I read this book when I was a child in late '70s/'80s.

My memory of the story is a bit hazy but this is what I remember.

Set on contemporary Earth, an underground humanoid species was discovered when digging a mine / tunnel. This species which were docile were subjugated, enslaved and forced to do manual labour.

Then I can't remember what exactly happened next. It was either a disease that was transmitted from this new species to humans, or the other way round.

It would be cool to read this again. Hope you can help.


1 Answer 1


It's a short story, not a book or a children's novel, but you might be thinking of "DP!" by Jack Vance, which was also the answer to the old question Identify allegorical short story of underground race emerging after WW2 as refugees. It was originally published in Avon Science Fiction and Fantasy Reader, April 1953, which is available at the Internet Archive; you might have read it in one of these compilations.

The troglodytes, as they are called, are a mysterious race of people that emerge from underground caverns in large numbers:

An old woodcutter woman, hunting mushrooms up the north fork of the Kreuzberg, raised her eyes and saw the strangers. They came step by step through the ferns, arms extended, milk-blue eyes blank as clam shells. When they chanced into patches of sunlight, they cried out in hurt voices and clutched at their naked scalps, which were white as ivory, and netted with pale blue veins.

The scientific world seethes with the troglodyte controversy. According to the theory most frequently voiced, the trogs are descended from cavemen of the glacial era, driven underground by the advancing wall of ice. Other conjectures, more or less scientific, refer to the lost tribes of Israel, the fourth dimension, Armageddon, and Nazi experiments.

I cannot say that the trogs are a noble, enlightened, or even ingratiating race. Their cultural level is abysmally low; they possess no tools, they wear neither clothing nor ornaments. To their credit it must be said that they are utterly inoffensive and mild; I have never witnessed a quarrel or indeed a trog exhibit anything but passive obedience.

There is some talk of putting the trogs to work:

"At first blush the Russian offer to take the trogs appears to ease our shoulders of a great weight. Here is exactly what we have been grasping for, a solution without sacrifice, a sop to our consciences, a convenient carpet to sweep our dirt under. The man in the street, and the responsible official, suddenly are telling each other that perhaps the Russians aren't so bad after all, that there's a great deal of room in Siberia, that the Russians and the trogs are both barbarians and really not so much different, that the trogs were probably Russians to begin with, etc.

"Let's break the bubble of illusion, once and for all. We can't go on forever holding our Christian integrity in one hand and our inclinations in the other. . . . Doesn't it seem an odd coincidence that while the Russians are desperately short of uranium miners at the murderous East German and Ural pits, the trogs, accustomed to life underground, might be expected to make a good labor force? . . . In effect, we would be turning over to Russia millions of slaves to be worked to death. We have rejected forced repatriation in West Europe and Korea, let's reject forced patriation and enslavement of the trogs."

In the end the trogs all perish, mostly of influenza:

Trog City, December 15 (UP): A desperate appeal for penicillin, sulfa, blankets, kerosene heaters, and trained personnel was sounded today by Camp Commandant Howard Kerkovits. He admitted that disease among the trogs was completely out of control, beyond all human power to cope with. . . .

"I don't kow why I should be sitting here writing this, because—since there are no more trogs—there is no more trog story. But I am seized by an irresistible urge to tell off a rotten, inhumane world. . . ."

  • 1
    Thanks, story wise that is similar to what I remember but isn't the same. The book was in my school library in England
    – Matt
    Commented Feb 11, 2023 at 7:37

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