So I'm thinking about how much of the basic vibe of Firefly
is patterned after the American Frontier if the late 1800s. Whedon has explained why this is and I'm fine with that. But consider an alternative...
We never saw Earth That Was, nor the civilization that directly left there. All we know is the aftermath. So why would said civilization set so far in the future replicate clothing, tech, customs, and speech from centuries past? Maybe because they didn't replicate
anything. Say the 'verse is actually an alternate history where a Steampunk-inspired 19th century came into being and never fell, where East and West established a balance in the 1800s that continued into Firefly's
present day. Some aspects of culture and tech advanced while others (six-guns, trains, horse-drawn wagons and cattle-raids) didn't.
I'm not suggesting that Serenity
was steampowered, although Kaylee's enginee room looked like it. I'm suggesting the opposite... what if the Old West (or an alternate version thereof) was nuclear powered? What other Jules Verne-esque variations might Earth That Was have held?
EDIT... After closer thought it sounds rather silly. Please disregard.