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Author Topic: "Firefly" how much does it influence Steampunk?  (Read 1134 times)
andrew craven
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« on: April 10, 2011, 12:07:14 pm »

 I have just watched the full series of 'Firefly' on DVD for the first time that I thought was awesomesauce. I had a gander on the old Wikipedia to look at some aparant facts about its production and reception etc. Its such a shame that it was stopped so soon and like many others I would love to see another series made as I love the down to earthiness of the characters and plots. Especially the costume design.

 I had a thought about those costumes with the time the series was made and the fact that not once the word steampunk was mentioned to describe the costuming. I was wondering how much the fan base of Firefly and its costuming element had an influence on steampunk as a subculture?
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Dr Fidelius
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« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2011, 01:42:51 pm »

As with any point source, the influence of Firefly on individuals in Steampunk ranges from none to absolute.  My personal observation is that there is a strong overlap in fan base, but that this show is just one of many influences.

But, as I have said before, I am almost criminally ignorant of the fashion or costuming elements of our subculture.  There may be a strong Firefly element in many Weird Westerners, but I do not recognize it (except for the specific cosplayers of course).

Edited to add, after a little thought: What do you mean by "influence?"  I see the costume design of Firefly to be cowboys with rayguns, with some army surplus and Asian flavours.  There seems to be a high correlation between being a Steampunk and enjoying the show, but I tend to feel that is a result of our (our being Steampunks in this case) being a very intelligent and literate group who can appreciate clever writing and subtle characterization in a show.  I do not see any significant copying of the costuming among Steampunks.
(I have been castigated by true-believing Browncoats for saying that an early cancellation might have been the best thing for the show, since it never had a chance to jump the shark, introduce Cousin Oliver, or have River's brain stolen.)
« Last Edit: April 10, 2011, 03:31:46 pm by Dr Fidelius » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2011, 02:14:31 pm »

Not so much influence but rather equivalence.  Similar things to like in both as well as in other works.
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Mina
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« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2011, 04:10:49 pm »

Considering how long steampunk has been aroung (since the 80's, more or less) and the fact that Firefly didn't come around til 2001, I'd say that steampunk has had more of an influence on Firefly than vice versa Smiley

Of course, I could be wrong.
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« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2011, 04:26:49 pm »

Not so much influence but rather equivalence.  Similar things to like in both as well as in other works.

I'd go with this, I like Steampunk, but not because I like Firefly and I like Firefly, but not because I like Steampunk.  Firefly really doesn't have any influence over my steampunk existence, other than as an occasional topic of conversation.
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« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2011, 04:27:29 pm »

I would suggest that "Firefly" influences many (but not all) Steampunks (the people), myself included, rather than steampunk (the genre)*.

As has already been suggested, they share a kinship. My own theory of the steampunk spectrum would put it at the very fringes to just outside the border of steampunk (analogous to the point where the color orange officially becomes, say, the color yellow).



*One could argue, however, that if "Firefly" influences enough steampunk enthusiasts it will influence the steampunk genre by extension.
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« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2011, 05:10:52 pm »

that all depends on your idea of Steampunk imo, i watched Firefly and loved it, a few years later i then found out about Steampunk and loved it, it really didnt click that Firefly was/is steampunk, but there are elements of the series i may very well use.
could you get a Mal Reynolds costume and call yourself steampunk? no because you are acting/dressing as a character from Firefly, could you replicate Mals guns and call them Steampunk? yes to a degree, i personally think there is a fine line between taking influence and ideas from something, to actually outright copying an idea.
im not really sure where im going with this, but im thinking that steampunk is a generalisation of the culture, Firefly, Steamboy, Doctor Who, Hellboy etc, can be called steampunk, but as Mina said, do these take influence from steampunk or do we take influence from them? considering the age of steampunk Jules Verne, H.G. Wells and the likes, im guessing steampunk has been the influence.

GG
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andrew craven
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« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2011, 09:03:15 pm »

Jules Verne and HG Wells' literature was that sensational genre of the science romance that was inbedded in Gothic lit. Steampunk as an independant form of literature simply adapts these science romancers. You could say in the same way as Firefly adapting Star Trek in modern science fiction shows.

 There is a fine line between the science romance and steampunk lit. Both are coming from different backgrounds and different thought processes. Could it be mentioned of the film 'Wild West West' when that was intentionally cocking up history with a sci fi angle for the cinema as Firefly was taking that western aesthetic in the other direction of time? Bit like Treasure planet!

 I am attempting to locate a chronology of how steampunk transpired as a 'subculture' challenging the norms of fashion and technology? Exploring how this Western Space Opera series has influence in or inspiration from or vice verser!?

 Gosh my eyes have traversed the entire world  Huh
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« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2011, 09:41:52 pm »

For something a bit more methodical why not search through the threads here and see how many are talking about Firefly directly or citing it as inspiration (not just mentioning it) then compare it to other similar threads to see the level of influence it has within this particular online community?
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andrew craven
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« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2011, 11:52:06 pm »

I fear that I will be endlessly searching in a vast expanse of information on this forum. I thought it would be easier to bring it to with a new topic. Call me lazy bones, but I am not a good Virtual explorer!
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TimeTinker
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« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2011, 12:28:18 am »

I suggested it because such an exercise gives more of an overview rather than anecdotal evidence which is far from conclusive.  I quickly searched for "Firefly" then "Wild Wild West", "Jules Verne", " H G Wells" and even "Dr Who".  The results led me in the first instance to conclude that whilst a fair number of steampunks are aware of the series it seems that it does not constitute a major influence with the others having much more impact for example.

