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May 3, 2012 9:34 AM   Subscribe

20 best designs in sci-fi movies
posted by fearfulsymmetry (110 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
One of the designs they call out is the user interface in The Minority Report. That looked so awesome because it was based on real research. One of the consultants on the film, John Underkoffler, has a company Oblong commercializing just that kind of thing, gestural interfaces. It's amazing stuff. He gave a TED talk a couple of years ago.
posted by Nelson at 9:41 AM on May 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've always wondered why Deckard's gun has two triggers.
posted by mediated self at 9:43 AM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wall-mounted keyboards, it must be... THE FUTURE."
posted by griphus at 9:44 AM on May 3, 2012


"MST3K Reference #40567," take two, action!.
posted by griphus at 9:44 AM on May 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Aarg, Top N Lists, why can't I stay away from you?

Anyway, missing, IMHO: Akira, Silent Running (ship interiors, robots), Star Trek (UI), Gattica (sci-fi as retro), Dune (retro mysticism)... and probably 100 more.
posted by gwint at 9:44 AM on May 3, 2012


I don't how anyone can use the words "erotics' in the same sentence describing Aliens from the Aliens movie.
posted by RedShrek at 9:46 AM on May 3, 2012


That starfury does not seem to a babylon 5 model, and also it doesn't seem to have any downward thrust supporting its weight. Design Fail. Ironic for the lead in picture.
posted by Chekhovian at 9:48 AM on May 3, 2012


> I don't how anyone can use the words "erotics' in the same sentence describing Aliens from the Aliens movie.

There are hints of bulbous cocks and intertwined entities fucking and all, but yeah, there's not much of Eros in Geiger's works, really.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:49 AM on May 3, 2012


The most amazing thing about this is that they're all on the same page
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 9:51 AM on May 3, 2012 [27 favorites]


Ainsworth used this mock-up to create the finalised Stormtrooper helmet which appeared in the original films. In 2011, Lucasfilms unsuccessfully sued Ainsworth for selling replicas of the helmets, with the court ruling them out as works of art.

Holy fuck. I didn't read this expecting to get mad at Lucas, but there you go. Does he have some sort of psychotic drive to be a jerk?
posted by LionIndex at 9:53 AM on May 3, 2012


I HAVE MANY QUIBBLES!

No Dune, for a start...

Also Deckards gun is alright, but it's no M41A.
posted by Artw at 9:54 AM on May 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also Deckards gun is alright, but it's no M41A.

I'd have gone for the Bladerunner air car myself
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:56 AM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd like to see the Liberator on there.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:56 AM on May 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


Do this with written SF and you might have something pretty neat.
“With his unblinking red eye and monotone voice, HAL is utterly terrifying. His lack of empathy tips HAL into Uncanny Valley, that bizarre place where something appears to be human, but there an unsettling element that is not quite right and it makes us feel uncomfortable.”
WTF? Hal has empathy! In his first scene, we see him playing chess and ask Dave what's wrong. In fact, Hal is the only human in that entire movie. None of the supposed humans have any facial expressions and speak in monotones, Hal at least demonstrates some feelings.
posted by DU at 9:57 AM on May 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


...inspiration appears to be German army uniforms from the Second World War, mixed with a dash of human skull

I suspect that the stormtrooper helmet owes more to the armor of the Teutonic Knights in Eisenstein's Alexander Nevsky. (And John Williams owes even more to Prokofiev's score for the same film.)
posted by Iridic at 9:58 AM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


None of the supposed humans have any facial expressions and speak in monotones, Hal at least demonstrates some feelings.

Making it undeniably the most Kubrick of movies.
posted by Artw at 10:02 AM on May 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


It’s just such a cool design and is so effective, selling the idea of the Empire’s army as a never-ending supply of clones before that fact is even revealed in later movies.

