Firefly voted best sci-fi series ever?

Sci-fi buffs from around the world have voted cult TV series, “Firefly,” the world’s best space science fiction work ever in an international poll conducted by NewScientistSpace.com, the space news website from New Scientist magazine.

Incredibly, the TV series which is set 500 years in the future was pulled off the air early. However, it has since gained cult status and finished first receiving 21 percent of the votes.

“Serenity,” the successful movie spin-off from the “Firefly” TV series, finished second with 17 percent of the votes. It marks a clean sweep for Joss Whedon, the creator of both stories who is best known as the man behind “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

After a summer of failed blockbusters, movie moguls will be dismayed that space sci-fi films only contributed three entries to the worldwide top ten. Instead, TV series lead the way contributing four of the top five worldwide.

Commenting on the findings, Damian Carrington, editor, NewScientistSpace.com, said: “The opinions of the thousands of space sci-fi fans who voted in our poll and chatted on our online forum were pretty surprising to us. There were a sprinkling of classics — ‘Alien,’ ‘Dune,’ ‘2001’ — but what is really getting the online audience passionate now appears to be TV.”

The poll is also a kick in the teeth for George Lucas whose new “Star Wars” trilogy failed to make the top ten. Only “The Empire Strikes Back” in eighth place registered amongst the expert sci-fi audience worldwide and finished ninth amongst US voters.

“Firefly” and “Serenity” were also the most popular space sci-fi works in the US. The TV series “Farscape” finished third, and the novel “Enders Game” was the most popular sci-fi book in America finishing fourth. “Battlestar Galactica” rounded out the top five.

The survey also suggests that, unlike many genres, great works of science fiction transcend gender, with male and female fans voting incredibly closely. The only difference in their top ten was Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation Series,” an epic work of science fiction written over 49 years ago. “Foundation Series” was voted into tenth place by male sci-fi fans, but did not appear in the women’s top ten, its place being taken by “Doctor Who.”

However, when it comes to age, opinions on great works of space sci-fi differ significantly. Fifty-year-olds voted “Foundation Series” into third place and “The Forever War,” the 1970s novel by Joe Haldeman, into seventh. Neither works were on the radar of 20 year-old sci-fi enthusiasts.

“The many votes for ‘Firefly,’ which was ditched after half a season, and ‘Farscape,’ dropped in 2002, shows that the Internet is providing a global forum where fans can make their views heard,” added Carrington. “Only three movies appear in the top 10, and perhaps it is the ongoing formats of TV series, and the DVD spin-offs, which really enable today’s sci-fi writers to imagine a complex future world and explore how people would behave and survive in it. And with technological progress appearing to move at ever-faster speed, cultural explorations of the future will be ever more critical.”

The poll was conducted by visitors to NewScientistSpace.com from Oct. 8 through Oct. 22, 2005. The website launched in May 2005 and has a user base of 300,000 worldwide.

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