Soror was the name given to the second planet of Betelgeuse, where Ulysse Mérou and his companions landed in Pierre Boulle's novel. Latin for 'Sister', it was so-named because of its generally Earthlike qualities.
Soror was an Earth sized world, though according to Ulysses Soror is probably older. It contained an atmosphere of oxygen and nitrogen that revolved around Betelguese at a distance equivalent to thirty times the space between the Sun and Earth. The atmosphere was bright, slightly tinged with a pale green color verging from time to time on yellow. The ocean was light blue, also with green tinges. The temperature was high but bearable: about seventy-seven degrees Fahrenheit.
Ancient Human Civilization
Over ten thousand years ago, Soror was home to a human civilization similar to twentieth century Earth. The sciences employed by the humans were geared toward the biological disciplines. Apparently the men of Soror were very close to a cure for cancer. The humans employed apes in their culture as pets and servants. At one time the apes were on the verge of extinction, but for some reason spontaneously multiplied outnumbering their human masters. Over the centuries the apes soon began to develop cognitive and speech abilities. Whereas the apes were experiencing an evolutionary awakening, simultaneously the humans began to suffer a cerebral regression.
While the humans stagnated, this evolutionary advantage allowed the apes to slowly take over human civilization, driving many humans to the outskirts or flee deeper into the jungles. The men and women that remained in the cities soon had their roles as masters reversed as pets or animals. The cerebral regression that was affecting the humans caused most men and women to accept the transition with little resistance. According to the memory of a lady animal tamer of orangutans, from her contemporary descendant's testimony, after being caged but pampered she was more than willing to relinquish her role of a sentient being in favor that of a trained animal that performed humiliating tricks at her orangutans leisure. Relieved of the responsibilities and worries, majority humans accepted the regime, further devolving from rational beings.
The humans too lazy to coordinate a response to this revolution remained static on the fringes of their former territories. Some even surrendered themselves to the apes to relive their hunger. However the apes were not content with their former masters being so close to their new domains, that some of the gorillas began to actively hunt humans and drive them further into the jungles with whips.
The memory of the ancient human civilization was eventually lost to time by the apes, who later became the sole masters of Soror. With their innate characteristics of mimicry, the apes produced the humans cultural works and sciences as their own.
At this time, modern simian civilization regarded this era as a dark age that lasted nearly ten thousand years. It became the era of the beginnings of ape civilization. Here no form of scientific progress had been made and curiously no records of any earlier 'older' achievements by apes were found leading to a mystery to many.
'Modern' Simian Civilization
A century before the arrival from Earth, the simian civilization undertook impressive leaps in scientific advances concerning biology and evolution.
Strangely much of their sciences are geared toward biological study, no doubt due to the former role their ancestors played in advancing the ancient humans of Soror knowledge in that field. Using their heighten traits of mimicry, the apes duplicated the medical industry to almost specializing in its roles, from doctors, nurses, etc. The descendants of their former masters however serve the humiliating roles as lab animals and wild game in the pursuit of medical advances.
Currently the apes are at the stage of launching artificial satellites in orbit, with their last satellite containing a living subject.
After more than a year since his arrival from Earth, Ulysse and his family departed Soror. With the birth of his son it herald the dawn of a new race of intelligent men. His existence had become an unwanted reminder of the apes true origins and had shook simian civilization. However, his influence did not only affect the apes, but his fellow men. Though he had tried and fail to raise majority of them from their savage state, its hinted that the men of Soror could be achieving an evolutionary awakening of its own just as the apes had thousands of years ago. Ulysses' very existence sparked some sort of consciousness among the captive men in the Institute. Seeing a clothed man among the apes caused them to realize that a miracle had happened. According to the ape handlers Ulysse's example had begun to sow unrest among the captive men. In addition as if by some mysterious instinct the captives had greeted Ulysse in a concert of howls after Sirius's birth. Though the apes believe that the threat of a new race of men is gone after Ulysses was supposedly disposed of, Professor Antelle still remains on the planet and has taken a female as a mate, indicating that mankind's resurgence may not be far fetched should she bear his child.
Soror is home to two races man and ape, the latter of the two being the current dominate species reigning the planet.
"Of course. Man's brain, like the rest of his anatomy, is the one that bears the closest resemblance to ours. It's a lucky chance that nature has put at our disposal an animal on whom we can study our own bodies. Man serves us in many other fields of research, as you'll come to realize. ... At this very moment we are undertaking an extremely important series of experiments."
The humans on Soror are indistinguishable from humans from Earth, albeit they possess golden skin and are physically fit, handsome specimens of humanity. Since their ancestors lost the pedestal as Soror’s dominant race, they have been reduced as savage animals, living in the wilds. Trading life in the jungles their descendants are able to move with impunity and agility through the jungles.
Modern human society on Soror resemble gorilla colonies of Earth, living in nests as naked animals. They are omnivores subsisting on wild fruits, such as bananas, and deer. They live in constant fear of ape hunting drives that raid their colonies at the edges of the jungles.
According to the apes, they believe man's malformation, the lack of four hands, caused man to be pegged on the ground and not evolve as highly as the apes.
The men on Soror having forgotten the ability to communicate coherently, due to the lack of use of their facial muscles and tongues, they have been reduced to shrill mewing or whining. While unintelligible to higher beings, their grunts allow they to communicate and issue orders amongst themselves. This is not to say they are emotionless, men and women are capable of expressing their feelings for another, physically and animalistically. For example a woman would mark a potential mate by rubbing her nose against her partner and then passing her tongue over his cheek. Likewise the man would imitate her doing the same action.
Man being a similar creature in anatomy close to ape, the apes find it a lucky coincidence that nature has given them a resource which allows them to study their own bodies.
