The Selenites are the sapient insectoid inhabitants of the Earth's moon.
They are vaguely similar to quasi-humanoid ants, about five feet tall, with a light physical constitution enclosed in an exoskeleton from which slender jointed limbs and whip-like tentacles protrude. The large head contains a couple of widely separated insectile eyes, a downward beak-like mouth and no visible nose or ears. They typically wear elaborate clothing, including helmet and glasses when adventuring out of their subterranean cities and into the surface. Their necks are also jointed, and they have ridges of spikes down the back of their heads and over their eyes. Their language consists of sounds and gestures, though the former are inimitable by humans and the later are highly different from those used on Earth. However at least some Selenite castes are able to learn Human speech and properly communicate with them. Because of the weak gravity of the moon, the Selenite body is very weak and flimsy, and can be easily destroyed by human strength. They are omnivorous, their diet including mooncalves and fungi. Their eyes are sensitive to sunlight, but are able to perceive heat.
First contact is made among Humans and Selenites in 1901, when Professor Cavor and Mr. Bedford travel to the moon in an artificial sphere powered by cavorite, a material impervious to the pull of gravity. First interaction leads to conflict when the explorers are captured and, unable to communicate and believing the insectoids to be hostile, reacted to their captors, accidentally killing them with ease due to the Selenite naturally fragile physique. Afterwards, they separate looking for the sphere, and each is lead to believe the other to be deceased. While Bedford manages to find the vehicle and return to Earth, Cavor is found by the Selenites once again and, finding them to actually be a quite peaceful and advanced society, ends up living amongst them. Before first contact, Selenites tended to regard the Earth as a dead world, much like mankind regarded the moon; due to Earth’s solid density and comparative lack of vast subterranean refuges where the natives might hide from the elements.
Culture and society
The interior of the moon is entirely perforated by Selenite made cities and passageways. The underground water channels are navigated, and light is provided by an extremely common variety of bioluminescent plankton. The Selenites living in the deepest communities develop bioluminescence themselves, probably a result of consumption of the afore-mentioned plankton.
Like many insectoids, the Selenites are divided in castes which differ widely both in appearance and social functions. There are male and female Selenites, in addition to dozens (perhaps hundreds) of different sexless forms which act as soldiers, artists or laborers of many specialties. All sorts of wild physical divergences are visible among the countless Selenite varieties: oversized antennae, long skeletal limbs, inflated heads, diminutivee heads and bloated bodies, etc...
Cavor describes the Selenites as a very sophisticated kind, far above humans in matters of intelligence, morality and social structure. They are a unified civilization across their globe, governed by a single monarch which is referred to as the Grand Lunar.
- The First Men in the Moon, by H. G. Wells (1901) (First appearance)
- A Trip to the Moon (1902)
- The First Men in the Moon (1919)
- First Men in the Moon (1964)
- The First Men in the Moon (2010)