That's just stupid - hiding the face actually does the exact opposite, it's concealing the different faces to make the all those non-cloned stormtroopers look alike.
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:04 AM on May 3, 2012


Robby the Robot, Brazil interrogation room (or Samurai)(or information retrieval machines).
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:04 AM on May 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wall-mounted keyboards, it must be... THE FUTURE."

But on the plus side, at least Space Mutiny had the good taste to "borrow" footage from the much-more-highly-regarded "Battlestar Gallactica."
posted by ShutterBun at 10:05 AM on May 3, 2012


Wait, did Stormtroopers get retconned into being actual Clone Troopers? I know that's where the force itself started, but is the implication that the troopers in 4-6 are all Jango Fett clones?
posted by griphus at 10:07 AM on May 3, 2012


This stormtrooper helmet video is the geekiest "How It's Made" ever. (Okay -- the second ever, after the meta How It's Made on how they make a "How It's Made" episode.)
posted by Madamina at 10:07 AM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


(I think "force" was probably the worst word to use in that question.)
posted by griphus at 10:07 AM on May 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Never think about Star Wars.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:08 AM on May 3, 2012 [9 favorites]


THERMAL bandages. (Fifth Element)
posted by tilde at 10:12 AM on May 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


I've always thought that the fully upgraded V'ger from Star Trek: The Motion Picture was pretty brilliant -- designed to seem as though it were constructed by some completely foreign intelligence. And I've always wanted to see what the model(s) themselves look like.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 10:12 AM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I actually quite like a lot of the Star Wars prequel universe design.
posted by Artw at 10:15 AM on May 3, 2012


I didn't read this expecting to get mad at Lucas, but there you go. Does he have some sort of psychotic drive to be a jerk?

It's called "protecting your brand." They guy cranks out unauthorized Star Wars props by the hundreds, including "Dark Lord" helmets, and all sorts of other thinly disguised props that are pretty clearly copyright infringement of intellectual property in many jurisdictions. Lucas has historically had absolutely NO problem with people making their own replicas for hobby use (the 501st legion, etc.) But this guy is cranking out helmets and selling them as "genuine, authentic." He only won the lawsuit because the court somehow concluded that they were "functional, wearable art," as opposed to "costumes."
posted by ShutterBun at 10:17 AM on May 3, 2012


the meta How It's Made on how they make a "How It's Made" episode

OMG, that really exists? The kids and I were joke a while back about this. "First, we gather the nation's top mispronouncers...." (Even controlling for the Canadian Factor, those guys are THE WORST at pronouncing things.)
posted by DU at 10:18 AM on May 3, 2012


Before I clicked on this, I thought, "I really hope Deckard's gun is on this list!" AND IT IS.
posted by sc114 at 10:19 AM on May 3, 2012


Wait, did Stormtroopers get retconned into being actual Clone Troopers?

I think a lot of people thought that, but no. You can be sure that if they had, Temura Morrison would have found himself in a recording booth saying "this aren't the droids we're looking for" at some point.
posted by ShutterBun at 10:20 AM on May 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


DON'T GIVE GEORGE ANY IDEAS
posted by entropicamericana at 10:27 AM on May 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


Look, Kaneda's bike has to be on this list. It just has to.

"And these are...computer controlled...anti-lock brakes!"
posted by the painkiller at 10:29 AM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought the Cylon base stars were pretty cool. BSG had some pretty nice set designs.

Joss Whedon also put a lot of thought into Firefly's design. He specifically requested a very small number of sets to be used for the ship itself, so that viewers would be intimately familiar with the ship's size and layout. Apparently he's not a big fan of the vast, TARDIS-like dimensions that are used for the interior of most TV/Movie spaceships.

Also, the concept art for the "Future Washington DC" from Minority Report is ridiculously cool. (I also love the artist made a few shout-outs to existing buildings in DC. The Watergate's clearly an inspiration, and there's still a cantilevered building over L'Enfant Plaza.)
posted by schmod at 10:34 AM on May 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


How could they not include the Terminator T-800 (model 101)? Fun list...sci fi design shaped my childhood so it's very nostalgic to see all these laid out in the same place.

