Title: Finding Serenity: Anti-heroes, Lost Shepherds and Space Hookers in Joss Whedon's Firefly.
Author: Jane Espenson, ed.
Length: 227 pages
Genre: television criticism
Banter Points: First, it's about Firefly. Word Nerd is an unabashed fan of this short-lived space western, so it was logical to pick up this book that takes a more critical look at the show and the characters. For sci-fi geeks (dare Word Nerd out herself in this category) a few of the essays were hilarious, comparing the rough-and-tumble Firefly crew to the stiff and proper crew of any of the Star Treks. Not everyone writing is a die-hard Firefly fan either, and that's a good thing to have that voice represented in the collection as well. One of the best parts of the book is the unofficial Chinese glossary at the back. (For those not familiar with the show, the characters routinely swear in Chinese. No translation is ever given in the show.)
Bummer Points: It's a book of essays, and because of that, the quality varied a little among writers. Sometimes, the writers seemed to forget that Firefly was just a TV show. A few of the essays were overboard, particularly Lyle Zinda's "We're All just Floating in Space," a look at philosophy in the Fireflyverse. Anytime Albert Camus comes up, Word Nerd tends to think it's like school. Also, the book makes passing references to other sci-fi shows, movies and books and if you're not a true geek, some of the comparisons are not done well enough for a reader not familiar with the other show/book/movie to really understand the difference.
Word Nerd recommendation: If you haven't watched Firefly, this book is not for you. If you've perchance only seen the movie Serenity, this book is also not for you. If you have done both, read on. If you are just getting into the series, wait until you've watched it all before reading.