It’s been forever since I did a post about the various planets that make up a sci-fi universe. And I got to admit, this is one I’ve been holding out on simply because the sheer volume of info made it seem just the slightest bit intimidating. I am, of course, referring to The Verse, also known as, the Firefly/Serenity universe.
As fans of the show are no doubt aware, The Verse is a pretty happening place! As the teacher described it in the opening section of the Serenity movie, the system is made up of “dozens of planets and hundreds of moons”, all of which had been terraformed over the course of generations to ensure that they were habitable.
But I was surprised to learn more recently was that this system was also made up of multiple stars. Yes, 34 Tauri, aka. The White Sun, aka. Bai Hu (“White Tiger” in Chinese), contains not only hundreds of worlds, but also is also made up of five stars and seven brown dwarf protostars. Many of these have their own planetary systems, and their position relative to the central White Sun is indicative of their overall position in the systems social and political makeup.
To break it down succinctly, the verse consists of hundreds of terraformed planets and moons which orbit three stars and two brown dwarves. The White Sun, aka. Bai Hu/White Tiger, is home to the “Central Planets” that make up the Alliance. Farther out lie the planets that orbit the Red Sun (Zhu Que or “Red Phoenix”) and Georgia (Huang Long, “Yellow Dragon”), which are known as the “Border Planets”. Next are Kalidasa, also known as Xuan Wu (Black Tortoise) and the Blue Sun (Qing Long or “Blue Dragon”). The worlds orbiting these last two stars comprise “The Rim”. Within all of these planets, the seven brown dwarf/protostars also share orbits and host some of the mini-systems planets as well.
The Central Planets:
The worlds that orbit the White Sun have the distinction of being the first that were colonized and constitute the core of the Alliance, its many institutions and centers of power. They are also the most advanced, developed, and Earth-like of all the planets in the system.
The White Sun:
Also known as Bai Hu (or “White Tiger”), the White Sun is core of The Verse and the principal star in The White Sun system. It is orbited by fourteen planets and the two brown dwarves Qin Shi Huang and Lux, which are themselves home to three of the system’s planets.
Londonimium: The second planet orbiting the White Sun. Along with its sister planet Sihnon, Londoninium was one of the first planets colonized after the exodus from Earth-That-Was and being the most Earth-like of the systems planets, was the easiest to settle. Most of the settlers here came from Europe and the Americas and the predominant western culture took hold here quickly. The planet also orbited by the two moons, Balkherne and Colchester.
In addition to being the home of the Alliance Parliament, Londinium also boasts the Museum of History and the Museum of Art, the finest museums of Earth-That-Was, colonial artifacts, and the largest collections of Western-style art in the system. On top of all that, the Alliance has many of it’s most important military assets here, which includes the Ministry of Intelligence and the headquarters of the elite SAS (Special Alliance Support) forces.
Sihonn: The third planet orbiting the White Sun and the second of the system’s major planets. Inhabited primarily by colonists from China, the planet is renowned for being highly sophisticated and place of advanced technology. Viewed from space, the planet has a deep red color and the surface is renowned for its natural beauty and cultural diversity. The planet is also the training grounds for many Registered Companions, hence why Inara Serra calls the planet home. The capital city is said to be, according to Inara, “like an ocean of light.” The planet is orbited by three moons, Airen, Xiansheng, and Xiaojie
Ariel: The eleventh planet orbiting the White Sun, Ariel is a central planet and one of the most valued members of the Alliance. As the home to the major medical center (named Saint Lucy’s), it is here where the majority of medical advances and technology are produced. It is also because of its reputation that it is the home of the lucrative black market trade in artificially grown organs. During the episode “Ariel”, the crew pulled its greatest heist on this planet while Simon Tam used the facilities to examine his sister. The moons Ariopolis, Shiva, and Poseidon all orbit this world.
Bellerophon: The tenth planet orbiting the White Sun, this planet is largely an ocean planet and an enclave for the wealthy. The majority of the inhabitants live in estates suspended above the ocean and where supplies are shipped in from off world and garbage carried away by automated ships. Each of these estates are something akin to a self-contained city, with lavish living, spacious facilities, and state of the art security.
Liann Jiun: The fourth planet orbiting the White Sun.
