—accept your own answer. You won't get the usual rep from it, but it tags the question as having been dealt with. – dmckee Dec 21 '18 at 2:30

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