25 of the best fictional planets to visit

KRYPTON (Photo by: SYFY)
KRYPTON (Photo by: SYFY) /
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fictional planets
(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images) /

11. Darwin IV

Many of us may have first become familiar with Darwin IV thanks to Alien Planet, a “docufiction” event that aired on the Discovery Channel in 2005. In the 94-minute runtime of the program, an interstellar craft named the Von Braun leaves Earth and arrives at Darwin IV in a scant 42 years. Once there, the Von Braun releases an orbiter and two probes, named Leonardo da Vinci and Isaac Newton. Leo and Ike motor around Darwin IV, encountering strange new life forms and a possibly intelligent alien species.

Alien Planet is based on Expedition, a 1990 book by artist and author Wayne Douglas Barlowe. In Barlowe’s narrative, 24th century Earth is so toxic that huge numbers of species have been wiped out. Those that remain are grossly mutated, with the exception of humans. Thankfully, Earth is making a recovery, thanks to help from the kind and much more advanced Yma alien race.

It’s thanks to a Yma probe that humans even know about Darwin IV in the first place. They send an expedition there to further study the life on this planet.

What waits on Darwin IV

The delightful thing about Expedition and Darwin IV is just how alien the alien lifeforms really are. In many works of science fiction, the “aliens” are obviously actors with some prosthetic foreheads and painted skin. But on Darwin IV, the creatures are unlike anything we’ve seen on Earth, even with the horribly mutated cows.

The inhabitants of Darwin IV do not bother with eyes or jaws, instead preferring to make their way around using different senses, such as echolocation. These animals include the evocatively-named Daggerwrists, Arrowtongues, Gyrosprinters, and the mind-bogglingly massive Emperor Sea Striders. There’s even an “amoebic sea,” a vast superorganism not unlike a huge, symbiotic bacterial colony. Only, we on Earth don’t have a fungal mat that covers five percent of the planet’s surface.

Sound intriguing? You’ll be even more interested in the Eosapiens, floating jellyfish-like beings that have already begun the complex art of tool use. More than almost any other planet discussed here, Darwin IV is a biologist’s paradise.