I would have added the Alien Queen, the T-800, the Smart Gun from Aliens (or pulse rifle) and definitely costume and set design from "The Matrix." The Matrix has influenced almost every sci-fi movie for the last 13 years.
posted by jnnla at 10:35 AM on May 3, 2012


I don't how anyone can use the words "erotics' in the same sentence describing Aliens from the Aliens movie.

Maybe not, RedShrek, but Giger had a feature in Penthouse on his erotic art (which, like everything else he makes, looks pretty much exactly like the Alien monsters and spaceship). IIRC, there were multiple features, in fact. Somebody at the Guccione empire (Bob a/o Kathy) thought it was erotic.

I wouldn't call his art "erotic" in the "it gets me/someone I can imagine off" sense, but erotic in the sense of "causes me to think about sexuality a/o genitalia" - oh, it certainly does.

Still don't like his art. And there's more variation and originality in any of Dali's later knockoff's than in Giger's entire output. Maybe even more in Thomas Kincaid's work than Giger.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:36 AM on May 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


That starfury does not seem to a babylon 5 model

I would go as far as to say that it is just not a Starfury.

Kaneda's bike should be up there.

So should the Starfury. IIRC, it's the first example of a ship design that not only was made as a CGI model, but it actually could not have been a (useful) physical model as there wasn't anywhere to put a support pole that wouldn't have obstructed other parts of the ship from many angles.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:37 AM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are hints of bulbous cocks and intertwined entities fucking and all, but yeah, there's not much of Eros in Geiger's works, really.

You have got to be kidding me.

You have got to me kidding me, Exhibit B.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 10:50 AM on May 3, 2012 [11 favorites]


I sincerely do believe that Serenity should be on there or get special mention for something. And I know some of it's my overwhelming fondness for the show, but part of that love is built on the fact that a lot of thought went into the development of that ship, and that universe, and those characters, and etc. etc., and that's an obvious fact.

I loved all the space-saving measures the ship employed, the personal touches put in (e.g. Kaylee's hammock in the engine room), hidden storage panels... yeah. I'm obviously incredibly biased.

I won't deny all of their choices are great (except maybe Deckard's gun from Bladerunner... meh) and the reasoning seems pretty solid (I'm not a designer) but...

I suppose it's probably the word 'iconic' and I guess maybe 'daring' that would most keep Serenity from the running.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 10:55 AM on May 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


I've always wondered why Deckard's gun has two triggers.

I like to think it was because they had predicted the development of the Glock, which has an integrated trigger safety, which looks like two triggers.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:02 AM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


God is this post ever in the Metafilter wheelhouse.

So, for the most part, all the designs here predate the use of massive CGI in science fiction movies (half credit for Tron Legacy and the Cylons, since those are based on pre-CGI designs). I really think that the requirement for a craftsperson to make something in the physical world helps create more please 'sci-fi' designs. And I think a pure-CGI scifi design could be successful, but not until the creative industry gets away from making sequels, spin-offs, and repurposing other existing work.

I recently heard that all of the Storm Troopers in Episodes 1-3 are CGI - re-watching the films, I believe it. Looks very much like a video game.

Finally, I've been imagining various Culture books turned into movies lately. I think Consider Phlebas might be the best for a first pass. I'd love to see Surface Detail, however, inasmuch as I thinking seeing a giant ellipsoid in space obliterate a half-dozen other ships in the blink of an eye would make a great anticlimactic space battle scene.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 11:05 AM on May 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


Originally, Predator was to be played by Jean-Claude Van Damme thanks to his martial arts skills. However, the team decided the creature needed to be larger and more endearing, by which time 7ft 2″ Kevin Peter Hall had been hired.

I have to assume this is a typo, and they meant to write "more intimidating"? Whether intentional or not, though, I am laughing my ass off at it.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:20 AM on May 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


OMG, that really exists? The kids and I were joke a while back about this. "First, we gather the nation's top mispronouncers...." (Even controlling for the Canadian Factor, those guys are THE WORST at pronouncing things.)

