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I'm looking for a novel, of which I'm remembering mostly the end. It might be important that I've read the story in German.

Most of the story takes part in a strange, surreal world. Towards the end it is revealed that the protagonists are on a spaceship and the story took place in a virtual reality generated by an artificial intelligence to entertain them during a long term travel. It was so real that they do not realize most of the time that they are in a virtual reality. Over time, errors accumulate and the simulations stop when people encounter too many of them.

There is a mythical figure mentioned several times (I guess it was something like "Der Wanderer", which roughly translates to traveler or wanderer).

It turns out that the whole crew is already addicted to the virtual reality, only one of them resists. All but this one get back into virtual reality.

The final scene: The one who resisted the virtual reality has a appearance of the mythical figure, which asks him what he wants to be. He answers he wants to be a plant in the desert, just feeling the sunlight and the live flowing through his body. The mythical figure tells him "that's how it plants feel", and he opens an airlock.

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That's almost certainly Philip K. Dick's "A Maze of Death" (in German "Irrgarten des Todes"). The characters are trapped in a spaceship that is caught in the gravity field of a black hole and have decided to live out the rest of their days in virtual reality. The rest of the description fits pretty much (the mythical entity is the "Intercessor", no idea how this has been translated to German).

  • Thank you, that's it! I've pondered this so long and got your answer in just a few hours. :-D – Marcus Bitzl Apr 28 '14 at 17:17
  • You should "spoiler" the book name just in case someone has just started reading it or wishes to read it in the future. – SaturnsEye Jul 30 '15 at 11:31
  • @SaturnsEye: But the whole purpose is to provide an answer. :) – FuzzyBoots Jul 30 '15 at 14:09

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