Author: James Lovegrove
Concept from: Nancy Holder
Consulting Editor: Joss Whedon
Released: November 20th 2018
Warnings: Bonds/slavery, implications of assault, beatings
Firefly has been a fan favorite for years, and yet it’s never really felt like it got a fair chance. If you followed the drama of how the tv series was released, then you already know all about it. But thanks to the fans love and dedication, the series has continued on in other forms, from movies to graphic novels, and now to novels.
Big Damn Hero is the first novel ever for the Firefly universe. What makes the adaptation even better is the fact that it’s the first of three novels in a series. The second novel, The Magnificent Nine is due out sometime in 2019, while the third novel doesn’t have a name or release date as of yet (though hopefully we’ll hear news soon!).
This novel is set after the events in Firefly’s ‘the Message’ but before the series concluded. I love that they gave us such a specific time period, as not only is it helpful and nice to know, but it sets the tone for this novel.
Warnings first: You’ve seen this a bit before in the tv series, but there’s a bondsman system in Firefly. Which is a nice way of saying that people can buy and own other people. Admittedly it seems like people enter into these deals willingly, but sometimes ‘willingly’ isn’t saying enough (when it’s the choice between life and death, what choice is there?). It’s shown a lot more in this novel. The bondsman is cruel and while they dance around it a little bit, it’s very clear that he beat and raped the woman he held in bond.
I was both excited and intimidated about starting Big Damn Hero. On the one hand I couldn’t wait to read a novel based in one of my favorite universes. On the other hand I knew that the novel had very big shoes to fill…and I was afraid of being let down. Now that I’ve taken the time to read the novel I can safely say that I am very happy with both it and my decision to read it.
Knowing that the novel was set after ‘the Message’ was important, and it resulted with a feeling of melancholy being cast over everything. This worked well, and considering the events that follow it was also oddly relevant. I think they made the right choice by citing that specific episode for the timeline.
There are a lot of perspective shifts in this novel. Mal gets a lot of camera time (so to speak) but Book, Zoe, Jayne, and everyone else get a little bit of time as well. More than that though – all of the characters already read and felt exactly like I expected and hoped. Maybe that was my mind filling in the gaps, I can’t say for certain. I can say that they all seemed to be the cast we know and love.
The novel itself started out a bit slow; but in the slow buildup sort of way. It’s clear that they were trying to take their time building tension, and it worked. I’d actually argue that there were points where too much time was spent building it up. I feel like I hit a point where I just desperately wanted to know why everything was happening like this, and why these other characters were so angry. The flashbacks did help to fill in some points, but I was happy when everything was finally explained.
The conclusion to this novel was a bit on the rough side. It seems like it always goes a certain way when Mal and Zoe are dealing with their past. On the one hand it’s nice for consistency and thematic, but on the other it’s just heartbreaking to see.
I can’t wait for more information to be revealed about the next couple of novels. I’m fully intending on reading both of them, but that’s probably no real surprise. It sounds like James Lovegrove will be on board for writing both of them, which should be good for consistency. And of course I’m assuming/hoping that Joss Whedon will do the editing again.