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November 19 2008

The Complete and Official Map of the Verse. A stunning piece of work. Kudos to the people behind this.

According to the Firefly Ship Works Ltd website:

The Map will be available for the first time next weekend at the Creation Serenity Convention in Burbank, CA and then shortly thereafter on the QMx website.


And just for comparison, there's also an impressive unofficial map of the 'Verse as well.

Wow! fabulous detail and so very pretty. There is a blank wall of my office space that needs this because my geekiness is not obvious to everyone already. :)


If you click through to the QMx site you can find that the maps are $27 each ($35 rolled and in a poster tube) and yes I will be buying two of these so that I can frame both sides. I just can't get over how gorgeous these are. I don't get overly sappy about the 'verse much these days, but this has really touched me.

[ edited by TamaraC on 2008-11-19 00:35 ]
Holy shit! So if I want to display both sides of that cool poster, I have to buy two??? I wonder how much they will cost. Bummer...but Yay!!

I have gotten so many compliments on those 'Verse travel posters (which I had professionally framed and look really cool), how could I pass up on this beauty?

MEGA KUDOS to the maniacal genius that put this together!(And as usual, thanks for the post Simon)
This is soooo cool!!!
Well, that could make life... interesting for certain fan works out there.

But by "official", they don't mean "sanctioned by TPTB"? It is just a compilation of what exists out there to date?
The mind still boggles on how this star system came to be. But that certainly is one damned cool poster :).
They sort of take a stab at explaining that on the site with the nonsensical phrase "extended canon". ;)
They do indeed. Universal and Joss signed off on these or they couldn't have been made.

Not to say Joss might decide to whomp up a whole new world next time he returns to the 'verse, but this is as official as is possible to get.
Mayhap we'll just pretend this doesn't exist then. :) 'Cause we ain't reshooting stuff now, LOL!
Not to poke at it, but in the past we've heard people argue that Joss "signed off on" novelizations despite Joss' own remarks undercutting such direct and specific okaying. I'm assuming, since you had some involvement in the map making, you're saying that in this case it's actually legitimate to say?

(Which is not to argue against it's being stunning and well-informed/researched, because it is stunning and well-informed/researched. I've just heard "Joss signed off" before when it wasn't the case, so IMHO it's legit to double-check by asking.)

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2008-11-19 01:12 ]
I know that Universal signed off on it but I do not have direct knowledge that Joss personally looked it over and pronounced it accurate, only that he permitted it to be made.
Holy crap. That's gorgeous.
Shiny.

GVH, it is Star systems. "five star systems".

alexreager,

Check with your professionally framing people. Maybe you need acrylic framing that is flip able/turn able.

I remember seeing a glass or acrylic frame recently where the frame edges were lit internally/glowed.
Joss may not much care... he's often remarked on stuff he loves pertaining directly to the characters, but this feels a little more removed. I imagine he'd view this as fan fiction, only with a nod of approval from the Money Folks. And while Joss has often encouraged fan fiction, he's always ignored it when it comes to actually telling the tales. Plus, he specifically didn't care about the physics of how Serenity got around.

On the other hand, Terry Pratchett started out saying that he never wanted a map of his Discworld universe, then signed off on one, then used it heavily.

At least it sounds like a true labor of love.
The map increases my appreciation of the (fictional) universe. I can imagine settlers deciding which sun to settle around. If I had the slightest affinity for maps I'd definitely get this - it is gorgeous.
Amazing! I'm very curious about the distances between systems. Is that on the map?
Wow, what a gorgeous poster! Oh, I wants it!

ETA: I didn't realize it was 2 sided at first. That's kind of stupid. Why make a 2 sided poster, when you can only display one side? While it ain't cheap already, it makes this poster kinda overly spendy, if you have to buy 2. I'll have to think about it.

[ edited by Linnea1928 on 2008-11-19 16:44 ]
It is particularly lovely, and even though I'm not much of a displayer of merchandise I may have to find a place on my walls for this one.

But - and maybe I haven't been paying close enough attention - I was surprised to find that Blue Sun is, um, a sun. A sun that is blue. Weird.
Yes it's like finding out that Bad Horse was indeed a horse.
Man, that really is very lovely. Don't normally put stuff like this on my wall but it might be time for an exception to prove the rule.

GVH, it is Star systems. "five star systems".

