My nomination: The Nautilus– specifically, Harper Goff’s design for the 1954 Disney movie. If anything, Verne’s conception of the Nautilus was too prescient: His description of the craft as a mostly featureless, streamlined tapering cylinder may have seemed mysterious and exotic to his 19th century readers, but it’s a bit prosaic for modern audiences who are familiar with actual submarines. The Disney version, on the other hand, is visually compelling on a couple of different levels: its riveted exterior and ironclad-styled wheelhouse unambiguously mark it as a product of Victorian-era fantasy steam-tech, yet its weirdly finned profile makes it easy to understand how sailors would have mistaken it for a monstrous sea creature. Its first appearance when attacking the Abraham Lincoln—surging through the waves, electric eyes glaring—is hellishly frightening; and yet the same craft, viewed in calmer moments, appears beautifully serene and completely at home in its element.
Other points in its favor:
–It seems to have pretty much all the lavish amenities Verne’s novel describes in some form or another, including a pipe organ! Almost no other designers of SF vehicles think to include a pipe organ.
–So maybe it doesn’t have lasers or phasers, or even torpedoes for that matter. Who cares? The whole damn ship is a weapon! What fun is it to sit by and destroy ships from a distance with remotely deployed explosives, when you can simply ram them instead, shearing through their hulls at full throttle like a vengeful cachalot?
–It has a trained seal for a ship’s mascot!
–The galley contains an ample supply of sperm whale milk!
–Its ballast holds are filled with frickin’ PIRATE TREASURE!
In summary, then: Mightiest ship in the ocean; totally awesome-looking; atomic powered; cute seal mascot; full of treasure. And whale milk.
The X-Wing Starfighter gets points for sheer presentation, thanks to the S-Foil wings. Star Wars, like many Animes, teaches us that the key to technological superiority is transformable ships. The X-Wing? Transformable. The TIE Fighter? Not transformable.
But yeah, Star Wars fans have been long-conditioned to equate “Lock S-Foils into Attack Position!” and the ensuing transformation to be a Pavlovian preclude to a bad-ass space battle.
I’ve just finished re-reading R.E.B.E.L.S., so it’s fresh in my mind and thus gets a larger share of ‘cool’ points, but I’m fond of the Di’ib. (Top panel, the visible portion should be red and silver.)
It runs on brains. Thus it wins.
I’m also fond of Moya from Farscape - biological ships very much entertain me.
The SDF-1/Macross is a sentimental favourite…and it’s a giant reconfigurable ship, with a city inside!
On a smaller scale, Veritechs and Cyclones (from Robotech - reconfigurable jets and motorcycles, respectively) are way cool.
Wait! That’ll be my second choice. The TARDIS is my Number One. Provided I can actually control of course. Maybe I do need Gay Deceiver to be #1, then. For all the in and about town driving stuff I’ll need to do between dimensional shifts. Hmmm …
Distant Third will be NCC-1701E
The Millenium Falcon from Star Wars - Still the coolest ship in the Star Wars universe
The “Skull-1” VF-1S Veritech fighter from Macross/Robotech - Whats better than a giant fighting robot with a Jolly Roger painted on it?
The UD-4L Cheyenne Dropship from Aliens - What’s better than a space shuttle that looks like a giant wasp and deploys an APC full of Space Marines (I mean other than a a giant fighting robot with a skull & crossbones and the Millenium Falcon)?
The TARDIS from Doctor Who - Any Manhattan resident would certainly appreciate this technology. The ability to go anwhere and anytime isn’t bad either.
The Tripod’s from the 2006 War of the Worlds - I just think they look and sound cool
I wish I could remember the name of the book. But the machine was called a “Wayfarer” (IIRC) and basically, it released the person’s consciousness from his body so that the person could then navigate to anywhere in the universe he or she wanted to go, leaving their body and all those pesky “speed of light” physics issues behind.
Which is why I also had to include Gay Deceiver (from RAH) with the TARDIS in my vaccillating posts. Both of them have interdimensional or time shift capability, both of them are larger on the inside than the out (remember the Oz refit of Gay). and with Gay, we get to fly/drive around town.
Who knows what other very cool things are hidden deep in the extradimensional bowels of the TARDIS, tho. And I still want a Sonic Screwdriver.
I think Gay Deceiver is probably a better overall choice than the Tardis. It seems to she works more consistently than the Tardis. I think the Tardis is more powerful overall, but has been known to be a little buggy in operation.
Besides, I can cruise around in the Gay Deceiver and visit fantasy worlds.
How else can I visit Bree and grab an Ale at the Prancing Pony and then visit Sherlock Holmes the next day and round it off with dinner at “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe”
I know it’s not a technological marvel or anything, but I submit for your consideration the Sandworms of Dune. If you’re skilled with a set of hooks, you too can ride a massive beast large enough to swallow vehicles whole.
The spaceships from Cowboy Bebop were pretty neat, I thought–especially Spike’s Swordfish II and Fey Valentine’s Red Tail. Impossibly nimble fighters with ridiculous weapon loadouts? Yes please.
Okay, so I was going to say the Veritech, but someone beat me to it. I would like to shoot clouds of spiraling death missiles too numerous for one aircraft to possibly carry.