Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Top 10 Ugliest Ships of SF TV and Movies

The recent Star Trek movie, featuring Nero's hulking scow, the Narada, got me thinking about how many supremely ugly space ships have been inflicted upon us at the movies and on TV over the years. Say what you want about ships that don't break atmo having no need for streamlining, but there's something to be said for vessels that have a little grace and symmetry in their design. Even ships made for heavy work can have a certain charm to them, like the Red Dwarf, but others are just irredeemably, fantastically ugly - so much so that even their captains must be embarrassed to board them if other people are watching. To that end, I give you the Top 10 Ugliest Ships of SF TV and Movies. (note: I've left out the ugliest vessels described in books, because to include them would require just too much room)

10) the B-Wing fighter from the Star Wars films
What a terrible, off-kilter piece of work this is. Admiral Ackbar & co must have been drunk the night they cobbled this thing together. It's advantage to the Rebel/New Republic fighter squadrons lies not in its firepower, but in the fact that enemy pilots are in such a complete state of shock when forced to look at it that they're easy to pick off.

9) the Alliance cruisers in Firefly
A bunch of gigantic grey and green road pylons lashed together and stuffed with trigger-happy bureaucrats. If the Alliance had been able to build better-looking ships, maybe there wouldn't have been a war.

8) the Sulaco from Aliens
For a ship that's supposed to carry the Colonial Marines - the badasses of the badasses (at least until they run into the bugs) - this clunker doesn't look terribly intimidating. More like a TV channel tuner that's been melted in places and had some broken tinker toys jammed in the front end.

7) the Reaver ships from Firefly
Okay, so the Reavers don't give much thought to ship design - okay, none at all because they're too busy torturing, raping and eating their victims and mutilating themselves - so we probably can't blame them too much for having jagged, ugly ships in ill repair. But decorating their ships with blood and bits of their victims is a deliberate act of disfiguration that gives them some status among the rest of the uglies.

6) the Nostromo from Alien
Like I said before, there are some working ships, that despite being built purely for function, have forms that can grow on you. Nostromo isn't one of them. The great, ungainly towers of its barge (which undoubtedly inspired the Alliance cruiser design on Firefly) are bad enough, but the tug itself is a masterwork of an eyesore. Blast tubes and antennas and all kinds of nonsense sticking out every which way - this scow is the prime example of what happens when corporate interests run the show and give their contracts to the lowest bidder.

5) the alien ships from The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the 8th Dimension
Maybe I'm being too hard on these craft because I absolutely loathed this cheesetastic excuse for a flick, but taken by themselves, they're still pretty damn ugly. Not quite seashells with their roundnesses broken by spikes, they should probably stay put in the 8th Dimension so the rest of us don't have to look at them.

4) the Narada from Star Trek
Like I mentioned off the top, this miner is irredeemably ugly. Not so much a ship as a gigantic collection of saw blades, scythes and barbed wire bound together with crumpled aluminum foil. Maybe Nero's wife didn't die on Romulus. Maybe she just faked it so she wouldn't have to look at his damn ride in her driveway anymore.

3) Dolza's command ship in Macross/Robotech
What can I say? It's an immense, spiky green turd.

2) Shad's corsair in Battle Beyond the Stars
This ship looked like a slug with a pair of guns strapped on it. I hate slugs.

1) the Streib cruiser in Babylon 5, season 2, "All Alone in the Night"
Nothing I've seen yet is as flat-out ugly as the ship that kidnaps Sheridan and makes the mistake of honking-off Delenn and Ivonova. It's as though this race of Shadow-affiliates set out to prove a point that being evil means flying around the cosmos in butt-ugly ships. Problem is, their masters, the Shadows, have ships that are kind of cool, in a sinister way. Maybe the Shadows have a rule that none of their minions are allowed to have nifty rides, so that no-one outshines the Shadows themselves. Too bad for the Streib their ship wasn't tough as well as ugly - maybe it would have stood a chance against the Agamemnon if they hadn't been so fixated on going for a certain look. But while the Streib won't be remembered for their fighting prowess, their remarkably hideous engineering does garner them the dubious distinction of being catapulted to the top of the ugly list.

So which ships have I missed? What space vessels make you want to look away from the screen?

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