Worlds of Star Trek

In honor of the other sci-fi franchises I’ve covered in my “Worlds Of” series, which includes my own (shameless!), I’ve decided to throw some credit and attention Gene Rodenberry’s way. His Star Trek franchise is not only one of the most popular science fiction franchise of all time, it’s also hailed as one of the most detailed and in depth, owning to many years of existence and countless contributing minds. And so, here’s my list of the franchises hot spots, in alphabetical order:

Bajor:
The homeworld of the Bajoran people and situated near the Bajoran Wormhole, this planet and the system are the setting for the spinoff series DS9. Throughout the series, many details are given about the Bajoran’s culture, history and people, most of which revolve around the occupation of their planet by the Cardassian Empire and their worship of “The Prophets” (aka. the wormhole aliens).

At one time, Bajor was the home of one the oldest civilizations in the Alpha Quadrant, characterized by art, poetry, and a caste system where the priestly caste were at the top. During the occupation of Bajor, which last fifty years, the Cardassians murdered millions of inhabitants, destroyed much of their infrastructure and even poisoned large tracts of land. To mark the occupation, they built a large space station named Terok Nor in orbit.

In order to fight against the occupation, the Bajorans abandoned the caste system so that everyone could become fighters. After fifty years, the Cardassian government chose to cut its losses and abandoned the world. The Bajorans took control of Terok Nor shortly thereafter, the provisional government invited the federation to take control of it, and it was renamed Deep Space 9. After the discovery of the wormhole, Commander Sisko ordered the station to relocate to guard the entrance.

It was learned shortly thereafter that the wormhole was an artificial phenomena that connected the Alpha Quadrant to the other side of the Milky Way Galaxy (the Gamma Quadrant), and was inhabited by a race of super-evolved beings that had made contact with the Bajorans in the past. Because these beings were non-corporeal and had no concept of time, they were named “The Prophets”, mainly because of their ability to see into the future.

When the Dominion was discovered on the other side of the wormhole, Bajor would become the front lines in the Alpha Quadrant alliance’s war against them. During the course of this war, DS9 would become occupied by the Cardassian-Dominion alliance. Before abandoning the station, Sisko and the crew of DS9 made sure that the entrance to the wormhole was mined so as it ensure that the Dominion could not bring in reinforcements. Due to the articles of the Bajoran treaty with the Dominion, Cardassian forces were also forbidden from occupying the planet again. As a result, Bajor would remain free until the Federation and its allies retook the station a year later and once again controlled entrance to the wormhole.

Betazed:
Home to the telepathic race known as the Betazoids, this planet is a member of the Federation and a major contributor to its ranks, particularly in the field of diplomacy and counseling services. Deanna Troi and her mother, Lwaxana, both call this planet home, as do many other secondary characters in the TNG and spinoff series’.

In the course of the TNG series, many aspects of Betazoid culture are made clear. For one, the planet appears to have a semi-matriarchal culture, where the eldest woman of the family holds the title for the house and all its honors. This was particularly true of Lwaxana, who in addition to being a decorated diplomat, was named “daughter of the Fifth House, holder of the Sacred Chalice of Rixx, heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed”.

The planet was mentioned many times in the TNG series, usually in conjunction with the Enterprise’s many contacts with Lwaxana. During the Dominion War, Betazed was occupied for a brief time when Dominion forces caught the local fleet off guard. This development is what prompted Sisko to attempt a rapprochement with Romulan forces to bring them into the war.

Cardassia Prime:
Also known simply as Cardassia, this world is home to the Cardassian people and the seat of power for the Cardassian Union. Based on the many descriptions from DS9, Cardassia is apparently a warm, humid environment that favors reptilian creatures, which is apparently the basis of Cardassian biology.

Prior tot he militarization of their culture, Cardassia was home to thriving civilization that produced renowned works of art and architecture. However, the civilization soon fell into severe decline and decay, resulting in mass starvation. As a result, martial law was declared and the foundations for the Cardassian government were laid.

