THOLIANS: Cultural Index

THOLIANS: Cultural Index

Not much is known about the Tholians, in fact
we see more about their technology and appearance than their culture or society. In universe,
this is attributed to their zealous defence of their territory and many a ship has fallen
victim to their attacks after wondering into their space. Hi all ,Ric here and today’s
index is on the Tholian Assembly, the extremophile non-humanoid race that causes no end of headaches
for the Federation. The most commonly known fact of the Tholian
Assembly is that their homeworld, Tholia Prime also called Tholis is an extreme environment,
suspected to be a class Y planet of high temperatures and pressure with a non-nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere.
Their biology is uniquely adapted to life in these environments and therefore the most
common habitation for humanoid life is lethal to them.
They exists comfortably in temperatures of 207 degrees Celsius, 480 Kelvin and have a
distinctly non-humanoid appearance. They have a head with what appear to be eyes at the
top, however these formations glow so they likely do not operate in the same way as a
human’s eyes. They have 8 limbs, 6 legs and 2 arms with each ending in grasping appendages.
Lower temperatures (below 380K) would cause them great distress as their exoskeleton fractures.
Prolonged exposure leads to them freezing then shatter. Painfully. They are a Hermaphroditic
species possessing both male and female organs. They support exoskeletons made from a Silicon-Crystalline
compound, Possibly Silica. This would make them similar to Earth Diatoms. Which consume
minerals from their surrounding environment as well as a form of photosynthesis, the Tholians
may do something similar as they seem to breathe anaerobically through their shells, filtering
out most toxins. They are also speculated to draw nutrients from their atmosphere.
Their crystalline structure is also used in communications as they make audible chirping
and screeching sounds which are formed from resonating its shell. This can be amplified
to even higher levels as they can utilise their own carapace as a transmitter to emit
EM waves to commune with others of their kin, even across vast distances. Some sources say
that the Tholians pass on their memories and identity through the transfer of electrical
currents to a newly birthed body so that while their former body dies, the “individual”
lives on. This is not possible should the body die before transference. This is suggested
to be possible through the electrical charge that is contained within their cells. Their
unique method of radio-communication and this electromagnetic transfer lead to them generate
an ambient static field of consciousness that was akin to a shared collective intelligence.
This has given rise to the belief that they in fact share a Hive existence but is more
like a natural Wi-Fi, connecting them all. They called it the Lattice and it could be
sensed by telepathic species such as Vulcans, though a uniquely Tholian experience.
The Tholians practice marriage and are bonded into threes. New born Tholians are altered
at birth to grow into a role assigned them. This includes a number of physical changes
in their size and build. This is tied into the caste system that they operate. Individuals
are assigned a role based on their previous experiences and these fall into a number of
divisions from Warriors to Political roles. There are Leadership roles within each of
these, often referred to as Queens or other monarchic titles by outsiders. As well as
specialised Diplomats, Medical personnel and the Sciences. The Science Caste is further
divided into all aspects of research and development but is pretty low in their social hierarchy.
This is the reason for their relatively slow pace of development.
The Tholians have one unique technology where they excel above all others, and that is their
Tractor Beam tech. That sounds like an underwhelming specialisation, however in practice it is
anything but. They have developed a system where they can create energy webs of interlinking
beams. These are deployed in both offensive and defensive capacities. Energy from within
the web is absorbed and dispersed throughout the frame while from outside, energy can pass
into it just fine, leading to effective traps. The species tended to hail before firing on
intruders into their territory, but its borders were routinely changing as they claimed and
relinquished systems beyond their core space. They did see fit to create a universal translator
for the benefit of the other races however showing that violence was not their go to
option but one they had no qualms about resorting to. They will fire on intruders after their
warnings are not headed, then attempt to capture a vessel with a web or destroy it and they
had a reputation for punctuality and precision. Outside of their class Y environment they’d
