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Finding Serenity: Anti-Heroes, Lost Shepherds and Space Hookers in Joss…

by Jane Espenson (Editor)

Other authors: Ginjer Buchanan (Contributor), Roxanne Logstreet Conrad (Contributor), Joy Davidson (Contributor), Don Debrandt (Contributor), Keith R. A. DeCandido (Contributor)15 more, Larry Dixon (Contributor), David Gerrold (Contributor), Jennifer Goltz (Contributor), Nancy Holder (Contributor), Tanya Huff (Contributor), Mercedes Lackey (Contributor), Jewel Staite (Contributor), Kevin M. Sullivan (Contributor), Robert B. Taylor (Contributor), Lawrence Watt-Evans (Contributor), Michelle Sagara West (Contributor), John C. Wright (Contributor), Leigh Adams Wright (Contributor), Glenn Yeffeth (Contributor), Lyle Zynda (Contributor)

Series: Firefly - Serenity (9000)

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9562217,751 (3.79)22
Firefly's early demise left fans with a deep sense of loss and plenty of unanswered questions. From what was wrong with the pilot to what was right with the Reavers, from the use of Chinese to how correspondence between Joss and network executives might have gone, from a philosopher's perspective on "Objects in Space" to a sex therapist's analysis of Inara, Finding Serenity is filled with writing as exciting, funny and enthralling as the show itself.… (more)

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» See also 22 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
Who writes essays about a short-lived television series that hardly anyone ever watched? Who reads these essays? Answer to both questions: people who "get it".

That is, people who understand that there was more to Joss Whedon's Firefly than "Gunsmoke in Space". Well, maybe not Gunsmoke; the law was black and white in Gunsmoke, and Firefly contains multiple shades of gray. More like, um, maybe "The Wild Wild West in Space"? Jim West saw shades of gray -- utilized shades of gray in his apprehension of criminals. Malcolm Reynolds saw shades of gray in his flouting of the law. Two sides of the same coin? Maybe.

This collection of essays examines the multiple layers of meaning in Firefly's 'verse. Authors ranging from Mercedes Lackey to Tanya Huff to Jewel Staite ("Kaylee") discourse on the topics of freedom, sex, marriage, equality, crime, war, friendship, and many others, with the occasional glimpse behind the scenes thrown in for good measure. It's a rollicking, eye-opening, thought-provoking collection about a TV show "they" thought had no staying power.

Boy, howdy, were "they" wrong. Because "they" didn't get it. ( )
1 vote avanta7 | Oct 14, 2013 |
I picked this book up for two reasons: the title, and the series. I am a Firefly fan. I didn't know the series existed until after the movie came out in 2005, but I picked up a copy of the box set and sat down to watch.

I promise not to rabid fangirl-out on everyone (this is about the book, not the series), but I loved it. I loved Firefly for the writing, the dialogue, the anti-heroes, and the humor. Every time I re-watch it, I forget just how funny it was, and I once again lament the fact that it was cancelled before I ever knew it existed.

Basically, I'm the kind of fan who has serious opinions on which essays in this book were accurate, and which ones were full of it. I startled the boy (who was innocently playing Monster Hunt three feet away) because I snapped aloud at one of the authors for not doing his research. I hate poorly-researched writing. Way I figure, if you're paid to write an article, cite your evidence correctly, because mixing up episodes is sloppy. The entire series has 14 episodes. It's really not that hard to remember which one had which plot point. /end rant

That aside, the best essay in this book was by Mercedes Lackey. It was about the nature of freedom in the show Firefly, and which characters were "freer" than others, which is just the kind of pondering that I eat up with a spoon. I actually didn't read the author until after I'd finished the essay and wondered who wrote it. I was a bit taken aback, because this was my only experience with Lackey's writing until this point.

The book was published before the movie came out, so it was very interesting to read several of the authors' hypotheses on things that were answered in Serenity. Perhaps their essays would have been informed by the film, and several others would have had further speculation. Either way, this was a fast, entertaining read, and I'm glad I grabbed it. ( )
  eldashwood | Apr 17, 2013 |
Spotty but almost entirely enjoyable. My favorite essay was Joy Davidson's 'Whores and Goddesses'. Lots of information here, and some amazing analysis of one of my favorite shows ever. If you loved the program and are still sulking about its untimely cancellation, read this book. ( )
  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
The Book Report: Twenty-one essays on Firefly and its underlying assumptions, pre-Serenity-the-movie, by a motley crew of writers, philosophers, actors, and bon vivants, edited by Whedonesque Goddess Jane Espenson, creatrix of the fine, fine episode "Shindig."

My Review: Unless you're already familiar with "Firefly," none of this will make one whit of sense. If you've drunk the Kool-Aid, it's a balm in this age to re-immerse yourself in the 'verse. So much richness and challenging freshness were lost when the series was amputated after 14 episodes! A wild-assed solar system, per Joss's insistence, with a zillion and seven terraformable planets and moons. A society made up of solely human inhabitants that still manages to feel alien as all hell and still contains people...oh dear, oh dear, I *meant* characters!...that I know, some well, some not well, some I'd cross the street to avoid. Just like my block. A crew of thieves and whores, plus one bona-fide Companion/geisha/hetaeara as a nod to respectability(!).

