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Second Variety and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in Satellite Oct 1956

In this thinly veiled dig at 1950’s consumer capitalism, extraterrestrials called the Biltong settle on Earth after Earth’s nuclear war destroys much of civilization. These Biltong have the ability to create replicas of Earth items, and the human survivors use the aliens to rebuild their cities based around these ersatz goods. Soon the Biltongs begin to die from overwork. Anything they’ve copied starts to disintegrate, and so humans will have to relearn the lost art of building things with their own hands.

Cast of characters

  • Allen Fergusson – member of the Pittsburgh settlement
  • Charlotte, Ben Untermeyer – members of a settlement outside Pittsburgh
  • John Dawes – a survivor who has learned to craft a wooden cup