In this story I read long ago, the trees of each forest are all connected (through their roots ? by some psychic power ? I forgot). Each tree is thus just a "body part" of the forest he belongs to, and it is the forests that are sentient, not the individual trees.

I don't remember any other living beings on this world but forests, let alone other sentients.

Forests fight for space. The fight viciously. One forest is in danger of being totally destroyed by one or several of its neighbours.

The endangered forest discovers uranium ore in its territory. And some very old memory comes to its mind as how to use it. Marshalling all the resources it can still afford, it pushes some kind of "vanguard" as deep as possible into the territory of its enemy, and its root system brings enough uranium there to reach critical mass. Of course the "vanguard" is annihilated, but enough of its enemy is destroyed that the forest can easily conquer a large area.

I think I remember that after that other forests also start remembering the use they can make of uranium ore and a generalised nuclear war takes place, but I am not sure of the ending. Maybe the first to think of uranium dominates the world ?

1 Answer 1


Process by A. E. Van Vogt (1950). In an online review, MPorcius wrote:

"Process" (1950)

This is an odd story, and seems to have caught people's attention when it first appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. It later appeared in some "Best of" anthologies and was the basis of a cover story in Andromeda, a Canadian comic book.

The main character of "Process" is a sentient forest. The forest goes to war with adjacent forests, and is tricked by the crew of a space ship into mining uranium 235 for them. There is not much more to it than that, but the unusual topic and point of view, the striking images, and the effective pacing make it compelling and entertaining, and the prose is better than average for Van Vogt.

Doomsdayer, another online reviewer, has this to say about Process:

A vignette attempting, for once, to have some actually alien aliens, a forest possessing some sort of slow-moving, aggregate, hivemind intelligence. That’s pretty much all there is to it, though: a space ship lands, the forest leeches Uranium 235 out of the soil to use atomic explosions to drive away the ship, then realizes it can use this against the other continent-spanning forest on the planet (hint, hint). It’s implied at the end that maybe this was all a trick by the space ship to be able to get easy access to uranium?

Although these descriptions do not quite match your recollection, perhaps this is the same story.

  • 5
    Pretty sure this is correct. Link to the story on archive.org
    – DavidW
    Oct 16, 2019 at 3:12
  • 1
    Yes, it is ht right one. Though I had forgotten that the arrival of the alien (human ?) ship was the destabilising element, the remainder of the strory fit exactly.
    – Alfred
    Oct 16, 2019 at 4:54

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