I am looking for a Philip K. Dick story about a future in which there are humans living under the ground, who have become very pale-skinned, frail, almost blind, and humans who live above the ground, who are healthy and strong.

In the story, two explorers from below come up to the surface and see the people from above. I think I remember one of the men from below lusting after one of the women from above.

It is a very short story, that I had found in a French edition of collected short stories, probably "J'ai Lu SF".


1 Answer 1


"A Surface Raid" by Philip K. Dick, first published in Fantastic Universe, July 1955, which is available at the Internet Archive. Here is a plot summary from Philip K. Dick Review:

Harl visits his father Edward Boynton. Harl tells his father that he came into some information during his educational activities, revealing that his father will be going to the surface on a raid for some “saps.” Edward explains that it will be a small raid, taking place sometime in the next week. They need some saps, mostly male, to work in the factories. Harl tells his father that he will be going on the raid as well. Edward tries to talk him out of it, but eventually gives in. He instructs Harl to prepare for the trip to the surface. The radiation from the war has declined, but he will still need to prepare equipment. Harl sees his Youth League leader, Fashold, to tell him the news. Fashold warns Harl that he learned that the saps are a different species but closely related them. They used be called “technos” before the war. They were mutants that developed in the technocratic class and were able to reveal themselves as superior during the “Final War.” They are the descendants of the technos that survived the war by living in underground bunkers. After this explanation, Harl gets news that the team is ready to go to the surface.

Edward tells his son that the saps have been slowly reclaiming the surface using stone-age tools. The war left the surface of the Earth with a coating of blackened rock. Edward instructs Harl that they will wait until night to begin the raid on the sap villages. The sun makes working difficult for Harl. He ventures out on his own. He sees the sap village, from which he wants to capture a handful for use of the Youth League. The saps have a shiny copper-black skin. Their village is at a Neolithic level, with basic agriculture and animal husbandry. Harl observes the village for a while, watching with fascination their work and their various activities. He realizes that the saps are not a dying race at all as he was taught. He becomes infatuated with one women who, along with a man, works on painting a clay bowl. Desiring to speak to her, he approaches the woman. She screams and flees. Hearing the screams and noticing that the saps were stirred, Edward contacts Harl and command him back to the base.

Back at the sap village, the woman—Julie—describes what she saw to Ken, her brother. It has two black eyes, looked blind, while skin, and huge hands and feet. A Mr. Stebbins explains that those creatures—called goblins—used to be men but were transformed into monsters by living underground where they collect and hoard metal.

  • 3
    Interesting, the setup sounds almost identical to H. G. Wells' The Time Machine.
    – N. Virgo
    Oct 4, 2015 at 8:59

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