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"SF looks towards an imaginary future, while fantasy, by and large, looks towards an imaginary past."
- Frederik Pohl

Martian Print Amoeba  
  An organism able to mimic consumer goods.  

Making even modern manufacturing methods obsolete.

...the greater economic aspects of another extraterrestrial creature, the Martian print amoeba. This august unicellular organism survived by its ability to mimic other life forms - those of its own size, specifically - and although this ability had amused Terran astronauts and UN officials, no one had seen an industrial usage until Virgil Ackerman of [Martian flap bat] guano fame had come upon the scene... he had presented a print amoeba with one of his current mistress' expensive furs; the print amoeba had faithfully mimicked it...
From Now Wait For Last Year, by Philip K. Dick.
Published by Doubleday in 1966
Additional resources -

Unfortunately, when the Martian print amoeba gets bored, it tends to switch back to its real form. So, a method of "fixing" the amoeba was developed:

The answer... consisted of killing the amoeba during its interval of mimicry and then subjecting the cadaver to a bath of fixing-chemicals which had the capacity to lock the amoeba in that final form; the amoeba did not decay and hence could not later on be distinguished from the original.

Dick fans will recognize the Biltong life forms from his 1956 short story Pay for the Printer as well as the autofac nanorobots from his 1955 short story of the same name. All three show PKD's fascination with the seemingly infinite capacity of modern manufacturing, and the fact that the source of this cornucopia is a complete mystery to the average consumer.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Now Wait For Last Year
  More Ideas and Technology by Philip K. Dick
  Tech news articles related to Now Wait For Last Year
  Tech news articles related to works by Philip K. Dick

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