The purpose of this thread is to provide some basic information about the series and film to newcomers. With the film and television series gathering momentum in the US and other parts of the world, there is increasing interest in the Firefly universe.
What is Firefly?
Firefly is a science-fiction western set 500 years in humanity's future. The earth that we know of (referred to in the series and film as "Earth that Was") became overpopulated and humanity gradually settled in the outer reaches of space by terraforming planets and moons.
This universe has a somewhat cosmopolitan feel but the two dominant cultures appear to be American (hence the western theme) and Chinese. In this particular era, most of the human race seem to be bilingual at least with English and Chinese as the lingua franca. The Chinese used in the television series and film are mainly Mandarin and Cantonese.
The exploits of the crew take place largely on a ship called Serenity, which is a Firefly model spacecraft. The stories revolve around the activities of its 9 member crew.
What is Serenity?
Serenity is the name of the film based on the Firefly series. It opened on the 29 September in Australia and New Zealand, and on the 30 Sept in the US. The film is set eight months after the events of the final episode.
"Serenity" is also the name of the television pilot which was made to provide some backstory to the characters and subsequent events of the series.
What is the Alliance?
The Alliance is the main political power of this universe. They govern through a body of individuals referred to in the film as the "Parliament". Unlike the Federation (of Star Trek), the Alliance has malevolent undertones of Big Brother proportions.
At one stage during its history, the Alliance attempted to bring all planets under its control under the guise of "Unification". Many planets in the outer regions resisted and war ensued between the Alliance and the Independents or Browncoats.