Bernadette: The first planet of the White Sun, this world was one of the first to be settled alongside Londoninium and Sihonn. Like all central Alliance worlds, this planet is renowned for being technologically advanced and boasts all the amenities for its population. As the staging point for all citizens looking to settle on the Border Planets and Rim, As a result, the official resettlement bureau, the Alliance Colony and Settlement Authority was based in the city of New Tombstone. At the same time, however, an underground slave trade also grew up on the planet that kidnapped new arrivals and sold them to clients both in the core and out on the rim. The moons Nautilus and Spinrad also orbit this planet.
Persephone: One of the outermost White Sun planets that also orbits the protostar Lux, Persephone is a world riddled with contradiction. While it is an advanced Alliance planet with plenty of wealthy residents, its proximity to the Border Worlds also means that it contains many large slums and underworld elements. For example, the Eavesdown Docks are located here, which Badger, a criminal boss who frequently employs Mal and his crew, call home. It was also here that the Firefly crew found Shepherd Book and the Tams in the first episode.
The Border Planets:
Made up of Georgia and the Red Sun, the Border Planets regions is where the Independents made their stand against the Alliance’s attempts at Unification. Many of the worlds, particularly in the Georgia System, still bear the scars of that war. Shadow, for instance, was rendered uninhabitable due to extensive bombing, and Hera is the location of the Serenity Valley, where the war was effectively lost by Independent forces.
Also known as Huang Long (or Yellow Dragon), Georgia is the principal star of the Georgia system, the largest system orbiting the White Sun. It is home to sixteen planets and the brown dwarf/protostar Murphy, which is itself home to three more planets.
Ezra: The first planet in the Georgia system, Ezra is a desert world that marks the very border between the Central and Border Planets. It is here that Niska’s Skyplex, home to one of the most brutal crime lords in The Verse, is located.
Boros: The third planet of the Georgia system which is orbited by the moon of Ares. Between the planet and its moon, the Alliance maintains a strong military presence in the form of a base and a shipyard.
Kerry: Named after county Kerry in Ireland, this is the fourth planet of the Georgia system.
Athens: The Ninth planet of the Georgia system, Athens, despite its name, lies at the very edge of the Border Worlds and is hence a relatively uncivilized place. It has four moons, including Whitefall which is the fourth and most distant. This moon has the dubious honor of being home to Patience, the matriarchal outlaw who has done business with the Firefly crew and was even said to have shot Mal on one occasion. Whitefall was featured in the episode “Serenity” where Mal and crew were looking to offload a crate of Alliance supplies.
Regina: The second planet of the Georgia system, Regina is known mainly for its mining operations and as the birthplace of the degenerative disease known as “Bowden’s Malady”. This disease has apparently infected everyone on the planet, and requires regular medical treatment to keep from progressing. This planet was featured in the episode “The Train Job”.
Hera: The fourteenth planet orbiting Georgia and one of three planets orbiting the protostar Murphy, Hera occupies a strategic position as the core of the Border Worlds. Due to its Earth-like climate, where terraforming was not necessary as it was with many other Border Planets, Hera became an agricultural colony and breadbasket for most of the system. It is also the location of Serenity Valley, the site of a major battle during the Unification War, where Mal and the Independents made a concerted stand against superior Alliance forces, and were devastated in the end. It is this battle which is considered the final battle of the war, in that it signaled the inevitable defeat of the Independents.
Shadow: An agricultural planet orbiting the protostar Murphy, along with Hera and Aphrodite, Shadow itself is the sixteenth and final planet that orbits the star Georgia. Shadow is where Mal Reynolds was raised on his mother’s ranch, until the Alliance rendered it uninhabitable during the Unification War. As one of the three leading planets for the Independent’s side, it was heavily bombed by Alliance forces during the initial phase of the invasion. Mal is quoted as saying of it: “No one lives there. No one can.”
Also known as Zhu Que (Red Phoenix), the Red Sun is the coldest of all the suns in the ‘Verse. It is the principal star of the Red Sun system and shares an orbit with Georgia around the White Sun. Like Georgia, it is home to sixteen planets and two dwarf suns, Heinlein and Himinbjurg.
Greenleaf: The third planet orbiting the Red Sun, Greenleaf is so named because of its large tropical belt, massive jungles and rainforests. Thanks to the presence of so many tropical plants, the planet boasts several major pharmaceutical facilities which use the native flora as a source life-saving drugs that cannot easily be synthesized in a laboratory. In addition, drug smugglers and criminal operations also exist, giving rise to one of the largest black market rings in the system. Because of this, the Alliance maintains a strong presence in orbit and planet side, restricting the flow of ships in the hopes of clamping down on the drug trade. It is also orbited by the moon of Dyton, which Badger himself may have lived on at one time since he called “the old homestead”.
