Sci-fi provides worlds that are just at the edge of imagination. There are planets at the farthest reaches of space and some that are closer. There are forest worlds with teddy bears like Endor, the people of Cheem are living trees, and enough blue aliens to fill a galaxy; the Twi’lek, the Andorians, and the Na’vi. Still, amazingly enough, most aliens seem to look like us except some of them have bumps on their heads. Best name for a planet (yet to be visited) Raxacoricofallapatorius.
10 Miranda – a planet far into Reaver territory it is introduced in Joss Whedon’s Serenity (2005.) The film was of course a sequel to the cancelled and much loved sci-fi series Firefly which ran from 2002 to 2003. It was once a colony world where the Alliance tested a chemical to try to remove violence from its colonists. This had a horrifying side effect. River Tam had knowledge of the system which led the crew of the Firefly class ship Serenity to the planet.
9 Archeron – a moon with a hostile atmosphere, also known as LV-426, it is where the Nostromo landed in the Ilium Range of mountains and discovered The Derelict ship that contained the Navigator and room full of eggs in Alien (1979.) Since that time, terraforming was started by colonists of Hadley’s Hope using an Atmosphere Processor. The air became breathable, but there were still dangers present. Communications were lost with the colony and Colonial Marines were sent in the military vessel called the Sulaco in Aliens (1986.) Along with them was the only survivor of the Nostromo, Ellen Ripley, and she was on board only as a consultant. They discovered that the colony was compromised by hordes of aliens and Ripley ends up confronting the Alien Queen.
8 Caprica – one of the original twelve colonies of Kobol, Mitt Romney take note, that was first seen in the premiere of the first Battlestar Galactica series (1978-1979) where an all out Cylon attack forces the evacuation of the planet’s people to the Colonial Fleet. In the new Galactica series, which first began as a mini-series (2003) the story picks up and after its conclusion, audiences get the prequel series, Caprica (2009-2010) which covers the first Cylons created by Daniel Greystone.
7 Pandora – the jungle moon is of course featured in James Cameron’s Avatar (2009.) It is the source of the precious metal Unobtainium, this is an actual, light-hearted engineering term for impossible minerals needed for some application. It has an atmosphere that is poisonous to human life. So Avatars, genetic copies of the natives, are mentally piloted by humans or AMP (Amplified Mobility Platform) suits are used to explore the world. The native Na’vi are blue, ten feet tall humanoids whose braids called tsaheylu can be used to interface with life on Pandora.
The planet is teeming with many exotic locations like the magnetically floating Hallelujah Mountains. They inhabitants ride flying Mountain Banshees or Ikrans. There is also the Tree of Souls where the Na’vi may communicate with the world spirit, Eywa. Ex-Marine Jake Sully travels to the tribal land of the Omaticaya clan called Hometree. The large trees can be four hundred ninety two feet tall. The humans have established a mining colony nearby called Hell’s Gate. There are three more Avatar films being planned and maybe more to follow.
6 Gallifrey – the homeworld of the Time Lords, the Tenth Doctor described it while on a trip to New Earth, “The sky’s a bright orange, with a citadel enclosed in a mighty glass dome, shining under the twin suns. Beyond that the mountains go on forever, slopes of deep red grass, capped with snow.” The Fourth Doctor is on Gallifrey and tries to stop the assassination of the Lord President “The Deadly Assassin” (1976). He returns to Gallifrey to stop an invasion force in “The Invasion of Time” (1978). The Fifth Doctor as well as his previous incarnations are taken out of time to Gallifrey in “The Five Doctors” (1983). They travel to the Tower of Rassilon and enter his tomb. The Sixth Doctor is put on trial for breaking the Time Lord laws in The Trial of the Time Lord series (1986.) The Tenth Doctor remembers Gallifrey in “The Sound of Drums” (2007) and Gallifrey breaks from the Time War to close on the Earth in “The End of Time” (2009-2010.)
5 Tatooine – the desert planet is central to the Star Wars universe, it is located on the Outer Rim, the planet described by Luke to C-3PO, “Well, if there’s a bright center to the universe, you’re on the planet that it’s farthest from.” Luke’s education is seen ending his sentence with a preposition. The location seen in the first Star Wars (1977) is Luke’s family moisture farm and Mos Eisley. Return of the Jedi (1983) shows Jabba’s Palace. Phantom Menace focuses on another part of the planet, Mos Espa. Attack of the Clones shows a Tusken Raider camp in the Jundland Wastes. The Sand People and Jawas are native to the planet. Tatooine is one of the stops on the Star Tours Starspeeder where you can take in a pod race.
