HISTORY VERSUS TRUTH – Marilyn Armstrong

How’s your credibility doing these days? 

We watched “Serenity.” Again.

It’s a consolation prize, a followup movie to the all-too-brief television series “Firefly.” We loved it. It went a small distance to answer the questions left in the wake of the premature ending of what should have been the best ever science fiction television show.


Nathan Fillion was a fine, dashing, surprisingly believable hero. He was just un-heroic enough to be witty and upbeat, but brave enough to save the universe.

Despite spaceships and a futuristic planetary setting for the movie, it’s a western. It’s “Tombstone” and “The Magnificent Seven.” A dollop of “Ride the High Country.” It is every thriller, western, and space opera you’ve seen. “Star Trek,” “Star Wars” and “Forbidden Planet,” too.


It’s based on “Firefly”, currently available on Netflix and Amazon Prime — so if you haven’t seen it and you like science fiction and/or westerns and/or thrillers, you can’t help but love this.

Heroes curse in Chinese. Some have super powers or maybe they aren’t superpowers, but they sure do seem pretty super to me. Beautiful women, handsome men. Terrific pseudo-science that you are pretty sure you almost understand because it uses familiar gobbledygook language.

Serenity movie cast

No warp drive. I suppose that means that going from galaxy to galaxy on a whim isn’t going to happen. No one exactly says where the story takes place. It’s a “terraformed” planetary configuration that you would call a solar system, except that technically, there’s only one solar system because there’s only one “Sol.”

And then The Hero, Mal Reynolds, Captain of Serenity, said it. He’s the kind of guy you probably don’t want mad at you, so when he came out with a line this terrific, I wrote it down on the back of an envelope before I forgot it. I knew I would write about it.

“Half of writing history is hiding the truth.” Spoken by Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of the “Serenity.”

I read a lot of fantasy, science fiction, thrillers, steampunk and weird mysteries involving some kind of magical or futuristic technology. But I also read a lot of history, recently a lot of history that essentially debunks all the history I read in the past and makes me completely rethink everything I thought I knew. Tony Judt’s “Postwar” was one such book, but there have been a bunch of others. Some of them I’ve reviewed or otherwise written about. Others, I will talk about eventually.

serenity movies firefly science fiction 1024x768 Fillion

When Mal Reynolds talks about “hiding half the truth,” it sums up history as most of us know it. We learn the “mythology” of history. It can also be a complete lie. There’s half the truth — and then, there’s a complete absence of any truth.

We are told what is true and for most people, it is easier to accept what we are told as “The Truth” rather than make an effort to find out what really happened.

History (mostly) is the stuff the winners say is true.  Author Dan Brown said:

“History is always written by the winners. When two cultures clash, the loser is obliterated, and the winner writes the history books-books which glorify their own cause and disparage the conquered foe. As Napoleon once said, ‘What is history, but a fable agreed upon?”

Sometimes, what you hear as “history” is a truth which never happened, but which losers need. It soothes guilty consciousness and makes it possible for them to “move on” and thus pretend the past never happened.

Every nation has a dark past. No nation is guiltless. In no country have the victors treated their victims with kindness and charity. There has been slaughtering throughout the world. Whether your particular people got slaughtered or not is pure luck of the draw.

It’s always an interesting philosophical question: Who draws the straws? Why us? Why them? It’s one of those “ultimate” questions and there is no answer.

History isn’t credible as taught. The history we hear in school has nothing to do with telling later generations what really happened. It ought to be but actually, it’s about getting everyone to believe a story that supports the current power structure.

Debunking those stories comes later when a changed power structure requires a different story.

Nathan Fillion Hero

Take your history with many grains of salt. Not because I said so, but because Mal Reynolds said so.

He saved the universe, so he ought to know.

14 thoughts on “HISTORY VERSUS TRUTH – Marilyn Armstrong

  1. I watched a few episodes of Firefly I think on pay TV on a channel I no longer subscribe to but I do have Netflix so I will have to see if it’s on Australian Netflix as I liked what I saw of it. Will look out for “Serenity” too. “Tthe Orville” has just started on TV here I am sure you mentioned that one time too. I intend to check it out anyway.


    • Well, the two genres do cross over quite a lot. It was all originally science fiction. Eventually, it broke into genres, but they are all sci fi to one degree or another so you will always find elements of both in it. Right now, science fiction if not doing as well as it should. Many of its greatest writers are old or gone and there is more horror creeping into it. What is interesting is that Stephen King has been writing more sci fi and less horror recently, although there’s always at least some horror sneaking around the corner.

      I still think his story of the assassination of Kennedy is his best book and many people agree with me. He has also done a complete rewrite of “The Stand,” I read the original when it first came out (how old AM I?), but this is the old one plus all the parts he left out of the original, so it’s REALLY long. I simply haven’t had time to read it. Now the new one is King’s official version of what many people think was his best book. King doesn’t agree that it was his best, but he’s happier with the new one. One of these days, as winter comes and there’s not much going out, I’ll give it a shot.

      King is usually (not always but usually) one of the best writers I’ve ever read. He manages to make “horror” lyrical.

      But King is our age, as are so many of my favorite writers (many are actually at least a decade or more older than us). I worry what I will read when they are gone. Great books are hard to find.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. For years and years I’ve wanted to sit down and watch Firefly but just haven’t had time 😦 Hopefully soon….

    As they say, the victors write the history books. Well, the current victors write the current history books is what you are saying.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s why history can change so much and so quickly. You should watch Firefly. It will make your brain do a quickstep. What a shame it didn’t get another run. It so very much deserved it. The move “Serenity” is sort of the second season that never happened. Tom and Ellin names their boat after “Serenity.” And it is Serenity.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Trent, I’m not a big sci-fi fan but did thoroughly enjoy “Serenity” and “Firefly”. Nathan Fillion makes a nice, very likeable and affable hero. We were big fans of his non sci-fi series, “Castle”. He has a new series about to debut on ABC (?), “The Rookie”. Fillion has a littl;e of the young Jimmy Stewart and Tom Hanks in him.

      Liked by 1 person

Talk to me!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.