What does every sci-fi property need? If your answer was Tricia Helfer, you hit the very close #2 answer. No, if you’re going to have a show that takes to the stars, you need a starship, and it’s gotta be damn cool. It it doesn’t look the part, it has to pull some appropriately ridiculous stunts at some point. Celebrating the coolest space-faring vessels out there, here are my top five ships of sci-fi.
5. Millennium Falcon (Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope)
“What a piece of junk!” Luke Skywalker remarked upon first seeing Han Solo’s modified Corellian YT-1300 freighter. But as we all learned, she really did have it where it counted. (Hooray for double entendre.) On a list of the top five anything from science fiction properties, Star Wars is a given, and whenever you’re talking about ships from Star Wars, the Millennium Falcon is the first that comes up. Yeah, there have been other iconic ships from the trilogy—the X-Wing, Slave-1 and the Star Destroyer, to name a few—but the Falcon is easily the most recognizable of them all.
4. Heart of Gold (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)
Why this ship ever wandered into the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the galaxy is anyone’s guess. It probably had something to do with its Infinite Improbability Drive, which makes the most unlikely things happen. Funnily enough, despite pulling a lot of plot points out of its ass (to the point that calling it ass-pulling might be a stretch), the IID makes for a good dummy’s introduction to quantum physics. Hopping across the galaxy in a wink and turning a missile barrage into a bowl of petunias and a sperm whale are just a couple of the batshit crazy things the Heart of Gold can do. With its virtually infinite capabilities, how could I not include the Heart of Gold?
3. Serenity (Firefly)
Call me out for fanboy douchebaggery all you want. The short-lived Firefly featured one of the most memorable and recognizable ships in science fiction. A Firefly-class transport used by a smuggler crew in the aftermath of a galactic civil war, Serenity is more than “just a ship.” It’s an idea. It’s home, safety, freedom. Serenity is practically written into the show as a tenth character. The way the characters interact with the ship in turn brings the audience closer to it, giving an inanimate object about as much emotional appeal as much of the cast. And sure, it’s a piece of junk that looks like it’s held together by duct tape and twine, but it’s got heaps of character. It looks and feels warm and lived-in, like somebody strapped a couple turbines and a cockpit to a house. Maybe “character” is a cop-out of a reason, but Serenity’s a ship you just can’t help but love.
2. TARDIS (Doctor Who)
Yep, that’s a spaceship. It’s also a freakin’ time machine. It may not look like much, but that ‘60s-style London police box is one hell of a ship. Why a police box? Well, the system that camouflaged it to fit whatever era it appeared in was damaged on a trip to 1963 and no amount of “percussive maintenance” could fix it. Luckily, the Doctor grew to like it—as if he had a choice. Besides being kind of a piece of junk (routinely used as a plot point), the TARDIS is known for taking the Doctor exactly where he needs to go, rather than where he wants (also a frequent plot point). Doctor Who is one of the most enduring and well-known sci-fi properties of all time—so much so that the ship’s name has entered British slang. More than enough to earn the #2 spot.
1.USS Enterprise NCC- 1701 (Star Trek)
Come on. Was there any doubt the sci-fi ship would top the list? Star Trek, with the Enterprise as its star player, would go on to become one of the biggest sci-fi franchises of all time. The Enterprise went through several redesigns across the Star Trek canon, but it’s the original that really stuck. Show anyone a picture of the Enterprise and they’ll know it—if not by name, then by origin. And that’s not just because the name is painted across the damn hull. Like half the stuff on this list, Star Trek is a cultural phenomenon, but it’s the granddaddy of sci-fi pop culture. And sure, I like it a hell of a lot less than Star Wars (although the famously terrible prequel trilogy being gloriously upstaged by Star Trek ’09 helped), but there’s just no comparing the prototypical awesome ship with something like the Millennium Falcon, or even the TARDIS. Love it or hate it, there’s no topping the Enterprise.