The Magnificent Nine

Book cover with a woman in silhouette holding a shotgun upright, a man in the foreground with a yellow hat with earflaps

The Magnificent Nine by James Lovegrove

Genre: sci-fi

I read it as a(n): hardback

Length: 331 pp

Her Grace’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Temperance McCloud, an old flame of Jayne Cobb, lives a quiet life with her daughter on Thetis, a far off settler’s planet. Until Elias Vandal and his gang of Scourers come to her town of Coogan’s Bluff, that is. Vandal sets himself up as the ruler of Thetis and he’s going to enforce that position by taking control of all the water on the desert-like planet. Temperance convinces Jayne and the crew of Serenity to come to their aid. But not everything is what it seems, including Temperance’s daughter…Jane.

This novel was so fun, just life an episode of Firefly in print. There really wasn’t anything too special about the plot; if you paid attention, there really weren’t any surprises and you know of course that the crew are all going to survive. But it doesn’t matter because it is just fun to read and it’s a bit of nostalgia to reunite with a beloved cast from a greatly missed show. 

I know there are other books in the series and I’m going to read them all. But I hope there will be more as well. There are books for Mal, Jayne, Inara, Zoe, and River. But what about Wash, Kaylee, Simon, and Book? A couple of the others seem to be ensemble books featuring the whole crew equally but it would be awesome if the rest of the crew could each get their own story to finish out the novels. Probably it won’t happen, but as the saying goes, if wishes were horses, we’d all be eating steak.

Favorite lines:

  • “Just tell me this: when did a shipload of criminals, desperadoes, and fugitives become such a bunch of do-gooders?”

Inara had the answer. “When their captain showed them how” (42).

  • They’ll pick up a half-dozen, maybe a dozen recruits each time. Folks who fancy being on the winning team. Folks who were perhaps never that popular in their hometown. The dregs, the losers. They see something they like in the Scourers and they latch onto it (66). [Just like a certain political group I can think of.]
  • “That was a good dodge, that one,” Jayne said. “We printed up Miles Davis labels and stuck ’em on Kenny G vinyl” (86). 
  • Seriously, keep this up and I’ll rip your arm out of its socket and beat you to death with the wet end (93).
  • I fought at Serenity Valley. It ain’t about optimism. It’s about doin’ what’s right even when everything’s stacked against you (143).
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Big Damn Hero

38464992Firefly – Big Damn Hero* by James Lovegrove

I read it as a: hardback

Source: my own collection

Length: 334 pp

Publisher: Titan Books

Year: 2018

Big Damn Hero is the first of a new series of novels based on the awesome and tragically short-lived sci-fi show Firefly. This first book focused primarily on Captain Tightpants himself, Malcolm Reynolds. As always, Mal and the crew of Serenity are hustling for work and they take a job from Badger, their sometime ally and mostly opportunistic small-time crime boss on Persephone. They are to ship some very hinky and hazardous cargo for him. Mal also gets word of a possible side job they could take that is on the way to the drop off point for Badger’s cargo. Being something of an opportunist himself, he goes to meet the contact for this job, only to find it was a set-up and he gets abducted by a band of fringe lunatic former Browncoats. The rest of the crew have to figure out where he is before the Browncoats string Mal up as a traitor to their cause, deliver Badger’s cargo, and evade an Alliance patrol which is suddenly very interested in who might be traveling with Serenity.

This was a very fun book, like being in an episode of Firefly. It had all the shiny slang and random bits of Mandarin thrown in, the same action we have come to expect from the show, and the author clearly is a fan because he nailed all the characters’ voices just about perfectly.

I loved getting some of Mal’s backstory from his growing up years on Shadow. He always said he grew up on a cattle ranch on Shadow but not much more about it than that. I’m a sucker for a good backstory, and while this novel was not that, it still provided a nice glimpse into some aspects of his life that we never really got from the show, with just a couple exceptions. Adding more to the overall mythology of Firefly is always a good thing.

I think the only thing I didn’t care for was how neatly the ending was tied up, but many of the episodes were as well, and I will be a good fan and take Firefly in whatever way I can get it, so the ending didn’t bother me too much. I do think the Browncoats were a little too zealous in their bloodlust and might have given more pause to some things, but then there wouldn’t have been much of a story. I hope so gorram much that there will be books for each of the Serenity crew. It looks like there are books coming up focusing mainly on Jayne (Firefly – The Magnificent Nine) and River (Firefly: Generations), so one can only hope that we get books for Zoe, Wash, Kaylee, Book, Simon, and Inara as well. Especially Zoe because besides River, Zoe is fucking awesome.

There were several lines I loved, but my favorite was in the beginning: Is it a good life or a bad one? The answer doesn’t matter. It’s the only life we have.” Ain’t it just?

*Amazon affiliate link. Help a gal out, eh? 🙂