Looking for title of short story, travelers come to Urth looking for help from an advanced civilization, against aliens, discover Urth inhabited by essentially backward farmers.

At the end of the story the people agree to help- by moving the planet to follow the aliens home.

  • We're going to need a bit more info here. Roughly speaking, when did you read this? Was it in an anthology of any sort? What language was it in? Do you remember any character names or descriptions? Was "Urth" the specific spelling? If there was a book cover, do you remember it at all?
    – phantom42
    Mar 8, 2015 at 7:43

1 Answer 1


This is Alan Dean Foster's "With Friends Like These" (from the anthology collection of the same name):

“You have done us a very large favor, gentlebeings, and we are oh, so grateful! How many years we labored to find the answer to the Shield, how many years, only to discover that it could only be applied, or retracted, from an outside source. Now that it is down, we will not make the error of allowing it to be put up again. Once again, gentlebeings, we are in your debt. Our agreement still holds. If you will return to your ship we will… commence preparations to follow in ours.” The native smiled, and it was at once a lovely and terrible thing to see. (Among the known creatures of the universe, only the Terran human bares its fangs to express friendship.)


In the middle of the planet’s second ocean, great, impossible masses of thick columnar crystals began to leap upward from the waters. Translucent at first, the chalcedony towers began to pulse with deep inner fires: blue, purple, gold, carmine, and finally a strange, yet familiar silver-gray. The ionosphere, tickled, began to surround the flashing needles with auroras, clothing them in blankets of coruscating radiance. Following, the planet began to move after the Tpin. On board the cruiser it was very quiet.

“I see,” whispered Rappan idly, “that they are bringing their moon along also.”

“You get accustomed to something like that,” breathed an engineer. “A moon, I mean.”

  • Good find. I remember reading this but I couldn't place it. The name "urth" threw me off.
    – Valorum
    Mar 8, 2015 at 11:46
  • Previously requested here and here and here and here
    – user14111
    Mar 8, 2015 at 14:47
  • and here.
    – user14111
    Mar 8, 2015 at 14:47
  • By the way, for those of us who (like me) do not happen to own a copy of that particular Alan Dean Foster collection, it might be useful to know that that story can also be found in The 1972 Annual World's Best SF and the June 1971 Analog. (I will never understand the widespread hatred for ISFDB in this forum. If you're going to hate some evil internet thing, hate Google.)
    – user14111
    Mar 8, 2015 at 14:54
  • blink ISFDB is quoted fairly often here. :) Hatred?
    – FuzzyBoots
    Mar 8, 2015 at 15:03

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