What should spaceships look like?Posted: July 31, 2011
Good question isn’t it?
I once had an exchange over the latest Star Trek film and at one point my other correspondent said, “And another thing, I hate the way the Romulan ship looks like a big jumble of knives.” I paraphrase but his problem was that the Romulan ship didn’t look like a “proper” spaceship. Certainly not for the Trek universe. I pointed out that we’re talking about a fanciful fantasy set in space… why shouldn’t the Romulan ship look like whatever it wants?
This week the BBC news service wonders the same thing, What Should Spaceships Look Like?
And today I thought I would watch 2001: A Space Odyssey again. Kubrick‘s attention to detail in the ship designs he chose is impressive, I know that he hired staff from NASA to help. There’s an obvious American feel to the space sections. The machines all look as you would expect an American ship designer to turn out – almost rigidly functional – and there’s no mistaking that this is what spaceships should look like. It’s almost a cliché.
You can even see a similar design ethos in the early Star Wars films: clunky, rigid, spacey craft that nevertheless zip around at fantastic speeds. It’s popularly known that they are a direct riposte to the sleek futurism of the Star Trek universe.
So what should a spaceship look like?
Well anything you like really. It’s not like there are aerodynamic limitations in space. There might be limitations based on whatever method of propulsion (rocket ships… need rockets and exhausts, but I think one of the most imaginative that I’ve ever seen is in the film The Fountain (of which I seem to be the only fan). I’ve attached a pic to show it in its detail – but I think it clearly resembles the amniotic sac surrounding the Star Child at the end of 2001.. and bringing us back to the 60s once again. Is there no escaping Stanley Kubrick?