When I was in middle school, I remember reading a short story where a person encountered a control room that altered reality. They flipped a switch and something they knew about reality would be removed. I think once they turned off the sun, but could not switch it back on. I think one switch made all other humans disappear. I think the last switch shut off all reality. Does anyone know what story I’m talking about?

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    Hi, welcome to the site. In roughly which year did you read this, and when do you think it might've been published? Also, did you read it in an anthology, a magazine, or online? Jul 10, 2022 at 18:48

1 Answer 1


As explained in this answer https://scifi.stackexchange.com/a/93340/28516 the story is "Mariana" by Fritz Leiber.

Mariana lives in a beautiful villa surrounded by tall pine trees, but she’s troubled by something, perhaps a sense of monotony. Her husband assures her that her life is perfect, and he urges her to find satisfaction in their cozy situation. Yet when he leaves for work, she is curious. She finds a secret control panel in the wall with buttons labeled “trees” and “house.” She turns them off. When her husband returns, she flips a switch and her husband blinks out of existence. Then she turns off the stars. Mariana wakes up to discover herself being offered therapy by a mysterious doctor. She turns off the doctor and returns to the dark to carry out her therapy, as the doctor says, to its inevitable conclusion. The next switch is labeled “Mariana.”

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    That must be it. Never read it before. I was thinking og Donsald Wandrei's novella "Finality Unlimited" but that doesn't really match the description.
    – user14111
    Jul 10, 2022 at 21:25

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