Friday, 9 May 2008


I had to give a presentation about my dissertation at Cliff College on Wednesday. Preparing for that gave me a chance to check out how I would introduce the key story lines and characters from 'Firefly'/'Serenity' to those who've never even heard of it. Here are is the sort of thing that I said (or wanted to say) - eventually this will form the basis of chapter 1 ...

Devised by Joss Whedon, 'Firefly' is set 500 years in the future when the earth has become uninhabitable and other planets have been terraformed (representing our fears for the effects of climate change and our hopes for the continuation of human life).

The series records the journey made by the nine characters who live on a ‘Firefly’ model of spaceship called ‘Serenity’. Life on the planets they visit (in what is known as the 'verse) resembles that in the 'wild west', complete with saloons, hard manual labour and gun fights.

The show's unique features include an interesting combination of the genres of sci-fi and western, and the fact that it is a sci-fi without alien life forms (though some humans have mutated into creatures known as 'reavers').

'Firefly' was cut after just one series. When it came out on DVD it developed a cult following - the support and campaigning of the fans (known as 'Browncoats') led to the production of the film 'Serenity'.

As the show ended prematurely there were a number of loose ends and unanswered questions about the plot. Joss Whedon has produced a comic book to fill part of the gap and fans have sought to provide their own answers to some questions by writing 'fanfics' or working through a role play game.

The characters are pictured here - front row: Zoe (first mate), Mal (captain) and Kaylee (mechanic); Back row: Shepherd Book (preacher), River (sister of Simon), Wash (pilot, husband of Zoe), Jayne (member of the crew), Simon (doctor) and Inara (companion/'legal' prostitute).

To some extent they are a mixture of fugitives, mercenaries and losers who will take any job which pays enough to give them something to eat and sufficient fuel to keep flying. Although they will undertake criminal activities they do exhibit a conscience - SPOILER - for instance, they take on a job which involves the theft of medicine but when they meet some of the ill people who need that medicine they return the stolen goods.

I'll use the next few posts to introduce the characters in more detail and say what interests me about their experiences and personalities.

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