This post was inspired by a thread in the AbsoluteWriters forum. It really hit home with me, since I've had my own experience. It went something like this:
Where do I begin? How do I begin?
Over the last year I've had three fans, four counting my publisher,
compare my book, Planet Janitor Custodian of the Stars, to the Firefly
concept/world. The last fan asked me if I'd ripped off Firefly to create
my now planned series. I told him I didn't even know what Firefly was,
having never seen the TV shows. Strange, I know, for a die-hard SF
writer to not keep up to date on such matters is beyond reason. But
honest to gawd, crucify me on the Tree of Woe if I'm not telling the
truth. I'd only had time to watch most of the New Generation Star Trek
stuff, and not much else since my time was strictly dedicated to
punching keyboard plastic and getting pixels on the screen for new
books. And I had no cable TV from 2001 to 2005.
I broke down last night and watched two episodes: Heart of Gold and
Objects in Space. Then I saw a 10-year reunion interview with the cast,
and later the full Serenity feature movie. I had no idea that Josh
Whedon was directly tied to the franchise in a producer capacity.
I was totally blown away--haunted, disturbed, endeared and very
shocked in a happy way to have discovered this phenom. It seemed like my
book had been brought to film, but not in its full scope with all the
details. But the similarities were so striking, I wondered who in the
hell had been channeling who for an idea like this. Then I discovered
that the series began in 2002 and my story was written in 2006. I was
late to the game--Whedon beat me to it! But the story lines and settings
were far enough apart to distinguish both of these titles as separate
concepts. I was deeply humbled and honored when I saw what the writers,
director and producer tried to accomplish with this series. Then I
discovered that it was canceled in 2003! But Why?
I can't even begin to list all of the similar concepts, ideas and hardware that crossover between PJ and Firefly. I'll try.
My ship, Shenandoah, is a broken down used Russian Ore freighter
that is described as an insect: a "big fat beetle." She runs on hydrogen
drive within close solar system jumps. Her name, Shenandoah, means
Daughter of the Stars. Captain Zaz Crowe adores this old girl and keeps
working on her to improve the systems and interior. This ship is always
on the move.
Serenity, a Firefly class ship that is described as looking like a
Firefly (insect). This ship also looks like a used freighter. It appears
to run on hydrogen fuel (non-FTL), just from my observations. Serenity
stands for comfort, peace, calm, etc,. Serenity's captain also loves his
ship. This ship is always on the move.
The interior of both ships looks like an oil refinery had coitus
with an executive suite--both are rather grungy, worn, and dark, but
very lived in. Both ships are equipped with small shuttles--mine are
called "zip shuttles." I also have metal staircases and similar bunking
arrangements. My ship is about 1,000 feet long--don't know the
dimensions of Serenity, but it looks close to that. The fuselage of
Shenandoah and Serenity could pass for near duplicates. Mine has no
airfoils or tail structure.
My crew of Eight
Zaz Crowe--Captain--40 years old and handsome.
Dendy Dollar--Botanist/nurse, 20 years old, black hair and petite
Galoot--Mechanical engineer/security officer. Eight feel tall, 500 pounds
Carl Stromboli--Demolition expert--excitable and brash
Samantha King--Nav officer and pilot--extremely intelligent and buxom.
You all know the crew of Firefly; I believe there's nine living on
board. My crew also calls the ship their home. Firefly's crew will work
for hire, just about any job that comes along. But something always
seems to go wrong with a simple mission, often transpiring the plot into
a fight for their lives. And this sometimes requires mercenary action.
Most of the mission assignments are very strange.
My crew is also for hire and will tackle any job assignment, but
they're primarily space junkers, picking up all kinds of flotsam like
broken sats, discarded fuel stage tanks, abandoned ships, and frequently
hunt for asteroid minerals. They are environmentalists, primarily. But
something always goes wrong with a simple PJ mission, forcing them into a
mercenary status. Both crews used old or new percussion pistols/rifles.
PJ has very strange, out-of-the box mission assignments.
Both crews are devastatingly loyal to each other, willing to
sacrifice their lives at a moment's notice to save another. The main
theme focuses on a loving family unit, cooperation and coordination.
Falling in love with the characters comes before falling in love with
the adventures of space. None of them are above pulling some illegal
stunts for gain, but both captains really have Boy Scout personas and
prefer to do things the right and moral way. PJ has three romantic
relationships going on at once, and I think Firefly has an equal number
of attractions and passionate underpinnings cooking just underneath the
surface. Secrets abound with both crews.
BTW, the official PJ website and the FireFlyfans.net character logos
are almost identical. I mean the cartoonish type renderings of the
crew. As soon as the domain is reinstated,
I'll list it. It's a shocker. Looks like the same artist was used.
I could go on and on, but this isn't really about me. I would like
to give tribute to Firefly in some way--pay my respects. Because,
obviously, it's near and dear to my soul in kind of a double whammy way.
I'm writing the sequel to PJ right now. So I'll construct a complete
acknowledgment and dedication page for Firefly. Hell, I can always say I
was inspired by FF, and even do some subliminal tagging in the sequel.
After my marathon night with all things Firefly and Serenity, I
admit to being a little misty eyed when it was all over. A profound
sadness came over me that's hard to describe. Especially when I saw the
emotion on the cast's faces as they talked about their brief run, the
joys, pitfalls and accomplishments. It's like I'd just met an intriguing
friend and they were whisked away from me before I could get better
acquainted. Why do I now yearn for 2002? So, in a very intimate and
private way, I understand the loss of this potential franchise.
Anyway, it just goes to show you that there's nothing new under the sun.
Thanks for reading. I'll red-shift now and get back to work.