Too many questions
Sunday, November 25, 2007

Fanfiction is pretty much written to answer questions, I know. Sometimes the question is small. What would happen if River tried to bake cookies? What do Jayne’s letters to his mother look like? And other times the question is big. What if Mal and Inara finally got together? What if Niska came back? What was it like growing up on Osiris? Lastly is the epic. What happens after the BDM? Unfortunately, if you’re writing anything longer than oneshots, and sometimes even with those, that question isn’t the only one you’ll have to answer.

I was watching the series, usually where inspiration for fanfiction comes from, and noticed that Simon and River are very out of place in the first couple of episodes, but are fairly well integrated by the beginning of the episode Safe. My question was: how did that happen? And of course, I tried to answer it through fanfiction. But then I found that there were other questions I had to answer, before I could answer that one. What is the exact layout of the ship? What are the designs of the guest cabins? Where are the bathrooms/sinks? Those answers, kind of necessary just for background description, were simple to get.

But then I had to consider: what kind of luggage did Simon bring? He has an encyclopedia and a medkit, and definitely a wardrobe, but what other things would someone like that bring to start a new life? And then I noticed that since River was naked in the cryo box, we only see her wearing Inara’s robe and something that might be Simon’s shirt in Serenity, but by the Train Job she has her own clothes. Where did those come from? Is clothes shortage the reason why she’s always barefoot?

While further examining the episode Serenity, I had to wonder: do all the crew sleep at the same time? Without sunrise and sunset, what kind of time is kept on Serenity? Then I noticed: there are no clocks, but they speak of hours and minutes. Do they all have pocketwatches we never see? How do they meet for the regular meals Mal speaks of?

Why does Book stay on the ship, and how did that happen? What does the crew other than Jayne think about Book and Simon and River staying on? Simon and Book have chores by Shindig, so when did they get assigned them? How does the chore system work on Serenity? Why doesn’t River have chores?

Speaking of River...Simon says she has paranoid schizophrenia in Safe, but when did he decide that? Why is her behavior different in the pilot than every other episode, and does it have anything to do with the shock of cryogenic freezing? How did being woken early affect her? What about any medications she was on at the Academy? Does Simon give her any medications until after Ariel? How does he care for her until he decides that she’s schizophrenic?

And then, of course, the relationships. What sort of relationship do Wash and Kaylee have, considering they’re usually the ones stuck on the ship while the others go on a job pre-pilot? Does Wash really have a relationship with anyone but Zoe that’s not confrontational or ridiculing? He and Zoe seem to be a little separate, but also protective, especially of Simon and River in the first does that work? Inara and Book are pretty much the only ones other than Kaylee to actually interact kindly with the Tams, though...what kind of relationships are going on there, and how and why do they happen?

Do jobs ever go smooth for the crew? It seems like they must, or they’d be out of business, so do they have boring jobs off camera? And during those boring jobs, especially the long flights in space, what do the crew do? We’ve seen spaceball, dominoes, chinese checkers, tall card, horseshoes, weightlifting...what else might they do? Are there any books on Serenity besides Shepherd’s Bible and Simon’s encyclopedia? What about music? Does Jayne ever play his guitar like on Haven? Does he do anything but clean his guns and lift weights?

What exactly is the foodstuff on Serenity? Is protein flavorless, or do the “colors of the rainbow” mean different types? Did Book bring anything but tomatoes and strawberries, and how long would his supplies last? What about spices? What do they drink on Serenity anyway?

Serenity’s a pretty loud ship, and it seems small enough for voices to carry. In OIS, Jubal Early just yells and the whole ship wakes up, but Mal always uses the comm. How soundproof is each room? Does Mal have to yell to Wash and Zoe to keep it down? Do River’s nightmares wake up Book, who is nearby, or even the rest of the crew?

What does River do all day anyway, when she’s not having an episode? Does she play, or exercise what genius is left? Does she do strange things all the time? Does she sit quietly and do pretty much nothing? How often does Simon run tests on her, especially since she is terrified of needles and the infirmary? How much time does he spend finding out what happened to her, considering only about half his scenes are with River?

I'm sure my list will grow longer as I write...*sigh*


Monday, November 26, 2007 6:44 AM


Ddefinitely a lot of questions. I try to answer some of them depending on the kind of story I'm writing. The short ones are FAR easier in that there are only so many questions that need to be asked, but the long ones can be real exhausting! Because to make the story believable, you have to answer them!

As for Book staying on the ship, I think that was covered in one of the episodes, wasn't it? Or - maybe I'm confusing it with some fanfic I read. He has 'heathens a plenty' right on Serenity. I think that, or something similar, was his reason for staying. I think we'd have found out later, that he was there to keep an eye on Simon and River . . .

