How to Pilot a Starship

Bistromath, Hitchhiking and Classic Rock
Eighties power ballad, engage!
Eighties power ballad, engage!
Image courtesy

Think you have the psychically charged brain and versatile anatomy to pilot any starship that comes your way? Well, think again, because still other crafts get a bit eccentric with their user interface.

For instance, how ready do you think you are to pilot the starship Bistromath from Douglas Adams' "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"? The ship's bridge resembles a stereotypical Italian restaurant, complete with checkered tablecloth, robotic customers and robotic waiters.

The bistro décor is hardly for show, because the Bistromath's power and propulsion systems depend entirely on the social and mathematical interactions of group dining. You know the confusion that ensues when several people attempt to split the tab? That chaos serves as a sort of quantum state, in which "reality and unreality collide" and "anything is possible" [source: Adams]. In order to pilot the vessel, the captain sits at the table and orders different menu items to alter the ship's trajectory.

Some starships seem devoid of functional piloting or navigation systems at all -- such as the vampire mothership in "Lifeforce," which hitches a ride to Earth embedded in the head of Halley's Comet or the Space Hulks of "Warhammer 40K" that drift about randomly.

Meanwhile, classic rock legends Boston presumably pilot their iconic colony spaceship via the group's majestic power ballads. If you find yourself at the helm of such a starship, try playing a few riffs from "More Than a Feeling" to accelerate toward the speed of light, switching to B-sides to reduce speed.

As always, be aware that the presence of Bootsy Collins probably means you're aboard the P-Funk Mothership, the Apollo-esque UFO of Parliament Funkadelic. In this case, the ship's power and navigation depend almost entirely on that elusive quality known as "the funk." Also, possibly cocaine.

So best of luck flying your used starship through the inky-black void. And if all else fails, make Wesley Crusher do it.