A few days ago I asked about a novel where characters interacted sometimes in real life and sometimes in a collective dream. In that case it was A Maze of Death, (or rather Au bout du Labyrinthe, since I read it in french translation) which was a duplicate.

That reminded me of another story with the same double type of interaction. But it is definitely not the same one. This one I read in English. I am positive of that because I had to look for the french translation of the verb "to shuffle".

From the context, it was obvious that this way of walking was a stereotype of African Americans, at least when the book was written, at least 40 years ago.

In fact this is almost the only thing I remember about this story. I don't remember whether it was a novel or short fiction, a whole book or in a collection, on Earth or in space....

But it was SF inasmuch as people could connect their minds to create a collective dream, just as in A Maze of Death. It might be by Philip K. Dick, but I am not at all sure it is the case.

It was probably also a murder mystery, because IRCC, one the characters who was African American (possibly the only one - and of course at that time this was not the phrase that was used) was a policeman or a detective. And he realised at some point that their collective dream had been taken over by a white supremacist, because he shuffled. And even in the dream he knew that he did not shuffle in real life. Or maybe it was when back in real life that he remembered that he had shuffled in the dream. Anyway, I think that the fact that someone had allowed his prejudices to enter the collective dream was very important in the plot.

Sorry I don't remember anything else.

  • collective dream + PKD = Ubik?
    – user108131
    Dec 10, 2023 at 9:11
  • @user108131 I read a synopsis of Ubik on Wikipedia. It does not fit my memories at all. I don't remember such an intricate plot. Not to say mine was really simple, but definitely not the complexity of Ubik. And I did not see in Ubik any prominent African American, maybe not the main protagonist but among the half-dozen more important ones at most. Also I am not sure it is by PKD.
    – Alfred
    Dec 10, 2023 at 22:36

1 Answer 1


If it's PKD, then "Eye in the Sky" fits all your points - a group of people share realities created by the imagination of the eight major characters after an incident with a particle accelerator. The book has an African American protagonist (Billy Law), and while I can't find my copy, one Goodreads review specifically mentions the word "shuffle" and its racist connotation:

The story is about 8 people who are involved in an accident. While they're unconscious, they live through a series of worlds that trap them in the worldview of the mind of one after the other of the unconscious or semi-unconscious people. These are often hilarious and I laughed out loud several times. But they're also fascinating because it shows how our perceptions of the world are really quite different from one another. We see everything from a man who thinks that all black men "shuffle" and talk in dialect to what a paranoiac endures on a daily basis.


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    Page 75 The Negro’s face twitched in a spasm of acute, helpless misery. ‘‘In this world—’’ Sorrow blurred his eyes. ‘‘In this damn place, I’ve started to shuffle.”’
    – user14111
    Dec 11, 2023 at 9:28
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    Page 101 “‘You’re what Silvester imagines a young radical college woman would look like. And he thinks all Negroes shuffle. This is going to be tough onallofus . . . unless we get out of Silvester’s world pretty damn soon, it’s going to be our finish.”’
    – user14111
    Dec 11, 2023 at 9:29
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    Definitely my story ! Thanks a lot ! The system says I have to wait before awarding you the bonus, but I'll do it as soon as I can !
    – Alfred
    Dec 11, 2023 at 21:17

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