This consisted of the Central Command on the one hand, which controlled the military, and the Obsidian Order which acted as the secret police. Between the two was the relatively impotent civilian government which exercise little real power, but which occasionally was called upon to enact policy which Command knew would be unpopular. One such decision was the removal of Cardassian forces from Bajor after 50 years of unsuccessful occupation.

Cardassia was the first to ally themselves with the Dominion after their discovery in the Gamma Quadrant. This was after a disastrous war with the Klingon Empire, which the Dominion instigated through one of their shape-shifter replacement of General Martok. As a result, Cardassia Prime would remain occupied by Dominion forces for many years, until the arrival of Allied forces and the defection of the Cardassian military. In retaliation, the Dominion ordered the destruction of the Cardassian people, and over 800 million perished before the Founder officially surrendered.

Earth:
In the original series, TNG, DS9, and other spinoffs, much is made of how life has improved on Earth since the late 20th century. Though we don’t get to see much of it beyond San Francisco or Paris, it remains one of the most important planets in the Star Trek universe. As the seat of the Federation, it was the home of the Federation Council and of the office of the Federation President, and serving as the central headquarters of Starfleet.

In addition, Starfleet Academy is located in San Fransisco, just in view of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was here that all characters in the franchise received their education and commission as officers. Between Kirk, Picard, Sisko and Janeway, many stories are told of memorable and nostalgic incidents, and all allude to rather trying curriculum in which their abilities and aptitude were strenuously tested.

In the course of the original series, TNG and DS9, several major events are alluded to which had a drastic effect on Earth and the human race. These include the “Eugenics War” of the late 20th century, where genetically-modified human beings attempted to take over the planet. This ended when the last of the modified humans, under the leadership of Khan Noonien Soong, fled aboard the spaceship Botany Bay. During the early 22nd century, Earth was devastated in what was referred to as the “Atomic Horror”. This causes the destruction of most major cities, 600 million deaths, and the emergence of totalitarian regimes.

However, all that appeared to have changed with the development of the warp engine by doctor Zefram Cochrane and First Contact. Thereafter, Earth became united in the goal of reaching the stars and building a better future. Starfleet was created to acheive this goal, and the United Federation of Planets established between the Vulcans and humanity, and many subsequent races thereafter. Beyond that, not much is specified about Earth of the 23rd and 24th century, other than saying that it is a “paradise” where no crime, hunger, war, or poverty exist.

Ferenginar:
Wet, mucky, swampy, and perennially rainy, this moldy planet is home to the enterprising race known as the Ferengi. The seat of power for the Ferengi Alliance, it is also the home of the Tower of Commerce, the Sacred Marketplace, and the Ferengi Commerce Authority, the ruling body of their species.

Though it was never shown in TNG, Ferenginar makes a few appearances in the DS9 series. Here, it is depicted as a rainy, wet and extremely humid place where most people live in low-domed structures. In the capitol, the majority of architecture consists of these types of dwellings, expect of course for the central spire of the Tower of Commerce, where the Authority is centered.

The leader of the Ferengi people is known as the Grand Nagus, the head of all commerce for the Ferengi and the leader of the Authority. In addition to the sacred text, “The Rules of Acquisition”, the Ferengi are governed by the Bill of Opportunities, a quasi-constitution which sets out the rights of individual citizens. These revolve mainly around the right to own a business and make a profit, provided they don’t violate any of the sacred Rules or the regulations of the Commerce Authority.

Though women have traditionally had no rights under the law, amendments made by Grand Nagus Sek during the course of the DS9 series granted them the right to wear clothes and make profits. A ruling council was also established to pass several sweeping social reforms, which including the imposition of taxes, social programs, and laws banning monopolies and the mistreatment of workers. According to expanded universe sources, over 78 billion Ferengi live on their homeworld, and the civilization has been warp capable for some time.

Qon’oS:
The home of the Klingon people and seat of the Klingon High Council, the ruling body of their Empire. Though very little information was given about this planet in the original series, it appeared repeatedly in TNG and subsequent spinoffs, and was mentioned repeatedly in relation to the character of Worf and the Federation’s dealings with the High Council.

