John Scalzi – The Alien-Powered Bike From E.T. and Other Must-have Sci-Fi-Movie Rides

In the last six weeks, I have been to ten cities, which means that I’ve spent quite a lot of time in airplanes, rental cars, shuttles, and other forms of transportation. So, naturally, I’ve been thinking about what it takes to get around in the world. And just as naturally, spending time in planes, trains, and automobiles has gotten me thinking about transportation in science-fiction films and which of the various ways of getting around in futuristic films seem the most interesting to me. And after some thought, here are some of the ways I would love to get around, if I could live in those science-fictional worlds.

1. Speeder Bike, Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
Hands down, the science-fictional conveyance I covet the most is the speeder bike from Jedi: so fast, so cool, and with lasers in front, which, to be blunt about it, would really come in handy on the freeway if someone wouldn’t let me lane split. However, this personal desire for a speeder bike is tempered by the real-world issue that I suspect I would be monumentally incompetent to drive the thing, because it’s insanely fast and I doubt my reflexes could keep up and because there are no seat belts to keep me from turning into road pie when some idiot bumps into me. I mean, heck, I won’t even drive a motorbike, because I’m sure I’d be dead in a week. On a speeder bike, I’d probably hit a tree in a under an hour. But I don’t care. I still want one. Badly.

2. Supercool Audi, I, Robot
Will
Smith has an Audi that is sleek, fast, wheels optional, and even driver optional, since in the film we see him letting the car drive itself,
while he accesses data. This is the car for me, because, let’s face it, why
would I want to have to focus on the highway when I could focus on the
information superhighway — or, more accurately, just spend all my time
writing Tweets or whatever? Yes, the supercool Audi eventually ends up
wrecked, after it’s attacked by evil robots and Will Smith takes over the
driving of the car from the computer, but I’d (a) let the car
keep driving itself and (b) welcome our new robotic overlords,
if it meant no more traffic jams.

3. The Shuttle, Star Trek Series
There’s no
way in hell you would ever get me onto a Star Trek transporter pad,
because you know what happens when something disassembles you, particle
by particle, and shoots those particles through space to reassemble
somewhere else? If you said “Oh, you totally die,” then you and I
have the same fundamental concern. So it’s the
shuttles for me, and I’m happy to say that they are generally pretty capable machines: they can go anywhere, take
anything, and do all sorts of stuff, like transport dune buggies and
let people drop out of them for high-altitude insertion missions.
They’re like the pickup trucks of space, and how can you not like that?

4. Alien-Powered Flying Bicycle, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
I admit that this one is the least practical of the
transportation methods, not least because you’d have to persuade an alien to go flying with you every single time you wanted to
go down to the store for some milk. Be that as it may,
there’s something endearingly kludgy about it, and also I suspect that
the exhilaration of flying on an object meant for riding on the ground
would overcome the worry that at any moment you’d totally fall off the
thing and then not even E.T.’s freaky glowing finger would keep you from
becoming a nasty splatter on a suburban cul-de-sac.

5. Iron Man Suit, Iron Man
I’m not big on this
particular series of films, but you know what? Sign me up for an Iron Man
suit any day. There is nothing not to like about a groovy metal uniform
that makes you a human convertible and lets you shoot exploding plasma
bolts (just for starters) from your palms. Plus, being able to hit Mach
three without being surrounded by a plane has probably got to be one of
the most bladder-voidingly spectacular life experiences one could ever
have, and I, for one, am perfectly willing to have that experience.

Actually, in my perfect world, I would ride a speeder bike while wearing
the Iron Man suit, so that way, when I crashed the thing, I
could walk out of the little crater I would have made of myself, dust myself
off, and laugh. This is, I think, a worthy life goal for anyone.

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