Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Discovering Firefly

Last week a friend loaned me the entire series of Firefly on DVD. Okay, so I'm a bit late to the Browncoat party, but with at least one of my Spacefreighter buddies being a fan, I felt I ought to look it over (and I rarely pass up the chance for scifi). I'd seen Serenity and enjoyed it. So, what did I think?
I'm disappointed there was only one series. The first season of anything generally only gives you an introduction to the characters and the universe. What I saw promised so many more storylines to come. Frankly I didn't warm to Captain Mal all that much, but compared to the film I felt his strange code of...honour?...probably had some explaining to come. The story with Simon and River had barely got started - again, I'm assuming the development of that might have appeared in summarized form in Serenity. In fact, I get the impression that Serenity was pretty much a super concentrated story arc that should have covered at least three seasons of Firefly had it got that far (Browncoats, please feel free to put me right). My impression of Firefly? Whedon took the frontier history of the US and thrust into space. That works fine for me. Breaking into new territories whether a new continent or new planets is going to follow a parallel. I liked the overall grungy, almost steampunk feel of the ship - again, like current society you'll have the rich, poor and primitive sectors same as modern cities and countries. I liked that it wasn't all high tech gadgets and laser blasters. My one issue with all the Star Trek series has been the almost utopian overall feel with sparkly smart spaceships and laserbeam phasers. Loved the galactic language, although I'd have liked a transalation. I'm guessing it was Chinese (or based on it). I've used a universal language in several stories although in my earlier works (and the UK scifi comedy series Red Dwarf) Esperanto was used. Again, ST translators always seemed too pat - anyone who has used something like Google translate will know how iffy that kind of program can be. The hospital on Ariel struck me as odd - considering they could rearrange someone's brain, why were they still conducting heart bypass and cracking open someone's chest to do cardiac massage? Some aspects of this projected future didn't quite gel for me.
Characterwise, the sexual tension between Simon and sweet, naive and yet tech savvy Kaylee, and between Mal and Inara had me screaming at the TV (and on Twitter). So I must have enjoyed it. I cannot, however - spoiler alert - forgive Whedon for killing off Wash. Him and Zoe were my fave couple in the series. And Jayne? Well. He didn't pretend to be anything he wasn't, and with that name I can understand his 'tude. Jaynestown showed he had some conscience, albeit a warped one. And being as Jayne is my middle name (that's where 'Jay' comes from) I still had a soft spot for the dude. River's chaotic nature just put an edge on the whole thing with never knowing what she might do next, although I think it was carried off better in Serenity.
Overall I enjoyed this but couldn't really invest myself in the series, knowing there's no more to come. Which is a gorram shame...

Additional - After a furore on Twitter over Kickstarter funding for a Veronica Mars film, the immediate aftermath was - why doesn't Joss do that for Firefly?! Well, you can read his response here.

Action!

Well, Entangled's new, shiny submission process did deliver on its promise of a four week response time. Unfortunately for me it was a no. However, Tethered is still with the original publisher I submitted to, although it'll be mid April at the earliest before I hear from them. In the meantime I'm researching other publishers.
Flaming Angel, a scifi short for an in-house anthology call, is still being tweaked. With the next school holiday in less than two weeks, I really want it gone, even though the final submission date has now been extended. I haven't done much on the writing front due to some real life stuff, but I'm hoping to finish my cyberpunk short for the Sword and Laser anthology before the school holidays too.

Discoveries

A great post by Allan Douglas on exotic space propulsions. It's something I've been reading up on more, to use in my books. Although I've vaguely picked up on varieties of inter- and intra-stellar transportation, I've kept the detail light because my scientific knowledge is shaky. But I want to improve it. So for anyone just starting to think about space travel for the first time, go here.
The Dee Mura Literary Agency have a new agent - Kaylee Davis - and she's looking for science fiction, among other things!Take a look here.

Happenings

The Rites of Spring Blog Hop is on, celebrating firsts. I'm sharing Keir's first kiss, with a $5 gift card and a copy of Terms & Conditions Apply as my giveaway. The Grand Prizes are a Kindle Fire and a $50 Amazon gift card!Go here!
There's no Cover Love post this week, also due to the hop, but you can still check out Jessica Subject's post here. The next post is fantasy covers with UF author Chantal Halpin.
Next week I'll start posting details for the SFR Brigade's second blog hop, with a theme suggested by Greta van der Rol - Out of this World. Watch out for the info!

Bookshelf

My review of Neal Asher's Zero Point (hard scifi) is now live on the Fantasy Book Review site here. At the moment I'm reading Revenge of the Mad Scientist by Lara Nance (steampunk). There's no Read Only Wednesday this week due to the Rites of Spring Blog Hop, but the following week will be Downside Girls by my big favourite Jaine Fenn (scifi/space opera).

DVDs

I have Space Above and Beyond as my next scifi series to catch up on.

Ping Pong

Laurie, great posts on sitting out the GH and your agent interview. Thanks to Amanda for her contributions.




