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I am trying to find a short story that I read in my youth. I unfortunately can't remember anything of the title. I thought it had been written by Arthur C. Clarke, but a search of his short stories turns up nothing for me so far.

What I remember:

At least the first part of the story involves one or more conversations between two aliens of the same species, who had been childhood friends but then grew apart. One went off to become involved in a military struggle against other aliens on the same planet, who I believe were the same or a related species. I believe the aliens were quadrupeds, or perhaps a centaur type creature or a unicorn. One of the creatures may have had a broken horn. I believe they had long bodies.

The friend who had gone to aid the military effort was describing telepathy as a weapon to his initially incredulous friend, I believe. That friend then remembered at one point when he and the military one had played together as children, pretending that the other had taken control of their bodies, and how he had sometimes really felt powerless.

I'm sorry, I know this is not a lot to go on, but it would help me tremendously to find this story. Thanks for reading and any help you can give me.

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The telepathic and military aliens sound a little bit like the kzinti from Larry Niven's known space. I can't recall a specific story with that storyline though. –  Mr Lister Dec 16 '12 at 18:19
Thanks, Mr Lister. Funny you should mention it, as I'm reading "Ringworld" with my seven-year-old now. The kzinti definitely aren't the species. This is driving me nuts, as much not knowing the author as not finding the story. I could have sworn it was Clarke or Asimov. –  user11355 Dec 16 '12 at 23:08
I'm sure I've read this. The aliens use their mind powers to completely obliterate their enemies minds. In the second part of the story, a scientist discovers a group of primates and together they're building pre-industrial technology like bridges, ships, etc and have discovered a new continent. Possibly from a dozois sci-fi anthology? –  Richard Feb 5 at 20:30
Is there any chance it is from Starship Troopers? –  outis nihil Feb 5 at 21:35
No. Definitely a short story. almost certainly in a quite recent anthology. Natives are fighting natives over food. They're quadruped so they've got no tools but they can use telepathy. Scientist guy works out that they can use a concerted mental effort to psychically wipe their enemies minds. I'm 99.9% certain that I'm thinking of the same story as User 11355 –  Richard Feb 5 at 23:04
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2 Answers 2

The story is "Second Dawn" by Arthur C. Clarke, originally published in Science Fiction Quarterly in 1951

A full copy of the text can be found here

Sci-fi Quarterly

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You shall have 50 of my hard-earned reputation points for this, as well as my upvote. –  Richard Feb 12 at 0:13
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I think I may have read this one, but uselessly have no memory of the title. No bounty for me.

You say 'centaurs' but the story I remember featured unicorn-telepaths, who communicated and also (mainly) fought with their minds, but had no manual skills - well no hands, so it figures.

In war the males did also sometimes clash physically, as stags might, and the story featured a male unicorn whose horn had been damaged (heavy symbolism alert) but which was - quite wonderfully to the advanced telepaths from whose viewpoint the story was told - restored by the 'primitive' primates. These, though non-telepaths, did of course have manual skills, which were literally unimaginable to telepaths.

I probably read this in the mid-1960s, in England, but have no memory of the author or the title. Sorry.

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Yes. It might easily have been unicorns. They were very impressed with their own knowledge of geometry and physics but lacked opposable thumbs. The leader of the centaurs built mechanical arms –  Richard Feb 6 at 12:14
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