Sunday, November 25, 2007 8:53 PM


Well, someone finally but into words all the stuff I've been trying to figure out writing my epic "The Dr. Tam Journals" and other fanfics. I believe you have been reading that Merryk, but for others who haven't here are some answers I came up with.

1. Time. The ship runs on what I call "ship's time" which is based on a 24 hour Earth That Was day. Since there is no day or night in the black, this gives them a sense of what a day is.

2. The crew goes to sleep at night when in the black, with Kaylee and Wash setting the course and power settings for the night, slower than when they are all awake to give more time to respond to trouble.

3. Food. Whatever they have that's available when they reach a planet. "Feast or famine" I said in one fanfic, depending on the money situation. The food is all like ours, since the premise is that the worlds have been populated with the plants and animals brought from Earth. Breakfast is when you awake, lunch when you have time, and supper always at 6pm with different crew taking turns to prepare, except the Captain, with a tradition among spaceships that a ship's captain doesn't cook or wash a dish on their own ship.

4. Bathrooms and cleaning clothes. Each crew quarters has a toilet and sink, with the bathroom off the passenger lounge having a toilet, sink, and shower booth. The shower can only run for two minutes per hour to conserve water, sinced they can only make a little water and must load it on planets in two large tanks forward of the shuttles. The bathroom also has a dry cleaner for clothes, again since they need to conserve water for cooking and drinking.

5. Book staying on board is tricky and of course he eventually leaves. I had him stay in one fanfic because he still believes he has work to do in saving the "heathens" on board. But we know so little of his background their may be another motive.

6. In my fanfics, the crew is divided in their realtionships with te Tams and each other, and I try to follow the series and movie as closely as possible here . On one side we have Jayne, Mal, Zoe, and Wash, mostly because of his wife, against the Tams being on board or at least reluctantly accepting them, as Mal seems to do, understanding the need for Simon's skills but wary of the trouble the two bring.

On the other side Kaylee, for obvious reasons, Shepherd book and Inara are totally supportive of the Tams and sympathize with their situation.

Among the crew Inara and Kaylee are very close, with Kaylee and River also becoming closer and of course Simon and Kaylee becoming closest of all. Jayne and Book are friends, Wash and Zoe are close for obvious reasons, and Kaylee and Wash have a bond tied to being he "experts" on the ship.

Mal and Zoe have the strongest bond because of their war expereince and there is trust and understanding there that even Wash doens't understand (Re: War Stories). Inara and Book seem to have some common ground as consulers of a sort. Kaylee and Mal have a brother/sister bond and Jayne and Mal have a sort of brother thing too, maybe step-brothers, or at least a drinking buddy thing, with Mal being the leader. Mal sees the Shepherd as a problem but comes to rely on his advice.

Jayne and Kaylee is a tough one, becasue he often puts her down and she is very sensitive. I really think he worries over her like the others do but he is just two rough and crude for Kaylee to really like. Simon of course, hates Jayne's guts for all the obvious reasons. Simon and Mal is tough too, because, as said earlier, Mal knows the Tams are trouble, but his need for a doctor and his sense of honor keep the Tams on board. Finally, Mal and Inara have that unspoken love that brings all kinds of tension to a boil.

Sunday, November 25, 2007 3:25 PM


This is why I don't write fanfiction.

Sunday, November 25, 2007 2:23 PM


Love the questions.

As for answers, The clothes that River wears are not her own. "Dress me up like a gorram doll" and the unfit seems to suggest hand me downs (atleast initially).

Do jobs ever go smooth? I think so. Think about the wobbly headed geisha doll caper we never got to see. On average each episode seems to be approximately 2 to three days long, with a couple or three weeks of time lapse between them.

As for time and sleeping patterns, they would probably rotate as needed, but they do have one official time they are together. The meal at 6:00 PM seems to be a daily communal event.

Mal always uses the Com? only when in the cockpit. Otherwise he seems to have made a sport of shouting. (The Train Job when he is looking for Kaylee after he sees the engine room, and the BDM, on his way to the engine room.) You have to remember the ship is a big place. upto 100 metres long. At different times there would be diferent amounts of noise. (ion the "night" there is every possibility they shut almost everything off to just glide in near silence...)

Sunday, November 25, 2007 12:49 PM


I definitely agree with the 'so many questions' thing. The big one you mentioned that has always had me scratching my head is "Why did Book stay on the ship?" The only answer I ever got was "Because he's a good character" but that doesn't really answer anything in the context of the 'verse.


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