5. Jon Anderson - Olias of Sunhillow
John says: Jon Anderson is the lead singer of Yes. This solo album of his made the cut over the classic Yes records of the ’70s because it hangs together better on both a lyrical and musical level. As brilliant as those Yes albums are, it was always five egos fighting for attention. On Olias of Sunhillow, Jon was able to present his musical vision in a more focused and unencumbered way.
Jay says: This is basically a trippy 1970s new wave sci-fi short story about interplanetary colonization set to music. Good, prog-rock music.
4. The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots
John says: As you may gather from the title, Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots sounds like the indie rock version of a wacky anime feature; and that’s a good thing. The album is majestic in sound and scope and envelops your brain with complex synthesizers and robotic drums and bass.
Jay says: It’s a quasi-concept alt-rock album about an anime spacefarer. So, you know, nerdy. Everybody knows “Do You Realize??” from this album. Almost nobody has heard the Grammy-winning “Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon (Utopia Planitia)”, which is a crime, because that’s both about exploring Mars and an awesome instrumental.
3. Coheed and Cambria - Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV: Volume Two
John says: You can really list any Coheed and Cambria album here, as they all tell different parts of an ongoing sci-fi tale. Musically, this band is a wonderful update of classic progressive rock, with a leaner, more metallic sound.
Jay says: Coheed and Cambria are like a post-millennial reincarnation of Rush, so that’s a good start. This album is actually just one part of the audio portion of the band’s multimedia sci-fi project, The Amory Wars, which chronicles the life and times of the messianic savior of a mystical interplanetary empire. That’s got to be worth a listen.
2. Queensryche - Operation: Mindcrime
John says: At a time when metal was all about spandex and teased hair, Queensryche released a dystopian rock opera. This metallic masterpiece features complex, interlocking riffs and the soaring, operatic vocals of Geoff Tate.
Jay says: One of the better-structured storylines for a concept album, depicting the tale of brainwashed dissident Nikki and his inescapable fate as an amnesiac political assassin. That it’s a complex prog-metal set is just icing on the cake.
1. Rush - 2112
John says: 2112 is the science-fiction rock album. From the ominous synth chords that introduce the piece to the spoken message of “Attention all planets of the Solar Federation” of The Grand Finale, it doesn’t get any more rockin’ or science fiction-in than 2112.
Jay says: Was there ever any doubt who would top this list?
Think we missed an all-time science fictional rock record, or just want to jam about the relative merits of the deep cuts on our list? We’re layin’ down tracks in the comments section.