A few months ago I sent out a call out on my facebook page for suggestions on planets for an A-Z Guide to Sci-Fi planets. Thanks to everyone who contributed suggestions – an awesome cross-section from movies, books and games – well played, all! Like the Death Star, the list is full operational – and now ready to roll out right here. Thanks to my friend Russell Emmerson for his writing contribution.
Let’s kick it off with… hmmm… umm… the letter A…
Nothing makes a planet name sound more alieny than a double vowel – that’s sci-fi 101. More so when the planet is eased out of existence by a mega weapon called a Death Star – grrr. Just pray your windscreen wipers are fully functional if you jump out of warp drive in the debris field – there’s nothing harder to get off the windshield than corpse!
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
Not only will the Betelgeuse girls knock you off your feet, it’s the home planet of Galactic twin-headed President Zaphod Beeblebrox and his semi-cousin Ford Prefect. Pack your towels, not to cushion the blow from the Betelgeuse girls but for the travel. We were trying to work a shellac joke in here (because, ya know, it’s bettle juice) but it got too hard.
Any planet with the word ‘Tron’ in it is a winner. Those light bikes, the sexy latex suits. And Megan Fox. Sorry, what was the question again?
Technically not a planet, but hear us out. Despite the name, it’s not a star and it’s no moon and it’s probably bigger than Pluto (Fight the power, Pluto) so it’s in. A brilliant piece of engineering with obvious catastrophic flaw built in for future good-guy triumph. Surely someone should’ve spotted this and sent a low-ranking storm trooper out to hammer down some chicken wire or a trampoline or SOMETHING! Also gets included for being the source of a White House petition.
Supposed home planet of the human race. It has been exploded, attacked, threatened, enslaved, planet-napped, saved then exploded and attacked some more. One would think this small blue dot has some galactic significance but the only noteworthy discovery to-date is a severe outbreak of humanoids.
Kings of the World
Meeting place for the brightest and best in the civilised galaxy. Somehow four teenage Earthlings get a gig, we’re not sure how but we do know they’re punching significantly above their weight. They do get style bonus points for taking ‘galactic relations’ to Bill Clinton levels. Oh, and they brought democracy to its knees and started a galactic war… kids these days.
Man-made world where the body of Captain Spock was sent. Some would say this land of confusion had an invisible touch (did you see what we did there… twice?)(seriously, because Genesis – the planet, and Genesis – the band, oh, c’mon people!)… where were we? That’s right, Spock was reborn on this world with reverse Benjamin Button syndrome.
That’s all. Whoo-hoo… thrice!!!
In this unofficial spin-off from My Three Sons, legendary anti-hero Riddick is stuck on this world with… erm… three suns (in your face, Tatooine). Great if you want a tan, not so good when the lights go out. So bad, in fact, you could say it’s like a bat out of hades.
Endymion, Dan Simmons
A jungle world in which the messiah, Aenea, teaches. Aenea is travelling backwards in time to save humanity from the Shrike, part-machine, part-organic monster that captures pilgrims and spikes them on electricity-spewing trees that torture them for an eternity, with spikes in all orifices. Also available in children’s editions.
The big fish in the solar system pond has had its fair share of sci-fi love. Not only do they go there in 2001: A Space Oddysey (the movie not the book) but Sean Connery (Outland) worked there and Red Dwarf’s Arnold J Rimmer studied there. They spent most of their time on the moons, however, as Jupiter’s atmosphere is poisonous enough that putting drops of Jupiter in her hair might lead to a law suit… or a restraining order at the very least.
If you thought double vowels were alieny sounding, well try triple consonants on for size – uber-alieny! It was Chewbacca’s home planet for those lucky souls not familiar with the Star Wars Holiday Special – pronounced Cash Chic (Think Kim Kardashian – but opposite).
If you’re ever exploring a new and exciting planet in a far-flung corner of the galaxy – make sure the name doesn’t start with the prefix LV. Any fan of the Alien series will tell you the stomach bugs you pick up are a killer – best advice – GTFO ASAP. Game over, man, game over.
A planet where the sun showers the surface in deadly extonic radiation doesn’t seem like the place you’d choose to go on holiday but it’s probably good for getting over broken relationships (extonic, ex-tonic… do we have to spell it out?). But the crew from new Dr Who do like to renew there. Why? Not sure, maybe they consider two weeks of extreme radiation and 50 weeks of English sunshine the equivalent of what the rest of the world gets as a yearly average.
