The Story’s the Thing: Joss Whedon’s Firefly

We all know and love the power of story, and there’s nothing better than finding new ones to lose yourself in. Check back on the blog every Wednesday for an eclectic smattering of the blogger’s favorite stories of all kinds. We hope you’ll discover new worlds, friends, and adventures–and maybe get re-acquainted with some old ones! Tell us what you think, and leave your own story suggestions in the comments.

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This Sunday’s Weird Question Weekly has had me thinking about Joss Whedon’s Firefly, and realizing how much more I wanted to say than in that short paragraph! As I said in the Question blog, I first discovered the world of Firefly through the sequel movie, Serenity, because my uncle was one of the voice actors who voiced the Reavers, monsters that were once men. Captain Malcolm Reynolds describes them, saying, “Reavers ain’t men. Or they forgot how to be. Come to just nothin’. They got out to the edge of the galaxy, to that place of nothin’, and that’s what they became.” (Bushwacked)

The series is based in a “world” (I use the term loosely) where Earth could no longer sustain the size of the constantly-growing population, and so they sent off ships to discover another galaxy to populate. The ‘Verse, as it’s commonly called, is made up of hundreds of planets and thousands of moons that have been terraformed to be as close to Earth-That-Was as possible. Once settlers were dumped on these planets with crops, cattle and so on, they were left to fend for themselves by the government, called the Alliance.

That sounds like the Alliance. Unite all the planets under one rule so that everybody can be interfered with or ignored equally. (Mal, The Train Job)

The story of Firefly takes place on the ship Serenity, with a rather large and motley crew. Captain Mal Reynolds and second mate Zoë Warren fought as Independents in the war against the Alliance. Zoë is married to the quirky pilot, Wash, who wears Hawaiian shirts and plays with dinosaur toys. Kaywinnit Lee Frye (Kaylee) is the ship’s bubbly mechanic and Jayne, the merc who fights for money, women and his own hide. Inara Serra is a Companion who rents one of Serenity’s shuttles and has an unspoken attraction with Mal. Shepherd Book shares his “religiousity with the fuzzy wuzzies” while hiding a dark, mysterious past, and Simon and River Tam are sibling refugees running from the Alliance. (Whew! Got them all. haha)

Photo courtesy ScreenInvasion.com


The thing that I love so much about the world Joss created in Firefly is that it is a combination of Western and Sci-fi. The cultures of Earth-That-Was have intertwined so that everyone, even street beggars, speaks both English and Mandarin fluently. Companions (trained and credentialed prostitutes who answer to and are protected by their own Guild) are highly honored and respectable, much like the Geisha of Japan. There are no aliens whatsoever, unless you count the aforementioned Reavers.

I love this world that Joss Whedon created, and wish that we could have had more. The man is a genius.

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