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Honor the geometric genius of Star Trek's Borg Cube

Contributed by
Jun 10, 2018

Welcome back to SYFY WIRE's Flight Deck, where we purposely park a classic spaceship from the hallowed halls of geekdom and examine its merits and design in dry dock, before gently releasing her back into the sterling sanctity of the stars.

Within the Star Trek Universe, there are many iconic starships that are instantly identifiable, from the sleek USS Enterprise and the ominous Klingon Bird-Of-Prey, to cool Cardassian attack cruisers and radical Romulan warbirds. But few exhibit the stark sterility of the predatorial industrial square prowling the far corners of the galaxy as the Borg's precious metal box.

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Square off and dive into our dissection of the awe-inspiring Cube spaceships used by the cybernetic drone race known as The Borg, then tell us if there's a more fear-inducing craft cruising the star-lit expanses. Resistance is futile!

In service mainly during the 24th century, each colossal Borg Cube measures a whopping 3 kilometers per side and equals a total volume of 27 cubic kilometers. Assimilation Cubes carry a complement of 5,000-179,000 shuffling Borg drones inside its cavernous, sharp-edged interior.

These sinister block-shaped starships are formidable in battle and are bristling with High-Power Disruptor Beams, High-Yield Torpedos, Cutting Beams, and a ship-snaring, power-draining Tractor Beam. Defense systems include effective Ablative Hull Armor, Automated Regeneration Matrix, Internal Shield Matrix, and a High Power Structural Integrity Field.

The Borg Cubes are engineered with a fanatical attention to detail and the utmost efficiency as they roam the universe seeking out planets, races, and interstellar vessels to absorb. As the flagships of the Borg Fleet, the immense machines are capable of inflicting severe damage to any enemy armada it may encounter. Using a propulsion system still not fully understood by the Federation, they're able to achieve warp and transwarp speeds via its vast network of transwarp conduits and intergalactic hubs.

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Starfleet first came into close proximity to a behemoth Borg Cube in 2365 in System J-25, when Captain Picard's USS Enterprise-D discovered one of the strange alien dreadnoughts and a short attack ripped into the Enterprise's hull like a hot blade through butter. In the 1989 second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, this fearsome foe was encountered in the episode, "Q Who," where the stunned crew witnessed the craft's superior firepower.

In 2365, during the devastating Battle of Wolf 359 where 39 Starfleet ships were wiped out, the Borg was able to assimilate Jean-Luc Picard hours prior to the engagement to acquire his deep knowledge of Starfleet tactics and official operations. The Berlioz-loving commander was absorbed into the collective consciousness and became known as Locutus of Borg. This fan-favorite two-part TNG episode, "The Best of Both Worlds," aired as the finale of 1990's Season 3 and the premiere of Season 4.

In 1996's Star Trek: First Contact, a third Cube attempted to victimize Earth by changing the timeline in 2373, but it was vanquished by a focused attack by a superior Starfleet armada. It popped out a smaller Borg Sphere, which caused a time vortex to allow the ejected pod to travel back in time in a dangerous effort to stop humanity's first contact with an alien species.

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Cubes are also quite adept at adapting to their enemy's array of primary weapons and in many cases can be willed into repairing itself by the obedient drone crew.

The classic Borg Cube was initially conceived by writer/producer Maurice Hurley and designed by production designer Richard James. These basic beginnings were further developed based on the economical description of the cubical ship delivered in the episode's screenplay by Rick Sternbach and Richard James.

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Starlight Effects won the contract to design and built the actual filming model of the Borg Cube first seen in the TV series in 1989, then used again for "The Best of Both Worlds," and Deep Space Nine's "Emissary." The highly-detailed, three-foot, sixty-pound model was entirely scratch-built comprised of custom shapes created by Gene Rizzardi and Jim McGeachy and their team of twelve model makers.

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(Star Trek: The Next Generation VFX Supervisors Ron Moore and Dan Curry)

Its inner surface was covered with hand-drawn, acid-etched brass to create the fine industrialized outer details applied in multiple layers and then illuminated from within.

The original studio model remains under the protective ownership of CBS Consumer Products and is often brought out to display as a part of fan-centric exhibitions and anniversary tours, most recently for Star Trek World Tour and Star Trek: The Exhibition.

Where does the Borg Cube rank in the catalog of Star Trek Universe spaceships for you, and would you love to see some new variants of this blocky beauty appear in future Star Trek Hollywood movies?