JayG has covered a lot of ground with his “Friday Fun” posts, but there is, I think, one topic he has missed out on: the top ten science fiction space ships! So, without further ado…
1. SA-23E Mitchell-Hyundyne Aurora-class Starfury: A single-seat, short range, non-FTL-capable, barely-armored, not-at-all-shielded space fighter – so why is it my number one? It is also one of the very few space ships in all of the science fiction I have watched over the years (and, suffice to say, that is a lot) which actually resembles something that might develop out of earthtech for use in space, in that it has no “inertial dampeners”, or “artificial gravity”, but it does have thrusters pointed every damned direction, and its tactics reflect that – moving one direction but facing (and shooting) another, in-place Immelmans, etc. B5 did tend towards the “sounds in space” kind of exoatmospheric physics, but there were occasional glimmers of truth hidden in there.
2. 03-K64 “Firefly”: Really, you knew it had to be somewhere near the top. That said, if there was ever a Subaru Wagon of the spacelanes, this hunk of junk would pretty much be it – its individual pieces are crap (though widely-available crap, so long as you remember to actually pick them up before you head out), but when you put them all together, and stuff a decent engineer inside of her, you have a ship that can take you to the Outer Rim and back, in relative style at that. Capable of atmospheric landings, carrying over half her weight in cargo and passengers, executing some not-quite-in-the-manual manuevers, and outrunning a surprising number of even military ships, the Firefly-class was used and abused in its time, but slowly being superseded by shinier, faster, and prettier alternatives… except amongst those people who do not place value on such things. And if you have not yet seen Firefly and Serenity (multiple times, by now), you really need to fix that…
3. Corellian Engineering Corporation YT-1300 Light Freighter: And you know which one I am talking about. Infinitely customizeable, dependable as a brick, parts commonality with pretty much everything else plying the spacelanes, and capable of pretty much any role you care to throw at it, the YT-1300 is a fairly awesome ship in and of its own right – have a fuel droid lose its positronic mind inside one while it was being built, slap a two-times-too-large hyperdrive into it, and slide a few consummately insane pilots and wrench monkeys into it, and you have a ship that is infamously known from one end of the galaxy to the other, in all of its various pseudonyms. As long as you can hold together all of the aftermarket bits, pieces, and doodads that were necessary to make this platform great, you, too, can make the Kessel Run in a short amount of distance.
4. NCC-1701-D “Enterprise”: There were newer versions. There were older versions. But, to me, this is the Enterprise. I grew up watching TNG all the way from Encounter at Farpoint to All Good Things, and my appreciation for all things Star Trek was pretty much defined by the D. Oh, sure, Scotty is my favorite engineer (especially the new incarnation of him), and there is a soft spot in my heart for the Defiant (pack that much firepower onto a ship that small, and you have to like it), but when it comes to the defining ship, and the defining crew, of the overarching multi-series multiverse, this one is pretty much it. First ship to (maybe) break Warp 10, holodecks, phasing cloaking device (at least for a little while), so many encounters with the Borg you lose count, Q, sentient for a few days, separable saucer and nacell sections, fought the Klingons, fought the Romulans, fought the Cardassians, and its very own onboard bar complete with an all-too-wise being of indeterminate age. Really, how can you go wrong?
5. “Galactica”-type Battlestar: Big. Beefy. Capable of dishing out absurd amounts of punishment and taking even more. Carries a swarm of vicious little fighters. And, to continue a trend started with the first (and, arguably, second) item on this list, one of the most-accurate representations of the interior of a human(-ish)-built starship. Oh, sure, they “cheated” with artificial gravity and inertial dampeners and black-box FTL, but she also had a damage control panel that could have come off any of the ships I walked on today, the terminology was almost straight Navy/military (though their rank structure was… wierd), the flight pods could have been hangars from any current carrier in service, and, for God’s sake, they had sound-powered phones. In short, apart from the amazingly uncluttered overheads of the passageways on the Galactica (modern Navy ship’s overheads are… crowded), you could move crews from modern naval vessels to the Battlestars, and vice versa, and with a minimum of training, have both operating at relatively decent efficiency. “But the Galactica was a space ship,” I can hear you saying – yeah, but the basic principles all work out the same. Sure, she had touchscreens and supercomputers (though not networked) and spaceships and whatnot else, but believe me when I say that the differences were, largely, superficial, and that is indicative of a production team that genuinely took their time and did their homework. Good enough for me.
6. Time And Relative Dimension In Space: Ok, so it is not strictly a space ship, however, it can travel in space (and both definitions of “space”, at that), as well as time, so that has to count for something. Larger on the inside than the out, capable of travelling pretty much anywhere and anywhen unscathed and unconcerned, possessing both a library and a swimming pool (the latter sometimes in the former), possibly/probably self-aware, biomechanical, requires either six pilots or one somewhat insane driver, technically exists outside of normal space and time (at least most of the time), and capable of ending the known universe if it were to have a Very Bad Day (TM) – yeah, that sounds about right. And that was just a brief description of the Doctor’s Exploratory TARDIS… War TARDISes are capable of selectively erasing entire solar systems from history, sealing off portions of the galaxy from space and/or time, and otherwise rending the space-time continuum moment from meter. But, really, ship or not, a device that can take you anywhere, anywhen, and anyhow (though it does seem to have a remarkable propensity for picking the British Isles as a location, and “recorded human history” as a time – stupid Doctor) – I will take two.
7. S. S. Heart of Gold: A space ship powered by the Infinite Improbability Drive (a drive that, when it reaches infinite impossibility, allows itself (and whatever it is attached to – namely, the Heart of Gold) to be in every single point of the universe, simultaneously, without having to muck about in hyperspace or whatnot) – need I say more?
8. D12 Bird-of-Prey: While it is true that the Defiant occupies something of a soft spot in my heart, the fact is that the Klingon Bird-of-Prey got there first. Rude, crude, primitive, and about as polished as a hand-made brick dropped from the top of the Empire State Building, the only important take-away from the B-o-P is that it gets the job done, where “the job” is beating the snot out of anything put in front of it. With twin forward disruptors, a forward photon torpedo launcher, and the option for an aft torpedo launcher and phasers, the Bird is a little light when it comes to firepower, but it more than makes up for it by being the Trekian impersonation of Muhammed Ali, what with a cloaking device, absurd maneuverability, and the ability to keep pace, at sublight and warp speeds, with ships significantly larger than it. Of course, you had better hope the fight does not last too long – pretty much all of the creature comforts, from the “beds” to the medical bay, are somewhat… rudimentary. In the end, though, you really have to give the Klingons credit for not only creating such a specialized tool of aerospace destruction, but also giving it one badass paint job…
10. ISSCV/ISSAPC: So it is fairly likely no one else remembers the short-lived TV series this particular craft hails from, but it falls under the same category as the first one on this list – realistic enough to be believable, but cool enough to be memorable. Basically, take a generic connex-style container, make it space-worthy, strap it to the underbelly of a quartet of reaction engines and a cockpit, and you have a general idea – the entire vehicle was aerospace-capable, VTOL-capable, and designed to carry a variety of mission packages (the aforementioned containers) down to a planet from a ship in orbit, drop then off, and then come back and recover them. Think “Osprey-on-steroids”, but with a detachable cargo bay. Maybe not the best landing shuttle in all of the multiverses, but its flexibility and somewhat realistic-ish design appealed to me.
So given that there are a crapton of fictional starships out there, what did I miss?