have to wear mechanised pressure suits and this is represented in Star Trek online as
their military makes use of such frames while using portable versions of their tractor tech
and even using it as a projectile. They also produce a sort of webbing that may be organic
in origin and used as silica based silk. The interior of their ships, according to
some sources, are based on the same Tri-design that is present throughout their architecture
and heraldry. There are consoles on every surface even in cavernous rooms suggesting
that they are able to scurry up walls and able to operate from strange angles without
disorientation. In the Mirror universe, the Tholians sought
to “employ” humanoids to work as labourers in environments they couldn’t stand. If
an inhabited planet fell into their territory, they all but enslaved the populous and forced
them to work in the environments that they themselves could not enter. Starfleet would
continue to consider the Tholians a threat due to their xenophobic attitudes well into
the 24th century, over 200 years after their first contact.
Starfleet was aware of them prior to the 2260s. The years 2252-2254 saw the first Federation
conflict with the Tholians. Not the “First Federation”, but Starfleet. Skirmishes continued
to erupt throughout history, most often when Starfleet encountered areas of freshly claimed
Tholian territory. 2298 eased tensions between the species as the Federation stepped in to
manage disputes between the Tholians and the Neyel over extradimensional tunnels to the
Small Magellanic Cloud. However by 2353, they were back at war with
the Federation with individuals like Kyle Riker and then Captain Leyton surviving the
conflicts. Once again, this skirmish cannot have lasted too long as in 2372, the Tholians
made it known to Starfleet that they wished to make use of the Bajoran Wormhole. They
then, however, signed a non-aggression pact with the Dominion in 2373 content to let the
two powers beat each other, though analysts pointed out that if the Federation fell, then
the Assembly did not stand a chance either. This hostility doesn’t seem to extend to
other species however as they do engage in commerce and trade with dignitaries on Deep
Space Nine, (technically a Bajoran Outpost at the time) and exporting goods with Ferenginar,
such as silks. By the emergence of the Dominion War, the Tholians had sent observers and politicians
to Earth indicating a possible de-escalation of hostilities between Starfleet and the Assembly
while also extending ties to Romulus by 2379. Both the Klingon Empire and Federation boarder
Tholian space though this seems to have changed with time and the expansion of the Federation.
Some newer research has shed light on their territorial claims being based on the movement
of certain astronomical bodies within their territory every 8 cycles, meaning that what
originally appeared as random annexing of systems in fact may be predictable and to
a design. One recurring trait is that they seemed borderline
obsessed with the exploration of time and alternate universes. They seem to continually
show an interest on space-time time bending phenomena like wormholes, rifts, interphasic
space, time travel and such. And seem far more interesting in this than exploring the
physical space around them. This can be seen in their pursuit of future tech in 2152 and
their mirror universe counterparts luring in the USS Defiant in 2268. In hindsight,
these interactions have been seen as machinations within the complex Temporal Cold War marking
the Tholians as a potential faction operating at different time periods.
The Tholians are a very alien species when compared to standard humanoid forms most commonly
encountered and have a strong xenophobic attitude towards such species. Their extreme life-support
requirements mean that it is seldom that the species ever interacts with others and continues
the air of mystery around them and their continual pursuit of extra-dimensional technology and
research adds to this strangeness. Compounded with the geometry of their starships, perhaps
it’s all tied to them perceiving the universe in a different fashion. A lot of this information
is yet to be confirmed in canon, but then, their natural habitat was born from extra
materials too and there are a lot of ideas here that simply expand upon what we’ve
seen. For example, I love the idea of a planet wide, natural song of information created
by their crystalline commination that carries the individuality to others. That would be
a nice idea to expand upon. Thanks for listening to this Cultural Index
video on the Tholians and as usual the next choices for the index can be voted for over
on the community tab, with the choices being from two more otherworldly inhabitants, either
the Mass Effect universe’s rotund Volus or one the opposite end of the spectrum, the
Ice Warriors of Doctor Who. Let me know by casting your vote and until the next video,
Thanks again for watching and I’ll see you next time, Goodbye!