Due to the prolonged state of tension between the Klingon Empire and the Federation, very little was known about this world until the late 23rd century, when the destruction of its mining moon of Praxis forced the Klingons to sign the First Khitomer Accord with the Federation.

However, it was not until Khitomer Massacre, where Romulan forces commited a sneak attack on the Klingon delegation, that an alliance was formed between the Federation and Klingon Empire. This was apparently due to the fact that the Enterprise C responded to the Klingon’s distress signal and was destroyed while attempting to defend the colony against four warbirds. Thereafter, the Klingons became convinced of the Federation’s honorable nature and committed to a joint-defense pact.

It is often been suggested that the Qon’oS of the original series is not the same planet as that of the Next Generations. This is because of events in the movie The Undiscovered Country, where  the evacuation of Qon’oS became necessary because of the destruction of Praxis. Though it was never made clear if Qon’oS was simply established on another world or was somehow saved with the help of the Federation, the name of their homeworld remains the same even if the locations has changed.

Risa:
Originally a dismal, rain-soaked and geologically unstable environment, the native Risans have managed to transform their world into the pleasure capitol of the known universe. This was accomplished with weather control satellites, seismic regulators, and ecological engineering, all of which resulted in a planet wide paradise that is known throughout the quadrant.

Noted for its vast beach resorts and tropical climate, Risa’s greatest attraction lies in the open sexuality of its population. Identified by a decorative emblem between their eyes, Risians often initiate or respond to the desire for sexual relations through the use of a small statuette called a horga’hn, the Risian symbol of sexuality or fertility.

As was made clear to Captain Picard during his first visit, to own a horga’hn is to call forth its pleasures. To display one is to announce that the owner wishes to participate in jamaharon, a Risian sexual rite. Riker has apparently visited the planet many times, and often relates why its his favorite vacation spot in the galaxy.While Picard was on leave, he also discovered the local of the Tox Uthat, a 27th century weapon which had was hidden on Risa and passed into local legend.

The crew of DS9 also went to Risa during shore leave, during which time a group of extremists planned to sieze the planet to demonstrate how the Federation was not prepared to deal with the threats facing it. In the course of the visit, it was also revealed that Dax’s former host, Curzon, died there as a result of engaging in jamaharon. Death by pleasure. No wonder the place is so popular!

Romulus:
Along with its sister-planet Remus, Romulus is the home of the Romulan species and the seat of power for the Romulan Star Empire. Settlement of this planet took place in 4th century by Earth standards, when Vulcan colonists discovered it at the end of a long exodus. Shortly thereafter, the Vulcan society changed with the strict institution of logic and repression of emotion.

As a result, Romulans society bears little resemblance to their Vulcan forebears, though they are genetically related. Known for their arrogance and innate sense of superiority, the Romulans are one of the dominant powers in the galaxy, located in the Beta Quadrant adjoining Klingon and Cardassian Space. Because of this strategic location, they have been involved in skirmishes with virtually every civilization that borders there own.

The planet is the home of the Romulan Hall of State and the Imperial Romulan Senate. In the TNG series, Picard and Data also traveled here seeking Ambassador Spock. After finding him, they discovered that his presence was part of an effort known as “Reunification”, a movement between Romulans and Vulcans who wanted their worlds to come together again after centuries of being apart. During the Dominion War, the planet also hosted a Federation Alliance Conference to help them plan strategy and address wartime concerns.

Additional events took place in the franchise’s movies, particularly the TNG movie Nemesis and the JJ Abrams Star Trek relaunch. In the former, Romulus became the focal of a plot by Reman agents, led by a Picard clone, to take over the Romulan government and incite a war with the Federation. In the latter, Spock indicates that in 2387, a supernova destroyed Romulus before he could contain it using a “red matter” singularity device.

Vulcan:
The homeworld of the Vulcan race, the birthplace of their philosophy, and the center of their star-faring civilization. Noted for its higher than normal gravity and thinner atmosphere, the climate of this planet had much to do with fact that the Vulcan race, in their primordial form, are physically very strong, fast, and quite aggressive.

