The Solarians are a human derived race from Isaac Asimov's Foundation Universe.
The Solarians are an offshoot of humanity, or more accurately, of a human subspecies called Spacers.
The Spacers were the inhabitants of the first fifty colonies of Earth. Possessing vastly extended lifespans of up to four centuries and enormous wealth including robotic servants, they viewed regular Earthmen with contempt, basically dominating them. However, due to the comfort of their planets and homes, they were ill suited to colonizing new planets. Solaria was the last one.
Solaria was settled from the nearby Spacer world of Nexon, apparently sometime in the fifth millennium. At the time, Nexon's population was approaching two million. While not high by Spacer standards - while all their worlds practiced population control, they could have as much as two hundred million - this was enough to start regulating the amount of robots per household. Solaria was very close to Nexon, about two parsecs away, and hardly required any terraforming. Nexonians had established villas on the planet, surrounded by as many robots as they wanted. Eventually, realizing that Solaria might get as crowded as Nexon, they became independent. Strict immigration and birth control were imposed. Population was maintained at twenty thousand, with all the good land divided into estates thousands to tens of thousands square kilometers. Robots numbered at two hundred million. Every person had all the goods and robotic servants he or she could possibly want.
Within a few centuries, the problems with their peculiar social system became obvious. Solarians abhorred personal contact, making procreation harder and harder. Also, despite the Solarians viewing their society as perfect, no other world wanted to adopt it, leading to growing despair. This led to a combination of low birth rate and many early deaths. The population dropped to five thousand, and the tendency showed no sign of stopping. Contacts with other planets became rare.
One day, a ship that stopped nearby for repairs had noticed that no human presence at all could be detected on the planet.
Attempts to investigate the planet led to the destruction of three ships. The fourth ship had managed to lift off, reporting very unpleasant news.
No robot on the planet seemed to know where the Solarians went. They were now managed by overseers; fully humanoid robots programmed to kill on sight every creature that looked like a human being, but did not speak with the distinct accent of Solaria. It was assumed the Solarians had left the planet to start anew elsewhere. As such, the planet was deemed dangerous and left alone, to be eventually forgotten.
Around that time, the other Spacer world were experiencing the same despair as Solaria. Earth had started a new wave of planetary exploration which they had no hope of matching. All Spacer worlds had died out and were forgotten.
Twenty thousand years later, a ship had landed on Solaria. There, they had discovered that the Solarians did not, in fact, die; rather, they retreated underground, where they conducted research to solve the problems of their society. Now, they were waiting patiently until the rest of humanity died out and they could claim the empty Galaxy.
At first, the Solarians differed little from regular humans. The main distinction was their extended lifespans; a Spacer could live as long as four centuries.
However, when they went underground, their research included first and foremost extensive genetic engineering. The Solarians became hermaphroditic, thus removing all need for physical contact. A Solarian possessed a pair of testicles and a very small vagina, enabling it to "give birth" to a fertilized ovum or a very small embryo, which could be raised in an artificial womb under robotic care. Thus, the race had no way of procreating without an extensive technological base.
A second major difference was the transducer lobes. The Solarians had genetically engineered parts of their brains which allowed them to gather energy from their surroundings and use it to perform various tasks. The parts were located near their temples, covered by skin in a child, the skull only growing bone over them once their growth was complete during a Solarian's analogue of puberty. Once mature, a Solarian could use its lobes to gather solar and geothermal energy and use it to power its entire, city sized mansion, along with thousands of robots all over the estate. This use was as natural as breathing for them, the estates remaining powered even while the Solarian was asleep. The energy could also be used to move objects telekinetically or drain the charge of power units. Apparently, it could also kill a person by overheating his brain. However, this created a vulnerability to mental attacks, since any disruption to power output could cause a fatal overheating of the Solarian's own brain.
Otherwise, a Solarian looked like a normal human, although apparently more intelligent on the average; they were capable of learning a new language to near perfection within a few weeks.
Before their disappearance, the Solarian society placed extreme value on individualism and abhorrence of personal contact. Each person was proud of the size of his estate, and one of the signs of a large, self sufficient estate, was that one didn't need to meet other people. Within a relatively short time, it became obscene and outright disgusting to tolerate the physical presence of another person. All business was conducted through extremely lifelike holographic communication, normally referred to as "viewing". Physical presence was only tolerated in case of a doctor's visits, which were very rare, and among spouses, limited to contacts for the sake of procreation even there. While viewing, however, even full nudity was completely acceptable.