Yeah it does say "five star systems" but it still seems a pretty unlikely setup. And it seems to be asking quite a lot of the terraforming process too (that it's managed to normalise such different types of star). Also, despite what they say about maintaining continuity, up to now we've never had reason to think Serenity was a faster than light vessel, or an interstellar one for that matter (though in fairness, AFAIK it's never been explicitly said that she's not either).

And 'official' seems to be different to 'canon', they even say they use elements from the more popular fan-fic.

Still, we knew the verse didn't really work from a physics perspective and canon or not, it's still a beautiful bit of work.
Was just listening about it on The Signal. Very Impressive.
The astrophysics make my head hurt, and all I know about astrophysics is what I learned in about three conversations with my astronomer uncle over the years. Multiple-star systems are common, but usually the stars orbit each other, and any planet in between is gonna get fried from all sides. Also, I think blue stars are generally a lot older, so having one in the mix doesn't quite seem to work, to me at least...

If it's not supposed to be a single, multiple-star system, these stars could all be close, but "close" doesn't mean a day trip. Close means more like, "Oh, it'll take us a year to get to the next star over instead of fifty."
So darn pretty. And a lot of people worked on the maps so it wasn't just QMx going "wheee lets make a map!"

So much thought and planning and research and more research. Plus designers and people who have worked on Firefly and Serenity have been part of QMx in the past. Obviously they have the license and approval to make the map or it wouldn't exist.

All this depends on your definition of canon. Which has been a long drawn out debate in almost every fandom I've been a part of - what is canon? Is canon just what comes from the creator him/or herself? (And if canon is just things that come from Joss himself, than only his scripts and his specifically written by Joss' own pen are canon ;))

Is canon only the original source material? (i.e. the TV show and the movie). Well, we know from Serenity Joss himself takes the canon into his own hands to change (or retcon). And this would make the comics he wrote uncanon.

Is canon the official merchandise? Including the Serenity novelization, the Visual Companions, the comics, the 2 year in the making maps?

I personally see canon as all of the above.... and there's a hierarchy (like most people at QMx are proposing). If Joss came out and said that Book's secret was he was never really a Shepherd - then he'd be canon. If he said that Blue Sun was actually a red planet and ironical - then Joss would be right because he is master of this universe and can call grass blue and the sky purple.

So canon war away if you wish - I think it's fairly useless to argue over something when your immediate definition is contrary to the other side.
While I've never had an issue with people for whom canon isn't enough, it seems to me that if we decide that the word can mean whatever anyone wants it to mean it ceases to be a word that has any meaning at all. Horrible way to treat language.
Canon, which originally came from the discussions concerning the Bible has been fraught with these kinds of discussions from the getgo though b!x that's why the Roman Catholic Bible and the Protestant Bible are different because both groups decided on a different canon.
That's because in that situation there's no one authority that can realistically be deferred to. With the Whedonverse there is (i.e. Joss hizzownself). That said, i'm cool with the hierarchy idea to some extent where you have 'canon', 'not-quite-canon', 'even-less-canonical' etc. on down the line but the only problem is knowing which is which (e.g. which parts of this map are from fan-fic ? Cos fan-fic is surely right at the very bottom of the hierarchy). I just don't think 'canon' should mean "anything cool that Joss hasn't explicitly contradicted" cos that's kind of a broad range.

... it ceases to be a word that has any meaning at all. Horrible way to treat language.

Only if by 'language' you don't mean 'fish', otherwise battered and fried is how I prefer it.
I'm not saying canonize fanfic Saje, I have no claims to any sort of canon with Buffy Between the Lines for example. But something that's officially licensed (such as the comics, the novelization, the ship reference papers, etc) should be given a nod as the extended canon.
I will never for the life of me understand why people need to label things canon or not. I can't believe it matters, at all. Like what you like, believe what you want. It's all make-believe, people.
I like to know what the artist intends his work to be, what encompasses his vision and what doesn't. Seems a valid thing to want a consistent determination on.
We have an interview with Andy Gore from QMx about the map on the latest episode of The Signal.

You can find it here...

http://signal.serenityfirefly.com/shownotes.php?e=4210
I get that people have a need or desire to know that, b!x. I'm not saying it is invalid just unnecessary. I don't understand it. I take the stuff Joss wrote or exec produced as what he wrote or exec produced. Everything else I shuffle in my mind where I feel like it. I just don't need the compartmentalizing and labeling.
How much I consider the effects of events on future works and the fictional universe as a whole depends on whether it's actually a part of that universe or not. Canon works are, non-canon works aren't. I can enjoy both equally as stories but there's no point wondering about the wider implications of a character moment or an event if, in fact, they have no wider implications (because they exist in their own self-contained bubble).

