I need help identifying a novel about a race of "pods" and their relationship to humans. The plot, as I remember it, involved humans discovering a planet inhabited by an intelligent race, with species visually resembling pea pods, with a head on one end of it, and anus on the other.

Those pods were forming a symbiosis with a certain tree of their planet. The symbiosis was established via trees producing some type of fruit, pods were living under them, eating that fruit, and then producing manure that further fertilised the soil for the trees. Because of that, manure played a huge part in their lives (they were really soaking in it most of the time), plus their speech was so well developed, that it required (1) going into inaudible (for humans) part of the sonic spectrum, and (2) also using anus to produce the sounds.

The gist of the plot is mostly post-colonial in nature, and basically describes how humans eradicate that race simply because the idea of someone living in manure and using their anus for speech was very disturbing for some.

I read it in Russian, but it definitely was a translation, my guess is that it was most likely from English. Publication date, totally not sure, I'd guess in the 70s-80s.

  • Roughly when would it have been published? Was it in English, was it a translation? What did the cover look like?
    – Jenayah
    Apr 4, 2020 at 14:38
  • I'm not sure exactly -- I read it in Russian, but it definitely was a translation, my guess is that it was most likley from the English. Publication date, same, totally not sure, I'd guess in the 70s-80s. Don't remember the cover at all Apr 4, 2020 at 14:42

1 Answer 1


It's not a perfect match, but I'm reminded of Brian Aldiss's "The Dark Light Years" :

A novel written in anger following inhumane experiments on dolphins. Space-going men and women find an alien race, the utods, on a planet alien to both parties. The utods enrich their lives and bodies by wallowing in their own droppings, a ceremony incompatible with terrestrial preconceptions: according to the latter “civilisation is reckoned as the distance man has placed between himself and his excreta”. Result: disaster. A serio-comic novel with diverse multi-national characters exemplifying human madness.

  • 1
    Thanks for your answer -- this one is very similar, but not the one I read Apr 4, 2020 at 15:25
  • I didn't have high hopes that it was the right answer, but figured it might help jog someone else's memory.
    – user888379
    Apr 4, 2020 at 15:33
  • My first thought as well. Apr 4, 2020 at 15:51

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