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Top 10 Fictional Submarines

Nemo from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Ah, submarines. You’d never catch me in one. Even though I apparently took some test in high school which told the military I would be perfect for the nuclear submarine corps. Can you imagine me aboard a nuclear sub? Stop crying and hugging your children–it didn’t happen. And where I am now they won’t even let me have anything sharp. So.

Anyway, it’s probably best that we look at the subject from a fictional point of view. Here’s our Top 10 list of fictional submarines. These were chosen by the Needcoffee staff for their notoriety, their influence, their coolness, and any number of arbitrary reasons we could think of.

10. The USS Sea Tiger from Operation Petticoat. Cary Grant, Tony Curtis and a pink submarine under the direction of Blake Edwards. It had to at least place. You know it and I know it. The film’s hilarious. The Tiger gets sunk before it ever sees action, but Grant, who’s got command, refuses to let it go and decides to bring it back into service. Hijinks ensue. Especially when they take on a bunch of nurses who need a ride.

Direct link for the feedreaders.
9. Thunderbird 4. I know this has a lot of nostalgic value for a lot of people, but I think David S. Zondy put it best: “Thunderbird 4 was the Aquaman of International Rescue; useful if you’re having an underwater rescue, but worth bugger all anywhere else. No wonder her pilot was the most frustrated of the Tracy brothers.” And I realize that they had very specialized vehicles to deal with specialized situations, but…I mean, come on, it even had to hitch a ride to the scene of action.

I couldn’t find a good video of the original, but this you just have to see:

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8. Blue Submarine No. 6 In a world that would make even Kevin Costner’s character from Waterworld say, “Damn, nice budget,” it’s an evil scientist’s hybrid army against the remaining forces of humanity. Humanity is represented in this anime by Blue 6, which is the Japanese entry into the Blue Fleet. The Blue Fleet basically goes to war with a number of different crazed monsters and hybrids and such. And it looks incredible. Here’s a taste:

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7. The Seaview from Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. Okay, yes, many of you are impressed with seaQuest, but Voyage was there first. Plus, they mixed and matched monsters from Lost in Space. Why? Because it was an Irwin Allen series. And that’s just how he rolled. Plus, the Flying Sub was cool as hell.

This trailer for the feature film (I’m more familiar with the series, in all honesty) is brilliant. Why? Because you were there!

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6. The Red October from The Clancyverse. Using a caterpillar drive (which was different things depending on which you were dealing with, book or film versions), this thing was silent running like nothing submersible we’d ever seen before. So it’s a good thing that Sean Connery was the captain. I mean, um, Marko Ramius. Yeah. The sub was pretty impressive on its own, but what I liked best is that it was mentioned twice more in the Ryan series–if I remember correctly, for example, Ryan brings it up to prove his legitimacy when trying to stave off nuclear war in Sum of All Fears.

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5. The Yellow Submarine from Yellow Submarine. The Beatles sang about the song and the movie took the craft in question through such wacked out environments as The Sea of Time and The Sea of Monsters. Unique among the underwater craft–as you can see in this trailer, it, being a psychedelic magical construct, can do practically anything. And it can serve as a cigarette lighter, for which Doc gave it extra points.

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4. The Proteus from Fantastic Voyage. Why? Because it shrinks down and goes cruising through the human body. Which is rather cool. The fact that it’s got a mid-60s Racquel Welch aboard is just a bonus. And the fact that Isaac Asimov was enlisted to make sense of it all after the fact? Also a nice bonus.

Just out this trailer–is this the most hyperbolic trailer you’ve seen in forever or what? If you believe the trailer, the only thing this film will not do is cure your acne and solve world hunger.

Direct link for the feedreaders.

3. The U-96 from Das Boot. The movie that put the Klaus back into claustrophobia–the accurate representation of a wartime submarine is enough to make an aquaphobe like myself lose it completely. And I’m only a borderline claustrophobe, but damn, put me in a tin can underwater? No thanks.

Direct link for the feedreaders.

2. The Leif Ericson from Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea’s The Illuminatus! Trilogy. Some people might be wondering why this sub rated this high on our list. Some people might be wondering what the hell this is. If that’s the case, go buy the book and read it. It’s literary anarchy with lots of drugs, sex and other dangerous ideas about freedom.

But that’s not why we appreciate the Ericson. It’s because it factors heavily in an attempt to stop the end of the world brought about by rock and roll raising a Nazi army from the dead and making them unstoppable. And it contains a piece of art that I desperately want to have commissioned, created and framed, hanging in the TechnoCave. It’s Moses, descending from Mount Sinai, and upon the stone tablets are writ the words: “Think for yourself, schmuck.”

Try as I might I couldn’t find a pic of the Ericson. But if you run across one, please let me know. BTW, if you need the audiobook, get them here. They’re brilliant.

1. The Nautilus from Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. As if there was any doubt. Probably the most famous fictional submarine of all. Pictured as everything from a regular sub to a fantastic sub to a freaking metal kraken. It’s number one simply from being adapted so many times in so many different ways.

Here’s one of the earliest film versions, from 1916:

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And of course, the most widely seen version is the Disney live action one. With Kirk Douglas, James Rommel the Desert Mason, and Peter Lorre. Which is near and dear to my heart because…well, check out that squid, man!

Direct link for the feedreaders.

Thanks for reading. Comments? Suggestions? Recriminations? Comment below.

1 comment

  • How about the Tuatha de Danaan from Full Metal Panic? It had active camouflage and shot giant robots in missiles.