In this story an astronaut is questioned regularly by a psychiatrist. He thinks he's on a spaceship, but he's actually in an experiment. The astronaut also thinks the psychiatrist is part of the crew, but he actually leaves the "spaceship" everyday. In the end the astronaut finds out the truth.

It may be a JG Ballard short story, but I'm not sure...

I read it in the early 90's.

  • 1
    If instead of a ship, it's a house, and the astronaut ends up discovering he is an alien masquerading as a human, and that the "psychiatrist" role was to force him to reveal himself, then I know the story! Unfortunately, I cannot remember the name :(
    – Andres F.
    Commented Apr 3, 2013 at 16:49
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    This is what I'm talking about: Brian Aldiss's short story "Outside"?. Not exactly what you describe, but worth a try... Full text here
    – Andres F.
    Commented Apr 3, 2013 at 16:50
  • No, it's defenitly a ship or space station. The doctor exits the ship by a secret airlock in his room, if I remember correctly. Thanks for trying tough.
    – Barbarossa
    Commented Apr 3, 2013 at 16:55
  • Maybe The Yellow Pill, by Rog Phillips? Haven't read it, but it sounds like your story: astronaut, spaceship, psychiatrist & plot twist at the end :)
    – Andres F.
    Commented Apr 3, 2013 at 17:03
  • Twist, the real world is a delusion created by an alien race to attempt to take over the space station.
    – Sam Becker
    Commented Apr 4, 2013 at 4:06

1 Answer 1


There is a Ballard short story, Thirteen to Centaurus that has the major elements you describe (fake ship that's really a dome on earth, residents don't know it's fake but psychiatrist does, it's an experiment to determine psychological effects of space travel, psychiatrist enters/leaves as he pleases). Couple of differences between the synopsis and points in the question. The astronaut is a 16 year old Wunderkind named Abel and sounds more like he had conversations with the psychiatrist (because he was curious about things) than him being questioned by the psychiatrist. Also sounds like the 'truth' that was revealed in the end was a 'partial truth' and there was another layer. The whole truth is revealed at the end of the story but the synopsis doesn't make it clear if that was conveyed to Abel.

The story was also turned into an episode of Out of the Unknown, a BBC TV series that ran from 1965 to 1971.

If interested in reading the actual story, you can find PDFs on the web by Googling for 'PDF Ballard Complete Short Stories'.

  • YES! That's it! Thank you! It's been bugging me for a long time... And thanks anyway for pointing out the Yellow pill. It's a good story.
    – Barbarossa
    Commented Apr 3, 2013 at 17:26
  • @Barbarossa - You're welcome and Welcome aboard. Hope we continue to have participation from you. That's how I started, couldn't remember the name of a novel that I thought the wife would enjoy and found this site :)
    – Stan
    Commented Apr 3, 2013 at 17:32
  • @Stan - are you sure that pdf is authorized? Do we have any provenance on it? The web site strikes me as a wee bit sketchy, and the pdf has no publisher info, which strikes me as kinda odd. Commented Apr 4, 2013 at 0:15
  • @Michael Kohne - Good point. I've removed the explicit link in the answer.
    – Stan
    Commented Apr 4, 2013 at 0:43

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