Save Yourself: The Best Sci-Fi Space Arks

By David Wharton | 9 months ago

YonadaEarthship Ark (The Starlost) / Yonada (Star Trek)
We’re lumping these two together because they’re both examples of one of the space ark’s variants: the generation ship where the inhabitants have forgotten they’re on a spaceship. In the Canadian series The Starlost, created by Harlan Ellison, the passengers are aboard an ark designed to survive the destruction of Earth, divided into a series of domed biospheres representing many different cultures and peoples. In the Star Trek episode “For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky,” the crew of the Enterprise discovers another such “generation ship” within a hollowed-out asteroid.

Advantages: So long as you’re the sort who can go along to get along and you don’t mind remaining blissfully ignorant about the truth of your world, you should be able to live out a simple, comfortable life without ever suspecting the truth. And that’s not so bad, is it? Your artificial home provides you with everything you need to survive…just don’t start asking questions.

Disadvantages: The leaders who have taken over both vessels have a lot invested in maintaining the status quo, and in both cases, the characters who begin pointing out the metaphorical cracks in their world are soon targeted for very bad things. Plus, both stories involve the ship itself being in extreme danger, so not only will you have to reject the only life you’ve ever known, you’re going to have to figure out how to pilot the damn thing before it’s too late.

Also, if you’re one of the Starlost colonists, you’ll disavowed by Ellison, who was so irritated by the direction the show was headed that he forced them to slap his Cordwainer Bird pseudonym onto it. An angry Harlan is no good for anybody.

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