The Book Report: Eighteen more essays about the moral, political, and ethical underpinnings, implications, and effects of the late, lamented "Firefly" TV series.
My Review: Last collection had yummy-yummy Jewel Staite, aka Kaylee, writing about her favorite things in each episode; this collection has the slurpsome Nathan Fillion reflecting on being the Captain! For that alone, it's worth the price of admission!
But wait! There's more! Loni Peristere (also a beauteous hunk of man-flesh, maybe Joss is a switch-hitter? All the men in the 'verse are so toothsome!), the f/x wizard behind the whole Whedonesque world, talks about the amazing and exacting Creator in terms of inspiring the best work from Loni and his minions, an essay that made me even angrier at the business-sound-but-aesthetically-idiotic cancellation of "Firefly". Then one Geoff Klock pulls apart and analyzes the brilliant, brilliant episode "Out of Gas", in search of storytelling genius and its telltale markers; there are many, and they are important for anyone interested in storytelling craft to study in depth. This essay makes that process almost easy, which is in itself a feat of storytelling.
Bruce Bethke's essay, "Cut 'Em Off At The Horsehead Nebula!", goes into the whys and wherefores of the SFnal aversion to Western tropes invading "its" territory, rooted in the pulp origins of SF, and its early competition with Western pulps for writers and readers. One can still hear nasty, condescending echoes of the war, which SF **won** and could and should drop, in the covert critical reception of "Firefly" as a damned Bat Durston story. Read the essay, I ain't explainin' that one. Too long, and also it pisses me the hell off.
My personal favorite essay is "The Bonnie Brown Flag", relating the "Firefly" underpinnings to the American Civil War's myth of the Noble Losers, the Gentleman Planters following the Bonnie Blue Flag. It's poignant, it's well crafted, and it's quite nicely argued.
The only essay that's a real flop is "The Virtual 'Verse", which was a waaay premature ad for the dead-in-the-water MMORPG of "Firefly" that was, at that time, being touted as forthcoming. Well, it never forthcame, and the essay looks like what it was: Blatant product placement. Ptui.
But then comes what I think is the most important essay: "The Alliance's War on Science" by Ken Wharton. Ten pages of keen observation on the nature of political propaganda masquerading as science. Again, if all you read is this one essay, your purchase price will be fully amortized. The subject is ever-more important, and this essay will sensitize you to the issue like never before.
Just like "Firefly" would have, had it survived intact to this good day. Next best thing is buying BenBella Books's essay collections. And, of course, reading them with the starved passion of a jilted lover. Or is it just me...?