I read this story when I was a kid so it is at least as old as the 1960s. In this story simulacra of humans (with electronic spines?) are driven to perform a drama for a human audience. The simulacra have real feelings and believe that the actions they are undertaking are meaningful but ultimately the purpose of all their suffering is simply to entertain an audience. I can't remember the name of the book I read it in, nor the author. Can anyone help me?

  • There may be several stories with themes similar to what you described. More details might be helpful. Anything at all that you can remember. – user14111 May 12 '14 at 7:36
  • I recall that the main character, who was one of these simulated life forms, was on some sort of religious quest and that he was tormented by the person who was controlling his actions. One of the images I have in my mind is of this little character being energized by some sort of control signal sent to his spine, which was described as being something like a charged wire. And off he'd go, weary and despondent, but forced to continue on his quest. – user26168 May 12 '14 at 12:23

The "control signal " part reminds me of "The Darfstellar" by Walter M Miller, but that's entirely different in every other detail. the time period is right though.

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