4 Vulcan – Spock’s desert homeworld has been hinted at in the original series, but we get to actually see the planet in the second season, “Amok Time” (1967.) It has a high gravity and strong sun which gives Vulcans an inner eyelid that protects their vision. Spock is undergoing some serious Pon farr, we call it the “Seven Year Itch”, and returns to get some farr with his bride T’Pring at his family’s ancestral grounds. It has appeared in the animated series episode “Yesteryear” (1973.)
There is a return to Vulcan in Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) where Spock is ready to go totally Vulcan in the kolinahr ceremony, but decides to boldly go on more travels with the Enterprise. Spock’s mind is returned to his body on Vulcan in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. His recovery and training before returning to Starfleet is in Star Trek: IV: The Voyage Home. The planet is seen in the Enterprise episodes in 2004; “The Forge”, “Awakening”, “Kir’Shara”, and “Home.” Spock was trapped in a black hole and emerges into an alternate reality to see his homeworld destroyed by a black hole weapon in the recent J.J.Abrams’ Star Trek (2009) film.
3 Arrakis – the original desert planet better known as Dune was first written about in the novel Dune, by Frank Herbert, which was published in 1965. The novel series has continued with Frank’s son Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson. The planet is described by Princess Irulan, “The spice exists on only one planet in the entire universe. A desolate, dry planet with vast deserts. Hidden away within the rocks of these deserts are a people known as the Fremen, who have long held a prophecy that a man would come, a messiah, who would lead them to true freedom. The planet is Arrakis, also known as Dune.”
It is probably known as the homeworld of the Fremen, desert warriors, who ride the native sandworms which are seen to be 1,312 feet long. Arrakis is the planet that is the source of the spice melange key to galactic civilization. The capital of the planet is Arrakeen which the Atreides family occupied before the city was besieged by Harkonnen. Paul Atreides takes refuge in the Fremen city of Sietch Tabr where he builds the Fremen in a force to take back the universe. The planet was first realized in David Lynch’s Dune (1984). It was followed up by a television mini-series, Dune (2000) and Children of Dune (2003.)
2 Barsoom – the true name for the planet Mars, people from Barsoom call our planet Jarsoom, it showed up as a story serialized in All Story (1912) by the creator of Tarzan, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and then a novel, A Princess of Mars (1917.) This is the original sci-fi world that sets the standard for all others. Burroughs completed nine more Barsoom novels. It has finally showed up on screen in the recent John Carter film. There are two warring cities, Helium, and Zodanga. There is also Thark, the city of the Tharks, fifteen foot tall Green Martians with four arms. Helium is the home city of the Red Martians led by their princess, Dejah Thoris, who pre-dates Princess Leia’s metal bikini by seventy-one years. Former Civil War Confederate captain, John Carter, finds that the gravity on Barsoom is less than Earth and he is able to make incredible leaps, decades before Superman.
1 Earth – the Big Blue, it is called Sol 3 by galactic civilizations, you live on this planet alongside Silurians and the Sea Devils, it is the destination of choice for Time Lords and aliens. The time traveler in The Time Machine (1960) went through many of the ages of humankind to reach its end where he stays to bring back hope against the savage Morlocks. We have been attracting the interest of aliens ready to invade Washington D.C. in The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951,) to infesting Mexico in the fantastic Monsters (2010), and even learning from us in the suburbs with E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982.)
The future is looking brighter and shown from some of the earliest motion pictures like Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927). There are also dystopian looks into Earth’s future with Planet of the Apes (1968), Blade Runner (1982), and the robot controlled world of The Matrix (1999) and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991.) Below the sea at its very depths are the peaceful NTI (Non-Terrestrial Intelligence) from The Abyss (1989.) The Earth was once a place for Atlantis before it sank. This is seen in George Pal’s Atlantis, The Lost Continent (1961.) It has resurfaced in the recent Journey 2: Mysterious Island. Which also first appeared in Ray Harryhausen’s brilliant, Mysterious Island (1961.) You can even go below the surface, to the very center of the Earth which was depicted in 1959’s Journey to the Center of the Earth and even more recently with Brendan Fraser starring in 2008’s Journey to the Center of the Earth. It is a world full of wonders and they are just outside your door.