A while ago I was just trying to come up with a bunch of Science Fiction planets for some reason, and to my surprise, I could only come up with a handful of that were inherently interesting because of the structure of the planet itself. Perhaps not coincidentally, most of them are from Larry Niven:
We Made It (it's axis is on the plane of it's orbit, which causes terrible months-long storms), Plateau (A Venus-like world with a thousand-mile-wide, hundred-mile-tall mountain sticking up that intersects a narrow habitable strata in the atmosphere), Jinx (A heavy-gravity planet that's shaped like a football owing to tidal stresses), Silvereyes (A water world with some large vegetative rafts around the equator), by other writers, Lem's "Solaris" is an entirely-ocean world where the gooey, gelatinous ocean turns out to be one huge life form; Asimov had "Trantor," entirely covered by one huge city.
In cartoons, the only world I can think of that's interesting is Gamillon from Star Blazers.
In movies - really, Star Wars does better than most other films, and they're only playing with elemental concepts - Hoth (ice); Tattoine (Desert/Fire); Bespin (Air); Endor (Forest); Deggobah (Jungle); Coruscant (City) Most of these are deliberate or accidental rip-ofs of identical concepts from SF books. Tattoine is an obvious ripoff of Arakis/Dune; Coruscant is an obvious ripoff of Trantor; Hoth and Endor are somewhat-less-obvious (And possibly merely coincidental) variations on Ursula K. LeGuinn’s worlds Gethen and Althshea, respectively.
If you look at TV, the planets are almost always wholly uninteresting - earthlike worlds without end. Nothing remarkable about them at all. In the 60s-through-the 80s, it was just endless Planet Southern California-type worlds, and nowadays it’s just endless variations of “Planet Cascadia.”
This is probably one of those things I should have noticed decades ago, but despite SF's obsession with space travel and "Strange New Worlds," in fact the worlds aren't usually strange at all, and the obsession is more with the trip than the destination. Seems to me a huge opportunity is being missed here.
As I say, this depressing reality in the world of unreality struck me a while back, but with prayer and medication I’ve come to live with it. Just the same, I was writing an article for the really really super-great Larry Niven Org site on the subject, so this whole subject has become an open wound for me again. So if you’re reading this, can you think of any interesting worlds from SF?
I’d like people to post their top five favorite Science Fiction Planets that I haven’t already listed above in the comments. It doesn’t matter if they’re from TV, Movies, Books, Cartoons, or Comics, I don’t care, and they don’t even have to be listed in any particular order. What I would like, however, is a list of the names of (A) 5 planets you find interesting, (B) their source (Are they from a book? Which one? A movie? Which one? Etc.), and (C) what you think is so interesting about them.
Whoever lists the most interesting planet(s) wins some half-assed prize from me, I don’t know what it is yet.
Terms: Ringworld is not a planet, neither is a Dyson Sphere, or the Death Star. Also, we're talking *planets,* not ecosystems. There's lots of exotic animals and plants in SF, but that's not what we're looking at here.