Much is mentioned of the history of Vulcan in the original series, TNG, and the various spinoff. After contact with Earth, it became one of the major worlds of the Federation and home to several key installations. In addition, many key events took here in the expanded franchise because of its importance in the Star Trek universe as the homeworld of Spock.

During the original series, Spock was summoned back to his homeworld to take part in the ritual of Pon farr, where he ended up Kirk to the death for the honor of his less-than-honorable betrothed. During the movie Search for Spock, the crew was forced to come to Vulcan aboard a captured Klingon vessel so that Spock’s regenerated body could be reunited with his consciousness.  This ritual, known as fal tor pan and conducted on Mount Seleya, was successful in restoring Spock’s mind, which had previously been sojourning in Dr. McCoy’s head.

In the TNG series, some details are given about Vulcan’s prehistory, before the adoption of logic and the repression of emotions. This period, known as the “Time of Awakening” was marked by civil war between several different factions, and even involved the use of nuclear and psionic weapons. One of these weapons, known as the Stone of Gol, survived the wars and was being sought by a Romulan agent posing as a Vulcan.

In the relaunch movie, Vulcan was a key setting, mainly in relation to Spock’s upbringing and his decision to join Starfleet rather than the Vulcan Science Academy. It is was later destroyed when Nero, the Romulan Captain of the Narada, used the red matter device to trigger an artificial singularity at the center of the planet. Because of these events, the Vulcan race has become an endangered species in this alternate timeline, though resettlement efforts did begin in earnest by the end.

Alright, that’s Star Trek done. Now that I’ve covered this franchise, Star Wars, Dune, and even my own, there’s only one or two left that I think deserve mention. The first is the Firely universe, which I’ve already talked about at length. And then there’s the Babylon 5 universe, which I’ve talked about WAY more! Like to the point of nausea, tedium, and even boring myself! But if people are even the slightest bit interested, I’d be happy to cover them. Just give me a week or two to decompress… all this writing about fictional planets has got me nerded out!

More Cool Ships

And I’m back with more examples, in part because people had some suggestions but also because I found the last list lacking. I mean, you can’t suggest a concept as big and as awesome as cool science fiction ships and only provide a handful of examples. It’s just not decent! So here’s installment number two in the series, cool ships from various sci-fi franchises and what made them so. Keep in mind that suggestions are always welcome. I’m thinking a third and even fourth list might be necessary 🙂

Alliance Cruiser:
alliance_2Back to the universe of Firefly for another installment! This time around, it’s the Alliance Cruiser that I’ve chosen to talk about. In short, I think the design of this particular ship is quite inspiring. Unlike your average cruisers from other franchises, this ship is not based on the usual seafaring or aerodynamic-ship paradigm. It’s long axis is vertical rather than horizontal, making it a platform instead of a cutter.

In addition to making a lot more sense from a physics standpoint, this design offers many advantages in terms of navigation and defense. Unlike longitudinal designs which are forced to turn around on their long axis, this ship can simply fire thrust from any of its four sides to change course and direction. It’s tall appendages also make it easier for sensors or long-range telescopes to spot things out in space, no blindsides from which to approach on.

Basically, ships like these remind us that spaceships operate in vacuum and are therefore subject to a vastly different set of physical requirements. Since they do not operate in atmospheres, they don’t need to be aerodynamic or sleek like planes. And since they don’t cut across water, they don’t need to have sculpted hulls or prows to part the waves. So why then do a whole slew of spaceships look like aeroplanes or boats?

Simple, it’s a paradigm thing. When we hear ship, we automatically think of airships and seaships since that’s our frame of reference, and our artistic sensibilities naturally follow. But spaceships are a whole ‘nuther ballgame, requiring the ability to withstand inertial pressures instead of drag. So while sleek and streamlined models are cool to look at, they aren’t really the best spaceship design from a technical standpoint.

