There are many things that allow people to immediately define a story as Science Fiction; aliens, time travel, teleportation, futuristic gadgets such as laser guns/ swords, warp drives and humanoid robots. But there is only one staple of Science Fiction that is actually Science Fact: Space Travel in a Spaceship. Alright we might not be able to go very far in them and we haven't yet figured out interstellar travel, but its a start. So I thought we might as well celebrate the greatest spaceships in science fiction, because, you never know, one day they might just become science fact as well (providing their copyright is up by then).
I want to hear your opinions on this, what are your favourite spaceships? If you designed one how would you spec it? Would you trade off being able to do warp 9 for better defensive shields or greater fire power?
Anyway, might as well have a look at some classics while we're here. (Note: This is not a comprehensive list but just a few favourites).
It might not have been the first, but the Enterprise has got to be one of the most (if not the most) recognisable spacecraft in the history of sci-fi.
Forget Star Destroyers, Death Stars and Federation Blockades, the Falcon is the spaceship everyone wanted. Not bad for something inspired by a hamburger with an olive sticking out at the side.
From Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, the Heart Of Gold was strangely proportioned and had a habit of turning first time guests into Penguins or removing their limbs, but it was powered by an Infinite Improbability Drive and staffed by a chronically depressed Paranoid Android called Marvin, so it can't be all bad.
A nuclear powered interplanetary ship operated by an artificially intelligent computer with a centrifuge that simulated the effects of gravity so the crew didn't float off whilst doing work and so simple it only required two people to operate it, the Discovery One was a great ship. Shame it looked like a swing-ball.
An asteroid mining ship with 3 million years on the clock, a crew of just 4 since a radiation leak whipped out the rest and navigated by a senile computer who changes sex after two seasons, before the ship is stolen by nanobots who force him to change back and then turn the ship into a sand planet. Still, the Red Dwarf crew had a lot of fun whilst it lasted (just don't get me started on Back To Earth or season 10).
Technically more of a time machine than a spaceship, but I'm including it on the grounds that its from the longest running sci-fi show in history, it travels in space just as well as in time (it can even pull a planet back into orbit) and its name means Time And Relative Dimensions In SPACE.
Definitely Moya from Farscape. She was more than a ship. She was part of the crew. Galagtica because she is easily recognizable as an aerospace carrier. Of course, her complement of Vipers.
The “UFO” on the cover of Boston‘s first two albums. The city under the dome reminds me of an Akupara-class ark. Ah, home sweet home… Plus, that big-A logo! Dr. Heinz Zarkov’s spaceship from Flash Gordon had several versions. My particular favorite is the vintage wheel wells.
I could go on… more as people add theirs.
As a mech pilot, I’m usually praying that the dropship doesn’t get blown out of the sky. We rely heavily on aerospace fighters to provide escort and neutralize anti-air batteries. Transport ships… ugh… anyway to make them faster? Maybe a few more combat simulators to keep us sharp en route to the front. How about a decent shower instead of those d@mn cold “sanitation rinses!”
Most of my favorites have already been mentioned, but my very personal favorite would have to be the Venture from the book The Witches of Karres for two reasons: the nova guns and the Sheewash Drive.
“…we might as well celebrate the greatest spaceships in science fiction, because, you never know, one day they might just become science fact as well (providing their copyright is up by then).”
You can’t copyright objects or designs of objects, so you must mean patent. Design patents (like the design of the Enterprise) only lasted 14 years in 1966, so it’s been in the public domain since 1980. A real Enterprise can only be patented for 20 years.
I always disliked the Enterprise and Millenium falcon designs. Spacecraft should be symmetrical, with the drive or drives arranged along the center of mass. My favorite would have to be the fighters from Babylon 5. At last, somebody put HEADLIGHTS on a spaceship! Space IS dark, after all!
The Enterprise set a precedent, at least for it’s own universe. Most Federation ships end up boiling down to the “disc and power pod” look, or so many variations on it.
I always liked the Discovery because there’s a very “real” look to it. It’s meant to live and work in space and nowhere else.
The Star Destroyer made an impression on me the first time I saw it, and that seemingly forever-taking crawl across the screen. It really was The Big Bad Guy, at least to my 6 year old mind.
There’s still something trippy about the titular Galaxy Express 999. Truly new meaning on the old line “Next time try the train”.
Most of my favorites have already been covered, but I will add in the Serenity from Firefly. Kind of cool-looking freighter, it kind of follows the Millenium Falcon for having the ability to break down at the worst possible times. Also, watching it fly was cool-as-anything.
Oh Firefly, you were cancelled far too soon.
It would be between the Serenity, Moya, and the GalaxyQuest ship.
The Andromeda Ascendant from Hercules in Space, errr I mean Andromeda
My favorite is the Borg cube from Star Trek – The Next Generation:
Why? Because there’s no friction in the vacuum of outer space and therefore really no need for streamline designs. 😉
I, too, have a fondness for the Enterprise designs, and for the good old X-Wing fighter. But one ship that I’ve come to have a real fondness for is the Lambda-class shuttle from “Return of the Jedi.” That ship is simply ELEGANT, for lack of a better description, and I love the way its wings open as if comes down out of the Star Destroyer. What an entrance!
I also like what I’ve read of the design in the Expanded universe, how it’s a transport craft that’s well-armed enough not to need an escort. Now that sounds like a winner!
Who remembers the Eagle Transporter from “Space 1999”. I always thought it was a cool design.
Call me unappreciative of beauty, but my favorite class of warship has to be the Borg Cube. Advanced shielding and capable of over warp 10 and carrying 5-10,000 drones on the average, a single one is capable of assimilating an entire planet, the Borg Cube has to be my clear favorite of all classic sci-fi ships. It was a close draw for me, though, between the Borg and the Romulan Warbird.
Firecracker, you’re right. The Eagle was a good one too.