What sci-fi webcomic would be complete without a dig at that stalwart of alien invasions, the flying saucer. The flying saucer became an icon of cheesy sci-fi through a host of 50s B-movies such as The Day the EarthStood Still, Plan 9 From Outer Space and, of course, Earth vs. the Flying Saucers until it was well and truly ingrained into our culture. Even British Rail got in on the act!
One thing that doesn’t get considered very often is why intergalactic UFOs need to be saucer shaped at all. In the depths of space there’s no need for them to be streamlined as there’s no atmosphere to cause drag. But we’re so used to seeing the movements of planes, birds and even boats that nobody questions why Battlestar Galactica’s Vipers bank and roll as though aerodynamic forces are acting on them. It’s one of the subtle things that makes a Babylon 5 dogfight so much fun, as a Star Fury turns on a sixpence, unconstrained by unnecessary aviationary convention.
It’s also one of the things that made The Borg seem so completely alien when they were first introduced in Star Trek: The Next Generation. In reality having a cube-shaped interstellar spaceship makes perfect sense – or at least it makes no less sense than any other shape. There’s really no need for an interstellar craft to be streamlined – be it rocket-shaped or saucery. If there’s no need for aerodynamics, just what did lead to those alien hordes settling on the flying saucer as a design classic?
G1: I'm not sure I like it. It looks like a flying cup. Nobody's going to buy that.
Scene 2: A closer view of the blueprints reveals that it does, indeed, look like a flying cup.
G1: Are you sure there's no obvious design we're missing? Something a bit more streamlined.
Scene 3: A view from outside the spaceship, revealing that their ship is in fact in the shape of a teapot.
G2: Streamlined? Since when did that become a requirement?