99 thoughts on “THOLIANS: Cultural Index

  1. I think they have a controlling psychological standpoint. Their interest in wormholes and whatnot I think demonstrates this- wormholes are rare ish phenomenon, that have a powerful tactical advantage potential. Xenophobia could manifest from not wanting to take the risk of diplomacy. Their tractor beam webbing is another facet of an inherent desire (or need) to control.

  2. Most likely the reason that researchers are low priority in their caste system is due to the lattice having readily available information from anywhere, for any tholians. I'd also assume space travel for their higher caste's is taxing and dangerous to their individual health after short times. Greater risk, greater reward.

  3. While you did not touch upon them, both Task Force Games and FASA included the Tholians in their materials and described Tholia as a Dyson sphere containing the Tholian home star that they moved to the Milky Way galaxy from another galaxy. They still move their star system when the need arises. The surface area of a Dyson sphere is 550 millions times the surface of the Earth. If we assume that they populated that surface to the fullest extent there would be 4.4 quadrillion Tholians living in their home system.

  4. Impressive research and analysis. They are all fictional though. But surely, this will all help when Terrans actually encounter a species such as Tholians in the far future. WE do NEED Warp tech, like yesterday and only that would help Terrans explore the Galaxy. Just hope that day comes soon.

  5. Maybe the tholian psychic field extends through extradimensions. They're not one hive mind but they sense their mirror counterparts.

  6. There is actually a great trek book where they are at a large space station and there is a tholian in an exosuit that lives there. Has conversations with Kirk and Scott. Maybe more insight into tholians than any thing else combined in the trek UNIVERSE. It even go's into how they communicate amoung themselves on their homeworld. It's almost like the internet. Their "thought" go's onto a line of energy that interconnects all over their world like a web. They can choose to multi connect, like a hive mind, or disconnect at will. It's neat.

  7. These guys are criminally underused. I hope they appear in Discovery, Picard or one of the other upcoming star trek series.

  8. there are apparently dolphins serving on federation starships, though this is only briefly mentioned as an easter egg in the canon. even on a series as trash as Discovery, had there been dolphins even off screen, i might have been interested in what took place.

  9. Dear Rick do you ever believe that there will come a time when you may possibly do a cultural index on delton's as featured in Star Trek the motion picture with Lieutenant Ilia?

  10. One might say they are


  11. In the new season of Star Trek Discovery I hope they portray the tholian's more extensively then previous time's like the culture and individual tholian's

  12. So there is absolutely no way for me to fuck it without getting burned? Sounds like my ex-wife! I would love to see the Borg trying to assimilate them.

  13. We also know they had an ambassador to the Federation dearing Captain Sisko's life. As he had some kind of relationship with that ambassador and was able to obtain a pease of Tholian silk.

  14. One thing is certain, to a limited degree it seems that Tholians honor their debts. Sisko once gave Cassady Yates Tholian Silk. When asked how he got it, he stated "The Tholian ambassador owed me a favor". For a highly xenophobic species, the fact that the request of a being like Sisko would be honored shows they value their debts to some degree. However, this is only a theory as we know very little about Tholian culture.

  15. A criminally underutilised species. It's true the Tholians wouldn't stand a chance against the Dominion, but they would have been one hell of a nuisance. They're universe-hopping would make them quite slippery, and able to pull god-knows-what out from who-knows-where essentially having an in-universe deus-ex-machina machine XD

    I also read somewhere, can't remember where, that the Tholians cooperate with their counterparts from other universes. If that is true, they could have a theoretically infinite amount of support.

  16. The best backstory for the Tholians was from the 80s games Starfleet Battles. There, the Tholian ran a vast interstellar empire thousands of years ago. Their slave subjects revolted, and the Tholians retreated, dragging their home planet across space to a hidden area with their web technology. Thus, they remain secret active but autocratic.

  17. They remind me a bit of the Hamalki from Diane Duane's TOS-era novels. K't'l'k and her reincarnation K's't'l'k are fascinating characters. Nowadays the Sweetwater song "My Crystal Spider" always makes me think of them.

  18. Tholians tend to be called Nigel , and wear jewlery made from cherry pits & penguin kneejoints. They live in cardboard boxes under caves carved into the shells of Giant wildebeast type crustaceans.

