BritHistorian (brithistorian) wrote in fireflyfans,

An alternative interpretation of the Firefly 'verse's history

Yesterday an LJ friend of mine introduced me to Bok Van Blerk's song "De la Ray," an Afrikaans rock anthem to the Boer War hero known as "The Lion of the Transvaal."  Thinking more about the Boer War led (tangentially) to thinking about Firefly, and how the Unification War was really more like that then like the American Civil War, which is usually cited as the historical inspiration for the Unification War.

  • ACW:  Two armies, roughly equal in strength and technology, from countries of roughly equal size and strength, fight a war that consists of a series of massed battles that are fought in territories belonging to both sides.
  • Boer War:  A large, well-equipped empire fighting against a smaller, less well-equipped civilian militia, in a war fought in and among the homes of the guerrillas, far from the center of power of the empire.
Based on what I know about the Firefly 'verse, the Boer War sounds like a much closer parallel.  Which means that the border worlds in which most of the action in Firefly takes place would be equivalent, not to the American "Old West," as is usually considered, but instead to South Africa in the decade (more or less) between the end of the Boer Wars and the beginning of World War I.  Consider:
  • The generally parched appearance of the landscape in Firefly.
  • The existence of slavery (mentioned in the series, even if not explicitly shown).
  • The fact that the people on the border worlds are depicted as scratching out a living in a place where they are and have been for some time rather than as expanding into new territory.
  • In Our Mrs. Reynolds, the colonists in the first scene look (if memory serves) rather like old photographs of Boers.
This interpretation makes it obvious why the planet that is the primary center of Anglo-Saxon culture in the Firefly 'verse is named "Londinium" and not "Washingtonium" or "Columbia" or some similar reference to America.

The logical consequence of this, I suppose, is that at some point after the BDM there will be a major war between the Core Planets, with the border planets being used as pawns.

Any thoughts?

ETA:  Well, apparently this theory is completely blown out of the water by an interview Joss gave a number of years ago.  I still think it's an interesting theory, though.
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