Published by Titan Books
Firefly may have been cut down in its prime (only to be briefly brought back as a criminally underappreciated movie) but its fans refuse to move on. Not that they should, of course; few other sci-fi shows featured as enduring a cast or as distinct a universe as Joss Whedon’s western in space.
TV studios, publishers and merchandise manufacturers alike have cottoned on to just how much money can be bled from the fans of cult shows like Buffy and Star Trek years after their demise, and Firefly: Still Flying is in fact the third “behind the scenes” release from Titan Books, following on from two Official Companion volumes to offer even more anecdotes and titbits for Browncoats to absorb. With those two books already out, I guess fans will be asking whether or not Still Flying could possibly offer more insight into the Firefly universe, or are Titan scraping at the bottom of the barrel of television tie-ins?
Thankfully, Still Flying falls unquestionably into the former category, and its testament to the work and love put into this show by the cast and crew that nearly eight years later there are still stories to tell. Perhaps of greatest interest to fans, cosplayers and model makers are the many close ups of props from the series, from the Lassiter antique laser shown in the episode ‘Trash’ and Wash’s dinosaurs to Serenity’s keyboard layout.
Disappointingly, the memories from the cast are largely taken from existing interviews, but this is more than compensated for by some genuinely interesting interviews with the likes of production designer Carey Meyer, and a ton of vessel concept images and episode storyboards. There’s also the hilarious account of Monkey Shines, an orange, screeching stuffed monkey which irritated Nathan Fillion so much, he hid the toy down his spacesuit during filming and teased propmaster Skip Crank with photos of the abducted simian for months.
The four new short stories (from the writers of the series) are perhaps the biggest letdown here, which is ironic as they appear to be the book’s major selling point. One of the “stories” is in fact a two-panel cartoon strip, and the rest fail to capture the humour and energy that fuelled Firefly. Jose Molina’s ‘Take the Sky’ attempts to add some closure to an elderly Mal Reynold’s odyssey, but is superfluous and unsatisfying.
That Firefly: Still Flying contains a section devoted to the shows fans, the Browncoats, including photos from several conventions and even an interview with devotees so traumatised by the show’s cancellation that they’ve made their own fan film, suggests that is a book for the hardcore fans only. But it’s a glossy and inviting enough tome that anyone with reasonable interest in the show is likely to find it of interest. While some of the material here has been printed elsewhere, Still Flying embodies the passion and wealth of ideas that went into this exceptional show that tragically (and due to inept scheduling) only found its following when it had already been written off.