Firefly: Big Damn Hero by Nancy Holder and James Lovegrove

First, can I talk about just how beautiful this book is? Titan sent me a hardback copy which, as always, has an incredible cover. That dust jacket needs to be felt to be believed. And it comes with a ribbon bookmark! I don’t usually go gaga over the physical format of a book, but this truly feels like a collectible.

The contents are fairly accessible for people new to the Firefly universe (or ‘verse, as it’s known) but the book will really shine for Browncoats who’ve seen every episode plus the movie. While it’s no surprise that Nancy Holder knows the mythos back and forth, James Lovegrove masterfully continues where she left off to produce a damn fine piece of writing. You know how sometimes you read an official novelization and it reads more like self-inserting, wish fulfillment fanfic than something that feels authentic to the characters and series? This book skillfully avoids any of that while still illuminating not only a huge chunk of Mal’s past but also showcasing a perfectly plausible chapter in the adventures of the Serenity’s crew.

I did have several reservations that have little to do with Mr Lovegrove’s writing. In fact, in many parts, it feels like he does his best to make up for the premise he has to work with, tho how much of this is due to Ms Holder’s benign influence is unknown. The problem, of course, is how weirdly the Browncoat experience feels like revisionist Confederate history. It’s not, but it’s hard to ignore the parallels of romanticism, among others, that make for uncomfortable reading in the era of Cult 45.

My second issue was with how poorly the crew of Serenity treat Jayne. There is a lot of telling instead of showing as to why, and it sets up this weird dichotomy where Mal is a precious fragile bb who must be tended and deferred to whereas mean ole Jayne is always right but everyone hates him because he refuses to kowtow. I kinda want to go back and watch the series again to see if this was always a problem and I never noticed before, or if this is specific to this novel. Tbh, I kinda want to go back and watch the whole show again period. And? I’m totally panting for more of these books! It makes me so happy that two more are guaranteed. I’m also hoping that they go beyond (unfilmed) chapters and tell us what happens after the movie (which I’m currently watching on Netflix having turned it on since the beginning of writing this chapter, whee!)

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