John W Campbell, Jr's "Forgetfulness" (as by Don A Stuart) (novelette, first contact): Technological progress involves forgetting old knowledge
Story summary.A pioneering 100-strong alien expedition has arrived on earth ("Rhth", to aliens) from Pareeth. Millions of years ago, their distant animal ancestors were uplifted by humans, & perhaps they've come to pay homage to their benefactors.
What they find here are abandoned cities, a tiny village with virtually no technology, & what remains of the human race apparently living a primitive existence off land.
Aliens are respectful, for old times sake, & a bit arrogant too. Seun, a very humble man, shows them around the dead city, but humanity seems to have forgotten much of the technology that made this city tick.
Aliens go back home. Only to return with a colonizing expedition that has instructions to move the remnants of humanity off to some sort of reservation & use only minimal force, in case of resistance, because of its past glory.
Aliens are in for a shock, when they threaten to use this minimal force...
Fact sheet.First published: Astounding, June 1937.
Related: Stories of John Campbell (as by Don A Stuart); fiction from 1930s.