Mars is desperately needed by both Earth and Prox for their overflowing populations, but only Milt Biskle suspects that the Proxmen and not the humans were in fact the victors of the war fought over that planet.
When Milt travels back to Earth after his successful Martian terraforming project he finds his suspicions confirmed. The Proxmen have constructed an elaborate illusion that life on Earth has continued so they can lure the human engineers back to their home planet in order to now terraform it for Prox, since the oceans were vaporized during the war.
Milt eventually resigns himself to this reality and heads back to Mars with a kitten, the titular precious artifact which is itself part of the Prox simulation, something Milt doesn’t recognize.
Cast of characters
- Milt Biskle – a terraforming engineer on Mars
- Dr. DeWinter – Milt’s psychiatrist
- Mary Ableseth – Milt’s tour guide companion back on Earth