44

It might be a short story or it might be a novel. It must be before 1972 because I read it in my youth and I am OLD.

The following is very impressionistic.

There is a multidimensional/not of this Earth/alien artifact-like tunnel.

Picture a long, perhaps transparent, storm drain like structure sitting in a field but with an opening on only one end.

It is the subject of a lengthy investigation/exploration that has cost many lives. An instrumented investigator enters the "tunnel" and makes the exact movements that his predecessors have made, advancing until he must do something original at which point he survives and a new "move" is added to the list of correct moves or he is destroyed and a "move" is added to the list of things to be avoided at that point.

I remember absolutely nothing else about the work except that (I hope central) feature.

60

Rogue Moon (1960) by Algis Budrys.

From Wikipedia:

Rogue Moon is largely about the discovery and investigation of a large alien artifact found on the surface of the Moon.

The object eventually kills its explorers in various ways—more specifically, investigators "die in their effort to penetrate an alien-built labyrinth where one wrong turn means instant death",

But their deaths slowly reveal the funhouse-like course humans must take in moving through it.

From Amazon:

Shortlisted for the 1961 Hugo Award, Rogue Moon is the disquieting and story of what happens when monstrous scientific ambition is matched by human obsession.

The moon had finally been reached, and on it was found the most terrifying structure, that killed men over and over again, in torturous, unfathomable ways. Clearly, only a mad man or a suicidal maniac could explore its horrible secrets.

All his life, Al Barker has toyed with death. So when the US lunar programme needs a volunteer to penetrate a murderous labyrinth, alien to all human comprehension, Barker's the man to do it. But what is required of Barker is that he withstand the trauma of dying, not just once, but time and time and time again ..

  • 2
    They have a method of sending copies of the explorers to the moon, so they can die repeatedly. – zeta-band Jun 4 at 16:01
  • 21
    When I read the description in the question, it did sound rather rogue-like. – Acccumulation Jun 4 at 16:47
  • 2
    @zeta-band I'm glad... if not that would be one large death-toll. In this case it could be argued that no "person" died - only "bodies" – Baldrickk Jun 5 at 14:20
  • Obvious parallels to Hinterlands as well, although on the other side of the highway, not a physical maze. – Maury Markowitz Jun 6 at 16:47
15

Similar: The Man in the Maze, a novel by Robert Silverberg.  Published 1969.

The remote planet Lemnos contains a maze built by aliens, of whom no trace remains.  It is round(ish), with concentric sectors.  It is filled with booby-traps, with the outer sectors containing the most dangerous ones.

Human Dick Muller, who has been exiled from humanity, has gone to the maze to retreat / hide from humanity.  By some combination of skill, intuition, luck and fate, he reaches the center zone, where he takes up permanent residence.  Nine years later, humanity wants him to come back, so they track him down and ask him to come home.

An instrumented investigator enters the “tunnel” and makes the exact movements that his predecessors have made, advancing until he must do something original at which point he survives and a new “move” is added to the list of correct moves or he is destroyed and a “move” is added to the list of things to be avoided at that point.

From Wikipedia:

The lethal snares of the maze are penetrated, firstly with robot drones and later with human volunteers, many of whom perish.

From the book:

The computer told him: Walk ten paces and halt.  One.  Two.  Three.  Walk ten paces and halt.  One.  Two.  Three.  Walk ten paces and halt.  One.  Two.  Three.  Proceed quickly to end of ramp.

References:

  • 3
    The serialization in the April 1968 and May 1968 issues of If is available for free at the Internet Archive. – user14111 Jun 5 at 4:11

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