Favorite Sci-Fi Mechanics and Makers
Where would Science Fiction be without the mechanics, engineers, builders, welders, techies and makers. Someone has to build and maintain that starship. Someone has to keep the moon base from breaking down. Someone has to design that killer robot or flying car.
In continuation of my series on favorite fictional mechanics, makers and tinkerers, (which previously included favorites from Disney and comic books), here are my personal favorite science fiction mechanics and engineers:
Chewbacca from Star Wars
It would have been very easy to say Han Solo here instead, but let’s face it, the Wookiee is the one who keeps the Millennium Falcon in shape. While Captain Solo is out flirting with Princess Leia, Chewie is up on the roof welding. He’s the one who gets barked at for not using the right size tool, but at least he was getting things done.
Han may be a great pilot, but Chewie keeps the ship together, a dynamic most mechanics know well. Han is the racecar driver, but Chewie keeps the pit crew going. Han may be the one who owns the garage, but customers want to make sure it is Chewie working on their vehicle. They couldn’t save the galaxy without him.
I’m still waiting for his medal for helping blow up the Death Star.
“Scotty” from Star Trek
Captain Montgomery “Scotty” Scott is more than just the man who “beams you up,” in the Star Trek television series and movies. As Chief Engineer on the USS Enterprise, Montgomery spent 51 years serving in Starfleet, working on and maintaining at least 11 ships such as freighters, cruisers and, of course, starships. In addition to this work developing advanced nuclear energy sources for ships (and a mining colony), he designed warp engines, and is the author of several technical manuals.
Not bad for "an old Aberdeen pub crawler."
Kaylee from Firefly
Kaywinnet Lee “Kaylee” Frye is the perfect example a homegrown country mechanic. She has no formal training, but worked on machines nearly her whole life while helping her dad. She has likely forgotten more about the workings of space engines than many others will ever learn.
She wasn’t the first mechanic on the spaceship Serenity, but when the ship’s captain Malcolm Reynolds walked in on her and his first mechanic, Bester, in a “romantic entanglement,” Bester told Reynolds she just really wanted to see the ship's engine. As it turned out, Kaylee was a much better mechanic than Bester. The grounded Serenity Bester had been trying to fix for more than a week was quickly repaired by Kaylee, in only a few minutes.
Bester got the boot, and Kaylee has been “the heart of Serenity” ever since. Kaylee is relatable to anyone who loves working on their own vehicle. Her normally happy disposition is only dampened when she is struggling with mechanical issues, and she takes it personally when someone insults the Serenity.
Roads? Where we're going we don't need roads....but we still have a cool vehicle. Image: Lisa Tate
Doc Brown from Back to the Future
Doctor Emmett Brown has referred to himself as "a student of all sciences," but he is most happy when he can roll up his sleeves and work with his hands creating everything from labor saving devices to time machines.
Brown took us into the future for a glimpse of what could, should…or shouldn’t...be. We may still not have real “hover boards” (barring a few prototype experiments), but we do have “smart” voice activated devices, elaborate hologram advertising, and that continued love of nostalgia.
However, it was his work installing of his famous “flux capacitor” in a DeLorean DMC-12 for which he is best known. Brown gave this vehicle its best publicity of the 1980s, and it is hard to see a rare glimpse of one today without thinking of the movies.
Even in the recent pop-culture filled bestseller (and later movie), Ready Player One, protagonist “Parzival” chooses Doc Brown’s machine as the basis for his own dream car. Fun fact: Ready Player One author Ernest Cline has a real life Doc Brown inspired DeLorean, just like Parzival.
Who wouldn’t want one? When that baby hits 88 miles per hour you’re going to see some serious shhhh….
Dr. Dyson Ido from Alita: Battle Angel
Ido was recently discovered by filmgoers in last year’s movie adaptation of the Manga series Alita: Battle Angel (where he was originally named Daisuke Ido), but the stories have been out for some time.
Ido is what is known as a “cyberphysician,” which means he is basically a mechanic for robotic pieces and parts. This skill requires versatility, as you need to be able to mend a broken bone or suture up a gash on a living being, as well as do some tune ups on their added robot enhancements.
He found the head of Alita, while foraging for parts in a scrap yard, and used a various robotic body parts, originally intend for his own daughter, to bring her back to life.
Sure, we can say he doesn’t work on actual vehicles, but those robotic bodies are sure useful, and with some sleek designs. We also can't overlook Ido's homemade weapons like the "rocket hammers" he uses while moonlighting as a hunter-warrior.
In a way, Ido is sort of Doctor Frankenstein in his motive to bring back his deceased daughter through his creation of “Alita." He gave her the same name as his daughter, after all. I’ll talk more about everyone’s favorite mad scientist when I finish my series next week: mechanics and tinkers in classic literature.
Science fiction stories rely on the many same people we do to keep their worlds going: the mechanics, engineers, and techies. Image: LLisa Tate