And obviously it's all make believe but we spend hours (and hours. And hours ;) on here speculating about this act or that character development - with non-canonical works that's utterly pointless. Is it pointless anyway ? Maybe, but for me it's fun, not everyone feels that way and that's obviously fine, far be it from me to brow-beat them for having that perspective.
Excellent find, Simon! Thank you for sharing. Really outstanding work. Curious, are any of these works available for purchase? I would love to display several pieces.
Curious, are any of these works available for purchase?

Erm. What does the post you're commenting on say? ;)
The Map will be available for the first time next weekend at the Creation Serenity Convention in Burbank, CA and then shortly thereafter on the QMx website.

The concept of smaller suns orbiting a main sun, or of smaller solar systems being captured by a larger one, is not that far out. It could happen. It could be. Maybe.

Arthur C. Clarke's 2010 or 2100 book even created a situation in which our own Jupiter collapsed and ignited, forming a smaller sun in orbit around our sun. This second, smaller sun provided a nice twilight effect at night from then on. (No more pitch-black nights on Earth any more). So if was good enough for that most "science" minded of all science fiction writers, it must be thought possible.

I love the way that the blue sun's satellites are at an off-kilter orbit compared to the rest. Fitting!
Yeah, think that was '2010'. Sure, multiple star systems are possible though a lot of arrangements are unstable (binary systems are fairly common, quintuple systems not so much). Course, this isn't a multiple star system, it's apparently multiple star systems (five according to the blurb) that are very close together. And the stars are all different ages, yet the light looks pretty much the same whether you're on a core world or the outer rim ? Uh huh, 'K.

(and what's weirder is that all the other satellites aren't off-kilter, so many suns and planets being in the same plane has to be really unlikely)

Still, as I say, who cares ? Are 'Serenity' or 'Firefly' diminished by it ? Not one jot IMO.
Question. Is onetrueb!x the same person as The One True B!X?

Answer truthfully, we'll know the difference right quick.
I wonder if the stars - being close enough together to form one actual 'multiple star system' - could ever form a stable system. It seems to me that those planets would at the very least have highly irregular orbits with large mass stars that close together, being tugged this way and that depending on which large mass star is closest, even if the orbits somehow prove stable. I don't know of any system that resembles this even passingly, but then again I'm not a walking encyclopedia on astrophysical data, so who knows. I'd have to input it into a program that simulates orbital mechanics to see if it's even remotely possible.

I strayed away from these types of calculations in my astrophysics degree (I did my research project designing an optical system for use in telescopes, which is something completely different :)), but I'm going to ask some of my friends who're still working at my old university if they could do a quick and dirty calculation on this. I'm certain there's at least one or two whedonites who'd give it a go if it's not too time consuming (which I'm not sure it is :)). I might also be too lazy to pursue it, though ;).

As for systems featuring more than one star, willbueche, that not only could happen, it does happen. There's bunches of known binary star systems. It's even possible to have planets around a binary star system, but the relatively stable planets which could harbor life are much more rare (even though binary systems sometimes generate more planets than a single star system). Increase this binary system to a system with multiple stars and it might become impossible, though, as I said, I'm not sure without looking into it more closely. My intuition says it's highly improbable, though.

Ah, I see Saje replied as well, while I was typing the above. And yeah, it's multiple star systems close together. But like Saje says, even that seems highly improbable. Stars are closer together near the center of a galaxy, but so close to be considered almost one system and to be workable to get around in without the use of faster than light travel? Very improbable (if not outright impossible) again.

But, having said all this, it doesn't actually matter if The 'Verse is mathematically and physically possible. As long as it's real and alive in our collective imagination, that's more than enough.
We create posters of the impossible. And that makes us mighty ;).

(OK, we buy posters of the impossible ... Or the pretty unlikely at least ;)
Heh, Saje. That should totally be their slogan ;).
With all this talk about canon and multiple star systems I think I can chip in. While in the series and movie the star system is not extremely well explained (i.e. we don't really know how it looks), I can't think of any indications it was a multiple star system/multiple star systems. I vaguely remember some interview with Joss in which he says he wanted to have one star system to avoid travel faster than light (my memory is so hazy though he might have said the exact opposite). In any case, in my version of the Verse there is only one sun in one system; these maps clearly contradict that, so, while very shiny, they are complete nonsense (for me).

