This is a short story of about 30 pages or more in a pre-1990 sci-fi anthology.

I only remember a few details, eg a sentient bear and a few other sentient animals that band together to save the planet. One thing that sticks in my mind is that the protagonists use AM or amplitude modulation because FM or frequency modulation is the most common form of radio modulation and consequently the use of AM will be undetected by the ruling junta. And one other thing: the band of brothers must get from a point A on the planet's surface to a point B but for why I do not know.

  • 2
    The planet is Earth? Is the ruling junta people or animals? Are there any people in the story, or just animals? Is the setting post-apocalyptic? What are they saving the planet from?
    – user14111
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 21:47

2 Answers 2


Could this be the novel Space Prison/The Survivors (available at Project Gutenberg) by Tom Godwin. Published in 1958, it is based on an approx 30 page short story called "Too Soon to Die", published in Venture magazine, but lacks several of the features of the novel.

The general plot of the novel is below, the short story follows that plot, but without the help of the animals, so differs from your question.

In this story Earth is under attack from an alien race called the Gerns. The Gerns capture an Earth spaceship taking colonists to another planet and maroon the colonists on a planet called Ragnarok.

Ragnarok is a hell-hole; high-gravity; burning hot in summer (lasts the equivalent of 2 Earth years I think), totally frozen in winter, has a ravaging disease, incredibly ferocious animals (prowlers - half-wolf/half tiger intelligent; unicorns - herd animals that trample anything that attacks them, both species are telepathic). There is also no metal on the planet and little edible food.

The survivors of the initial stranding find ways to adapt to the environment and travel around parts of the planet looking for food and resources - both distinctly lacking where they are. Eventually, on one of these expeditions, they find some telepathic animals called Mockers. Mockers are capable of picking up something that someone has said and transmitting it to another mocker, who then repeats it out-loud. They are described (bolding mine):

They emerged into full view; six little animals the size of squirrels, each of them a different color. They walked on short hind legs like miniature bears and the dark eyes in the bear-chipmunk faces were fixed on him with intense interest.

The survivors manage to domesticate the mockers and also manage to help rescue some prowlers from unicorns and domesticate them as the prowlers start to trust the humans. They communicate with the prowlers telepathically. They also manage to capture some Unicorns, and semi-domesticate them, but they still remain aggressive and uncontrollable without the use of force.

Eventually, some generations after the initial marooning, the descendents find a source of metal and make a transmitter, which works by radio and will take ~30 years to get it's signal to another world. They push the button and send the signal "Ragnarok Calling", which eventually attracts a Gern spaceship. The spaceship is then captured by driving the unicorns at the invading Gerns and using the prowlers to hunt down survivors and get on-board the ship, which they capture using their high-gravity reflexes and strength.

  • But a main point in the OP's description is that the protagonists did not want their radio signals detected by the enemy. In Space Prison it's just the opposite, they were trying to attract the enemy's attention. Also, it's been quiet a while since I read the book, but I don't recall anything about a trek from point A to point B.
    – user14111
    Commented Aug 9, 2022 at 3:50
  • @user14111 this is true about the radio. The trek in Space Prison goes from the settlement across the highland plateau (and back) to search out the source of a metal deposit seen from afar, and it is a group of close companions, some of whom die on the way back after being caught in a storm.
    – bob1
    Commented Aug 9, 2022 at 4:36

There's a series of stories about an intelligent bear (named "Johnny Black") by L. Sprague deCamp I've only read one of the stories in that series, but in that story the bear character does save the world, and there are other sentient animals mentioned in that story, so it's a possibility (even though I don't remember the AM/FM radio element).

There are four Johnny Black stories:

  • The Command
  • The Incorrigible
  • The Emancipated
  • The Exalted

but the "saving the world" element is unique to The Command

A story that does involve use of AM radio to evade detection by a group that only uses FM is Heinlein's "Logic of Empire" - I wonder if you have conflated elements from two stories.


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