Children were conceived in accordance with strict population control. A month after conception, the fetus was extracted and brought to a centralized facility, where it was put in artificial wombs. Each child was born and raised in a manner that taught him to hate physical presence. Upon being raised, spouses were assigned to each other based on genetics. Each spouse lived on a separate half of a huge mansion. After producing the required kids, the couple presumably went to live in separate estates.
The Solarians were considered the best roboticists among Spacers, exporting considerable amounts of robots to other worlds. Their own hordes of robots left them in complete freedom from hard work. Many of them specialized in fine arts, always abstract ones.
Only two cases are known of offworlders visiting the planet. In each case, a special permission was granted to build a new house full of everything one could need on one of the estates. Both houses were demolished as soon as the guest left.
Due to the extreme individualism, cooperation for the sake of research was all but unheard of, yet the Solarians had managed a considerable amount of breakthroughs when putting their minds to it. For example, they managed to create nuclear intensifiers (devices capable of forcing nuclear reactors into explosive overload) small enough to be carried by two robots, while all the other worlds could only attempt placing them in fixed emplacements.
It is unclear to what extent the Solarians had a government. However, there was a mention of Security (only its head and his deputy appear in the series, but the former mentions colleagues), and a Regent. Mechanisms existed for temporarily assigning people to necessary jobs for which no volunteers could be found.
When the Solarians were encountered again, they numbered at approximately twelve hundred. Their society was similar to the old one in many respects, yet different in others. They insisted of being addressed as "it", and refused to call themselves "human", considering the word tainted through its use by the imperfect "half-humans" (that is, two gendered people). They believed they were perfect beings, and their society was likewise perfect, destined to outlast the squabbling half-humans. One day, these will all die out, and the perfect Solarians will take over the millions of empty worlds.
In order not to bother with changing the programming of robots, the language of Solaria remained completely unchanged over the twenty thousand years. However, every adult Solarian also knew contemporary Galactic from its ancestors and its own listening to broadcasts.
The mansions of the Solarians were now completely underground, with only a number of elevators on the surface. They were now as big as cities; a Solarian could live all the centuries of its life without visiting some of the rooms. Thousands of robots tended the mansion; thousands more, the estate outside. Any estate could have its own mines or orchards; considerable trade existed between the estates, managed almost exclusively by robots. However, coordination of trade and some other matters required communication between individual Solarians, which one of them stated it had to participate in almost every month.
No longer was there a centralized child-rearing facility. Each Solarian raised its own heir on an isolated part of its mansion - or rather, robots raised it, although the parent often communicated with the child to keep track of its needs and development. A surplus child or a child that developed improperly was eliminated without remorse. In case a Solarian died from an accident without leaving a mature heir capable of powering its estate, a mature heir of another was assigned to the estate, and that other Solarian produced another heir. If the deceased had in immature child, it was normally eliminated, though it is possible it could be assigned to the adult who contributed a heir (the matter is not fully elaborated upon, but it is stated that each case was decided individually by a council of Solarians)
While the Solarians were now more isolated than ever, no longer were they disgusted at the presence of regular humans. These, they believed, were so far below them that their presence limited their freedom no more than a robot's or cattle's. Still, such communication was considered extremely "shameful", and one Solarian who engaged in such communication was fully intent from the start on killing its "guests" and keeping the matter a complete secret.
Each Solarian's robots were powered by it personally with its transducer lobes. The only exception was a sizable corps of "Guardian Robots", perfectly identical to Solarians in appearance, powered by nuclear units and used for patrol or investigation in case of unexpected death or intruders. While these robots, like most robots in Asimov's fiction, were programmed with the Three Laws of Robotics, thus preventing them from harming humans, their definition of a human included the possession of fully developed transducer lobes, making them fully capable of attacking offworlders and even Solarian children.
The Solarians had no space travel, due to not needing it. Even air travel was rather undeveloped, with the Guardian Robots apparently using primitive helicopters. The Solarians were fully content with remaining upon their own comfortable world.
- The Naked Sun, by Isaac Asimov (1957)
- The Robots of Dawn, by Isaac Asimov (1983)
- Robots and Empire, by Isaac Asimov (1985)
- Foundation and Earth, by Isaac Asimov (1986)