This is the first verse of the theme song from Joss Whedon's science fiction series Firefly (2002). It was broadcast on the Fox network in America but cancelled after nine episodes and not re-commissioned for a second series. It was picked up by satellite broadcasters Sky for British audiences and has recently been repeated in the UK on the Sci-Fi channel. Only fourteen episodes of the television series exist, with the follow-up film Serenity released in 2004 by Universal Pictures, which tied up and explained some of the narrative threads. Firefly came and went, a relatively low-budget series that now enjoys a vast following and receives critical and cultural recognition across the world.
The tone of the opening theme song, written by Whedon himself, sets the scene. Firefly follows in the footsteps of Star Trek and Star Wars; the 'western in space' form which it stays with faithfully throughout the existing episodes. There is an American folk quality to the song composed by Whedon, evoking ideas of dispossession and loss with a nostalgic and poignant urge for exploration, liberty and a pioneering spirit. Whatever happens to the characters they will journey on - for whatever adventures the ''verse' (as the universe/galaxy is colloquially known) will throw at them.
Leman in her chapter 'W...
Leman in her chapter 'Wise Scientists and Female Androids: Class and Gender in Science Fiction' states: 'In television today the full dramatic potential of science fiction is rarely explored.'1 She comments that it is usually delivered as something for pre-adolescents, as a means of marketing toys and other merchandising. It can and should, she affirms, be more widely exploited for allegoric and political purposes. The distancing it provides, literally in time and space, can function very effectively in the following ways:
Science fiction as a genre in literature, film and television offers the possibility of moving beyond the dominant narrative constraints of realism and naturalism in exploring political ideas, visions of an alternative reality and domains of fantasy.2
Leman proposes that the notion of 'realism' (and 'naturalism') as a form in narrative is a contested term for science fiction. Whedon's series embraces these possibilities; it uses the genre of science fiction in a mature way - it is innovative and different. Perhaps that is why it was cancelled Whedon departed from conventional science fiction series via his modes and motifs in theme and genre, including: the depiction of gender and sexuality (especially female), the depiction of archetypes and the series' position on the question of social and class identity. In doing so his work fits the key definitions of 'cult' status and creates a convincing, plausible alternative 'future' world of 'the 'verse' via its images and references, thus contributing to the 'pleasure' quotient for audiences.
Whedon is best known as the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003), and he spoke to audiences with that in precisely the manner they desired from a