So here’s a thought:
It’s no secret that Joss never really went into the technobabble — he doesn’t bother working out how the ships fly, why inertia doesn’t kill the crew when they pull a Crazy Ivan, or write episodes about the ‘crystal of the week’.
But one of the things that people (okay, geeky people) have been trying to figure out is the ‘rules’ of the Firefly faster-than-light drive and how that relates to moving between solar systems…
But what if there aren’t any systems to move between?
In the television-only lead-in for the first-aired Train Job, the voice over by Ron Glass reads “We found a new solar system and colonized […] new Earths.”
Now, eventually, that lead-in got re-written in such a way as to imply more than one system and a ‘bigger space’, probably because Fox wanted to imply faster than light travel and make the whole thing more ‘traditional sci-fi’ (as though that would work when the ships are hired to move things like CATTLE). Faster than light travel is sexier, and Fox is nothing if not obsessed with the Sexy.
But I’ve always thought that Joss’ original idea was that we made it to another solar system and proceeded to colonize the crap out of every rock we could terraform. (I also think he specifically DIDN’T say so one way or the other, specifically so he could leave it open, because he does that.)
But… why confine it to one system? Why even entertain the idea?
Well, because enticing as it is, FTL travel isn’t really… likely.
It’s very a popular idea that a lot of people put a lot of thought into because without some way to move MUCH faster than light we have to acknowledge that we’ll probably never move out of this solar system much further than Proxima, which isn’t a really ‘promising’ system to begin with, and that’s kinda depressing. (But realistic, and Firefly is kind of realistic about a lot of things when it comes to ‘how far have we come in 500 years?’)
We want to believe it’s possible, but if it’s not… does Firefly work inside one solar system?
Well, when I looked at it last night, I said “no”, because there’s “too many planets and moons” already mentioned in the show: the wiki has at some detail on 21 celestial bodies and/or colonies — a mixed bag of some planets and lots of moons. There’s only two more ‘canon’ ones to detail, so… twenty three. In the uncut script for Our Mrs. Reynolds, Mal says to Saffron: “There’s at least eighty Earths out there, and the Meek have inherited not a one.”
That’s too many to squeeze into one system, right? Like… WAY too many?
Yeah, turns out I’m the superhero named Ignorant Man.
Looking at Earths Solar System, I realize there’s a total of sixty nine planets and/or moons in our solar system — that moves to eighty-five if you count asteroids big enough to land on.
Firefly people can terraform… that’s established… they can terraform just about anything, handle nearly any kind of inertial force even on old beat-up ships, and have proper artifical gravity…
Let’s say they find a system just a little more crowded than ours, with the technology to turn all but gas giants into something you can walk around on without a suit.
That’s a lot of planets.
Just a thought.