9 comments:

  1. Yes, the language in Firefly is mangled Chinese. There's tons of stuff on the Internet that translates all the phrases. There's even an article out there by a physicist who wanted to prove Wash could have survived the Reaver lance through the glass. Didn't work, Wash was doomed.

    Had Firefly not been canceled Wash never would have died. Joss has said that many times.

    It's interesting to me to see a non-American perspective on Firefly. So much of what makes Firefly awesome is the Western mash-up and it's fascinating to see how a non-American did have trouble connecting with it. It's truly a Western set in space. Most Americans are raised on Western lore and the literary genre is as much a part of the fabric of America as Austen and Dickens are for Britain.

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  2. I watched westerns as a youngster (and I remember being a fan of Champion the Wonder Horse and The Lone Ranger). But I never took those to be terribly accurate representations of what it was really like. As you say, American history isn't really part of our education in the UK, aside from mentioning the Mayflower and the discovery of America. Tudor, Roman, and the two World Wars are the main history topics.

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  3. Aw, sorry you didn't fall in love with Firefly, Pippa. For me, from the first shot of a starship running wild horses, I was in love. As I got to know the characters, it only got better. But I know it's not for everyone.

    Joss Whedan did so many things right with Firefly (I could go on and on) but I especially loved his hero, a scarred war veteran who's still trying to live down a war that he lost. (Living and breathing the military for so many years, I guess I relate to that at some deep level.) He named the ship he loved after his greatest defeat--the Battle of Serenity Valley.

    In one of the episodes, someone confronts him and says, "Seems odd that you would name your ship after a battle you were on the wrong side of."

    And Mal replies, "May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one." He carries a lot of baggage from his past, but for me, that's what makes him so multi-faceted. In the 10th anniversary show, Nathan Fillion said each of the characters represents something Malcolm Reynolds had lost in himself. The show carried some amazing subtext.

    The character was originally written to be much darker and more bitter than Nathan played it (or so he explained in the same interview) but I personally loved the spin and touches of humor he added to Mal's character. He never takes himself too seriously.

    Sorry to hear about Entangled, but just keep flyin'. They can't take the sky from you. :)

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  4. Lol, I didn't hate it, Laurie. I'd be interested to see how Joss would continue the series, whether he'd take Serenity into account or ignore it (as happened with the Doctor Who films compared to the series).
    As for Entangled - well, rejections are part of the game. I've had a rather exciting proposition regarding Tethered. ;)

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  5. Yes, FIREFLY, is in the Western tradition, but much more THE SEARCHERS or UNFORGIVEN than HIGH NOON or GUNFIGHT AT THE OK CORRAL. Mal is a wounded hero from the losing side in the war (the rebels, the Confederates in U.S. history who went out West in large numbers), who in some ways is not a likable fellow. (Think John Wayne in THE SEARCHERS.) We never had the chance to see him fully redeemed. That is the true loss of FIREFLY, IMHO. You are absolutely right, though, Pippa, that with the single season to judge it by, we can only see what might have been.

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  6. I really enjoyed Firefly the first time around, but I didn't become a true fan until earlier this year when I got the flu and watched the whole season plus the movie in the course of about 2 days. There are definitely some eye-rolling moments plot-wise (did they really just find a whole medicopter in the dump?), but I love every character and the dialogue is brilliant.

    I have heard many people say they took a while to warm up to Mal, if they did at all. I got (and liked) him right from the start for some reason. It was the doctor I struggled with. He felt like such a cold fish, so reserved - it was hard to warm up to the idea of him with sweet, open, what-you-see-is-what-you-get Kaylee.

    Speaking of Kaylee, she may be the reason I liked Mal from the start - it was the captain's interactions with her that told me all I needed to know about him. He intuitively understood that her innocence needed protecting - not in a patronizing, sexual sense, but because she is so trusting. Yet at the same time, from their first meeting he saw she was smart and capable and an asset to his crew. He relied on her, without question or reservation, to take care of his ship.

    I agree there should have been more! Though I loved the movie (especially the development of River, as you mentioned), it was clearly about tying up all the loose ends.

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  7. I loved it from the beginning. Every episode, every character, every line of dialog. I'm a total sucker for characters like Mal, and Wash. It was so much fun getting my CP hooked on it last summer and seeing her face when she saw Western trope after Western trope show up. She lived and breathed Westerns as a kid.

    I'll always be sad about not getting to watch Kaylee teach Simon how to relax and have fun.

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  8. Kinda have to agree with Sharon on the cold-fish Doc, but I did sort of feel sorry for his bumbling attempts at romance and hoped he and Kalee would get together.

    Even I'll-Be-In-My-Bunk Jayne grew on me after a few episodes. He was probably the least lovable of the group (or tied with Simon) but he definitely had his redeeming moments. And I thought the Hat episode was a riot.

    Book fascinated me, and I think there was a Big Secret about him that was heavily hinted at but never revealed. Killing him off in the movie before letting that develop felt wrong and didn't seem to serve any real purpose.

    Didn't you love those Reaver-Serenity scenes though?

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  9. My youngest bro got a Jayne hat for Christmas, courtesy of our SIL. He wears it with pride when it's actually cold enough to wear it. Which isn't often in Louisiana.

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