The show is produced in Quebec, and all the English voiceover actors are Francophones. Which explains everything.
posted by sixswitch at 11:20 AM on May 3, 2012


The Matrix has influenced almost every sci-fi movie for the last 13 years.

Now we know why sci-fi is in the shitter.

Snarking aside, I'm not even sure how true your statement is. I mean it sounds true, but what are some actual examples, especially towards the less sucky end of the spectrum? I don't really see any Matrix influence in Moon, for example.
posted by fleacircus at 11:23 AM on May 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


I feel they should have included the lightsaber. Obi-wan's hilt specifically.

And the Millenium Falcon. And the TARDIS. And Serenity. And and and
posted by Edison Carter at 11:24 AM on May 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


20 worst designs in sci-fi websites

Pro-Tip: If your web page opens over 200 concurrent connections, you need to fire your web developer.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:29 AM on May 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's hard to take seriously design commentary that misspells Jean-Paul Gaultier's name.
posted by workerant at 11:36 AM on May 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Missing LCARS, but I'd argue that GUIs should be given an entirely separate category so we can mix it up with all the ancient and asgard console from Stargate and whatnot.

Speaking of which, missing a freaking Stargate. Come on, people. Hate the movie or series as much as you like (how could you), but the seeming simplicity of the shape and the kawoosh certain combine for an iconic result.

Also missing the Shadow ships from Babylon 5. The second you saw those fuckers you knew shit was gonna get real.
posted by Mizu at 11:38 AM on May 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


No Space:1999 Eagles? I can't take this seriously.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:43 AM on May 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've always wondered why Deckard's gun has two triggers.

There are real guns which use a double-set trigger: one of the triggers engages "hair trigger" mode and the other actually fires the weapon. I'm not sure why you'd see this on a pistol, since the point is to make your long-range hunting rifle more accurate by reducing the amount of physical motion necessary to fire it.
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:48 AM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I feel they should have included the lightsaber. Obi-wan's hilt specifically

The end results were iconic and awesome, but I'm not sure I'd call them "designs" specifically, since most of the early ones were simply kluged together from spare parts and things like Speed Graphic flash handles.

I guess the guns from Blade Runner would probably fall under that criticism as well, although there seemed to be a bit more deliberateness to the design there.
posted by ShutterBun at 11:49 AM on May 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Any discussion of ED-209 should include how it was social commentary on the American car industry at the time (tying even more into the Detroit setting). A gigantic, 4-ton, over-designed, over-powered, yet ultimately incompetent robit that can't even walk down stairs?
posted by pyrex at 11:50 AM on May 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


As someone who builds UIs, I am fucking sick of hearing about that Minority Report UI.
posted by Artw at 11:56 AM on May 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


Seconding the desire for Kaneda's bike.

Also, having done the obvious choice of the Alien xenomorph, I'd have given the nod to the design of the Nostromo rather than the alien ship. Since 2001 was indeed so influential with all its smooth white surfaces, having the Nostromo look like, well, an actual ship was revolutionary (and would, I believe, go on to influence the design of Serenity).
posted by Gelatin at 11:57 AM on May 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Released in 1977, Stars Wars Episode IV: A New Hope began a legacy of sci-fi unlike any other.

WTF? There was no movie released in 1977 called "Stars Wars Episode IV: A New Hope." You can't retcon reality!
posted by languagehat at 11:59 AM on May 3, 2012 [10 favorites]


If you look over the concept art for Alien there's a couple of dead ringers for Serenity in there, yes. Which is funny, as now you have Firefly fans up in arms about how the ship in Prometheus is a Serenity rip-off...
posted by Artw at 11:59 AM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


If we're talking bikes, then the Robotech bikes. Still my favorite non-Harley designs in motorcycles.
posted by Edison Carter at 11:59 AM on May 3, 2012


The end results were iconic and awesome, but I'm not sure I'd call them "designs" specifically, since most of the early ones were simply kluged together from spare parts and things like Speed Graphic flash handles.

