The other day, I was scrolling through Netflix, looking for a distraction from all the pain of my hair and all my terrible car opinions, seeking out some quality space-travel-focused sci-fi, because I love that crap. As I was scrolling, looking at the thumbnails of the various movies and shows and whatever, I realised something: when those thumbnails showed a picture of a spaceship, you could almost instantly know, generally, what that show or movie was about. I mean it! Here, let me show you.
There’s almost always at least one signature spacecraft for any of these space-based sci-fi shows, and I was realising that they design of the ships, while varying wildly from movie to movie, seemed to be remarkably consistent for a given sub-genre of space sci-fi.
You could look at one ship and immediately know that, say, the show would take place in the relatively near future, and have a pretty good gorunding in science, or look at another and immediately know nobody gave two shits about physics, but it’ll be a fun ride.
I compiled several thousand examples and fed them into the Jalopnik Mainframe (a cluster of over 400 Timex-Sinclair 1000 computers dumped into an abandoned hot tub in a bunker underneath Ed Begley Jr’s combined EV R&D lab/sex-lab) which ran an advanced AI that categorised the ships into eight distinct classes.
I took those ship classes, translated the descriptions into English from the AI’s native Dutch, and produced this handy chart, which you can use to make your space-movie choices quicker and better!
If you want to see the big version, or maybe print it out for your ceiling so you can lay in bed and contemplate it, click here!
Did we miss any categories? I’m pretty sure most space-based sci-fi fits into one of these. Star Wars is 4, Star Trek is 3, I’d put the monolith from 2001 and 2010 in 7 but the Discovery and Leonov in 2, and I think the big cylindrical Heighliners from Dune go in 7.
Categorise your favourites! What could it hurt, right?