I'm trying to find the author and title of a short science fiction story that I read about 35-40 years ago set in a world where a rift of some kind has appeared. They call it "the River", and multiple belief systems have risen up about it, including that if you cross into it you will transcend into a higher state of consciousness which is akin to paradise.

There is a group of people from different backgrounds who come together and are trying to get to the River for various personal reasons. I don't think that anybody was ever given a name in the story. They were just referred to by their descriptions.

On the way they come to a ruined town (possible a farm, my memory is fuzzy on this) where they meet a childless couple who offer to take care of the female protagonist and then help her to get to the River if she becomes pregnant by the man, and leaves the child with them. I believe that he drugs her and rapes her, but she escapes. Or maybe she takes the drugs herself but changes her mind about staying with them and sneaks out after having sex with him.

The female protagonist meets up with the main male protagonist later on and they journey to the river but find it under heavy guard. So many people have been crossing through it that there are no longer enough people left for society to function.

There is a large crowd of refuges trying to get to the River.

The man is killed trying to get to it. The woman realizes that she is pregnant and decides not to go through the rift, but she is caught up in the crowd when it surges forwards and is carried into the rift against her will.

I believe that the story was written in English, and is either European or American in Origin (It's not a Manga). It might have been a short story in a collection of short stories, or it might have been an abridged version of a much longer book in a collection of similar stories.

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    I would start searching Philip Jose Farmer's Riverworld series or the short story collections based on. Not a Rift, but a good place to start.
    – KenM
    Sep 18 '21 at 17:13
  • The description of this "river" very much reminds me of the Nexus from Star Trek Generations, although I know that's not the answer here - the plot points don't match up at all. I wonder if there's any evidence of the movie having any inspiration from the story being looked for here, and whether that can be a back-way to locating this. Sep 19 '21 at 14:57
  • The story was a dark a post apocalyptic science fiction movie set after the collapse of human civilization. I read it nearly 40 years ago, and I think that it wasn't new then. So it's probably 1960s or 1970s. The closest other story that I can think of to it is probably Tarkovsky's Stalker.
    – user144665
    Sep 19 '21 at 15:56

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