Heh. Tons of cool star wars stuff was the result of just glueing bits together - the guns in particular are all WWI and WWII stuff, which gives them a lovely chunky feel.
posted by Artw at 12:02 PM on May 3, 2012


IG-88s head is a bit of aircraft scrap that apperently made the rounds as a multi-purpose SF prop.
posted by Artw at 12:05 PM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's some V'Ger model pictures here.
posted by Artw at 12:11 PM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Lighting and Photography of Star Trek's "V'ger"

V'ger rear view
posted by Artw at 12:13 PM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm kind of surprised nobody's mentioned the age-old concept of kitbashing yet considering how many examples of it have been brought up. Sure it was mostly used for scale models in movies but I would argue it also applies to props. Perhaps it's just referred to as mashups these days?
posted by pyrex at 12:18 PM on May 3, 2012



Designing the Living Machine
- Clearly this carbon based unit is fascinated by the perfection of V'ger, and should compose an FPP.
posted by Artw at 12:22 PM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fuchikoma!
posted by Brocktoon at 12:23 PM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't how anyone can use the words "erotics' in the same sentence describing Aliens from the Aliens movie.

Erotic doesn't mean appealing, pleasant or morally good. Evidence: with safe search off, google image search the word erotic plus any word you find disturbing. Maybe don't do that from work.

There are real guns which use a double-set trigger...one of the triggers engages "hair trigger" mode...I'm not sure why you'd see this on a pistol

What you're describing is a single action pistol, but with the hammer taking the form of a lever placed just ahead of the actual trigger. That seems like an awkward idea to me, but seeing as single action pistols are quite common it's not inconceivable,
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:28 PM on May 3, 2012


Creating the 2019 Detective Special
posted by Artw at 12:34 PM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


( or you could build a M41A if you feel like it...)
posted by Artw at 12:35 PM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm kind of surprised nobody's mentioned the age-old concept of kitbashing yet considering how many examples of it have been brought up.

Kitbashing usually refers to the fine details on large models (putting little tank parts on giant star destroyers, etc.) and really doesn't have much to do with "design."
posted by ShutterBun at 12:39 PM on May 3, 2012


I can't wait until we're all using the Minority Report interface. It'd be just great, having to use my entire body to perform the onscreen functions I can currently do with the tip of my index finger and thumb.

Also, I'm surprised that nothing from Blake's 7 made the list.
posted by Flashman at 12:41 PM on May 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


(an exception would be something like Tom Servo and Crow, who could be considered "kit-bashed" (they were built using model parts, sports equipment, etc.) but the parts themselves then came to define the entire "design" of the robots themselves.
posted by ShutterBun at 12:42 PM on May 3, 2012


The awesome story of how the Nostromo prop from Alien was rescued
posted by Artw at 12:45 PM on May 3, 2012


I really think that the requirement for a craftsperson to make something in the physical world helps create more please 'sci-fi' designs.

On the other hand, Starfury. Still just about the best space fighter ever... especially Ivanova's with the red star over the Tsarist eagle.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:49 PM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


None of the supposed humans have any facial expressions and speak in monotones, Hal at least demonstrates some feelings.

God, I love that movie.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:55 PM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


ShutterBun, I had always been under the impression that kitbashing implied taking two (or more) pre-destined sets of parts that would eventually result in two (or more) distinct completed products, and combining them at will to result in a third unexpected product.

I had never really thought about it as you described, I think, as using one set as the base then adding selected parts from one or more other sets.

Perhaps both are true?
posted by pyrex at 12:57 PM on May 3, 2012


the meta How It's Made on how they make a "How It's Made" episode
---
OMG, that really exists? The kids and I were joke a while back about this. "First, we gather the nation's top mispronouncers...." (Even controlling for the Canadian Factor, those guys are THE WORST at pronouncing things.)


