The Physics of the Buffyverse

The Physics of the Buffyverse, by Jennifer Ouellette is an in-depth look at the science behind the hit shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Ouellette pulls from a wide variety of examples of extraordinary monsters and happenings from the Buffyverse and explains how they might be possible in the real world, and how they’d work. She often compares vampires and other demons’ abilities to the nature of common animals and insects in Ouellette’s section on biology.

I was afraid that this might be a bit over my head, since my favorite subject wasn’t physics. But Ouellette does a wonderful job of explaining the science in layman’s terms, complete with the occasional illustration to drive her points. I found a lot of the facts behind “what is possible and why” pretty interesting. From how someone the size of Buffy could toss a larger man to theories on time manipulation, Ouellette covers a large range of topics and conjectures.

If you’re a big fan of Buffy and Angel, and would like learning more about how things work in the Buffyverse, this book is for you.

Thanks to Anna at FSB Associates for the review copy!

Excerpt Below
The following is an excerpt from the book The Physics of the Buffyverse
by Jennifer Ouellette
Published by Penguin Books; December 2006;$15.00US/$18.50CAN;
Copyright © 2006 by Jennifer Ouellette
Welcome to the Buffyverse

“Hell’s empty, and all the demons are here.”
–Ariel, The Tempest

It begins with the sound of shattering glass. A young man and his pretty blond date break into the science lab at the local high school late one night for a bit of mischief — most likely to engage in some extracurricular hanky-panky on the roof. The girl appears nervous, starting at every sound, fearful that someone, or something, with evil intentions, is lurking in the darkened school. The young man has all the arrogance of youth, dismissing her fears and assuring her with an insinuating leer that they are quite alone. Whereupon the girl’s face transforms into that of a fanged, yellow-eyed demon, and she sinks her teeth into her soon-to-be-former date’s neck.

This is the weird yet wonderful world of the Buffyverse, where magic, vampires, and demons are real, and mystical convergences and otherworldly phenomena are everyday occurrences. When Buffy the Vampire Slayer ebuted as a midseason replacement in 1997, few industry insiders expected it to do well. After all, the campy film version had tanked at the box office. Actor Kiefer Sutherland — whose father, Donald Sutherland, co-starred in the film — reportedly was so pessimistic about its chances that he told the show’s star, Sarah Michelle Gellar, not to worry, because she was bound to get another series later on. But the TV show defied the naysayers and ended up running for seven seasons. While it never achieved the blockbuster popularity of mainstream sitcoms like Friends or Seinfeld, Buffy quickly attracted a strong cult following, drawn by its unique blend of horror, science fiction, and high school melodrama. The show also became a critics’ darling, thanks to generous sprinklings of mythology, literary allusion, biting wit, and a lexicon of its own hip teen lingo (dubbed “Buffyspeak”).

The premise is simple enough: “Into every generation, a Slayer is born, one girl with the strength and skill to hunt the vampires.” That girl is fifteen-year-old Buffy Summers. In the pilot episode (“Welcome to the Hellmouth”), Buffy moves to the fictional town of Sunnydale, California, with her divorced mother, Joyce, after Buffy is expelled from her former high school in Los Angeles. (She burned down the gym, but there were extenuating circumstances: It was full of vampires.)

Sunnydale is not the picture-perfect town that it seems to be on the surface. It is located squarely on top of a Hellmouth, a mystical portal between the world of Sunnydale and a separate hell dimension. The Hellmouth emits all kinds of bad juju, and its energy draws evil beings to the area like a giant magnet of badness. Buffy’s job is to keep the demons at bay and prevent hell from erupting on Earth. She does so for the next seven years, beating back everything from vampires to hell gods to the very First Evil, while multaneously grappling with the usual travails of high school, college, and the onset of young adulthood — all of which can be scarier than any demon horde.

Fortunately, she doesn’t fight alone. Buffy is aided by her oh-so-British Watcher, Rupert Giles, and her new friends: Willow, Xander, and Angel — a reformed vampire cursed by gypsies who restored his human soul. In 1999, Angel became the star of his very own eponymous spinoff series (Angel). He sets up shop as a private investigator to fight injustice and help the hopeless in a fictionalized version of Los Angeles — which usually involves killing demons and battling other forces of evil. The characters and events that populate these two series make up what is known as the Buffyverse.

10 thoughts on “The Physics of the Buffyverse”

  1. I loved both Buffy and Angel and was very distraught when they went off the air. This sounds very cool. I think I had a similar book about Star Trek science and the real theories some of the science was based on. Can’t remember the title for the life of me.

  2. I loved Buffy, not so much Angel, I don’t know why.
    But David Boreanaza is soooo hunky, *insert giggling like a school girl here* 😉 I still watch him on Bones!

    The book sounds very interesting, not just for people that are curious. It sounds like a great book to help with research for writers that work in these types of sub-genres.

    Great review! As always. 😉

  3. I love both Buffy and Angel. The science behind the wondrous feats can sometimes make things seem a bit less wondrous but it is very interesting.

  4. there was science in buffy? ;o) don’t get me wrong, i adore buffy… but i didn’t realize an entire book, on the PHYSICS of it, no less, could be written!

    going to have to check this one out, though

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