Early 2000s sci-fi book, alien watchers testing humanities ability to follow rules


New Member
May 19, 2021
I read this library book in the early 2000s as a library book and have been searching for it every since. It’s my one that got away. What I recall about it is below:

Physical description: it was a softcover book, the cover was a light color with a symbol on it?

Plot: the main character was woman who enters a medical study for money, but it turns out this medical study is a front for an alien race doing character testing on the human race (heavy biblical themes). The aliens call themselves “watchers”, and place her in an (simulated?) environment with a lego like tool and tell her to follow the road. There is a cart where she exits her landing tube which is unlocked by the lego tool. She follows the road until it leads to a way station that seems to have everything that she needs, food, water, and a place to sleep - all unlocked with her lego tool. It’s there that she meets another human man (name starts with G?) who tells her about the world she is in, there is a outer ring with these way stations, but the goal is to get into the inner ring - which is walled. He hasn’t been able to get into the inner ring and has been raiding way stations. The next part of the plot gets fuzzy but they eventually fall in love and learn that if they die in this world they awaken back in the normal world with no memories. The only way to get out with memories intact is to get into the inner ring (there might have been 3 rings?). As it turns out it is easy to get in there if you simply follow the instructions and use the lego tool to follow the road. They end up training and in the processes of getting out he dies, but she lives. The end of the book is her leaving the medical study with no time seemingly have passed and runs into him as she leaves though he doesn’t remember her.

I would greatly appreciate any help! From my own searches it doesn’t seem to been written by any of the popular sci-fi authors.


Smeerp of Wonder
Staff member
Oct 13, 2008
West Sussex, UK
Have you tried searching around the use of biblical Watchers (fallen angels, sometimes called Grigori) in SF? Your mention of biblical themes makes me think maybe the author based it on them, even if the reference wasn't overt.


Lover of hard science fiction
Apr 3, 2022
NW Europe
It's a long shot but could this be 'Arena' by Karen Hancock (pub. 2002)? It's a sort of SF take on 'Pilgrim's Progress', where humanity is being studied and tested by aliens (or it is God?). From various reviews: "[The main character] finds herself cast into the Arena, a testing ground for participants of the study. Armed with only a guidebook and minimal supplies, she is soon forced to trust the enigmatic Pierce, a man who claims to have spent the past five years in the Arena. [He asserts] that all involved in the experiment are actually aliens. ... [Our character] is given a backpack containing an instruction manual and not much else that appears useful. The manual states that there is evil in the Arena, but if one stays on the white road, they are invulnerable. The road leads to the Gate, the exit, which can only be [negotiated] with the aid of the Benefactor".