Core Curriculum

As Firefly/Serenity fans will recall, sometimes it sounded as though the show was all taking place within a single solar system, while at other times there was loose talk about “the galaxy.” Yet the number of colonised planets always seemed too high for a merely solar-system-spanning Alliance – and of course absurdly too low for a galaxy-spanning Alliance.

the 'verse Well, we now have an official map of the Firefly/Serenity ’verse (conical hat tip to AICN) that answers the puzzle once and for all. (Be sure to click on all three pics, as well as reading the text toward the bottom of the page.) It looks like there are five inhabited systems in the ’verse – and the “Core” is neither the center of the solar system nor the galactic core, but a “core” system around which the other four systems orbit. (Is that scientifically possible? Don’t ask me, I’m not Mister Science Guy.)

7 Responses to Core Curriculum

  1. Robert Hutchinson November 23, 2008 at 7:54 pm #

    With the caveat that I have no idea what I’m talking about, I get the distinct impression that gravity is laughing at that map.

  2. Gabriel November 23, 2008 at 8:15 pm #

    As a postlude to the debates about breaking windows, here’s why we should get rid of restaurants:

  3. william November 24, 2008 at 9:41 am #

    *Wonders at the sheer randomness of the above comment, but is mildly gratified to have made it to an era where can get linked on a CATO contributor’s blog and black men can be elected to the office of chief slaveowner.*

    I’ve long been a harsh partisan of a massive single solar system (because FTL gives me hives), but yeah, there were permutations of a cluster / close systems model floating around back in the graphic design development for Serenity. The fellow who designed the currency slapped some stuff up on his web portfolio very similar to the above before it was taken down. As to the new map, I can at least squint at it and retain suspension of disbelief, but I’m still bothered by this weird consensus that because a corporation is named “Blue Sun” there for some reason must be a blue star in proximity and further, it in turn must be named something as ridiculously and unbelievably blase as “Blue Sun.” If Joss didn’t personally stitch it together in elaborate consultation with an elite team of stellar physicists I reserve the right to not accept its canonicity.

  4. wombatron November 24, 2008 at 8:27 pm #

    The 4 systems orbiting a central system is scientifically implausible. The closest thing to that is a pair of close binaries orbiting each other, but even then there is only 2 systems, and stable planetary orbits are few and far between. Even 3 non-binary stars in a stable system seems to be unlikely; in the best previous example of that, Alpha Centauri, it is suspected that the 3rd star, Proxima, is in fact hyperbolic to the other 2. It would be possible for stars to be really close (as in about a light year apart) in a open cluster, but then all of the stars are young and hot, and thus unlikely to harbor conditions conducive to life (although with terraforming…). Globular clusters would have stars packed even closer together, but then they would all be very old and metal poor.

    Take this with a grain of salt, I’m just an SF fan that appreciates well thought-out science. 🙂

  5. John Petrie November 25, 2008 at 4:23 pm #

    In the opening scene of the movie Serenity, when young(er) River is in elementary school class, the teacher is telling the story of how Earth That Was could no longer sustain their numbers, so they left and found (paraphrasing) “a new solar system, with dozens of planets and hundreds of moons.” And, several times a crew member or passenger aboard Serenity refers to “the system,” not that there can’t be more than one “system” and they’re just referring to the one they’re currently in…

    Anyway, I don’t think there are any solar systems that could be so close that non-FTL and non-wormhole-mediated travel between them is practical, as in, days-long trips. That map seems to be pretty stupid. A science-fiction show doesn’t have to be perfectly realistic or believable, but one of the main points of Firefly was to be the most realistic portrayal of the future of humanity that has been on TV. It would be infinitely more believable if they just said there was a gigantic solar system that they happened to find.

  6. John Q. Galt November 25, 2008 at 7:38 pm #


    Firefly/Serenity was just one long dream sequence.

  7. Nathan Shepperd November 29, 2008 at 5:25 pm #

    I have been quite a fan of backstory details, but in a way with Firefly I preferred to take it as it was. Ultimately it only needs to be plausible enough, and often there are loose frameworks that hold a story together. Firefly depends on its characters and storytelling for substance, and a map of the ‘verse doesn’t necessarily help to make it more convincing.

    It’s certainly not on the level of Tolkein’s obsessive world building. Perhaps I’m just getting older and my level of geekery is wearing off…

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