Novel sends TV's 'Firefly' crew on new adventure
"Firefly: The Magnificent Nine" by James Lovegrove (Titan Books, 336 pages, in stores)
Once upon a time in the Future West, there was a spaceship captained by a losing soldier of the recent rebellion against the Alliance, with a fellow soldier as his second in command and her husband as pilot, along with a high-class prostitute, a brilliant mechanic, a preacher with a mysterious past, a stolid mercenary, and a medical doctor and his genius-but-not-all-there sister.
Fans of the short-lived Fox TV series "Firefly" already know I'm referring to, respectively, Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds, Zoe Alleyne Washburne and Hoban "Wash" Washburne, along with Inara Serra, Kaywinnet Lee "Kaylee" Frye, Shepherd Derrial Book, Jayne Cobb, and Dr. Simon Tam and River Tam.
Fox aired creator Joss Whedon's show in 2002-2003, ran episodes out of sequence to the confusion of viewers, and canceled the series after 11 episodes, leaving three more unaired. Contrary to the expectations of (in this fan's opinion) the short-sighted Fox executives, the show lived on, gaining cult status with additional viewers in video. It spawned a movie sequel, "Serenity," additional episodes in comic book/graphic novel format and, now, even more tales in the form of novels.
Thus we come to "Firefly: The Magnificent Nine" by James Lovegrove. It is the second of a series of authorized novels set in the Firefly universe, following last October's release of "Firefly: Big Damn Hero" by Nancy Holder. A third novel, "Firefly: Generations" by Tim Lebbon, is due out in October.
Lovegrove's novel opens with mercenary Jayne's receipt of a message from an old flame, Temperance Jones (now going by the name Temperance McCloud), whose home of Coogan's Bluff is being menaced by a gang of outlaws headed by Elias Vandal. (Fans of Clint Eastwood may recognize "Coogan's Bluff" as the title of a movie in which he, portraying an Arizona lawman, goes to New York City in pursuit of a murderer. Extra points if you recognized "McCloud" as the name of the TV series based on "Coogan's Bluff," featuring Dennis Weaver as a New Mexico lawman named Sam McCloud who is temporarily assigned to the New York City Police Department. But I digress ...)
Fans of the movie "The Magnificent Seven" (I decline to digress this time!) will recognize the concept of this Firefly story. The nine occupants of the spaceship Firefly travel to Coogan's Bluff to do battle with Elias Vandal and his villainous compatriots. Woefully outnumbered and outgunned, unsupported by the timid townsfolk, our heroic crew have only their charisma, wit, bravery and each other to call on against the forces of evil.
Perhaps I ought to mention Temperance has a daughter she named Jane, born a very short time after Jayne last saw his lover. Is she truly his daughter? The name and the time frame seem to fit.
"Firefly: The Magnificent Nine" is a welcome return to the "Firefly" universe, taking place in the period after the conclusion of the TV series and before the movie in which (spoiler alert) too many characters die. Lovegrove gives each character time in the limelight to shine. Some of the scenes in the book are derivative of other tales (such as flying through the twists and turns of a canyon in hopes of escaping a heat-seeking missile) but can be forgiven in the rollicking dash that brings this story to a satisfactory conclusion.
— Glen Seeber, The Oklahoman