My favorite How It's Made voiceover described a metal ingot as weighing 10 pounds, or "about the same as an average housecat."

For years after, my daughter and I would often estimate the weight of things in "numbers of housecats."

(Derail over.)
posted by The Deej at 1:01 PM on May 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


taking two (or more) pre-destined sets of parts that would eventually result in two (or more) distinct completed products, and combining them at will to result in a third unexpected product.

The new batmobile was supposed a kitbashed combo of a lamborgini, a main battle tank, and a jet fighter...so yeah sounds about right.
posted by Chekhovian at 1:10 PM on May 3, 2012


For years after, my daughter and I would often estimate the weight of things in "numbers of housecats."

Jesus. I'm 27 housecats heavy.
posted by Edison Carter at 1:21 PM on May 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think the set and costume design in Star Trek II is really beautiful, and well-thought out. Especially the individual quarters--a lot of personality reflective of the characters.

And Flash Gordon is just pitch-perfect.
posted by oneironaut at 1:22 PM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are hints of bulbous cocks and intertwined entities fucking and all, but yeah, there's not much of Eros in Geiger's works, really.

You have got to be kidding me.

You have got to me kidding me, Exhibit B.


Seriously. Near to the entire portfolio of Giger's work is pulsing, primal, and erogenous. The debased nature of a lot of the presentation speaks to a rather a-moral view of the instinctual urges, a pre-human impulse for grasping and clawing and penetrating. Filth and fluid are presented with the same tone as flesh, winnowing away the distinction between the moment and the byproduct, the actor and the act.

Hell, the Alien's prime mode of taking down prey in the first film was opening its mouth and then driving a screaming penis through the skulls of the crewmembers. And the opening of the face-hugger egg? Just a pair of vulvas set across each other at right angles.

(seriously: originally it was just one slit, and then someone looked at it and was like 'Hans, come on. That's a little blatant.' So he was like 'Okay, sheesh, fine, I'll change it', and then went 'bwahaha, I'll double down on the vulvas, and turn it into the cross you Americans are so fond of.' True story!)
posted by FatherDagon at 1:23 PM on May 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's kind of "How many currently-iconic things can we cram on a page, and add a couple of old things for some cred" list. That said, seeing the Flying Sub get some respect makes me happy. The Seaview itself was pretty cool, but that Flying Sub...make the 8-year-old in me swoon.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:28 PM on May 3, 2012


You know you are truly iconic when you are omitted from "Top N" lists because you are so obvious that nobody even thinks to mention you, and then nobody even thinks of it in the internet thread which follows, because it is so tautologically obvious.

Star. Trek. Enterprise.

Seriously people. Or did you forget it was science fiction? In any case, it hardly gets more iconic. The design itself is earth shattering - remember what most science fiction ships looked like in the mid 1960s? Rockets. Rockets, people. Roddenberry nailed this one so hard he blew it through the wall, out of the universe and into the next three dimensions.
posted by Xoebe at 1:29 PM on May 3, 2012 [8 favorites]


Yes, but these are the *best* designs, not the most influential or first of their kind. The original Enterprise is rather ugly.
posted by Edison Carter at 1:35 PM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


No Oscillation OverThruster? Seriously.
posted by philip-random at 1:36 PM on May 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Enterprise is (essentially) three rockets and a flying saucer, and looks totally non-badass.
Iconic, yes. Awesome design? Eh.
posted by ShutterBun at 1:37 PM on May 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Artw: You have made my day. Thank you.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 1:43 PM on May 3, 2012


Giger's works most certainly carry eroticism - perhaps not in the mainstream sense in that it makes one hot under the collar, so to speak - but rather in its approach and intentions.

When an alien is face-to-face with a human, it carefully emerges out of the background and makes itself unavoidably apparent, dominant, and to the host going so far as to reveal its own weakness. Opening its mouth and revealing the feeding tongue, it displays a great deal of vulnerability in hopes of a favorable outcome.