Man serves as a valuable animal that fetches a high price on the market as they play an intricate part in medical sciences conducted by the apes. Unfortunately the apes require a considerable amount of material. This status has also allowed the gorillas to conduct drives into the jungles, capturing specimens but at the same time indulging in horrific slaughter on innocent men and women for entertainment. According to Ulysse there is a study proving that there are more men than apes on Soror. However the ape population is on the rise while former is falling in decline due to over-hunting by the gorilla clan for sport. Scientists are even worried about the future supplies for their laboratories.Besides being hunted for entertainment and medical purposes, man is also hunted as a trophy animal which hunters proudly display. Human hair especially is prized as a keepsake, similar to the feathers of a rare bird. In a bizarre form of plume hunting hunters are noted to take extra care to smooth down the manes of their kills, particularly women, with the locks of the best specimens being cut to decorate the hats of female apes.
To most of the apes, a man is a man and nothing more. The differences between one individual and another do not strike them. Ape hunters however do make distinctions between men with extremely handsome features. While the elite specimens are taken to the medical industries, the surviving men and women from these drives are then sold to zoos and fairs for exhibition. In other cases they are allowed to be made as pets, but are normally tied up or muzzled. Tame men in clothes, which by the simian's viewpoint was comical.
Humans in the wild have an innate hatred for apes and anything associated with them, clothing, articles of civilization causes agitation and fear in them. The mere sight evoking irrational violence. The apes, attempting to discover their evolutionary origins, once believed that apes were descended from man, however contemporary chimpanzee scientists now know ape and man are two separate branches of evolutionary that had evolved from a common ancestor. The apes' stance on man's evolutionary process is that man was handicapped at birth, bereft with only two clumsy hands and thus unable to visualize and fully utilize tools as compared to apes. According to Zira, the men of Soror may have at one point attempted to relearn tool use, but failed miserably.
Its revealed that the Institute for Advanced Biological Study had succeeded in educating a man to accomplish many things. Sadly however his education was for not when the apes dissected his brain leaving him less than a stupid animal. When Ulysse intelligence was raised into question after he effortlessly succeeded in passing numerous reactionary tests, the orangutans wanted to transfer him to the medical ward dealing with complex brain procedures. He would have most likely suffered the same fate if not for Zira's intervention.
However this would suggest that the men of Soror's failure to regain their status as intelligent beings may not necessarily be attributed to their mental shortcomings. But perhaps due to interference by the apes through not only territorial encroachment and over-hunting, but also through the abuse of their medical sciences. Promising specimens that could encourage the species' gene pool are killed in the wild by overzealous gorilla hunters; those kept in captivity that may show potential are studied until the apes deem their existence a nuisance to simian dominance and are eliminated in the name of science. It is clear that with the right motivation and minimal simian interference, man can rise through from their barbarity on Soror, as was shown with Nova, Soror's only human to be successfully be uplifted.
Due to the regression from civilized life, man has developed a complex ritual in courtship. Through studies conducted by the chimpanzees at the Institute, it has been observed each man courted his woman before approaching her. He indulged in a display similar in every way to that executed by certain birds: a sort of slow, hesitant dance consisting of steps forward, backward, and sideways. He moved thus in an ever-decreasing circle, a circle whose center was occupied by the woman, who merely pivoted around without shifting from her position awaiting copulation that concluded these preliminaries.
"Ape's brain," Zira concluded, "has developed, is complex and organized, whereas man's has hardly undergone any transformation."
The apes on Soror were originally servants and pets of men tens of thousands of years ago. Due to the apes innate mimicry their ancestors imitated the roles of their former master and effectively assumed the roles of rulers of Soror.
Simian culture is remarkably similar to 20th century Earth, albeit for a few cultural differences. Due to the simians arboreal legacies, their society is adapted to their origins: Streets being crossed through the use of overhanging bars, boxing being conducted on springs and in the air; ape lovers making love in the dense boughs of trees; thick gloves instead of shoes; etc. The apes are not divided into nations. The whole planet is administered by a council of ministers, at the head of which is a triumvirate consisting of one gorilla, one orangutan, and one chimpanzee. In conjunction with this government, there is also a parliament composed of three chambers: the Chamber of Gorillas, of Orangutans, and of Chimpanzees, each of which attends to the interests of its respective members. The apes have no military but a global police force that maintains order on the planet.
To explain their evolutionary origins, simian scientists theorize that equipped with four hands may be one of the most important factors in their spiritual evolution. Their innate talents may have helped them to climb trees, and thereby conceive the three dimensions of space. A taste for tools came next due to the potentiality of using four hands with dexterity.
Gorillas are the statesmen of simian civilization. In the past they preserved a lust for power which they maintain as organizer and directors. They love hunting and life in the open air. The poorest of them are engaged on work that requires physical strength. When new discoveries are made by either of the other two ape families, it is usually a gorilla that will exploit the invention to derive every benefit. For the most part the gorillas occupy the roles of hunters. This is a function more or less reserved for them. They capture wild animals and, in particular, men. They act as a whole tribe of hunters, beaters, porters, and tradesmen devoted to this industry. Other apes view them as meat eaters, due to their propensity for killing. Their favorite past-time is shooting, a hobby that has caused the near endangerment for man as a species on their world.
Orangutans occupy and compete with the chimpanzees in matters of intellectual debates. They are traditionalists and looked upon as official ministers of science. But some of them occasionally indulge in politics, the arts, and literature. They possess good memory, and learn an enormous amount by heart and from books. Then they themselves write other books, in which they repeat what they have read, thereby earning the respect of their fellow orangutans.
Chimpanzees represent the intellectual element of the planet. It is not an idle boast that all the great discoveries have been made by them. Many chimpanzees are credited to leading reforms in simian society.