Essays treat all, well most, facets of this fascinating and deeply textured fictional reality, from deep philosophical musings that, frankly, I found impenetrably dull and in spite of four separate runs at it have never finished, to Jewel Staite (Kaylee!) musing on her top-five moments of joy making or watching or both each of the 14 episodes. Mercedes Lackey, a favorite author of mine some of the time and a keen observer of humanity all of the time, wrote an excellent meditation on the libertarian overtones of the series, whether that was her stated aim I know not. David Gerrold (he wrote "The Trouble with Tribbles" for ST:TOS, and if any part of that sentence doesn't scan for you, I can't help you) meditates elegantly, since he can't write any other way, on subtext and its many traps and rewards.

But no one takes on some of the cringe-inducing tech flubs, like the universally-accessible Cortex, "waves" that allow real-time conversation, and the explicit **lack** of relativity-bending FTL drives still allowing us to go from place to place in a reasonable facsimile of a blink! EEEUUU But well, what a geeky fan-boy am I, over in fan-fiction-land, I wrote stories treating these very subjects: This is indeed a system, just part of a system in a star cluster (Google it) that's held together by dark matter, which is what the gravity drives on space ships use to get to near-relativistic speeds so get from planet to planet in less than the months it'd take otherwise...wait, this isn't *my* essay in the book! It's a review!


Anyway, I turned to this essay collection because I miss with a starved passion the fixes of the 'verse that I've come to need like I need single-malt Scotch whisky. I truly, passionately, deeply love this vision of humanity's probable future, and wish that I could win one of those super-ultra-mega-big lottery jackpots. I'd put some of it, like Nathan Fillion said, to use buying "Firefly" back from the gorram Reavers at FOX and make as many more episodes as I could afford, netcasting them to my fellow Browncoats. A fine bunch, may I add. I chould know. They helped me get through the lowest ebb of my independent adult life, generously and without making a fuss about it.

But I can't recommend it to any and all comers. It truly is just for the initiates, so I can't rate it higher than I have here. For Browncoats, though, I give it full star marks! If you don't have it already, get it. ( )
8 vote richardderus | May 25, 2011 |
A collection of essays about Firefly, Joss Whedon's much-lamented science fiction Western about pirates. (Which, much as I love it, probably tells you a little something about why it's much-lamented).

It's a bit of a mixed bag, all things considered. Some of the essays are excellent; they're thoughtful, penetrating, and full of good insights about the show's themes and production values. Others are, um, rather less impressive.

As always, let's focus on the good stuff right up front. And really, there's enough good stuff herein that you Firefly fans are gonna want to get your hands on this. I was particularly taken with the behind the scenes stuff, but I also enjoyed several of the essays that delved deeper into the characters and their motivations. My favourite piece, though, was Jewel Staite's list of her top five favourite moments from each episode. Many them are also mine.

Now, the bad stuff. There's a fair amount in here that falls into the, "I don't want to be branded as a slobbering fanperson, so I'm going to trash an aspect of the show just to prove how serious I am" camp. Many of these essays do raise valid concerns, (ie, where are all the Chinese folks in this American/Chinese future?), but the persistent negativity didn't really fly for me. I wasn't too big on the humorous essays, either, and there were a couple of pieces that were so stylistically awkward that I couldn't read them in their entirity. Social scientists, take note: when you summarize literature--which does include film and television, in this day and age--you always do so in the present tense. It's, "Inara teaches Mal to swordfight," not "Inara taught Mal to swordfight." Past tense summaries are almost always awkward and annoying, and they tend to read like fan fiction. (This is especially true when you try to include dialogue, as many of these writers do).

But, like I said, there's enough good stuff herein that you Firefly fans should try to get your hands on this. It's not a perfect book, but it's worth your time.

(This review originally appeared on my blog, Stella Matutina). ( )
2 vote xicanti | Nov 29, 2009 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Espenson, JaneEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Buchanan, GinjerContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Conrad, Roxanne LogstreetContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Davidson, JoyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Debrandt, DonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
DeCandido, Keith R. A.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dixon, LarryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gerrold, DavidContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Goltz, JenniferContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Holder, NancyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Huff, TanyaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lackey, MercedesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Staite, JewelContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sullivan, Kevin M.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Taylor, Robert B.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Watt-Evans, LawrenceContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
West, Michelle SagaraContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wright, John C.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wright, Leigh AdamsContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Yeffeth, GlennContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Zynda, LyleContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed

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Firefly's early demise left fans with a deep sense of loss and plenty of unanswered questions. From what was wrong with the pilot to what was right with the Reavers, from the use of Chinese to how correspondence between Joss and network executives might have gone, from a philosopher's perspective on "Objects in Space" to a sex therapist's analysis of Inara, Finding Serenity is filled with writing as exciting, funny and enthralling as the show itself.

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