Highly sensitive to rejection it becomes irrationally upset with rejection, and here we are. Sadly. Dismembered heads and all.
posted by pyrex at 1:51 PM on May 3, 2012


Stupid article, the author is clearly has a Star Wars bias. The Star Trek franchise is a treasure trove of design. This is insulting.
posted by polymodus at 1:53 PM on May 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


Artw: You have made my day. Thank you.

Heh. I am still intent on finding more and better.
posted by Artw at 2:55 PM on May 3, 2012


I'm surprised Icarus II of sunshine didn't get included. That ship was a brilliantly conceived array of technology.
posted by spacediver at 2:55 PM on May 3, 2012


taking two (or more) pre-destined sets of parts that would eventually result in two (or more) distinct completed products, and combining them at will to result in a third unexpected product

Growing up, this was how it was always used in a model railroading context.

It's called "protecting your brand." They guy cranks out unauthorized Star Wars props by the hundreds, including "Dark Lord" helmets, and all sorts of other thinly disguised props that are pretty clearly copyright infringement of intellectual property in many jurisdictions.

TRADEMARK. Not copyright. TRADEMARK.

Please note that in many of those jurisdictions you mention, failure to defend a mark weakens your entitlement to protection.
posted by dhartung at 3:23 PM on May 3, 2012


(or information retrieval machines).

trivia: the typerwritery data terminal props in 'Brazil' were shared with the set designers in the film 'Nineteen Eighty-Four'.
posted by ovvl at 3:48 PM on May 3, 2012


I'm surprised Icarus II of sunshine didn't get included. That ship was a brilliantly conceived array of technology.


Unfortunately it was a terrible movie ;)
posted by Strass at 3:55 PM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought it was quite excellent. Even better on the second viewing. Yes the last act was somewhat experimental, but the same could be said of altered states.
posted by spacediver at 4:05 PM on May 3, 2012


I didn't like how it turned into a horror movie... I wasn't expecting hard sci-fi, but all of a sudden it's like it collided with Event Horizon...
posted by Strass at 4:12 PM on May 3, 2012


Oh, yeah. As someone who has always wanted to (safely) take a spaceship to the Sun, the ending of that one really bummed me out. It was going along great until they had to throw the CRAZY RUSSIAN SUN WORSHIPPER in there.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:14 PM on May 3, 2012


The carbon based units are directed to this post, where they will await data-patterning for storage.
posted by Artw at 4:15 PM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Finally, I've been imagining various Culture books turned into movies lately. I think Consider Phlebas might be the best for a first pass. I'd love to see Surface Detail, however, inasmuch as I thinking seeing a giant ellipsoid in space obliterate a half-dozen other ships in the blink of an eye would make a great anticlimactic space battle scene.

The way I imagine it, any kind of milliseconds-long Culture battle scene would have to be shot in extra-slow motion, something like those recent Navy rail gun test videos.
posted by migurski at 4:27 PM on May 3, 2012


Falling Outside The Normal Moral Constraints is such a bastard.
posted by Artw at 4:34 PM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Have to speak up in defense of the Enterprise. Compared to the rocket ships of a lot of the 50's and 60's visual sci fi, it was revolutionary. Even the simple idea of having a spaceship which could never land on a planet was kinda crazy talk for that time period. And then Matt Jefferies, the principal designer, actually looked at individual rooms from an ergonomic perspective and let his designs flow from how things would be used which helped with making it feel like a place where people actually got things done, as opposed to a place to show off their blinky lights (even though the bridge had no shortage of those).
posted by honestcoyote at 4:38 PM on May 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


I kinda like the old-school Klingon warships that got sidelined once everyone got Bird of Prey happy.
posted by Artw at 4:41 PM on May 3, 2012


Also the blunt "fuck you, it's a cube"-ness of the Borg Cube. None more cubical!
posted by Artw at 4:42 PM on May 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Finally, I've been imagining various Culture books turned into movies lately. I think Consider Phlebas might be the best for a first pass.