And in a lot of ways, the Alliance cruiser reminds me of another classic design, that of the Nostromo. Much like the mining vessel from the original Alien movie, it is vertical in design, boasting towers instead of horizontal compartments. It’s size and towering appearance also make it intimidating to behold, illustrating the power and imposing nature of the Alliance itself. Those who crew it tend to be pretty imposing as well, always boarding you and asking question!

Borg Cube:
https://i2.wp.com/img2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20060721051747/startrek/images/7/76/Borg_cube.jpgHere we have the capital ship of the Borg, the frightening cyborg race from the Star Trek: TNG series that assimilates or crushes everything in its path. Introduced in the second season of the show (episode 42: “Q Who”), this fearsome foe went on to become a recurring element of the show and was even central to the plot of the spinoff Voyager and the movie First Contact. Much like their raison-d’etre, their ships reflected a sort of cold technological rationalism, like something out of a cyberpunk fans wet dream!

The design of the basic cube, which was later supplemented by spheres and upgraded cube designs, is clearly based on a pythagoran aesthetic: nothing frilly, sleek, aerodynamic or even remotely artistic about it. They are simple, utilitarian, and equilateral, a testament to the precise and unsentimental mindset of those who designed it. It’s basic profile also came in handy when taking on multiple enemy ships. By having six sides, each with the same surface area, weapons and tractor beam mounts, the cube had a 360 degree sphere of defense, making it damn near impregnable.

On every occasion when one of these cubes showed up, bad things were known to happen! In their first encounter with one, the Enterprise barely got out in one piece. In the second, 39 ships were destroyed before the Enterprise and her crew were able to trick one into going into sleep mode, which it then responded to by blowing itself up! In the third encounter, which took place in First Contact, several more federation ships were destroyed before Captain Picard was able to use his inside knowledge of the Borg to help the fleet destroy another ship. In all subsequent encounters, future technologies, viruses, trickery, or a combination thereof were needed to overcome the Borg’s technology and singular mindset.

Chig Cruiser:
chigMuch like Firefly, this example comes to us from a franchise which was cancelled by the executives over at Fox after its first season. Yes, Space Above and Beyond was yet another sci-fi series which had a lot of promise, but got axed when the execs concluded it wasn’t doing well enough for their liking. What the hell goes on over at Fox anyway?! Does every new show get this kind of treatment, or do Rupert Murdoch’s minions think sci-fi is just inherently liberal?

In any case, the Chig Cruiser was much like the concept for the Chigs themselves. Cool, original, and quite alien in appearance! Basically, the vessels shape can be described as two right triangles attached end to end with the tips removed. The command center appeared to be located in the middle, along with much of its weapons and observation deck. The outer hulls also appear to have been constructed out of the triangular-shaped panels of some alien metal that gave of a peculiar sheen when seen from the right angle.

Like everything else in the series, the concept never really had time to be fully developed. Which is really too bad. Their fighters, encounter suits, and capital ships were all cool to look at, and some explanations as to their utility and even artistic inspirations would have been nice. But what can do? Fox is run by idiots! Rest in peace Space Above and Beyond! You died too young!

Earth Alliance Destroyer:
Thanks to Goran Zidar for suggesting I include this one! And please know that you are alone in thinking that it is cool to behold, Mr. Z 😉 Coming to you from the Babylon 5 universe, source of so many cool ships (see below), the concept for the Earth Alliance Destroyer was nothing short of pragmatic genius. Given that the show boasted dozens of alien races, J.M. Straczynski and his design teams had to come up with countless design concepts that would reflect the multicultural and multiracial tone of the show.

In the case of humanity, Straczynski and his people concluded that the spaceships should look boxy, utilitarian, and should reflect the fact that Earth was one of the less advanced races in the story. As a result, the Earth Alliance Destroyer was built around the concept of a compartmentalized hull with its engines at the rear, a central rotating section (to provide artificial gravity), and a forward section where the bridge, carrier deck and command center would be located. And, as you can plainly see, the end result was quite cool!

