Friday, April 26, 2019

Firefly: Big Damn Hero by James Lovegrove

Reviewed by Kristin

Science fiction fans have a tendency to hold onto what they love, going to huge gatherings, dressing up as their favorite characters, and clamoring until they get more.  The television show Firefly may have only been broadcast for an abbreviated season with 14 episodes in 2002, but its cult-like following wouldn’t let it go.  Creator Joss Whedon then wrote and directed Serenity, a full length theatrical film in 2005, continuing to follow the plucky crew of spacefaring adventurers.  Over a decade later, readers have now been rewarded for their relative patience with a series of novels based in the Firefly ‘verse.

Captain Mal Reynolds is at his best doing what he always does, taking on cargo to make some coin, in order to keep his ship in the sky.  Take a job; keep on moving—that seems to be Mal’s motto.  He’s not exactly friendly with the Alliance, who fought and won the war to extend their control over the frontier planets around the outer edges of human habitation.  Mal was a Browncoat during the war, one of many rebels fighting for the right to control their own resources and livelihoods.  If Mal had his druthers, he’d just as soon avoid the Alliance.

On board, Zoe is still second in command; Wash is still at the controls; Kaylee is still sweet-talking the engines; Jayne is still crooning to his weapon Vera.  Simon and River Tam, the brother and sister being sought by the Alliance are still along for the ride, as are Shepherd Book and Inara, the Companion who rents one of Serenity’s shuttles.  It’s a full ship, but by this point it feels like family.  When the Serenity crew takes on some potentially dangerous cargo and prepares for a delivery run, Mal unexpectedly disappears.  Suddenly, his past compatriots are showing up and it looks like they have a score to settle.  Fortunately, his loyal crew goes on the hunt to rescue him, showing up not a minute too soon, either.

I am one of those aforementioned science fiction fans who is dedicated to a wide variety of stories woven through time and space and portrayed in print as well as on the screen.  I have to admit that it took me a while to get into the flow of this book, but I expect that is due to my own distracted habit of reading more than one book at a time.  Once I began to follow the storyline, it felt like I was right in the middle of a Firefly episode.  The writing really fit what I expected, so while I wasn’t absolutely knocked over by the story, it was a pleasant way to fill my time and my science fiction Book Bingo block.

Big Damn Hero is the first in a planned trilogy set midway through the timeline portrayed in Firefly and Serenity.  The Magnificent Nine is expected to be published this month, and Generations is planned for October 2019.

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