I love top ten lists, in this case top five, even better when they’re sci-fi themed. This was a fun one on Engadget at http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2008/11/the-five-awesom.html titled, “Five Awesomest TV and Movie Spaceships”. Charlie Sorrel had five awesome picks for sure but I had to chime in on five awesomer ones.
Before I get to my five I need to do a little house keeping. I love reading where Star Wars fans point out inconsistencies and errors in the series I hold beloved, however, when I hear comments regarding how star fighters and other space craft should not have sound effects since “Vacuums (in space) don't carry mechanical sound waves” I need to scream at somebody (I’ll save you all from the All Caps though).
First of all, the engines should make noises. The fact that sound waves do not carry through space are undeniable but it doesn’t mean that these vessels are silent. Doesn’t the sound of a Tie Fighter screaming past you on screen accurately recreate what you would expect a Twin Ion Engine to sound like?
The sounds shouldn’t carry through space. True. No argument from me. Doesn’t mean you, the guy viewing the movie, shouldn’t be able to hear it. You, the guy viewing the movie, shouldn’t be able to breathe either. You should be pretty cold too. When the Death Star exploded, do these people complain that they were not hit by debris?
And wouldn’t it be dumb if in every space scene you had dead silence? I hate silent moments in movie theatres. That’s when I’m most cognisant of the munching, coughing and talking. Especially so if the noise is coming from me. If I remember from my childhood, Star Wars got special attention from critics and the Oscars, not just for special effects, but for sound effects and soundtrack.
I can understand Darth Vader liking the idea of the imperial march playing as he boarded rogue Corellian Cruisers looking for stolen plans to the Death Star. I can picture the sound guys behind him carrying the speakers. But shouldn’t you see the others in the Star Wars universe looking around wondering where the music keeps coming from?
Bottom line, sound effects add to the movie experience. Nuff said on that. I think that what makes these lists fun is not so much what made the lists but why they made the list. Here’s my awesome five and why they’re awesomer.
MOYA: Does a Leviathan count as a space ship or a creature? They used Leviathans as spacecraft so I’m including it on my list. The awesome; it’s an original concept as sci-fi goes and their ability to Starburst through tears in the space/time continuum ... way cool.
STAR LEAGUE GUNSTARS: When the universe is counting on you to defend the frontier against Xur and the Ko-Dan Armada what other fighter would you want to be piloting. The cool; it carried a lot of munitions. Enough to decimate the entire Ko-Dan Armada with one GUNSTAR. The last Gunstar in fact. And easy to drive. A kid growing up in a trailer park could learn to fly one by just spending enough time with a simulator and a pocket full of quarters. As a Starfighter however; you had to be able to get past any cultural, racial, etc. biases since your navigator/co-pilot could be black, white, lizard, whatever.
BORG CUBES: The design was brilliant in its simplicity. Vacuum of space ... no wind resistance ... no need for a streamlined ship. Unmatched in defensive and offensive capabilities. Resistance is futile ... I can relate. I was assimilated into another collective, assigned a number and spend five days a week in a cube as well.
THE EXECUTOR: The Star Destroyer was the symbol of fear and oppression recognized throughout the galaxy, well, a long time ago it was anyway. Imperial Class Star Destroyers house enough firepower to bombard and decimate a planet. The Dreadnaught class of star destroyers were all of the same but bigger. Darth Vader’s ship, the Executor had all this, plus there was a good chance the Dark Lord was onboard for the ride. You want Shock and Awe ... just at the sight of the Executor coming out of light speed in your quadrant would make you wish your ship could make the Kessel Run in less than 6 parsecs (that would twice as fast as the Millennium Falcon for the uninitiated).
SPACEBALL 1: Forget the Death Star. Sure, it could destroy a planet but it has a very very very bad weak spot. And it’s slow. It took forever for it to get into range to destroy Yavin 4. Spaceball 1, in my opinion, was the most lethal killing machine in the universe. Not only was it big. It was really big. Not sure of the specific statistics but ludicrous speed seemed pretty fast. When the Galactica spins up its FTL drive you don’t see anybody reaching for the nearest post. The crew of Spaceball 1 showed some fear at the thought of jumping to ludicrous speed. The Jedi had the ability to sense future events. The Spaceballs had the technology to look into the past and fast forward into the future. Bet they didn’t have to pay late fees either. But most of all, the power to suck all the oxygen from an entire planet leaving them gasping for one last breath; now that’s power. Anyway, evil will always triumph because good is dumb.
A side note for the ubergeeks: Yes, I know a parsec is a measurement of distance (equivalent to 3.26 light years) of distance and not a measure of time. Harrison Ford was Han Solo, Indiana Jones and Jack Ryan, that’s enough cool to forgive some 1977 era sci-fi dialogue. But think about it on another level, the Falcon made the Kessel Run in less distance than others. Folding Space? Moving without moving. No Spice involved. That would kill the Emperor’s (other emperor, Shaddam Corrino IV) commercial monopoly on the Spice trade. Probably made some Fremin happy.