I know I’m late to the party.

But did you know there was an utterly charming world in which a renegade spaceship captain and his crew imagesof (Mandarin-speaking?) misfits dash around space under the auspices of being criminals with hearts of gold? Oh yeah, and the far-flung planets and moons are stylized as wild west frontiers complete with cattle drives, bar fights, and gunslingers. With a steampunk aesthetic. And badass, quirky warrior women and mechanics who sail the high (very, very high, like 65 miles high) seas, robbing trains, attending western-themed space balls, and intervening with attempted witch burnings. Oh, and disrupting the Alliance–the term for the corrupt, superpower government that generally behaves the way you’d expect a corrupt, superpower government to behave … you don’t really have to use your imagination to fill in the blanks here, what with gulags, detention centers, human experimentation, genocide … but back to fiction! Glorious, escapist fiction!

How did I miss this? How is it possible that Firefly, which ran from 2002 to 2003, remained below my radar (yup, that was totally a spaceship pun) for more than a decade? Also, why is there only 14 episodes? I know it’s probably difficult for you to get as worked up as I am about this obvious indication that humanity is collectively both stupid and doomed–because you were righteously indignant about it 10 years ago when the show was cancelled–but how? Why? Why did we allow Fox to continue existing after making such a blatantly short-sighted and anti-nerd decision? Why did no one storm the boardroom with tricked-out steampunk weapons and take over programming? How did I suffer 10 years of Firefly-less Halloween costumes? It might be my own fault. My editor, Ryan Miller, did, after all, loan me the series over a year ago. And it was only after catching up with Parks and Recreation and realizing the final season of 30 Rock still isn’t available on Netflix that I turned to Firefly. I was blind. I was a fool. But at least I was the only person to suffer as a consequence of my foolishness. Unlike Fox. How many have suffered because of their stupidity?

According to my editor, I’m not yet Whedoned. I’ve seen just a fraction of what he’s produced, though it’s just a matter of time (days?) until I finish the short-lived Firefly, have a meltdown, and start watching Buffy, much to my boyfriend’s delight.

How any of this rabid, fangirlish rant pertains to my ongoing discussion about writing and publishing is a fair (though slightly militant) question. The answer is obvious: Whedon is a pioneer of creating worlds, melding (seemingly unlikely) influences and aesthetics to construct something distinctly his own yet highly accessible to an audience. Just as I can read Gaiman’s utter delight in playing with words–the fact that he is absolutely playing, and deliriously happy about it–you can feel Whedon’s joy in Firefly. You know, in your bones, that the person making it was having an absolute blast, and not in that insincere “hey, it’s Friday, so let’s all wear Hawaiian shirts and goof off” brand of workplace joy. It was thrilling, and a risk, and he did it. He got away with it, if only for 14 episodes. And 10 years later there are still people “discovering” what he made and falling in love with the strangeness of it all. Any artist, any writer, should count herself lucky to create even one world as effective as the one Whedon made for Firefly, and he’s made several more since. So if I am late to the party, well, luckily everyone’s still here, even if they’re muttering about where have I been for the last 10 years. And maybe Whedon’s party will afford inspiration for my own. Or maybe I’ll just enjoy having some strange new frontier folk wandering around my head entertaining me with their daring and humor.

 

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Comments

  1. “Also, why is there only 14 episodes?” — yeah, it was canceled. There is a film but it wasn’t as good. But, it’s still worth watching if you’re a fan — although it’s a tad bit more traditional action…..http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0379786/

    • Thanks for the heads up! I’ve heard mixed reviews on Serenity, but I still have a very few episodes left of Firefly. I may very well start Buffy after that. It comes fairly highly recommended.

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