17

Another story the end of which I don’t remember at all. I read it very long ago, maybe as early as the 60’s, certainly not later than the 70’s. Once more, a rather short one, novelette or "longish" short story.

A few phrases come back : the main character would be considered as “remarkably ugly” by our standards but did not consider himself ugly; later the reader finds out he is a descendent of bears, now the only fully sentient species on Earth. He lives in a rural commune, where he mostly does mostly menial work, like everybody else. But at heart he is a scientist, but I don’t remember in which domain. Since the commune has some surplus, in part thanks to him, he is allowed to travel to some other commune that is reputed for its better library, where he hopes to find documents for his research. There he learns that a spaceship has just arrived, with aliens who look like terrestrial apes (which still exist, I think). Some fellow “bear” of that area tells him that they have managed to communicate with the aliens. The latter claim to be “political refugees”, but our character does not understand this word and says it is meaningless and they could just as well call themselves “umpah refugees”. (It is not clear how come that the other “bear” does understand the word "political".) The reader understands that these refugees are descendent of humans who left Earth long ago, but now flee their own people. I think the main character starts to guess the truth, but it is fuzzy in my memory.

And I don’t remember anything more, alas !

  • Do you remember if it was in a magazine? Or maybe an anthology? Or even one of those 2-in-one books? – Spencer Nov 18 at 22:43
  • Probably an anthology. It was too short to be "2-in-one book" and I think it was already an old story. I did not read many magazines, mostly books, so 99% probability an anthology. But again it was long ago. I cannot be totally certain. – Alfred Nov 18 at 22:46
  • Sounds familiar to me, which means it was in an anthology since I read very few magazines. But not familiar enough... – Invisible Trihedron Nov 18 at 23:09
  • This isn't it, but a different story that involved space travelers (including a human) visiting a sentient bear-like species on their native planet that I rather enjoyed was K. D. Wentworth's Black on Black – T.E.D. Nov 19 at 19:01
36

This is probably No Connection by Isaac Asimov.

The main character is a descendant of bears living in North America. He is is a paleontologist who studies humans, and is pushing the fringe belief that humans are intelligent.

The apelike are not from another planet. They traveled by airplane from another continent. The bears have never developed airplanes, because their society mostly consists of intellectuals working alone.

  • I checked "No Connection" on wiki. Yes, it is indeed that story ! – Alfred Nov 18 at 23:15

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