I just finished reading what has got to be one of the most professional “fan-fic” books ever done. Stephen Brust, author of a number of books including “To Reign in Hell: A Novel”, “Jhegaala (Vlad)”, and “Sethra Lavode (The Viscount of Adrilankha)”, has written a Firefly novel and–here’s the ultra-cool part–is giving it away! It’s called My Own Kind of Freedom and you can follow this link to get your own copy. While it’s not a perfect book, if you are a Firefly fan, I highly recommend it. Brust captures the characters quite well, and is able to offer some depths of history and emotion that the tv series and film weren’t able to go into. In particular, I really enjoyed how Wash’s love of piloting as well as his skill are highlighted through the book. I also loved how Brust brought River’s inner life to the reader, creating a sense of the complexity that she is capable of as well as the difficulty of communicating to those around her. While all the characters were written well, Wash and River shine.
Brust makes no effort to subvert of twist any of the elements from the series or the movie, and allows the story and the characters to fit well into the already established universe. He even brings the Chinese phrases and curses across the media divide . . . and while I think it was absolutely necessary to do so . . . it just doesn’t work very well. The reason the switch into Mandarin worked in the series and movie is that the actors knew what they were saying (even if they might not have said it very well), and the viewer could, from body language and facial expressions and context, arrive at a fairly good sense of what was being said, even if they couldn’t get the specifics. Without hearing the words, without seeing them said by a person, the Chinese phrases in the book are unintelligible to the reader.However, if he hadn’t included them, something would have felt slightly “off” about the characters. All in all, Brust did a good enough job of keeping some of the flavor of the language without beating the reader over the head with the attempt. Fans of Whedon will definitely miss the way Whedon’s invented idioms can sometimes rise to the level of poetry, as Brust doesn’t quite get to that level.
While My Own Kind of Freedom isn’t quite the fix that a new movie or series might be (a boy can hope can’t he?), Brust offers a compelling story and some nice insight into the Firefly universe.