Firefly: The Ghost Machine by James Lovegrove, Narrated by James Anderson Foster

It was bound to happen, but I sort of hoped I would be wrong. Firefly: The Ghost Machine wasn’t the best of the tie-in novels following up the abruptly terminated Firefly series. I’m not suggesting it’s not a good story or that it’s something I’d recommend skipping over, but it wasn’t as good as the previous two books from James Lovegrove.
This third installment of the series of books filling in the gap between the Firefly finale and the continuation provided by Serenity falls into the interval after both Inara and Shepherd Book have left Serenity. The loss, relatively recent, leaves a discernable and tender hole in the lives of the remaining crew. Lovegrove’s writing succeeds in capturing that despondency without being heavy-handed about it.
At the request of Badger, the crew of Serenity heads to a distant location for recovery of a case containing an unknown device to deliver it to Badger for a client. Unhappy and unsettled by the lack of information provided–as well as Alliance patrols in that region of space–Mal determines he doesn’t like the deal and opts to pass on the money. The supplier doesn’t take kindly to Mal’s repudiation, and bullets fly.
Unbeknownst to Mal and the rest of the crew, Jayne sneaks the parcel onto Serenity, and everything goes sideways. The device was designed as a form of mind control and crowd suppression, triggering those in proximity to lapse into hypnogogic states. As the crew of Serenity finds themselves trapped in dreams they can’t rouse themselves from, River is the only one aware of the problem and hopes she’s capable of breaking her family aboard the firefly from their respective trances before it all ends in tragedy.
Naturally, we know they come through the other side since Serenity takes place…but we do catch glimpses into the dreams and nightmares of the remaining crew members along the way. Unfortunately, there’s not much more to the story than that.
As with the previous books, the narration from James Anderson Foster is spot-on. Aside from a full cast reading of the scripts, I don’t think they could have found a better narrator for these books.

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