While not the most advanced ship in the Galaxy, the Omega-class destroyer was certainly realistic, aesthetically pleasing, and could also holds its own in most firefight situations. And unlike their organic, alien counterparts, these ships were also a lot cooler to watch in battle. Instead of “dying” or breaking apart, they would catch fire and throw off flaming debris, not to mention life pods and floating bodies. Yes, since ships didn’t have energy shields or a lot in the way of armor in the B5 universe, firefights tended to get real serious, real fast! Like I said… realistic!

The Daedalus:
daedalusNext up, and taken from the Stargate universe, is the battlecruiser Daedalus. After appearing in the spinoff show Stargate: Atlantis, this class of vessel (codenamed 304) became the basis for an entire fleet of vessels who’s purpose was to defend Earth from an alien invasion. Based on various alien technologies that were taken from the Goa’uld and Asgard, the Daedalus was the first Earth Battlecruiser and FTL ship ever constructed.

Based on the design of a modern aircraft carrier, the Daedalus bridge and command center were located along the top of the hull at the rear while the forward section contained the ships compliment of fighters and takeoff and landing bays. The ship also contained a hyperdrive which was powered by a Zero Point Module (an alien power source), giving it FTL capabilities.

In terms of armaments and advanced technology, the ship boasted beaming units, shields, multiple rail gun and missile systems, and a compliment of nuclear warheads. Designed to stand up to a potential Gua’old or Or’i invasion, the Daedalus and her kind were built to combine the best that Earth and her alien allies could offer. Yes, if the war came to Earth, we would be ready!

The Executor:
Hello terror! Next up, we have the gargantuan and terrifying Imperial command ship known as The Executor. Who among us can forget that introductory scene in The Empire Strikes Back when a whole fleet of massive Star Destroyers were assembling, only to be suddenly overshadowed by the even larger Executor? Cut to the bridge where we see the terrifying Vader looking out over the fleet, and you begin to see just how big and powerful the empire truly is! Yes, those visuals really gave a sense of size and scale to the bad guys and let us know just how much they meant business!

Commissioned roughly one year after the Battle of Yavin, where the first Death Star was destroyed, the Executor was intended to be a terror weapon, replacing the Death Star as the symbol of Imperial might and badassery! Measuring 19 kilometers in length and bristling with turbolasers, ion guns, multiple tractor beams projectors and a complement of fourteen TIE fighter/bomber squadrons, the Executor was every spacers worst nightmare! No ship in the Alliance was capable of standing toe to toe with it, making a strategic withdrawal an inevitability once it showed up in a theater of battle.

However, during the Battle of Endor, the Alliance was able to destroy it through a combination of strategy and dumb luck. After several Rebel fighters took out the Executor’s shield generators, a single fighter who lost control of his ship crashed directly into the bridge. The Executor then lost control of its helm and was pulled in by the second Death Star’s gravitational field, destroying the ship and causing extensive damage to the Death Star’s outer hull. An ironic death for such a big ship, but at least she went down in a blaze! A big, embarrassing, expensive blaze! I don’t envy the bastards who had to pay the premiums on that one!

Home One:
HomeOneAnother vessel that comes to us from the Star Wars universe, Home One was the mobile headquarters of the Rebel Fleet and the biggest Mon Calamari cruiser in existence. As Admiral Ackbar’s command vessel in the original trilogy, it distinguished itself during the Battle of Endor, during which the Executor and the second Death Star were destroyed.

Like most Mon Calamari cruisers, Home One was cylindrical in design and originally served as a star-liner that got modified for combat. This consisted of equipping it with fighter bays, multiple shield emitters, a reinforced hull, and many turbolaser mounts. It’s revolutionary targeting and computer system also gave it a decided advantage in a firefight with Imperial vessels, which boasted heavier armaments, but lacked the ability to coordinate and amass their firepower as effectively.

The largest bay on Home One was on the starboard side where larger vessels would dock. However, a total of twenty hangers were placed throughout the hull, giving it the ability to carry multiple squadrons of X-wings, A-wings, B-wings and Y-wings. It also boasted a crew of over 5000 personnel and could carry 1,200 troops and 20,000 metric tons of cargo. While most of its systems – especially targeting and navigation – were designed for Mon Calamari use, the ship was crewed by a variety of races, reflecting the multiracial nature of the Alliance.