Of course this is a snapshot analysis but it is over a relatively broad sample.  Threads are by their nature self selecting so simply posting and asking is unlikely to get anything like a useful response unfortunately.

You then have the problem of trying to extricate the influence of steampunk and its antecedents and root influences on Firefly from the influence of Firefly on steampunk.  I would wager that it is more the former than the latter.

I have never watched an episode.  I have seen stills and liked some of the imagery.  I know of one or two people running RPGs based on the series so there is an obvious influence there but since I am not familiar with the series I can't really comment on how influential it is generally since I cannot actually know what is an influence and what is not.  That is why I feel more of an empirical study is required if you are seriously looking for answers rather than mere opinions.

Good luck in locating a chronology.  Whilst there are one or two out there on steampunk literature it would be great to see one on steampunk as a subculture.  You may just have to write one after your researches.
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andrew craven
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« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2011, 01:06:39 am »

Quote
Good luck in locating a chronology.  Whilst there are one or two out there on steampunk literature it would be great to see one on steampunk as a subculture.  You may just have to write one after your researches.

 Thank you kindly. I never really thought about writing any sort of conclusion or summary of a chronology behind steampunk. I thought it would be good to actually hear from people's opinions that come from personal experience or what they saw around the time Firefly came about. I am always looking where people came from, what influenced them to delve and explore this aesthetic steampunk. Open new meaning to the subculture. More out of sheer curiosity. I understand its not necessarily a straight line as its more of a four dimensional sponge with time and the world around it.

 Thanks again for the quick research you made. I am wondering if I am overlooking a feature on Brass Goggles, assuming there is a search engine within the forum? I was under the impression that there was only one way to search.

 Cheers!
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andrew craven
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« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2011, 01:17:02 am »

Hahahhhh...I have discovered the search engine...gosh...aint I a garf! Imagine me driving a locomotive...I would have smashed straight through the station runners before I had found the break..dearo dear...I may have to play with that! Thank you ever so much  Grin
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TimeTinker
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« Reply #13 on: April 11, 2011, 01:29:10 am »

There are the advanced search features if you click on search on the small menu bar at the top (between help and profile).  You still have to read through the results though.

One major problem with attempts to chronicle steampunk is how you define it since your definition sets the parameters of your chronology.

If you are talking steampunk after Jeter coined the term (which frankly is ridiculous since even his use of the term is an acceptance that the genre and style predates his letter) then that would automatically exclude the likes of Wells and Verne etc plus the original Wild Wild West, Disney etc etc.

These earlier influences will have had an effect on Jeter et al in their work.  Steampunk did not spring new and fully formed from the godhead after all.

Frankly it is impossible to deny the part played by the 19th and early twentieth century scientific romances be it written, plays or film.  These must be included in any chronology and everything that follows on thereafter.  Whilst someone might say they were drawn to steampunk because they "saw some steampunks at a music festival and it looked fun" that response will have in part been the result of watching "Disney's 20,000 Leagues under the sea" many years before creating a kind of visual literacy that made the "new" steampunks interesting and intriguing.

It is different if we start to consider fashions in steampunk.  There are people who like to be formally victorian and others who lean towards the punk aesthetic.  there are ofcourse some who sit astride both.  It may be possible to show that a particular TV series etc started a fashion for a particular style of goggles for example.  To validate this theory though you would need to have pictorial references of a cross section of steampunks from before the particular show was aired and afterwards and be able to note a shift in tastes.

If you can find someone who says "I watched Firely and loved it the learned that some people call this steampunk so started to explore and now here I am" then you can put Firefly down as an influence.  Unfortunately the numbers who would cite this as a source would probably be so few as to be almost statistically irelevant.

Perhaps a poll might be useful:

1. Did you watch Firefly before you got into steampunk
2. Did you watch Firefly after becoming interested because folks said it is steampunk
3. Have you based any of your creative works around Firefly
4. Do you feel Firefly has directly influenced your take on steampunk
5. Would you cite Firefly as one of your main steampunk influences
6. Have you never watched Firefly and don't therefore consider it an influence.

Whilst only rough sociological methodology if you could get around 100 people to respond, preferably a good cross section of the members, then you might have the basis of a theory.

Big job to tackle this one.
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andrew craven
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« Reply #14 on: April 11, 2011, 11:05:07 am »

Aye it would be a biggen deffinately

 I was thinking about those who came from a cosplay background/perspective. Wondering if there was a certain Fanbase who did the cons in costumes based on the characters of Firefly and in so doing found steampunk. Or actually knew about steampunk before and picked up on the easy look of Firefly's costuming and so on and so forth.
 It would be good to hear from those people who began to realise how they can push the confines of costuming into the more open creative DIY punk (steampunk) method/mentality, shifting costume to their everyday wardrobe? Firefly I thought would be a good basis for this sort of discussion due to the characters on this show and when it was made.

 Looking at chronology with that in mind, I havent seen much for steampunk in the 90's. Only what was going on in media and literature such as Wild Wild West. I am wondering if it was fermenting in this period through sci fi cosplay conventions before those boundaries were pushed.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2011, 11:07:12 am by andrew craven » Logged
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