Firefly: Big Damn Hero by James Lovegrove: Narrated by James Anderson Foster

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I decided to pick up James Lovegrove’s Firefly: Big Damn Hero as an audiobook. That uncertainty and fear of disappointment directly led to the title sitting in my Audible library for an extended period before I chose to give it a listen.
The graphic novel mini-series hadn’t been a disappointment, but Joss Whedon was credited with at least co-author status on those titles, with other writers from the television series being his compatriots. In the case of this novel, Lovegrove was not affiliated with the television series, nor was Nancy Holder, the individual who developed the concept behind Big Damn Hero…though Holder had written media tie-in novels associated with other Whedon properties such as Buffy and Angel. So, naturally, I was a little bit iffy about diving into this title…concerned that it might be a letdown.
From the beginning of James Anderson Foster’s narration, I knew I’d made a mistake by letting the title sit for so long. This man thoroughly captures the tone and cadence of the characters in such a way that it’s obvious he’s watched Firefly and Serenity more than a time or two…or at least he comes across that way. Mal and Jayne are particularly well-narrated, with Badger, Wash, and Book coming in just a little bit behind those two. His narration of female characters leaves a bit to be desired, but that’s not at all uncommon, so I’m not going to worry altogether too much about it.
The story of Big Damn Hero falls somewhere in the timeline after Episode 12 of the Firefly series, The Message, wherein Mal and Zoe put to rest a former comrade-in-arms from the war. There are references to the absurd knit hat Jayne received from his mother, the experience with Tracey (the comrade-in-arms I’d previously mentioned), as well as other threads of the story from earlier in the series. I suspect this story falls not long after The Message and a little while before Heart of Gold, the 13th episode of the show. It definitely takes place before Objects In Space, the final episode.
Big Damn Hero centers around Mal and his life before and during the war. As such, it provides a good bit of backstory and character history we’d never encountered during the television show or subsequent movie.
The crew arrives on Persephone to take on a hazardous job from Badger, while Mal has arranged a secondary job contact to supplement their cash flow. Pursuit of this second job leads Mal, Zoe, and Jayne to a bar on Alliance Day. If you’ve watched the show, you know what sort of things happen when Mal finds himself in an Alliance-friendly bar on that day of celebration…and that he somehow always seems to find himself in that situation.
When Mal disappears, it initially looks like he’s been captured by Alliance loyalists seeking to root out any traitorous Browncoats foolish enough to be out and about on Alliance Day, but the truth is far more painful.
As the rest of the crew attempts to solve the mystery and locate their Captain, Mal finds himself confronted by ghosts of his past and the memories, both good and bad, associated with those not-so-friendly faces.
It could be that I’m biased by my love of all things Firefly, but this was an excellent way to spend close to ten hours. I recommend this for any fan of the show.

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