The world that makes any Star Wars fan over 20 choke on their original 1978 Star Wars Shreddies. Naboo was the home to humanoids and Jar Jar Binks – cool in the books but in the film he had a presence that made Pauly Shore look like Woody Harrelson.
Omicron Persei 8
Home world of the Omicromian, a very dangerous warlike race in the 30th century. Given they’re 1000 light-years from Earth and are constantly bombarded with Earth’s 20th century televisual entertainment it’s not hard to understand why.
A so-called “treasure planet” from the ’09 RPG-shooter Borderlands. Most noted for a menagerie of wildlife that could rip the head of a human with little effort. Shares its name from a moon in the little-known ‘09 indie flick, Avatar, a place where the wildlife could rip the head off a human with little effort.
Most unusual entry on the list as the planet Qagaar only existed briefly in the imagination of one A.J. Rimmer as he mistook a Red Dwarf garbage pod for an alien capsule. Needless to say he was disappointed when the perfectly preserved remains of a Qagaarean warrior turned out to be a rather past it’s used by date roast chicken. Also, see Alderaan for double-vowel alieniness (that’s a word!).
The Last Starfighter
Home to the Rylan. When Starfighter Command has been destroyed by Xur what better way to recruit new top guns than to plonk a few video games on Earth and see who clocks it first? We believe this is a hidden agenda behind all video games – how else do you explain us putting 7,689 hours gameplay into Playboy: The Mansion?
Gears of War
A once-glorious civilized world devastated by the battle between the human COGs and the locust horde in the Gears of War games series. Chief locust eliminator, Fenix, and his friends are so ripped they make The Rock look like Rocky Horror, yep, it’s a planet with more testosterone than a tour de france toilet break… just sayin’.
Perhaps not the most well known entrant on the list, but Tweenis does rhyme with a humorous body part and is pink… and then there’s the 12. So, ya know, nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more. For the record Tweenis was blown
It’s difficult to put your finger on why almost the entire Uranus area has been left unexplored throughout sci-fi history. It’s a beautiful planet, occupying very good solar system real estate – quite frankly the entire debacle leaves a very nasty taste in the mouth. Ahhh, Uranus jokes.
Dr Spock, Mr Spock… actually, you know what… just say Spock otherwise the Star Trek fans will have conniptions, start frothing at the mouth and swearing at you in Klingon… petaQ! Qovpatlh! IqnaH Qad! Anyways, that guy was born there. The Vulcans lived peaceful lives on Vulcan (imagine if we used the same naming convention and called ourselves Earths!) until a few humans had the idea of remaking the movie series and wiping the planet and most of its people out of existence. Why, Hollywood, wwwhhhyyyyyyyyyy?
Hyperion, Dan Simmons
A gas giant, created by life forms living in the thermals between gas layers, as you do. We don’t think they would have been safe from the Shrike, a monster that was only stopped from shredding every single conscious creature by being trapped in time eddies that were slowly weakening. Seriously, scary as anything.
World of Warcraft
Another way to make a planet sound instantly alieny is to start its name with an exotic letter – X is ideal. The folks who developed World of Warcraft knew this and their legions of fans will have to summon a Dreadsteed in a quest for warlock’s epic mount to open a portal…
WoW fans know what this means, they’ve been acknowledged, they’re happy, no one else understands – let’s move on.
Y fits the bill for a perfect alien planet name starting letter, but sadly the Y-ness numbers are down across all sci-fi. We can only suspect Uranus syndrome. For example, even the Mass Effect universe, which consists of hundreds of worlds, could only manage two: Yamm and Yunthori, and both of those aren’t good for much more than mining. Conversely, the *P-ness (19) and *A-ness (24) numbers in Mass Effect were substantially higher. Shame, science fiction, shame.
*For best results to say this out loud and set maturity levels to zero.
What’s Zeist, you say? Remember that awesome low budget immortals film, Highlander? Ya know, with Sean Connery trying to cut his acting chops with Christopher Lambert? Do you remember the sequel? Zeist was Connor McLeod’s home world and, well, just watch the first one again and pretend it never happened. TMI: AKA Midichloian syndrome.