Firefly; Big Damn Hero by James Lovegrove

Posted on December 29, 2018


After quite a layoff, Words by Ross is up and running once more. It shall shortly be back on its own domain etc but for now I am too excited by getting to review this book that I could not wait until everything else was done.

Firefly; Big Damn Hero
James Lovegrove
Titan Books

Firefly. It should have been a major television hit. After all it came from Joss Whedon, had a fantastic cast and excellent story telling. And following Whedon’s success with first Buffy then the spinoff Angel, you could be forgiven for assuming that to networks, Whedon would have represented money in the bank. But the Fox network canned Firefly after only one season. What went wrong?

Gail Berman, former president of entertainment at Fox, later stated it was purely a numbers things, that an expensive program was not delivering sufficient numbers. However…

As far as I can tell, Fox only had itself to blame for the presumed failure. For a start, the program was initially aired late at night, outside prime viewing slots – hard to get numbers there. Then there was the nonsense advertising, calling the show things like a ‘wacky western in space.’ Finally, for completely unfathomable reasons, Fox insisted on airing episodes out of the order instead of the intended Whedon narrative arc. So in light of those silly things, is it any wonder that Firefly failed to get the viewing numbers required to keep it on the air?

So Firefly was canned, despite massive outcry from fans. Whedon purchased the set that was the Firefly class space vessel, Serenity, warehousing it until he was later able to bring out for the film, Serenity. That film answered some questions while posing others. But that was pretty much it. There were a few graphic novels continuing the story to a degree, but no franchise of novels.

Where were the novels? The depth of Whedon’s creation would have made it a magnificent hunting ground for story telling. I heard the latest rumours that a novel was coming, but we had heard that before so I did not pay much attention to it. Iit was with considerable excitement a few days ago that I found myself holding a brand spanking new book, Big Damn Hero.

Right from the start it grabbed me. It is a lovely hardcover that has a nice ribbon place marker – a nice touch. With Mal Reynolds and Zoë Washburne depicted on the cover, the whole look had a strong sense of the program’s opening credits, adding to the visual appeal.

Writing in somebody else’s ‘verse and retaining the same feel of the original creators cannot be easy. This story concept came from Nancy Holder who has an existing track record in writing novels for the Buffy and Angel novel franchises. However the final author was James Lovegrove who seems to have his own pretty good track record in other forms of speculative fiction. Joss Whedon had an overall credit as a consulting editor.

So, what of the story, you ask.

I did not like it. I LOVED IT.

Anyone with even a passing familiarity of the Firefly series and ‘verse will have no difficulty in being able to picture scenes in your mind as you read. It is almost as if you are watching an episode that somehow had not been broadcast.

It is all there. The setting. The characters with their individual quirks. The way they all talk. The way they react. The story itself is just what you would expect of something Mal Reynolds is involved with.

I can only conclude that James Lovegrove is a real Firefly fan, bringing the story to life as he has. No doubt the man himself, Joss Whedon, in his consulting role, also made sure things stuck to where they should be. And of course, kudos to Nancy Holder for starting the storyboard rolling along.

If you liked Firefly and Serenity then you will definitely get a kick out of this novel.

They are all there: Mal, Zoë, Jayne, Kaylee, Simon, River, Wash and Book. As I have previously written elsewhere (but alas, no longer available), those boys in that cast got to work with the best damn female foursome ever on the screen. To now ‘see’ all eight of them back, continuing their stories, expanding them while at the same time showing us more of the Browncoats backstory, was simply a thrill.

There is even more good news. There are two more novels in the franchise scheduled for release in 2019. TWO! Yeehaaaa!!

In Australia at least, if you don’t see this on the shelves at your local book shop, don’t panic. Simply ask them to order in it for you. It does not take many orders placed for books to be bumped up onto being directly placed on shelves in shops.

I think it perhaps best to close with Lovegrove’s opening dedication.

This novel is respectfully dedicated to the supremely talented artists, technicians and craftspeople who created the ‘verse, peopled it with such memorable characters and left us wanting more





Posted in: Review