It is a fact universally acknowledged by man that space ships are awesome. Space ships are emblematic of speculative fiction. Most libraries use a spaceship sticker to distinguish if a book or DVD rental is part of the science fiction collection. They are beloved by all...
Yet most people can only name a handful of space ships. The Millennium Falcon. The Enterprise. The TARDIS. These are a handful of space craft which will not be on this list, because you already know about them. The spaceships here range from the lesser-known to the downright obscure across television, film, and literature. Regardless of their origins, these bizarre spaceships have one thing in common: they are all cooler than the Millennium Falcon.
10 The World Engine - Warhammer 40K
The World Engine is a planet sized hulking monstrosity designed by the Tomb World of the Neckrons. In essence, it's an evil floating world akin to the Star Killer base. It can obliterate anything in its path, is basically charged with evil magic, and is impenetrable.
The truth is that the creators of Warhammer 40K derive joy by creating some of the most outlandish, horrific space craft conceivable. While it might not be particularly complex, this evil planet-like ship remains one of the most dread-inspiring things ever created in science fiction.
9 The Heart of Gold - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Powered by an infinite probability drive, the Heart of Gold can travel faster than an instant from one corner of reality to another. It is an absurdly capable shift that just so happens to be in the clutches of Zaphod Beeblebrox -- the fun-seeking writer of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy -- in universe, not our reality.
If it weren't in one of the most beloved comedy sci-fi books of all time, the Heart of Gold might be a little higher on this list. However, as it's pretty well known, it's hard to rank the late and great Douglas Adams's iconic spaceship any higher.
8 Event Horizon - Event Horizon
The Event Horizon is a spaceship designed to travel through folded space. In essence this isn't too unusual. Folding space is discussed even in real-world physics as a possible solution to traveling faster than light. The only problem is it's so far impossible -- and, regardless, there is no way to guarantee where you'll end up as of now.
Well, the Event Horizon took a jump, and came back...wrong. Specifically, it either went to Hell or somewhere like it. The ship is a living organism, capable of psychic attacks on its passengers. Or, perhaps, spiritual attacks. Or both. The infernal spaceship -- designed much like a gothic cathedral -- isn't insane for what it looks like, but just what it is: a demon.
7 Dahak - Empire from the Ashes by David Weber
Imagine a spaceship larger than the moon filled with 50,000 dead passengers. Imagine if that spaceship was left in the recesses of space until it became sentient. That is the origin of Dahak.
Dahak is an Imperial Space Ship who, millennia prior, confronted an evil alien menace. That menace has returned. The ship is alive -- with ancient weapons of untold power -- stronger than anything else in the crumbling remains of the empire. It's a living ship intent on restoring the glory of its empire -- oh, and it's a ship. That's an important thing to remember here. Out for revenge. It's awesome.
6 Yamato - Space Battleship Yamato
When people refer to "battleships," typically they refer to giant armored ships on the sea. When people refer to spaceships, they imagine a different craft. But the Space Battleship Yamato is just a giant sea-faring vessel transported into space.
Guided by some of the most brilliant tacticians in history, the Yamato is one of the most powerful, iconic spaceships in all of anime. The series would be your average space opera, if not for the now iconic design of the ship. Half of the opening is just a slow pan on the ship, after all. This thing is huge...and it really does feel a little anachronistic to the whole sci-fi setting. But it works. Strangely.
5 Helva - The Ship Who Sang by Anne McCaffrey
Anne McCaffrey, more well-known for the Dragon Riders of Pern series, created a world in The Ship Who Sang where humanity transmits human minds into spacecrafts. But not just any people, but the deformed and physically unable. Their very souls are transmitted into a device of technological power.
But Helva is a bit of a melancholic soul. Being a cybernetic "brainship," Helva blends entirely with her vessel, psychically integrating with it. She is a horribly deformed girl with an incredibly powerful brain, and, in essence, is the key to unlock the ship's capabilities. It's such a peculiar form of sentient ship, however, and her dehumanization as a tool is incredibly disturbing. Still, the ship is powered by the soul of a forsaken child, so that in itself is pretty cool.
4 V'Ger - Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Yes, Star Trek is mainstream, but how many of you have actually watched Star Trek: The Motion Picture?
V'Ger is, in essence, not really a spaceship. It's an entity who accumulated sentience over the span of time. Once the Voyager satellite, V'Ger became a sentient creature returning home to its world. It seeks to gain information and create new life, being a vessel not so much of people, but of hope...unless you buy into the theory that V'Ger is secretly the progenitor of the Borg.
3 Ryo-Ohki - Tenchi Muyo franchise
Anime has a lot of weird things out there. There are anime where space ships are alive, sure. There are plenty of those. But how many anime have spaceships turn into fuzzy adorable animals?
Ryo-Ohki is a sentient creature who can transform into a spaceship. But before you write this little critter off for being adorable, consider this: this little spaceship can blow up dozens of planets! There's a reason its captain, Ryoko, is a feared and wanted space pirate throughout the galaxy.
2 Rama - Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke
A cyllindrical ship floats through space. It's unknowable. Its origins are enigmatic. And yet it is here, all the same. Floating on by.
This enigmatic presence is the spark that launches Arthur C. Clarke's revered novel, Rendezvous with Rama. The massive space craft contains entire cities, machine societies, and ecosystems within its body. Yet its purpose and existence remains a mystery in the initial novel.
Many science fiction novels have toyed with this idea of an enigmatic, abandoned structure floating through space. The Halos from the Halo series. The ship from Arrival. But none really capture the sheer haunting awe of Rama.
1 Nightfighters - Xeelee Sequence by Stephen Baxter
It is almost impossible to describe what the Nightfighters even are. They are technology so advanced that they are not even made of matter humanity can comprehend -- not even in the vastly distant future.
Constructed from defects and distortions in spacetime itself, these ships are simply capable of virtually anything. Hyperspeed? Splintering stars? Whatever you desire, it can do. These ships are designed by a civilization so incredibly complex -- the Xeelee -- that they create separate ships to take them back to the dawn of the Universe to compound their collective knowledge.
What makes the Nightfighters more stunning is that they aren't even the most insane thing the Xeelee create. That would be the Ring -- a device that literally opens a hole from one reality to the next using realistic physics to do so.