Weapons of the Verse

UPDATED: Friday, July 27, 2007 08:49
VIEWED: 4513
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Thursday, July 26, 2007 11:12 AM


Alliance has some type of stun weapon rifle. Lasers have definitely been improved upon, the "Lassiter" laser is considered an antique. Why do Mal and his crew, as well as everybody else they run into, use projectile weapons which seem somewhat archaic, considering how advanced and how much in the future everything is? Is it style, affordability, comfort of use...? I guess the whole concept of western genre requires some gunslinging with projectile weaponry. I think the dated weaponry adds to the "vagabond" sense of weary travelers making their way in space. I like it particularly because everything about Firefly is something everybody has seen and can relate to. I really like Vera, and I hoped that Mal would trade with Jayne. That would have been an interesting day.

Everybody dies alone...


Thursday, July 26, 2007 12:34 PM


Well, I think your question points to one of the great things about Firefly. It gives the lie to the notion held in most sci-fi that "Technology advances exponentially." Anybody with a grounding in either the history of science or mathematics can tell you that can't be true. (If it were, we'd be mining asteroids by now, considering the very short time between manned space flight and landing on the moon, and the notion that we should have been in the early, slow, flat part of the exponential curve at that time.)

Technology is by definition science applied to practical use. So, by that definition, things don't get invented unless they need to. I believe we can all agree that guns are a very effective way to inflict violence on somebody, so there is no reason to assume that we would develop anything else in the future. Especially in light of this fact: (My job involves using lasers to cut steel, so I know a fair bit about them.) Right now, high-powered lasers are very large, require power on the order of a couple thousand watts just to cut very thin materials, and they cost about a half a million dollars. We will allow by the existence of the Lassiter and suchlike that miniaturization of that technology is even possible, but when you make a big thing smaller the cost shoots through the roof.

Guns do their grisly job well and with minimal expense, so I think they are here to stay. You also may note that some of the lower power hand guns and other small arms in Firefly have more of a whine sound than a loud bang. I assume this is due to more efficient burning accelerants and chamber designs so you get more gas directly behind your slug and less general "boom."

About the only criticism I have is the notion that considering the strides we have made right now in reality and how critical weight is when you are lifting off from a planet a lot, I would have thought caseless ammunition would be a lot more popular in the 'Verse. But, it would still be more expensive than regular ammo, so maybe only the Alliance marines bother with that kind of expense.


Thursday, July 26, 2007 1:21 PM


With the way the Alliance is portrayed, they would hold onto the latest (most expensive) technology for themselves. Projectile weapons do the job - sometimes better. Watch Ariel..Jayne resorts to using the Alliance weapon as a battering ram because it doesn't work for him.


Thursday, July 26, 2007 1:32 PM


in Heart of Gold, doesn't Mal, while looking at the laser pistol, say something about not seeing something like that outside the Alliance?

Madness does not always howl. Sometimes, it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "Hey, is there room in your head for one more?"

Browncoats are forever


Thursday, July 26, 2007 2:38 PM


excellent discourse. had a kind of poetry to it.
and i still think mal should have traded for Vera. but Saffron is still hot.

He makes everybody cry, he's like a monster.


Thursday, July 26, 2007 3:57 PM


Absolutely. Projectile weapons are here to stay for a VERY LONG TIME. Extremely cost effective and produces LOTS of lovely damage to your intended target. (LOTS of bang for your buck)

Laser weapons are going to be very cool, and there is nothing like the "instant hit" capability of a high powered laser weapon. Burns pretty pretty holes (but might also cauterize the wound as well so no potentially troublesome bleeding... rats). But like SchoolBoysWink said, the whole power requirements behind having a laser like that? HUGE. Therefore it also means HUGE COSTS. Very potent, but very inefficent in the end. Your average smuggler is not going to have the credits to afford something like that. Hell, MOST people would not be able to afford that.

I really think that they ARE using caseless ammunition in a number of the weapons, because the semi-automatics never seem to eject a casing. Now in reality that is because they are all prop guns, but we can make excuses! Really it is just because those guns are already in the prop department and easy to get.

The high pitched whining sound that most of the guns make (except for Zoe's mare's leg) is of course sound effects ('cause it makes them seem more future-like) but I like to think that even though they are old fashioned looking weapons, they are also modern versions. Perhaps they are using some electronic chambering mechanism or whatnot.

Whatever the reasons, I say shoot'em up!

"This is why we lost, you know. Superior numbers." "Thanks for the re-enactment, sir."


Thursday, July 26, 2007 4:13 PM


You think you know--what's to come, what you are. You haven't even begun.

Remember the "CHECK BATTERY" message that came up on Rance Burgis's gun? Yeah, not the best way to try and kill someone I think.
Also, as Mal said, those sorts of things aren't generally legal for a civilian.
And, as everyone else has pointed out, projectile weapons are just cheaper. Not everyone can afford to have and maintain a shiny laser gun. The only person on Serenity who has one is Inara, and she's easily the wealthiest person there.
Makes sense to me...

Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.
A troll's hair is still pointy, even when it's wearing a hat.


Friday, July 27, 2007 7:27 AM


Oh yeah, one other thing, a literary thing.

Joss has a talent for telling his themes with the situation and the story, so they are consistent and always there, instead of coming out periodically to club you stupidly over the head and then get forgotten. (It was my long-time frustration in school that I had to read all these "classics" that were frankly a bit too obvious in terms of thematics to be really well-written fiction, while the teachers dumped all over popular literature that addressed themes more pertinent to modern life and in a more skillful way, and they could be entertaining too. Oh well.) One of the themes is that having the determination to keep flying and people around you to keep you in the air is more important than having the best equipment and other physical advantages. Imagine Mal, on a horse with his "sci-fi Army Colt" as I call his handgun, riding down Rance on a hovercraft with a laser pistol, and you've got it.

So giving the main heroes regular guns was a good way to point out that theme. (And it isn't just when compared to lasers; the guards in Niska's skyplex were better armed and armored than our heroes, as well, even though they also had projectile weapons.) As we've all discussed, the continued use of firearms is also highly plausible, which is probably why they were used to help paint that theme. I've not known Joss Whedon to write stories or situations that were really implausible within the rules of the world he was writing, even when those rules have included vamps and demons.


Friday, July 27, 2007 8:49 AM


One point I always remember when the "Old West-style guns in SciFi" topic surfaces is this: Firefly is 500 years in the future -- and they have projectile weapons. And if I went 500 years into the past from this time, they would also have projectile weapons. So, like the combustion engine (you can go from steam-based to petroleum-based but it's still the same basic technology) gunpowder projectile weaponry would still be viable and in essentially the same format -- just more bells & whistles.

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