Lexx:
lexxThough not the prettiest ship in the Galaxy, the Lexx certainly deserves a spot on the Cool Ship list. Much like the show that featured it, it was weird, conceptually skewed,  but still damn original! A planet-destroying bioship by design, the Lexx was clearly inspired by the concept of a giant, wingless dragonfly and was created out of resynthesized proteins that were obtained from confiscated organs. Hmmm, gross!

Originally intended for use by His Divine Shadow, the evil ruler of the Divine Order, the Lexx was essentially a terror weapon that would be capable of destroying whole planets. However, the ship was commandeered in the first episode by the show’s crew – consisting of anti-hero Stanley Tweedle, the sex slave Zev Bellringer, and the Kai, an undead assassin, and the bodiless AI 790 – and became the means through which they traveled the universe looking for a new home.

This journey would take them over 6000 years, since the Lexx does not have FTL capabilities, and the crew would go into cryostasis for much of the voyage. Being sentient as well as organic, the ship was required to feed from time to time in order to maintain the life force which powered it. This could involve landing on a planet and eating organic matter directly, but more often than not, required that it blow up an entire planet and eat the resulting debris afterwards.

In the latter case, this consisted of emitting massive amounts of ionized energy from its “eyes” which was then channeled into the “mouth”. This energy was then fired outward in a planar wave which would intercept and obliterate any planet in its path. The Lexx would then take in the giant rocks and debris from the explosion and feed off of all the organic matter they carried. If not permitted to feed regularly, the Lexx could apparently become quite cranky and agitated, which would prove to be hell for whoever had to interact with it!

Narn Cruiser:
narn02As promised, another cool ship from the B5 universe. And as I said earlier, when it came to producing concepts for alien ships, J.M. Straczynski really had an eye for aesthetics, art, and functionality. Whereas Earth vessels tended to be compartmentalized and practical in nature, other alien races tended to be a bit more flamboyant, a reflection of their particular cultures and levels of technology.

When it came to the Narns, an aggressive but artistic race, their ship designs exemplified this dual nature. Originally a pastoral and peaceful people, the Narns had been brutalized by generations of occupation at the hands of the Centauri and had become quite warlike as a result. Their heavy cruisers, the mainstay of their fleet, were thus powerful and fierce looking, but still managed to achieve an aesthetic quality which brought beauty into the mix.

Boasting two massive beam cannons, several pulse guns and a compliment of space mines, the Narn Heavy Cruiser could take on just about any ship in the Galaxy. Though most were destroyed in the Great War against the Centauri, the ship proved to be effective in numerous engagements, not the least of which were against the Shadows themselves. For example, at the battle of Ragesh 3, two Narn Cruisers combined their beam cannons to seriously damage a Shadow vessel. During the battle in Sector 83, when Sheridan and the White Star Fleet engaged a fleet of Shadows vessels, the Cruiser G’tok managed to assist a pair of White Stars in destroying two Shadow vessels. Quite the accomplishment for this class of vessel!

After the Great War, the Narn regime began rebuilding its fleet, and the Narn Cruiser remained the mainstay of their forces. Several were used during the Alliance war with the Centauri and participated in the assault on Centauri Prime, where its massive compliment of weapons proved quite devastating against the planet’s surface!

Prometheus-Class Assault Vessel:
PrometheusYou know, I’ve never been that big a fan of the Star Trek franchise. But even I have to admit, when these guys do something right, they really do it right! And this ship, the Prometheus Assault Vessel, would be one such example. Much like the USS Defiant from my previous list, this ship demonstrated that when required, Star Fleet could produce ships that really excelled at kicking ass and taking names!

A revolutionary prototype, the Prometheus-Class vessel appeared in a single episode of Voyager where it was being stolen by a bunch of Romulan agents. However, thanks to the combined efforts of the ship’s own holographic surgeon and Voyager’s similarly holographic doctor, the ship was saved and even managed to turn the tables on its Romulan adversaries.

