I am looking for a title of a short story based in a post-apocalyptic world, where an alien race has created an illusion for the last man on Earth.

In this illusion, a girl is present but the protagonist is able to identify her as an alien because she moves her ears towards where a sound comes from, in order to hear it better.

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    Maybe there was a pet involved? And the man was working on Mars and it returns to Earth?
    – SJuan76
    Jun 3, 2014 at 20:31
  • I can't tell that. I remember that created illusion was postapocalyptic itself, but in reality earth was un much worse condition (destroyed?)
    – user27897
    Jun 3, 2014 at 20:42
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    The story mentioned by @SJuan76 is by Dick, and indeed Earth was in a much worse condition, not destroyed but uninhabitable.
    – user56
    Jun 3, 2014 at 20:44
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    If it is the story we are thinking off, some points about it: humans are terraforming Mars because Earth got badly damaged in war with aliens; the protagonist goes to Earth for R&R but notices that the things he sees are not real but images sent to his brains by the aliens (which are not perfect), in the end he realizes mankind lost the war and he (and a few other more) are really working for the aliens, anyway he agrees to go back to work in exchange for a pet (which turns out to be a fake, a robot). And there is a psychiatrist (in a Dick story, who would have guessed it).
    – SJuan76
    Jun 3, 2014 at 21:02
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    SJuan76 is absolutely right. It's in a collection of Philip K. Dick's short-stories. If no-one else remembers the name by tonight, I'll find it when I get home, add it in a comment, and SJuan76 can make it an answer. Jun 4, 2014 at 1:26

1 Answer 1


So, the title of this short story is Precious Artifact by Philip K. Dick.

"Precious Artifact" tells the tale of Milt Biskle, a terraforming engineer who has just turned his section of Mars into habitable land for human occupation. But something is nagging him in the back of his mind and he has doubts about the recent war in which Terra defeated the invading Proxmen. On his return to Earth his doubts are confirmed and he finds that beneath the surface of the seemingly normal world there is complete destruction. The Proxmen won the war, not the Terrans. Despite the presence of the nubile Mary Ableseth – a Proxman in disguise – Milt wishes to return to Mars for a rest before taking on the job of terraforming Earth to the Proxmen’s designs. His one wish is that he be allowed to take a kitten back with him. This is granted and with the hope that he may talk the Proxmen into letting cats exist in the future he returns to his (fake) wife and children on Mars. But in the Proxmen’s worlds there isn’t much room for anything but Proxmen…"

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