I just remember two of the stories:

  1. A woman ventures out at night, feeling guilty and ashamed but goes out to eat at a place that seems more like a speakeasy type place. She talks with a man who gives her steak to eat - a rare and expensive treat and subsequently gets arrested for breaking the law and eating real food.

  2. A father buys a 'Nanny' android for his children which wakes him during the night as it silently sneaks out of the house to fight with the neighbours 'Nanny'. When he wakes the next morning to find pieces of his nanny strewn around the garden and as his children cry for their Nanny he resolves to buy the most up to date expensive nanny money can buy.

I seem to remember that the front of the book had a big head type image and that is all.

  • 1
    There's a scene in Neuromancer where Molly eats real steak but I don't know if she gets arrested afterwards and it is a novel of course. Apparently in Spindoc beef is also illegal but I haven't read it and again it's a novel.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Sep 4, 2019 at 9:20
  • Did you read this in English, or in another language? Because looking at all covers for "Nanny" on the ISFDb, the only covers with "a big head type image" are for translations.
    – SQB
    Commented Sep 4, 2019 at 12:47
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    Could the first one have been a play script? I seem to vaguely remember a children's am-dram script including a secret cult of "real" food, and a chant along the lines of "all living creatures shall return to food".
    – AJM
    Commented Sep 4, 2019 at 15:51
  • That first story also sounds the sort of thing Philip K. Dick would write, but I cannot find a story like that in his short story collections. Commented Sep 4, 2019 at 16:54
  • 1
    Hi guys, I read it in English, not a play and definitely a short story. Thanks so much for your help with this! It's been bugging me for years and was something I read over 30 years ago - I know I enjoyed other stories in the book but can't remember any of the other content. So many replies in such a short space of time, what a great community this is. Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 9:47

2 Answers 2


The second story here is "Nanny" (1955) by Philip K. Dick. Apparently it has been published multiple times in different anthologies so I will look for the other story in any of them.

Nanny is a science fiction short story by Philip K. Dick, first published in 1955 in Startling Stories and later in The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick. It has since been republished several times, including in Beyond Lies the Wub in 1988.

The story takes place in the future where every family has a mechanical robot as a Nanny. A family of four has an older model Nanny, and every night, when the family goes to sleep, the nanny and the neighbor's nanny, which is a different model, meet in the back yard and fight. The Nanny gets damaged and must be repaired, which frustrates the family, as they're advised to upgrade to a newer model.

One day, the kids take the nanny to the park, where it gets assaulted and killed by another, much larger and more powerful Nanny. Their father, upset with this, goes and buys a brand new Nanny, the toughest model available. The kids are excited, but later, their new nanny kills the nanny of another family, whose father is forced to buy another Nanny, an even bigger one.

Goodreads, Nanny

  • Yes! This is the Nanny story. I'll have a look at the ones you've mentioned to see if the cover or the contents list looks familiar. Thank you so much for your response. :) Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 9:48
  • @JennyPodorozhnaya I have looked for the other story but can't find a short story like it yet. It might be worth looking at this list of covers for "Nanny" to see if any of them ring a bell.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 9:50
  • @JennyPodorozhnaya Whilst I appreciate the accept it might be worth waiting till we've found the other story/anthology it appears in before doing so. Alternatively you could leave the accept and edit the question to solely ask about the nanny story and then ask another question about the "beef" one.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 9:54
  • I'd still really like to find it so have un-ticked accept. Apologies, I'm new on here! Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 10:08
  • @JennyPodorozhnaya No worries, it takes a while to learn the ropes round Stack Exchange. If you have any questions about how stuff works, feel free to drop by in chat and ask someone. There's usually someone lurking around who will be able to help you :)
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 10:11

The first story might be Helen McCloy's "Number Ten Q Street". It does involve a woman buying a steak at a speakeasy for a high price, and being subsequently arrested for it. Most of the story can be read here.

As noted by SQB, one anthology that contains it, Worlds Apart: An Anthology of Science Fiction, does have a cover with a floating head. However, it does not contain "Nanny".

Cover of Worlds Apart: An Anthology of Science Fiction

  • Can you elaborate on why this matches?
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 14:26
  • Parts of this can be read at books.google.co.uk/…
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 14:29
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    The cover for the anthology it is in, Worlds Apart: An Anthology of Science Fiction, has indeed a "big head type image" on its cover: images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/…
    – SQB
    Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 15:48
  • Okay, you guys are all officially amazing. Firstly, yes - this is the book I remember and I have been on Abebooks and ordered it since seeing this. Secondly - so sorry for throwing you all off track with 'Nanny'. I remembered it as being in the same book but obviously it was in a different one. I'm going online to look at the list TheLethalCarrot gave me to see if any look familiar and I'll order that one too. For context, I'm 43 and read them when I was about 8, hence thinking the book was a 70/80's anthology. Thank you all so much, I'm genuinely looking forward to reading them again. Commented Sep 7, 2019 at 6:15

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