Incorporating advanced phasers, quantum torpedoes, ablative armor and regenerative shields, the biggest surprise the Prometheus had was its multi-vector assault capability. This involved the separation of the ship into multiple modules, much like the USS Enterprise-D would do with its saucer and engine sections. However, in the Prometheus’ case, this resulted in the creation of three semi-independent sections which were capable of unleashing a single, coordinated attack against multiple opponents.

After it was done dispatching all its enemies, it would then come back together, perform repairs as needed, and move on to the next target. And since the ship was programmed with extensive routines, a very small crew was capable of operating it and really only had to speak the requisite commands to get it to kill, kill, kill! Not a bad ship to have in your arsenal!

Shadow Attack Ship:
shadow06“It was jet black. A shade of black so deep your eye just kinda slides off it. And it shimmered when you looked at it. A spider big as death and twice as ugly. And when it flies past, it’s like you hear a scream in your mind.” These were the words Lt. Warren Keffer used to describe a Shadow vessel, right before he died chasing one down. An apt description for a ship that was clearly designed to inspire terror in its enemies, and a reflection of the race that built it.

As my final installment, taken again from the B5 universe, I’ve decided to include the Shadow Attack Ship, which is perhaps the most original and artistic spaceship I have ever seen. Granted, it had some stiff competition given the franchise it is coming from, but in terms of its design, performance, and sheer alien appearance, I can’t think of anything that can top it.

Given the fact that Straczynski and crew were working with the concept of organic technology, the ship was clearly meant to look like a living creature. Apparently, they settled on the combination of an arachnid and a giant octopus for the design, which combined with its jet-black sheen, made it both terrifying to behold and aesthetically awesome! And since every Shadow vessel is a living thing, they required sentient beings to merge with them in order to become active. When inactive, they would lie dormant and could remain operable for thousands of years.

More often than not, the Shadows preferred to use telepaths as drivers since only a telepath was capable of jamming the ship’s central operating system (i.e. a person’s mind). When damaged, the ships would emit a high-pitched screeching noise and often required another ship to merge with them and carry them to safety where they could. Of course, the screech couldn’t be heard through space. As Keffer noted, the sounds it made seemed to take place in the observers mind – aka. it was being telepathically conveyed. Hence, in addition to scaring the shit out of their opponents with their appearance and awesome firepower, these ships also had a calculated psychological edge in battle!

Not that they needed it though. In addition to their speed and firepower, the ship’s organic hulls were also incredibly tough, capable of absorbing tremendous amounts of energy before dying. As Sheridan and his people learned, pulse cannons were virtually useless against the Shadow’s skin, and beam weapons were only capable of killing them when focused on its central region for extended periods of time. On multiple occasions, Sheridan and the Alliance forces were only able to destroy one of these vessels by relying on telepaths to jam them while multiple ships combined their firepower to finish them off.

For the Shadows, the weapon of choice seemed to be the beam cannon that was located in the ship’s “mouth”. This focused, pink-purple beam was capable of slicing through the most hardened of structures and ships, and could reduce an entire colony to rubble in the space of a few seconds. However, the standard Shadow vessels also contained a type of space mine that was capable of c0llapsing hyperspace jump nodes and also carried a compliment of Shadow fighters which they kept embedded in their skin. These appeared to be independent in nature seeing as how they were too small for a person to fit in, and served as a mere screen for the larger vessels to make their attack.

In short, a Shadow vessel was the sort of thing you didn’t stick around to fight unless you had plenty of ships watching your back. Fast, furious, and shit-your-pants scary to look at, if you managed to kill one, you counted yourself amongst the few, the proud, the luckiest sons of bitches in the universe!

Okay, thanks for sticking around for the second installment! I think I have one more in me, but I’ll wait a few days before posting that. In the meantime, be sure to check out this cool chart. It provided me with a couple of ideas during the course of my research:
The ultimate starship size comparison chart