The simpler story of The Player of Games would be easier to translate to film...
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:35 PM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's a certain type of person who will read this list and immediately think "I can't believe they didn't include [this thing I like]!!!"

I'm surprised they included Marty McFly's Nikes, but not the time machine. So many of the designs on this list are emblematic of the design language for an entire sci-fi universe (the year 2015 as envisioned in 1985, or a dystopian future Detroit, or the entire Star Wars universe). But the DeLorean time machine is just one design in an otherwise non-science-fictiony universe (or at least this is true in the first movie), and it looks like something a maniac genius would build in his home lab. It's a design that signifies a world within our own, and not an entirely different world.
posted by compartment at 6:01 PM on May 3, 2012


Also the blunt "fuck you, it's a cube"-ness of the Borg Cube. None more cubical!

If you had a tesseract-ship it would be one dimension more cubical.

Also if you had a ship designed by Gene Ray. That would be cubical as all get out.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:11 PM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


My favorite designs in SciFi are the ones that could never be in a film, and probably cannot exist outside the human imagination. My two favorites:

The Scale Ship from Rudy Rucker's SpaceTime Donuts. It doesn't go anywhere, it just shrinks in scale until it's smaller than quarks. Then it pops out the bottom of the "Circular Scale" and it's bigger than universes, and shrinks more until it's back in the same spot, one universe below.

The spacecraft Dragon Slayer from Robert L Forward's hard SF novel Dragon's Egg. The spacecraft orbits a neutron star at hundreds of orbits per minute, and uses a ring of asteroids spinning around the ship to neutralize the enormous gravity of the star and keep it from crushing the astronauts. The presence of Dragon Slayer causes life to evolve on the surface of the neutron star.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:21 PM on May 3, 2012


The original Romulan Warbird is another contender, although seeing how it disappeared from the continuity (after it literally disappeared from the lot) I can understand it being overlooked.

Have to speak up in defense of the Enterprise. Compared to the rocket ships of a lot of the 50's and 60's visual sci fi, it was revolutionary.

Yes and no. I love the Enterprise (No bloody A, B, C, or D!) but it was essentially an amalgam of the most common UFO descriptions. Three cigars and and a saucer.

If you had a tesseract-ship it would be one dimension more cubical.

Or three dimensions more linear!
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:40 PM on May 3, 2012


Compared to the rocket ships of a lot of the 50's and 60's visual sci fi, it was revolutionary.

Yeeeeahbut, but that endless string of modified V-2's had already been busted wide open by the C-57D.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:09 PM on May 3, 2012


TRADEMARK. Not copyright. TRADEMARK.

Find the word "trademark" in this article about the case.
posted by ShutterBun at 7:22 PM on May 3, 2012


I've always wondered why Deckard's gun has two triggers.

My Google-fu tells me that the two trigger thing is a feature of the Austrian Steyr-Mannlicher .222 Model SL bolt-action rifle - Deckard's gun is based on one of these with with the stock and barrel removed.

So, the real question is why does the Steyr have two triggers. Apparently it's called a 'double set' trigger. One trigger sets the weapon, the other fires it.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:25 PM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


charlie don't surf: "The spacecraft Dragon Slayer from Robert L Forward's hard SF novel Dragon's Egg."

Lots of interesting ideas in that book, but probably unfilmable. Same with Rocheworld.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:27 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Lots of interesting ideas in that book, but probably unfilmable. Same with Rocheworld.

Oh definitely unfilmable. How do you represent creatures that are essentially Flatlanders? And how do you represent a linear narrative on film at two such vastly different time scales? In the book, the characters mostly interact through ideas, even data transmissions. That isn't very visually interesting, but it makes a great book.

I think my point is, some of these "great designs" in film damage the story, and our imaginations. And the most imaginative ideas never make it to film, like in the recent FPP about designs for David Cronenberg's version of "Total Recall" that was never filmed because it was the "Phil Dick version" instead of the "Raiders of the Lost Ark on Mars" version.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:36 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


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