Firefly: Another Dystopian Love Story

As I work my way through the tenth revision of the forthcoming full-length novel, Much Ado About Corona: A Dystopian Love Story

…I’ve been recalling another “dystopian love story” I saw about fourteen years ago.

One Christmas, my brother Mark gifted me the 2002 TV series Firefly (on DVD). All fourteen episodes! Not that all fourteen episodes were ever broadcast. Firefly was cancelled after the eleventh episode, according to Screenrant, because people were off watching or doing something else whenever it was airing.

Of course, it didn’t help that FOX TV censored the two-hour premier. Instead, they began with episode two and then continued to air the rest out of order. To further ensure the show had no chance, FOX scheduled it for Friday nights (considered the “death slot” by the network).

Despite FOX TV’s neglect, Firefly survived. As Beth Elderkin writes in Gizmodo

It became so popular, in fact, that Universal Studios green-lighted this cancelled TV show for a $39-million movie, called Serenity.

Call me a conspiracy theorist (you wouldn’t be the first) but you only have to look at the premise for Firefly to understand why major networks would want to suppress its content; and why it would develop such a devoted following.

Typically assigned the sub-genre of a “space western,” Firefly captures the fierce independent feeling of the wild west days, even though it plays out 500 years in the future. And instead of the American frontier, it’s set in a far-flung star system.

As it happens, in the year 2517, the only two remaining superpowers are the United States and China, now fused into a highly centralized government known as the Alliance. Everybody speaks English; but curses in Mandarin.

Such a future is hinted at in the The Chinese Communist Party’s Global Lockdown Fraud letter which suggests “the possibility that the entire ‘science’ of COVID-19 lockdowns has been a fraud of unprecedented proportion, deliberately promulgated by the Chinese Communist Party and its collaborators to impoverish the nations who implemented it.”

Of course, America and China would never merge. That’s pure speculative fiction. Never in even 500 years….

Anyway… like any historical communist regime, the futuristic Alliance engenders a clearly delineated society: The wealthy live on fertile inner planets and moons, equipped with advanced technology in stark contrast to the outer, drought-ridden, half-terraformed worlds, where pioneers eek out a living using eighteenth-century plows, horses and buggies.

Such a scenario, many are predicting, could be our future, wherein millions, through lockdowns, are driven into subsistence living; or where the unvaccinated are cut off from supply chains and forced into Amish-like communities.

Between these two extremes, the show focuses on the eclectic and nomadic nine-member crew of a small “Firefly-class” spacecraft, called Serenity. These renegades sustain themselves largely by “stealing from the rich and selling to the poor,” as they cater to a black market (operating largely on the outer, rugged worlds).

Such piracy reminds me of the emerging underground world of “non-essential” businesses operating under the radar of lockdown restrictions (you know, the secret pilate classes, hair-stylists making house calls and Bible groups meeting in basements).

In the bonus disc to the Serenity film, producer Joss Whedon predicts: “Nothing will change in the future: technology will advance, but we will still have the same political, moral, and ethical problems as today.” 

The overarching totalitarianism of the fictional Alliance demonstrates how too much government easily leads to anarchy. For example, those on the fringe of the star system rely on their own conscience to act as judge of what is right and wrong.

Such do-it-yourself ethics is reflected in the Serenity crew. Not only is it made up of good-hearted thieves, but also the odd mix of a celibate Christian monk and a not-so-celibate prostitute. And, no, they don’t get together…

In fact, they’re considered the “respectable” members of the crew; along with a fugitive physician named Dr. Tam. No, not that Dr. Tam

The young doctor, in particular, exemplifies the type of moral dilemmas that might arise under such a technocratic government. Simon had had a promising career ahead of him within the upper class worlds of the Alliance. But his conscience got the better of him after he discovered the government was conducting experiments on the body and mind of his younger sister…

Not that our governments today — perpetuating health measures prescribed by the Chinese Communist Party — would ever do something so diabolical as experiment on youngsters…

Fortunately, Dr. Simon Tam’s love for his sister is stronger than his fear of big government. Fraternal care is beautifully depicted in the fourteen episodes (and final movie) as Simon Tam rescues his tortured sister, and abandons his privileged lifestyle, so they can live as hunted criminals, on a pirate ship, on the fringe of the solar system…

As I see it, at its heart, Firefly, like my novel Much Ado About Corona, is a dystopian love story. Both are about sacrificing one’s security in an oppressive society to save a loved one. Indeed, for many, one’s own freedom and well-being is not enough to motivate them to oppose tyranny. As Firefly’s Captain Reynold puts it…

In my novel, the protagonist, Vince McKnight, opens with these words in the prologue:

It was that summer of 2020 (when it seemed I had slipped into a parallel dimension) that I met her. The lion who would roar at the coming darkness and pull my trembling limbs out from under my shell. She would drag this turtle charging forward into the corona madness that had taken hostage of the masses’ souls, minds and hearts. 

But not my heart. 

That I had given to her. Unwillingly. Reluctantly. 

She who would deny me the solace of conformity and the novocaine of compliance. She who would have me face all the uncertainties of life and the certainty of death.

In the end, I believe freedom is an expression of love. For the opposite of love is fear. And fear of death is driving the masses to call upon lawmakers to restrict our freedom. Many, not afraid of the virus, are often still fearful of abuse from their government and neighbours.

But when we see government abusing and threatening those we love — through lockdown-induced poverty and depression — then our hearts conquer our mind’s short-sighted trepidations. For love gives us courage to “face all the uncertainties of life and the certainty of death.”

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