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Hoping to identify a short story I read in a sci-fi anthology in the late 1980s: no character names, I'm afraid, but the plot was along these lines: a girl (probably!) lives in a "normal" world, what we'd identify as a late 20th century Earth setting, but she experiences glitches in her experience; what she doesn't know, and is only revealed at the end, is that Earth is now in a post-apocalyptic state, almost everyone is dead, and the last handful of survivors are using their remaining energy resources to power a fully immersive VR so that she can experience a regular childhood. the story closes with them all gathered around her in a wasteland, knowing that they'll have to wake her up eventually.

It was grim.

It was an English language anthology, part of a series in our local library's YA section. I'm afraid that I can't remember the name of the anthology series, but it might have been a single word + volume number as a title - like, "Space 4", but less obvious. I read heaps of similar short stories at the time, so it would be misleading to list others I recall, as I can't say for sure if they were part of the anthology.

They were a hardback collection, with vaguely futuristic artwork (citycapes, mostly).

Attaching a cover that is very similar to my memory of what the book looked like!

similar cover of scifi anthology: The Future in Question in purple writing in an orange/yellow background with green round blobs on the bottom

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Although your story is from the 1980s, the premise is very similar to "Moongazer" by Marianne "Mari" Mancusi, published in 2007.

Plot summary:

Skye Brown has it all: the cool job, the hot boyfriend, the apartment on New York's Upper West Side. Lately she can't enjoy any of it because she's having dreams of a post-apocalyptic world, of a bleak futuristic wasteland, of a struggle against oppression, and she's been told she's a Moongazer.

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  • Except that the question says it dates from the 1980s, so it can't be that. – DavidW Sep 24 at 21:44
  • True, missed that essential detail. I'll edit my question. – Sonny Z. Sep 24 at 21:51

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