Another question reminded me of two similar stories that I can't place regarding intelligent animals.

In the one I'm asking about in this question, there are various species of sapient animals in a far future Earth. Humans no longer walk the Earth -- they apparently all uploaded their consciousnesses into towering crystalline structures long ago, and if those uploaded minds are still conscious, they have had no apparent interaction with the external world for a very long time.

I don't remember whether the animals had been artificially uplifted or had evolved intelligence naturally, but if they possessed (as they seemed to) passed-down stories of what humans were, I would guess they had been at least more sapient already, when the last breathing humans vanished, than non-human animals are now.

The main character is a member of one of the species of sapient animals. I don't remember the story very well, I but remember a scene in which the main character is shocked by seeing a bear deliberately brush up against one of the crystalline structure pylons. This taboo act somehow leeches some psychic energy from the structure that houses the uploaded minds, conferring some extra intelligence or something like that.

I think there may have been another element to the story -- that the main character was in telepathic communication with an animal elsewhere on Earth. This might be a memory mixed in from some other story, however.

This story was probably in a science fiction magazine or anthology from the 1960s to early '00s.

It is not Edmond Hamilton's "Day of Judgment".

I do not think it is Andre Norton's novel A Breed to Come (which was a suggested answer to the question linked at the top), either. This was at most novella length, not a full book.

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That sounds like Brian W. Aldiss' short story "Old Hundredth". It fits in every point. The main character is an uplifted sloth and human minds are stored in semi-material structures called Involutes. IIRC, bears jump through those Involutes to gain...something, and this is considered not right by the other animals.

Each Involute carried thousands or even millions of people. They were, not dead, not living. How they exulted or wept in the transubstantiation, nobody left could say. Only this could be said: man had gone and a great emptiness was fallen over the Earth.

The uplifted animals could do the Involute thing, but when they were ready to die they turned into something like columns of music. The sloth main character, Dandi, chooses the music to "Old Hundredth"..."All creatures that on Earth do dwell."

Wikipedia has an article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Hundredth_(short_story). It's been widely reprinted: https://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/title.cgi?51068 and https://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/title.cgi?493321.

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    Appears in the collection "Starswarm" and probably the best of it. That collection was an assortment of Aldiss stories with no common theme, common characters or common timeline except that there was the thin pretense that they all fit into the same universe by interspersing small "location vignette" ("Sector Azure" etc.). Not a good idea. Commented Apr 8, 2020 at 8:48

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