I looked up the word canon in the OED, but this wonderful dictionary does not seem to have picked up the new meaning of the word as relating to fictional universes. I'd think canon would be those works which a certain group of people all agree as being true (in this fictional world). In particular it depends on the group of people referred to. Discussions on what canon includes hence say more about what group someone identifies him/herself with than about what is true (as none of it is true anyway). While there is definitely a need for canon, if you don't agree on what is true there is nothing to discuss, defining what it is to me more often boils down to territorial markings than anything else (not to imply anyone here was engaged in that activity). I'm thinking about (often implicit) reasonings like "The buffy comics are canon, so if you haven't read them, you don't know what's true, so you can't discuss with us, you're not part of our group (the "real" fans)". It is therefore no wonder that canon discussions often become nasty.

There is one other aspect to canon which I have so far not touched upon. When establishing a canon people often try to ensure it is not self-contradictory. In particular if Joss says something is canon I take that to mean "it is canon for the group which constitutes of only me, and in particular I will not write anything which contradicts this (until I change my mind of course)". If you want to understand the new works by Joss (or someone else) it is therefore good to know what he thinks is canon. Indeed it seems the entire discussion about canon here came about because of people wondering what Joss thought was canon. As this can change any minute though and there is no reliable way of discovering what Joss thinks (apart from continuously harassing him), Joss' canon is kind of slippery to use by people other than Joss.

PS I think this is a very elaborate way to give meaning to a word which can mean anything anyone wants it to mean.
PPS My ideas about the meaning of canon should not be considered canon.

ETA Does anyone know how this compares to the inventory of planets which was shown in the visual companion to Firefly? My copies are stored halfway across the world (literally) so I can not compare myself.

[ edited by Celebithil on 2008-11-20 03:41 ]
In a case such as this, the OED is pretty much irrelevant, and like it or not you have to turn more to discussions such as those presented on Wikipedia.
willbueche | November 19, 23:00 CET
"Arthur C. Clarke's 2010 "..."I love the way that the blue sun's satellites are at an off-kilter orbit compared to the rest. Fitting! "

Hmmm, why assume that all the suns are natural occuring? And that all the suns are actually suns. Maybe they just look like suns from the outside.

Gravity drives. Fusion. Big ball of hydrogen etc. First experiment. Darn, it turned out blue. It is okay, we will just turn the logo from Yellow Sun to Blue Sun and act like we were always trying for a blue sun.
Hehehe, that just tickles me. They could also have lit up a couple of gas giants, they're nothing more than failed suns anyway. Give them purpose again! ;)
Yep (to everything). Even if these are extra suns, they are in orbit around the white sun just as if they were planets. This is one system, albeit with some really interesting contents. If it were multiple star systems they wouldn't be in orbit around the white sun, and, they'd be so far apart that they wouldn't fit on the map. This does not contradict Joss' declaration that it is one system. It is. The distances are not "interstellar" in any conventional sense of the word. They're interplanetary distances (as we know them).
Well, apart from where QMX explicitly state on their website:
It documents the names, positions, sizes, populations and other never-before-published details of the 215 terraformed planets and moons orbiting the five star systems that comprise The Verse of Joss Whedon’s Firefly and Serenity.
(my emphasis)

(and yeah, that's 215 planets and moons apparently within the same star system by one reckoning or 5 stars in stable orbits but within interplanetary distance by another)

Still, let's just define the map to be canon but the text on their website (and anything else that contradicts our point of view) to be non-canon. Problem solved ;).

Basically, it doesn't work. We can fan-wank around it and make the odd thing up to make it fit as much as we like (they can create frikkin' suns but they can't provide food and abundant energy to the poor ?) but ultimately it just seems more sensible to accept that the science of the verse is flawed while simultaneously accepting that that doesn't affect the amazing stories Joss told in that verse one whit.

Authors that pay a lot of attention to the science make mistakes like this (some Phd worked out that the Ringworld was unstable for instance and Larry Niven tried to fix it in the sequels) so an author for whom the science is self-confessedly less important will surely make more (El Purpino has said repeatedly that it's more about the characters and their emotional journey in his work and it's all the better for it IMO).

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