Help me find a nice, Sci-Fi typeface
April 16, 2012 10:30 AM   Subscribe

Help me find a nice, Sci-Fi typeface that doesn't feel too modern or too old fashioned

I've been working for a while now on putting together a new website focusing on Sci-Fi.

The design itself is pretty much sorted, but what I'm missing is a nice typeface for logo text.

Ideally I'm after something that evokes the Terran Trade Authority ethos of Sci-Fi - that hint of wonder and nostalgia that good Sci-Fi (both visual and textual) still invokes today. Indeed the logo text itself will be overlaid on top of Sci-Fi landscape art both on the site header and in advertising material.

Anyone got any suggestions for good typefaces that might match this style? Most of the typefaces I'm finding are either a bit too "roboty" or very 1930s, and I suspect we want something a bit more subtle.
posted by garius to Computers & Internet (19 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Can you be more specific about what "subtle" and "roboty" mean to you? The things that come to my mind are OCR-A, E-13B, and Westminster--but I don't know if those are too over-the-top.
posted by AkzidenzGrotesk at 10:35 AM on April 16, 2012

It might be not sci-fi enough for you but I think Gotham in its various weights could work nicely. Its lighter weights are very readable and modern but its thicker weights (particularly italicized) get somewhat retro futuristic.
posted by bitdamaged at 10:39 AM on April 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Hmm that link went strange this one seems better
posted by bitdamaged at 10:41 AM on April 16, 2012

I've always been a fan of Mark Simon's Changeling Neo, which is about $29 per weight.

If that's a little too "roboty" for you, how about House Industries Simian is pretty's directly inspired by the original face design for the 1968 Planet of the Apes movie, which is a pretty solid sci-fi pedigree IMHO. Sadly you have to buy all 7 fonts at $160.

Comicraft is a great comic-book fonts website, and they have some good bundle deals and lots of sci-fi stuff. They have a whole section dedicated to sci-fi, high tech and futuristic fonts.

Finally, using the futuristic tag on might yield some interesting choices.
posted by Doleful Creature at 10:41 AM on April 16, 2012

How 'bout Lunarmod or HeliosPro.
posted by cocoagirl at 10:45 AM on April 16, 2012

I like bitdamaged's suggestion of Gotham. The Ultra weight in particular, especially if outlined, wouldn't look out of place on a Keith Laumer paperback from 1977.

Also, a lot of the TTA covers on that page have a "retro sf" look that's as much due to goofy design choices as to face choice--larger initials/terminals hanging down, symmetric "A" variants for Avant Garde, etc.
posted by AkzidenzGrotesk at 10:46 AM on April 16, 2012

Gotham is a wonderful 'face but precisely because of its wonderfulness it is used a lot these days. Not necessarily a bad thing, just something to consider.

Looking more at those Terran Trade Authority covers now I think 1970s tag on MyFonts is even more interesting to your needs. Here are some gems I found after just 30 seconds of scrolling:


Personally I think Modesto has a lot of potential, especially in the heavier weights.
posted by Doleful Creature at 10:54 AM on April 16, 2012

Not sure how well it fits your needs, but I've been having a lot of fun lately with Space Font.
posted by General Malaise at 11:03 AM on April 16, 2012

Here's an example I whipped up just from the MyFonts page using Modesto. I think a sci-fi logotype using this would be killer. Interestingly, gadget review site The Verge seems to have a similar ethos behind their logotype.

Ok I'll shut up now.
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:14 AM on April 16, 2012

Response by poster: I think bitdamaged and AkzidenzGrotesk might be heading in the right direction - I actually want something that feels Gothamesque and has that "book cover font" feel.

Having used Gotham on a few projects this year already though, I should probably go for something different!
posted by garius at 12:18 PM on April 16, 2012

posted by Tom-B at 1:25 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

This Enter Sansman has a similar aesthetic to the books you linked, but maybe it's a bit too ST:TNG? Or Excelsior Sans?
posted by maryr at 5:14 PM on April 16, 2012

Oooh, or Falcons. (Unless that font is from the Atlanta football team and I just don't recognize it.)
posted by maryr at 5:23 PM on April 16, 2012

How about Orbitron?
posted by thebestsophist at 7:39 PM on April 16, 2012

I can say from memory that Shatter and Eurostile were way overused back in the day. They might evoke something, but I'm not sure it's right for your project.

I would definitely stay far away from anything that deliberately apes a particular sci-fi brand such as the various Star Trek-inspired faces. (Too bad, as Crillee is by itself not a bad choice.) In general, these aren't good for general use. I'm impressed, watching them on Netflix, how well the Star Trek TOS main title typeface works for the whole sequence, but then they use a different standard gothic typeface in the end credits for good reason. Whereas the typeface chosen for Farscape is awful in the credits because it was never designed properly as a whole and the C and S are underweight. Or consider the Wrath-of-Khan typeface that people obtusely use with the "alternate" S and K that were custom-designed for the line ends.

Anyway, point being a more staid general-use font with an appropriate flavor is probably a better choice.
posted by dhartung at 12:14 AM on April 17, 2012

Maybe one of Erik Spiekermann's fonts would be appropriate? (I'm particularly thinking of FF Meta and FF Unit.) Considering how old some the fonts we use now are, it seems reasonable that his recent works might still have utility in the era you're trying to invoke.
posted by qbject at 7:38 AM on April 17, 2012

Bank Gothic?
posted by Tom-B at 9:05 AM on April 17, 2012

DF Korolev is a nice subtely sci-fi font.
posted by Artw at 11:12 AM on April 17, 2012

Actually Ryan Hughes has some nice fonts in general, many SF-ish with varying degrees of subtlety.
posted by Artw at 11:13 AM on April 17, 2012

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