Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Firefly: Big Damn Hero - James Lovegrove, Nancy Holder, & Joss Whedon

Summary:  The first original novel from the much-missed Space Western Firefly, produced with Joss Whedon as consulting editor, set in the heart of the series.

A perilous cargo
It should have been a routine job, transporting five crates from the planet of Persephone to a waiting buyer.  And Lord knows, Captain Mal Reynolds needs the money if he's to keep Serenity flying.  But the client is Badger, and nothing that involves him is ever straightforward.  The crates are full of explosives, which might blow at the slightest movement.

A missing captain
Just before take-off, Mal disappears.  As the cargo grows more volatile by the minute, and Alliance cruisers start taking an interest in the tenacious smuggling ship, it's down to Serenity's first mate, Zoe, to choose between rescuing her captain and saving her crew.

A vengeful army
Meanwhile, rumours are spreading on Persephone of a band of veteran Browncoat malcontents who will stop at nothing to be revenged on those responsible for their terrible defeat.  Is Mal harbouring a dark secret from the war?  And can the crew of Serenity find him before it's too late?  (Summary from book - Image from

My Review:  I am a huge fan of Firefly -- a TV show that ran for one beautiful season before being cancelled by Fox.  After I finished watching it for the first time, I dragged my anti-tv husband into the living room, sat him down, and told  him we were watching a show together.  He loved it. In fact, I bought him a Jayne hat (you know the one) and Blue Sun t-shirt for Christmas last year that he actually wears in public. That man ain't afraid of anything, I tell you.  After we introduced our teenagers to it this summer (with the occasional scene fast-forwarded), I experienced stronger than usual Firefly withdrawal.

What's a girl to do but put all the Firefly books on hold at the library, amiright?

That's exactly what I did, hoping to find something that felt like a continuation of the series or a 'missing episode'.  The first books I was able to read were graphic novels that I reviewed last month.  They were...not really my thing.  Then came Big Damn Hero, a straight-up novel which slides right in between Episodes 12 (The Message) and 13 (Heart of Gold) in the series.  I love that the story is told within the time frame of the show because that meant all nine of my favorite characters were on board Serenity.  Each chapter followed a different member of the crew, so I felt I got to spend time with everyone, though I would have liked to see more of some.

Since this was a 'regular' novel (and not a graphic novel) I could imagine the characters however I wanted and so, of course, the entire cast of Firefly set up shop in my head for several hours.  It was awesome!  Well, hello there, Mal...Fancy meetin' you here!  Hey Kaylee...everything shiny?!  Yes, Jayne. We know.  You'll be in your bunk.  And so on.  I could see and hear them perfectly, even if the story did read a bit like fanfiction, and I felt like the author, James Lovegrove, managed to capture the characters well.  Mal sounded like Mal - brusque, dependable, and downright hilarious.  Jayne said things only Jayne would ever say.  You get the idea.   The story also provided additional information on some of the more mysterious characters, a decent backstory on Mal, insight into Book's past, and more. While I didn't get all my questions answered, there were some extra details that had me grinning like moron.  The story itself was action-packed episodic fare, imperfect, but with funny one-liners and little nuances here and there that really gave it heart.  It was delightfully familiar and exactly the kind of 'missing episode' I was hoping to read.

The major criticism I have is that the author tried so hard to give nods to the original series, that he might as well have been a bobble-head. It felt inorganic and forced, particularly in the beginning chapters, where the author inserts references to past episodes far more than was really necessary within the confines of the story.  Thankfully, the 'nods' tapered off further in the story or, rather more likely, as the story picked up I stopped noticing them.

Overall, I think fans of Firefly will enjoy this book.  It isn't the be-all end-all of the canon, but I felt it fit into the series nicely and fed my need for more Firefly, when there was no more to be had. *SOB*.

My Rating: 4 Stars

For the sensitive reader: Honestly, this book was a lot 'cleaner' than the tv series/movie.  Mostly because Inara isn't "working" in the strictest sense of theword.  There are a handful of English swear words and significantly more Chinese ones (I assume.  I don't speak Chinese.)  There is occasional mild innuendo (usually from Jayne) and one particularly icky moment where Wash makes an incest joke.  Two characters have sex, but it's only mentioned and not described.

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