Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Cool spaceships

Okay, first, here at Bookriot is a suggested list of four extra-cool spaceships in SF novels. Just four! I’m sure there are a million cool spaceships out there, but I must agree that the spaceship that apparently is a major feature in Anathem by Neal Stephenson sounds extra-cool.

The Daban Urnud is a massive habitat ship shaped like a polyhedron with 20 faces. It contains 16 spheres, each half-filled with water, which spin around the center to create gravity. The population lives in these orbs, in houseboats with gardens on them.

Really? Because . . . wow. I have never been smack dab in the middle of Stephenson’s target audience . . . I barely finished Snowcrash . . . but I’m almost tempted to look up Anathem based just on what A.J. O’Connell says about the ship in this post.

Second! The first thing I stumbled on when I googled “cool spaceships in sf” was this amazing, amazing graphic: almost every spaceship from Star Wars, Star Trek, Babylon 5, etc, in one massive chart. If you click through and then click on the picture, you can get a blown-up version that is *almost* not painful to read, though the text is still small. I had to blow it up and then scan it carefully to locate the Enterprise type of ship, which for me is an important point of reference since that’s definitely the SF ship I’m most familiar with. All the really impressive ships seem to be from something called Eve. Is that a game or a movie or what? Wow, those are some ships.

My favorite ship . . . eh, I have no idea. My LEAST favorite SF ships are all the biological ones. That is such a cliche. How to make an alien ship look alien: paint it with goo and declare it is a living organism. Because that is so different and innovative!

I am actually working . . . now and then . . . on a SF adventure kind of novel. Got about 70 pp or so and a basic, basic notion of where it might be going. Sociological SF, that’s what I like! But with enough stuff blowing up to make it interesting and fun. My agent really wants me to prioritize that, write it quick before I work on the third Black Dog book. Because hey, maybe the sudden Ann-Leckie-produced-window for sociological SF will close in a month. Or maybe it’ll still be open in three years, who knows? Well, we’ll see. I want *both* a third Black Dog book AND this SF novel finished by the end of 2016, at least, and then we’ll see. It’d be good if THE WHITE ROAD turns out to be quick to write, one month instead of three months. Hard to judge until I get back into it.

Anyway, in my SF novel, we do in fact start off on the bridge of a spaceship. No goo! And yet it is not supposed to look like the bridge of the Enterprise either. I think I pulled it off. Hopefully you’ll all get to take a look at it in the not-too-tremendously-distant future.

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9 Comments Cool spaceships

  1. Mike S.

    EVE Online is a multiplayer RPG whose claims to fame are its functioning internal economy (very unusual; in general in games, money supplies and item costs are heavily managed), its rather Hobbesian environment (civilization is externally enforced in some places, but out on the frontier is player-versus-player with a lot of piracy and player-organized military activity).

    That internal economy is also linked with real-world money in a way that makes for dramatic stories when a battle or pirate attack gone wrong destroys thousands of dollars in genuine value. (Short version: you can buy a month of game time with real money in a form that, in the game, can be shipped between systems spaceships and sold for game money. As cargo those game-time chits, or PLEX, can be stolen or destroyed in-game.) See, for example, “Inside the Epic Online Space Battle That Cost Gamers $300,000” http://www.wired.com/2014/02/eve-online-battle-of-b-r/

    I’ve never played it, because PvP is very much not my thing. (Though I’m told it’s totally possible to stay in high-security, fairly safe space, and make a living mining asteroids and such. That’s also not my thing, but from her gaming history I have a suspicion that L. might actually like it if she weren’t afraid of the pirates.) But while it’s niche compared with something like World of Warcraft, its players are pretty dedicated and fanatical.

  2. Rachel

    Thanks, Mike! I hoped someone would clarify. That sounds like it might be a very compelling type of game if you got into it . . . which means I will never try it. I don’t have time! But actually I think I would like fighting off pirates! Of course I would prefer to win. Always better to outgun the other side. Actually, it might be fun to BE a pirate.

    The phenomenon of these games with their real-value economies is so fascinating.

  3. Mary+Beth

    I adore sociological SF, so really excited to hear this news!

    My favorite SF ship is probably Cherryh’s eponymous Finity’s End, though more for the idea of a vast, ancient Merchanter family ship than for anything about the ship itself. I’m having a hard time thinking of any other ships that really stick out in my mind… Until of course I remember TV shows and movies, where the ships have a much more tangible presence. Maybe the Serenity, from Firefly?

  4. pete mack

    Elanor Arnason’s ship made of ceramic LiH comes to mind, from A WOMAN OF THE IRON PEOPLE, mostly because I love sociological SF. Or perhaps anthropological SF is more accurate.

  5. Rachel

    Ceramic lithium hydroxide? It would be neat to hear Arnason talk about how she designed her ship.

    Mary Beth, I do like Serenity — I like the mix of casual decor in a spaceship, like the wooden dining room table. But for sheer coolness, it definitely can’t touch that thing with everyone living on houseboats. Houseboats! In a spaceship!

  6. Craig

    ANATHEM is really, really long and takes quite a while before the spaceship shows up — and then it’s more of a plot driver than a setting. Just so you know.

  7. Mike+S.

    Possibly of interest: Jim Cambias linked to On the Taxonomy of Spaceships on Facebook, which breaks down different sorts of SFnal spaceships by role.

    (Military only– no merchant ships like the ones in Citizen of the Galaxy or Cherryh’s Union/Alliance future. And it saddens me the latter is evidently grown so obscure that there’s no mention of Norway in the section on carriers.)

  8. BGrandrath

    Ever since I was a kid I wanted to be a crewman on a Free Trader like the Solar Queen. Or tour the Rim Worlds with Captain Grimes on the Faraway Quest. I think my dream job would be working on The Pride of Chanur

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