I remember to have read it several times in the past 20-ish years, in different American sci-fi classics antologies.

This is a short story describing how people lost the ability to produce stuff while relying on aliens, who can make replicas. It results in total degradation, when only a few human-made original pieces can be found, aliens can no longer keep up replicating their own replicas, the quality of replicas is declining and humans are mad at aliens because of that. I vaguely remember, that it has something to do with aliens using their bodily fluids to make replicas, not sure about that though.

It was translated, so the keywords probably don't match. I would be glad to provide more details, but that's all I got.

Can anyone help me find the author and the title?

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    Welcome Megasplash. Please read our story ID guide and add details that might help, such as: the language it was in, the approximate year you read it or better, when it was written, was it a comic strip, a short story in an anthology etc.. Commented Oct 26, 2021 at 9:02

1 Answer 1


Could be Pay for the Printer by Philip K. Dick

In a war-ravaged future, humanity has come to depend on an alien species known as the Biltongs, possessed of the ability to replicate items identically – although the copies only last for a short time. When the Biltongs become decrepit, the humans are forced to rediscover the skill of building.

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    Available on the internet archive via the following anthology: archive.org/details/isbn_9780806518565 Commented Oct 26, 2021 at 22:19
  • @MadPhysicist Does the Internet Archive have rights to host and reproduce the book?
    – nick012000
    Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 3:36
  • @nick012000. I honestly have no idea. I know that a lot of answers have links to it, but no idea what the details of this particular case are. Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 4:52
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    @MadPhysicist As far as I know, archive.org respects copyright, and some items (like this one) are only available for temporary borrowing, so it's more like a public library than a free bookshop.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 6:26
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    The Biltongs sound a bit jerky to me Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 10:10

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