Monday, July 6, 2009

Connections between Joss Whedon and Stranger in a Strange Land: A very geeky investigation

I'm about half way through Stranger in a Strange Land. It is good, but it reads slow; it's somewhat dense. A couple of the main characters talk A LOT. They sort of remind me of men in movies from around the time that this book was written. Especially newspaper men; very wordy, constantly clever, to the point of being too clever. I like the book, but it requires that I forgive this kind of wordiness.

Anyway, I believe I've spotted a few Joss Whedon connections in the book. First, one of those very talkative men is named Jubal Harshaw. Of course, anyone who has obsessively watched and re-watched the sadly short-lived Whedon show Firefly knows that the brilliant episode Objects in Space features Jubal Early, a bizarre bounty hunter that manages to confound the entire crew, with the exception of one teenage girl. I always suspected that Jubal Early was meant to have been a subject of the same experiment that River Tam was a part of, but a much earlier subject, perhaps the first. I learned while reading Stranger in a Strange Land that the name Jubal means "The Father of us All." And of course, Early means, um, early. Lends support to my theory, anyway, if Joss Whedon knows the meaning of the name Jubal!

OK, and yes I know that Jubal Early is the name of a Confederate general that is also an ancestor of Nathan Fillion. But I'm just saying, if the name meaning is completely coincidental to Jubal's role on the show, it is a mighty big coincidence!

Also, in the novel religious leaders are called "shepherds". This isn't a completely unique idea for either Joss Whedon or Robert A. Heinlein, but it's another interesting parallel.

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