In 4627 AD the first wave of space settlers, the Spacers, established the planet of Solaria. Within 500 years, the planet would cut all external ties to existing colonies after rigid social and immigration rules reached their peak.
A paradise of excellent weather and astounding liberty, Solaria appeared in a few of Isaac Asimov’s works.
I first read of Solaria in a later novel of Asimov’s before reading The Naked Sun. Something about the description of its beauty and technologies, as well as the shear solitude each denizen lived in, was fascinating. The planet began with only about 5000 colonists, but by a distant future, only 1200 existed. This wasn’t due to disaster or war, but by choice. Like any of the Spacer worlds of the time, they were disgusted by their Earth counterparts, viewing them as dirty and germ ridden. Sanitation among other phobia and paranoias had already seeped its way into the culture, and individuals could barely stand to be in the same room as each other, let alone touch each other. As time went on, they developed into hermaphrodites which allowed them to self-procreate. In addition, they developed an almost unconscious telepathy that powered everything on huge estates. One human lived by itself on a camps of millions of acres. Everything was run by robots, each and every one as well as other equipment (like lights, machines, etc.), powered by background processes. If a Solarian died, the entire estate ceased to function.
An obscure icon as the cultural of the planet
As a designer, or more likely as a Bauhaus trained designer, I love grids and crisp shape forms. Grids don’t have to be all right angles though. I wanted to make a planet logo implicit of a planetary grid, and for that I needed circles. Included is the concept of finding a point in 3 dimensional space and a route to that point, but viewed from multiple angles (spaceships don’t have to travel on just horizontal vectors, trust me). Also, as a designer, a cube is beautiful, but I’ve always noticed a bizarre aesthetic when one is placed on 1 of its points. This cube, this brilliant evidence of line, form, and symmetry, is gorgeous when set on either edge or plane. When placed or suspended on one of its points, it becomes awkward, unsightly… and yet strangely still attractive. I wanted to achieve this most of all in a circle form as I thought it aligned well with the bizarre, perhaps amoral, yet beautiful description and behaviors of Solaria.
At some point I had a wild idea to print this design, but not for just any old inject or laser printer. A technique in older printmaking traditions is Boxwood carving, but thanks to various resource issues we don’t use boxwood anymore. We use a plastic called Sintra which is engineered to behave the same. I matte-transferred a Xerox to the plate and after a little carving and sanding I recreated the logo. This approach to a physical print matched what I interpreted as a possible cultural affect of the society described.
Image of the print plate I carved. Reversed from original so final image prints correctly.
A physical ink print reveals the dark nature of the planet itself
Printmaking has always struck me as odd, much like taking a clay model to finished cast. The final piece is so far from the original interpretation due to the iterations of reproduction the work went through. An image is created in situ, then is transferred (often in reverse) to a plate; that plate is inked and paper is compressed onto the combination to produce the print. I’m bothered by this process because, although techniques exist to make the print match the original image exactly, the final piece is so ancestrally distant this journey cannot be ignored. Again, this echoed the shear audacity of transformations and mutations the original humans of Solaria underwent over about 20,000 years. This finished print is thus darker, reversed and therefore estranged from the original.
It’s like a broadcast logo before an emergency.
Despite all the bizarreness and isolationism described, the planet was beautiful, almost serene. Indeed as described by Asimov, Solaria used to be a summer vacation resort for the colonists of Nexon. I thought this was interesting—a planetary tourist trade. The logo was also designed with this advertising in mind. The design is meant to be attractive for these reasons, but not so nice it would give others a realistic idea of how beautiful the planet may be. Solaria is however well aware of its beauty and would be remiss to show show it off somehow. This is why there is just a hint of gold continental bodies in representations.
Solaria: Planet of Beauty & Liberty
View More: Isaac Asimov, Planets, Robot Novels, Science Fiction, Space Tourism, Spacers