Thursday 9 February 2012

Top Ten Spaceships

Top Tens are by their nature completely arbitrary. Why ten? Why not a top nine? Or a top eleven? Well I suppose our maths is decimal and most of us have ten digits on our hands. As for the content, top tens rarely compare like with like. Even when they do it usually comes down to individual taste rather than definitive statistics.

I'm a big fan of science fiction and so for no particular reason I've written a list of favourite spaceships. These are my own views and other spaceships are available. I could have gone on and on, but I decided to limited myself to ten. So there are special mentions for: Star Trek's USS Excelsior, USS Enterprise-E, Delta Flyer and Enterprise NX-01, the Liberator from Blake's 7, Planet Express ship from Futurama, the Dalek saucer and Sontaran 'golfball' from Doctor Who, the X-Wing from Star Wars and Thunderbird 3.

So allow me to present my entirely arbitrary Top Ten Favourite Spaceships from Film and TV:

10 - The Borg Cube
Monumental in size and with a shape that flies full in the face of how we assume a spaceship should look. Terrifying in its simplicity. Aesthetics are irrelevant. Well and truly worthy of its accompanying musical sting.

9 - USS Defiant
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's flagship is easily the coolest Star Trek ship in battle.

8 - Red Dwarf
Whether it's the model of the first five seasons or the later CGI, the colossal eponymous mining ship is still a great design. The first Red Dwarf novel calls the shuttlecock on the front of the ship: the scoop, and states that it sucks hydrogen in to convert to fuel. What is even more impressive is that this is never explicitly explained on screen, but just looking at the ship you can intuitively understand exactly what it does. Furthermore the novel theorises that due to the scoop the ship can travel forever, which is pretty handy when your journey takes about 3,000,217 years (give or take).

7 - Millennium Falcon
In a very nice bit of scriptwriting, the first thing Luke Skywalker says upon seeing the coolest thing to hit the eyeballs of a generation, is "What a piece of junk!" The 'used future' of Star Wars is something George Lucas doesn't get enough credit for, and the elegantly lopsided Millennium Falcon has obviously had a quite a life before we see it onscreen. Distinctive from some angles, utterly non-descript from others.

6 - Klingon Bird Of Prey
Each of Star Trek's cultures have an aesthetic all of their own. The most prolific bad guys have come up with a cross between a sculpture and bomber plane, the Bird of Prey is stunning.

5 - Moya
Farscape's living ship looks great. Originally just as much of a prisoner as its cargo, when freed it engenders geniune feeling from the audience and is just as much of a character as her crew.

4 - Serenity
The ship from Firefly and Serenity is as ugly as it is beautiful. The vertical take off or landing engines ground ship in reality, as does the documentary-style shooting which prevents the sense of stately removal of most ships. The interior feels like it marries up to the exterior perfectly, which is rarer than it sounds.

3 - USS Enterprise NCC-1701
The mix of flying saucer and rocket of the original Star Trek vessel is a beautiful piece of design. As Scotty says in Relics "NCC-1701. No bloody A, B, C, or D." The sleeker refit version of the first six movies is just as good, but I haven't quite gotten used to the pimped out ship of Star Trek XI.

2 - The TARDIS
At times white, invisible, a decorated stove, a pipe organ, an ornamental gateway, pink and Suranne Jones, but the blue police box of the Doctor Who's time machine is fantastic. The concept of a spaceship that is bigger of the inside is genius, the idea of ship that can change shape according to its surroundings is great, but the idea of ship that can change shape according to its surroundings being stuck in the form of a police box that would have been commonplace in 1963 is brilliant. As police boxes became rarer and eventually practically disappeared altogether, in minds of the British public they became TARDISes and all the more iconic.

And the all time best spaceship ever:

1 - Starbug
Red Dwarf's workhorse may be a surprising choice, but it's a beautiful blend of form, function and funny.

What are your favourites?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Like all of the Star Trek ships and the inclusion of Moya. The Serenity would probably be my first choice.

S. L. Hennessy said...

The Serenity, hands down. And I'd follow Captain Mal Reynolds anywhere.

Dave said...

I'd probably prefer to live aboard Serenity...

Timothy S. Brannan said...

I used to hate the Enterprise-D, but over the years of TNG I loved it.

The TARDIS though is still my favorite.

M Pax said...

I've got to see Red Dwarf. Next on my Netflix list. All spaceships are cool. I take a ride on any of them. :)

Dave said...

Timothy, I don't hate the Enterprise-D, but I don't really love it either. It looks fantastic in Star Trek: Generations and I think the TNG-R Blu-Ray project will lead to something of a renaissance for Galaxy class vessel.

M Pax, you have got to see Red Dwarf as soon as possible.

Nigel G Mitchell said...

Can't say I agree that the Starbug is number one, although that is a cool ship. To me, the original Enterprise will always the greatest. But this is an awesome list.

Dave said...

Of course Starbug is number 1, it even says so on the hull.

I'm the first to admit this list is very subjective.


Joshua said...

The first Star Trek anything (First SCIFI anything!)I saw was Wrath of Khan.... The Refit Enterprise has always been my favorite, with the best bridge visually being ST VI

Dave said...

It is a beautiful ship, and what a great film to be your first exposure to SF.