The Serenity blueprints from QMx were stunning, no question. Insanely detailed, carefully thought out, presented as beautiful art prints suitable for framing.
Only… they’re kinda big to play with. And kinda pricey to pass around the gaming table, especially when Cheetos are involved (and they always are). Also, they’re sold out.
So QMx produced a smaller version for reference and general fun. And, QMx being QMx, they added 23 more pages of material on top of that, everything you ever wanted to know — details, history, markings, marketing — Firefly-class transport Serenity. I can’t wait for you guys to flip through the new stuff in here.
And so I won’t, I’ll tell you about them instead. Let’s go page by page. First you get an intro by science fiction author Orson Scott Card — um, sorry. From curator Orison Scard, Aries Commonwealth, Ezra — on what a ship like Serenity means to us.
Next is a copy of Serenity’s dedication plaque, sort of. Each page has detailed descriptions of the contents, including some backstory here and there, and the provenance of this plaque is a bit dodgy.
Then we have the original 10 sheets of blueprints. Above you can get an idea of the relative size of the reference pack compared to the original blueprints. The sheets of the reference pack come packaged loose, with a spiral binder included if you’d like to attach them together.
After the blueprints is a page of preliminary Serenity insignias leading to the final one painted on the ship, and a page of metal plates used throughout Serenity. SerenityStuff regulars will recognize these; a set of the actual labels was sold through The Prop Store of London for a pretty decent price. (The pictures below are of both sheets side by side)
Then we get the bridge display screens. Designed by Serenity graphic designer Geoff Mandel, they depict the ship’s systems status, a sensor array of the area, the Miranda screen River brought up, and a celestial navigation screen. When you watch the movie you get a sense of it, but you never really get a good look at the amount of work that goes into these displays. Here you can see it all, and here’s all four.
A lot of work went into making the Serenity look real. Part of that came from the attention to detail in the such minor things as industrial details seen on the walls, on cargo, and on the mule. Here’s a selection of them, along with a handy illustrated list no passenger should be without: which doors go where. You won’t mistake an airlock for the head more than once, but the shape and color of the doors can help you avoid a nasty misstep.
The insignia on Inara’s shuttle remains something of a mystery. The symbols suggest medical transport, and I’m not sure Inara’s ministrations would qualify, life-saving though they may be. The mystery isn’t explained here, but you get a nice look at them. And at the mule, which includes an explanation for that pesky missing rear seat.
The next section includes historical documents depicting the grabnd history of this noble little deathtrap. You may recognize the artwork style, it’s by our own Ben “Whitefall” Mund. Below is a flyer for the new 2459 Firefly, and the Cortex doc “Doing the job: How the Rim Was Won,” which explains how ships like the Firefly opened up the Rim.
Now we get to the behind-the-scenes stuff. How was the Firefly invented? Fortunately QMx has retrieved confidential documents from the Allied Spacecraft Corporation concerning their new line of practical, even whimsical boats for the settlers expanding outwards. And the design for the Firefly Series 1, by Firefly graphic artist Tim Earls.
There’s also a hardcopy transcript of the popular mechanics trade column, “Boost Your Boat.” Informative and funny, it’s filled with tips on improving your Firefly, their durability, and why you can still see them on the stunt circuit. The next page is another great full-page design, this one of the Firefly Series 2.
Even the best-maintained ship needs some extra work now and again, and this work order from Honest Austin’s Used Boats and Salvage proves that attitude and sweetness get you better treatment than most. And there’s the confidential design of a Series 3 ship outfitted for military use.
Finally, a glimpse at one of the engineer’s tablets to find out all the specs and capabilities of the proposed Series 4 ship — two modular cargo bays, passenger dorms instead of berths, a little more comfort where it’s needed. And there’s a design here as well.
It’s not too much of a stretch to say that the Firefly series of boats made colonization possible. No frills, dependable service made for inexpensive crafts that served folks well. Excellent for transporting goods and families, and for those who want more independent way of life.
Now I am not unbiased — my name does appear in the beta list thanks yous — but I think anyone would say this is a wonderful piece of work. Incredible images by the original designer of the Firefly ship and from the graphic designer for “Serenity,” along with imaginative and fun background material by QMx guy Andy Gore and brilliant Browncoat Ben Mund, this pack is perfect for Serenity RPGing, arguing over episode details, reference for your fanfic, or just lying out and using as conversation-bait for friends who have inexplicably missed your subtle hints to watch the greatest show ever made.
The Serenity Blueprints Reference Pack, full-color, 33 pages, goes on sale at 10 p.m. EST, tomorrow night (Nov. 16), for $29.95. It’ll be available from QMx — where you can get more info and check out a photo gallery, and you can get even better images from the Serenity Blueprints Reference Pack backgrounder PDF — and from any resellers smart enough to stock up.