Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Preliminary Review of Still Flying & the Jose Molina Story that is NOT a Downer.

Quote: “Hope is the feeling you have that the feeling you have isn't permanent. " ~Jean Kerr

Song: Everytime it Rains by Charlotte Martin

State of mind: Churning like the sea.

Date: May 29th, 2010 delivered unto me the latest Firefly companion book, Still Flying. I’ve been witness to countless others online that had gotten advanced copies because in one way or another, they were “special.” I hated them for a while. I’m over that…. because now I’m special too, with my big glossy copy of my own!

I love the theme of the book. Still Flying. Still here after all these years. (It really would have been an even more fantastic title of a book released on a ten year anniversary of the original series.) Though the show was cancelled halfway through one season and we are never getting a sequel, fans are still active; still creating, playing, screening, talking, and shindigging. On occasion I get e-mails from one particular Browncoat friend and she signs off “Keep Flyin’” which always makes me smile. Can’t keep a good Browncoat down!

Like with the other companion books, I let myself just skim through it back and forth, only stopping when something caught my attention, like Jane Espenson’s detailing of how an episode gets written, or the travel posters (even though I have them in both full size and wave card form already), the cast photos, sketches of storyboards, photos of various props and their fate…. I skipped to the end to read about the fandom, seeing as I am a part of it. Was mostly proud and a touch aggrieved for reasons that for now will remain my own.

Eventually, like any good fan, I will sit down and pour over the book from beginning to end so I can glean every last drop of whatever I can get, probably a few times, because like any good fan, I can never get enough. Will never get enough. Might explain why I’m still here.

So far I have two complaints:

1) That Flanvention was mentioned, if only once. There it was in the pages of the prop photos. They weren’t featured in anyway, but just seeing that word sets my teeth in an uncomfortable lock jaw like grimace. Still. I realize the first was great and many people have very fond memories of it but seeing as the “fans” who ran it turned out to be in it more for what they could get from the conventions (or more precisely who they could meet) than for running a successful business, well… I’ll skip all the swearing I want to do and just say I appreciate getting my settlement check for 7 dollars and hope they had a grand time meeting other actors on my dime. I’m sure Anthony Michael Hall is fondly remembering his time with them as I type this and it was ALL WORTH IT. @!#&%!

2) That the cast pages are snippets from already done interviews, and are not new. I suppose getting original quotes from all the cast members was probably out of their reach or not something that could be scheduled in time and I like that they used the same format and similar type quotes for each page to give them a consistency and that had to mean combing hundreds of interviews, articles, and even You Tube clips of convention Q & A and probably took more time than new interviews would have so I give them kudos for that even when I’m taking them away because I’m all for recycling, but sometimes something new is just plain better. In a way using older quotes and interviews says, “The fans are still here, but the cast has moved on.” Which might be true, but I don’t really need to pay to be told that.

However, the reason I bought the book wasn’t for cast interviews or prop photos, but for the original Firefly ‘verse stories by four writers from the original 14 episodes. Although I have avoided almost all spoilers (except the few in Sci Fi Wire’s twitter feed, jerks) I was aware that there was some consternation over the story by Jose Molina. So naturally I read it first.

And worried.

I didn’t get it.

I thought maybe I missed something. So I read it again.

Damn. What a downer! Could io9 was right?

But I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The story kept rolling around in my brain, tossing and turning like a frustrated insomniac. Maybe frustrated at me for being so clueless.

Then I recalled a bit I had somehow been skipping over despite my vain attempts to understand.
Then I got it.

Mal. You stupid cranky bastard! Always looking out for your crew.

*SPOILERS* Highlight to see.

The story is set some time after the events of the movie and it turns out that Mal has given up life as a spaceship captain and has settled on some dusty world on the rim, trying to get farther away from the Alliance and all the annoyance they bring. Zoe has the ship, Kaylee and Simon have settled down with each other and spawned little duplicates of themselves that River frequently babysits, Jayne got himself rich and dead. They don’t really say what happened to Inara, just that she didn’t give up life as a Companion. She might still be on Serenity with Zoe, or on a pretty world of her own. All we know is Mal is alone.

Yeah, I can see how that would be considered a downer.

Except as Mal reminisces, as much as a man like him can, after receiving the package from Zoe I realized that Mal has accepted his fate because his choice, his belief that it was worth dying for to get out the truth of the Reavers to the ‘verse was not only the right thing to do but it also was him once again looking out for his crew. What convinced me was the fate of Kaylee, Simon, and River. They’re free. They’re happy. They have built a family for themselves and would not have been able to do so had he not made the choice he did on Mr. Universe’s compound. And I believe the story is trying to say that he knew all along that he would probably end up where he was and despite realizing it, he made the choice he did anyhow. He takes care of his own. And he will live with whatever looking out for them costs him.

Dying, it wasn’t exactly Plan A. Living always is. Even without his ship, he is still living under his own terms. And what more can a man like him ask for?

*Done with the spoilers*

I haven’t read the other three stories yet. Maybe because I know there are only four, I’m trying to draw the experience to put off that all too familar pang of sadness when it’s all over. I’ve seen all there is to see of the ‘verse. That there will be no more...

Wonder what they’ll do for the next book?

Maybe a collection of fan stories and art? Because, really, as much as Joss, cast, and crew loved the ‘verse it is us, the fans, that are the ones still here.

Show quote of the day: “Well, my sister's a ship. We had a complicated childhood.”


fermicat said...

I don't have this book yet, but the cats just gave me a "I aim to misbehave" t-shirt. They rock!

LL said...

You'd pay good money for the script of a canceled TV show when you could have wasted it on something worthwhile like Huffy's charity? *sigh*


slgn said...

I will not read the spoilery bits... I will not read the spoilery bits... I will not... ;)

I've been meaning to pick up a copy. Guess I should get on that. Thanks for the reminder.