  19. My theory: what if the Tholians are obsessed with space-time and multi-dimensions because they are actually not from the time period of Star Trek? They could be ancient, sentient beings from millions of years ago that evolved before that first humanoid species (I forget their name) seeded the galaxy with humanoid species and Class M planets. Time traveling to our time has essentially stranded them in an era where virtually the whole galaxy is toxic to them and they desperately cling to their small corner of it while they look for a way to escape this part of the timeline with the slim hope of finding a more hospitable time to live.

    It's a dark theory, but it's a good premise for an episode or two.

  20. The Tholians could be interested in time-space phenomena for any number of reasons. But my preference would be that they're looking for other Tholians.

    If they can transfer memory and consciousness by touch, then the most efficient exploration and research is to send Tholian scientists back in time and follow the blueprint of events to confirm their knowledge.

    Same goes for linking the Assembly across multiple universes. With infinite universes and timelines at their disposal, they could examine all possible outcomes and become a unified multiversal power.

    Their ultimate goal is probably to crack the Iconian gate system – allowing them the need to forego shipbuilding almost entirely.

  21. Nice story line! I would suggest that you – seemingly a talented narrator, narrate a description of the current international, geopolitical environment we are now living in! It's much more sophisticated and MUCH more disturbing! Have some courage? Have some curiosity? Want to be remembered by history? Forget this fantasy Tholian story and tell about REAL Human social-political interaction! Now that will be an epic adventure while this fantasy you present here is meaningless! GET REAL!

  22. You have no idea how unnerving I find these fictional species.
    I am an arachnophobe, an extreme one. I had to undergo therapy in my teens with exercises like holding a tarantula on my shoulders, and medication.

  23. Roddenberry was always criticized that aliens were too human, bipedal, 4 extremities, etc. I think the Tholians really went against this grain.

  24. We need to neutron bomb those bastards out of the galaxy. We can learn everything we need to know about them through autopsy. Let's see how they deal with the genesis device.

  25. According to images from star trek online, they are perpetually in a silly dancing state where the jiggle left and right even though there is no apparent music. Some argue that it might simply be bad animators, but no such evidence has been found, making most star trek experts to believe that all tholians just like to jiggle.

  26. What if Tholians in one universe and time are connected to other universes and times, their society is not limited to this temporarily and universe, from their perspective they operate a vast Tholian Empire across time and universes.

  27. It's funny, 8472 are described as being "so alien" but then what "little" we know of the Tholians seem to top 8472 in weirdness in almost every regard, except maybe for the biological ships.

  28. I wonder if, because of their obsession with alternate dimensions and time travel, they are actually all one sect existing outside of time and dimension…

  29. The Tholians weren't aggressive per say, not because they weren't willing to fight, they were, it was merely a practical decision on their part: choose to talk over a situation before you come to blows, that way if there is a way out of it, you'll find it and save the lives of your people. Plus in space you really have to be careful to save the lives of your people to sustain a long-term interstellar nationstate like they plan on doing.
    Also, they're likely short on people, due to only inhabiting demon-class worlds; they have specific biological requirements to survive in, so they'll choose precisely when and if they fight, and most peoples can't really invade their worlds, out of lack of ability to survive while garrisoning them, due to the hostile environment.

  30. The reason for the Tholians interest in space-time happenings could be their need for precise living conditions; imagine you're a Tholian scientist and you figure out a way to get your people to Earth during the Hadean Period; you'd be hailed for having enabled a whole new land to colonize, as they thrive in such an environment: they have very specific living conditions for survival, so they are looking for ways around their survival needs.

  31. Now these THOLIANS were one of the BEST of the Alien Races in all Star Trek–NON-HUMANOID! The so-called "humanoid' races depicted in Star Trek were either a BUDGET concession or PLOT tools for Kirk or Riker or WHOEVER to be in a " love scene"(gag) probably both!

  32. Pretty funny – the 'critics' that were a tiny armpit of people and not even sci-fi fans but got published raved "Why no non-humanoid aliens?" in Star Trek…

    1 – well easier to put Elf Ears or other superficial things on a human actor than do million dollar animatronic/special effects each show in a time 40 years before computers made this halfway sane.
    2 – even with their TIGHT budget they put in things like the Tholians…. And this got ZERO notice…

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