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I was watching a TV special a long time ago on the writings of older authors like Jules Verne, HG Wells etc, discussing lots of their books.

One was about a character who had found something with ancient writing on it, or in it, maybe a book, and didn't know what the language was but it's somehow later discovered that the language is French (might possibly be misremembering that, but I think French). Sort of the world has ended before this isn't the first time type plot twist.

  • Making me think of the ending of 'Inherit the stars' by James P Hogan – DannyMcG Jan 29 '19 at 11:32
  • @Danny3414 : More like "Later than You Think " – JRE Jan 29 '19 at 12:00
  • @JRE - your link is 404. – Jeff Zeitlin Jan 29 '19 at 13:09
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    Dang it. Project Gutenberg is blocked here in Germany (oh, the irony) so I posted the link blind from a google search. At any rate, it reminds me of "Later than You Think" by Fritz Leiber. – JRE Jan 29 '19 at 13:36
  • Maybe it is the Leiber story freeclassicshortstories.blogspot.com/2016/01/… – DannyMcG Jan 29 '19 at 14:34
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Going just by the twist, I'm going to suggest "Later than you think" by Fritz Leiber.

An archeologist tells an old friend who has just returned from outer space about the discovery of a previous intelligent species on the Earth. The archeologist goes into some detail about how the discovery was made and what they have learned.

At the end, the archeologist reveals the name of the extinct species, and that the people of the extinct species attributed their name to a previous extinct species.

It is also revealed that the archeologist is an intelligent octopus.

The name of the recently discovered, extinct intelligent species:

Rat.


Thanks to @Danny3414 for finding a functional link to the story.

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