Harvest: The fourth planet of the Red Sun system, this world is also orbited by two moons – the more notable of which is Higgins’ Moon, the home of the “mudder’ operations (an indentured servant operation where mud is transported off world to manufacture ceramics). This moon is also the location of Jaynestown, a settlement which revered Jayne as a saint after he accidentally dumped a haul of money onto the mudder’s village. These events were detailed in the episode entitled “Jaynestown”.
Jiangyin: The first planet of the Red Sun, this border world is home to several agricultural and ranching operations, and is also marked by the strange divide between the townspeople and the “hill people”. These latter folk live in communities located in the highlands where life is difficult and giving rise to superstitious, simple folk who compensate for their lack of skilled tradespeople by periodically kidnapping townspeople or off-world visitors. Two such individuals were Simon and River Tam in the episode “Safe”.
Triumph: The ninth planet of the Red Sun which also orbits the brown dwarf Heinlein, named in honor of sci-fi author Robert A. Heinlein, along with the worlds of Paquin, Lazarus, and Silverhold. Poor and backward by most standards, this world is quite primitive and largely controlled by Elder Gomman. It was also here that the Serenity crew picked up Saffron as part of a marriage contract in the episode “Our Mrs. Reynolds”.
The planets that make up the outermost region of the White Sun are noted for their lawlessness, criminal activity, and the presence of Reavers. As such, it is the most dangerous place in the system, and yet the only place where people seeking refuge from the Alliance can call home.
Also known as Xuan Wu (or Black Tortoise), Kaldisa is the principal star of the Kalidasa system and the starting point of the Rim Worlds. It is home to nineteen planets and the brown dwarf Penglai.
Angel/Zephyr: An astrological anamoly, these two planets orbit one another while simultaneously orbiting the star of Kalidasa.
Aberdeen: The thirteenth planet orbiting the star Kalidasa. Named after Aberdeen, Scotland.
Beylix: A border planet orbiting Penglai, a protostar that orbits Kalidasa, and the eleventh body in the Kalidasa system. It has three moons, and appears to have a permanent cloud cover and dense ice rings. Mal’s war buddy Monty was caught by the Alliance here which was mentioned in the episode “Trash”.
Beaumonde: The fifteenth planet in orbit of Kalidasa, Beaumonde is a heavily industrialized world and the manufacturing hub of the system. Because of its massive output of goods, pollution is a major problem and the planet is covered in a perpetual haze, necessitating the constant use of weather satellites to process the worse of it. This planet was featured in the movie Serenity, where the crew land after pulling their heist on Lilac in order to do business with the crime brothers Fanty and Mingo. It was also here that they discovered River’s programming after a subliminal message triggered her.
Salisbury: The seventeenth and outermost planet of the Kalidas system.
Muir: The third planet orbiting the Blue Sun, and the planet where Badger was apparently born and raised.
Highgate: The fifth planet orbiting the Blue Sun which has one moon, Perth.
Deadwood: Seventh planet orbiting the Blue Sun and which is orbited by the moon of Haven. It is this world that Shepherd retired to to start a ministry amongst a small colony of settlers. It is also where he died when Alliance forces, loyal to “The Operative” attacked the settlement.
Miranda: The outermost planet in the Blue Sun and White Star system, Miranda was long thought to be a dead world until events in Serenity indicated otherwise. As the farthest planet from the center of the system and uninhabited, it was here that the Alliance created an experimental colony where a quarter-million settlers were treated to a drug known as “Pax”. Designed to suppress violence instincts, the drug had the side-effect of causing the vast majority of the residents to lose all motivation and simply lay down and die. Of those who survived, the drug had the opposite effect, leading to extreme violence and cannibalistic behavior. This explained the existence of the Reavers and why they were to be found at the very edge of the system. The discovery of this planet and its secrets were central to the plot of the movie Serenity.
Wow! See what I mean by “happening”? It’s no wonder I took so long to do this post, there’s so much info to sift through! Clearly, Joss Whedon and his writers really went to town when it came to setting and background in this story. And it only drives home just how tragic it is that this show was cancelled before it even finished running it’s first season. There was so much there to work with, so much more to flesh out, detail, and weave into the ongoing storyline. Why oh why did those lame-ass Fox executives cancel this show? I can only hope they’ve since been fired and flogged, and not necessarily in that order!