Consulting Editor: Joss Whedon
Publisher: Titan Books (Hardcover – 3 November 2020)
Series: Firefly – Book Four
Length: 287 pages
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Over the last couple of years, there has been a resurgence of tie-in fiction around the Firefly television series, such as a new range of comics that was released by Boom! However, the tie-in fiction I have been enjoying the most has been the excellent Firefly novels released by Titan Books. I have so far had the great pleasure of reading and reviewing the first three novels in the series, Big Damn Hero, The Magnificent Nine and The Ghost Machine. All three of these Firefly novels have been extremely fun to read and The Ghost Machine was one of my favourite books from the first half of 2020. As a result, I have been eagerly awaiting the next novel in the series, Firefly: Generations by bestselling author Tim Lebbon. Lebbon is an intriguing author who has been writing since the late 1990s across a variety of different genres. Not only has he written several of his own novels and series, including Coldbrook, Relics and the Toxic City series, but he also authored an impressive amount of tie-in fiction, including a Star Wars novel, the official novelisation of The Cabin in the Woods and, most notably, the Rage Wars series, which encompassed both the Predator and Alien franchises. Generations is the author’s first foray into the Firefly universe and it was originally set for release last year, before being temporarily delayed. However, it was well worth the wait as this new novel from Lebbon is an extremely good Firefly tie-in novel that sees the crew of the Serenity embark on another dangerous adventure in space.
Set between the events of the television show and the Serenity movie, Generations sees the crew of Serenity once again low on cash after another poor job. Hoping to turn their fortunes around by visiting a backwater planet with some potential smuggling jobs, the crew are disappointed by a lack of work. However, an intriguing new opportunity presents itself when Mal wins a mysterious and seemingly unreadable map from an old mercenary.
While initially sceptical of its worth, Mal is convinced he may have something when a rival group of smugglers attack the crew, desperate to retrieve the map. Curious, the crew investigate further and find that their wayward psychic, River Tam, can read the map and believes that it leads to an abandoned Generation ship, one of the massive vessels that brought humans to this galaxy from Earth-that-was. With the potential for priceless salvage too much to resist, Mal and his crew decide to follow the map out into deep space, hoping for a miracle.
Arriving at the coordinates indicated on their map, they find the wreck of the Generation ship exactly where expected and loaded with valuables. However, the ship appears to have been recently visited by the Alliance, who have made some surprising modifications to it. Even worse, the closer they get to the ship the more animated River becomes, convinced that something is waiting for them. Ignoring River’s cryptic warnings, Mal leads a team aboard, but what they find will haunt them to the end of their days. Something extremely dangerous has awakened on the ship, and it is very, very angry!
Firefly: Generations is an impressive and exciting novel that sees the crew of Serenity embark on another thrilling money-making expedition in space. This particular adventure was a rather cool one, and I really loved the way in which the author sends the characters off to explore a seemingly abandoned ship. Lebbon sets his story up extremely well, and the subsequent action-packed narrative moves as an exceedingly fast pace as the protagonists quickly encounter all manner of problems that require them to escape from the ship before it is too late. While this is a story that revolves around thrilling action and excitement, Lebbon makes time for several character-driven arcs, and the reader gets some excellent backstory and universe lore. In many ways, this felt like an episode of the Firefly television show, and I had an extremely hard time putting the book down once I got drawn into the story. Overall this was an amazing and enjoyable novel, and I had an awesome time reading Generations.
As part of this excellent story, Lebbon makes sure to bring several of the key Firefly characters to life throughout his book. While Inara and Shepherd Book are mostly absent, the rest of the cast of the television show take part in this intriguing adventure, and I think it worked a little better with the smaller group of characters. Lebbon did a great job with their characterisations in this novel and most of the featured characters are well utilised throughout the story, especially as they each spent time as a point-of-view character. The always entertaining Captain Malcolm Reynolds serves as the driving force of much of the plot in this book, obtaining the map and taking his crew out on the adventure. Mal was a lot of fun throughout the book, providing the reader with a number of clever jokes and observations about the dangerous events they are encountering and trying to work his way around it. Wash was also particularly funny throughout this book, mainly because, out of all the characters, he was the most apprehensive about visiting the Generation ship. Wash keeps up an amusing patter throughout the book, and there are several great scenes where he is forced to deal with some uninvited guests aboard Serenity. I also quite enjoyed the use of Jayne and Kaylee throughout Generations, as they both get a lot of focus as they team up together. Kaylee has a particularly deep attachment to the events occurring throughout the book, due to her fascination with the Generation ships, and this leads her into the heart of the action, somewhere she usually tries to avoid. Luckily, she spends most of her time with the dangerous Jayne, who is up to his usual mercenary ways, attempting to loot the ship for anything valuable. While Jayne maintains his typical gruff exterior for much of the book, there are some excellent moments when he opens up to Kaylee and shows how much closer he has grown to the rest of crew as a result of their adventures. However, some of the most interesting scenes in this book concern River, who finds herself coming face to face with a dangerous figure from her terrifying past. River has a unique history with the main antagonist of this book, which results in her attempting to establish a connection with him. However, it doesn’t take long for this connection to take a dark turn, and she is forced to make some hard decisions about whether she wants to continue on with her crew or with someone she has an intense connection with. Not only are River’s scenes quite emotionally deep, by Lebbon presents several great sequences where she uses her combat training to overwhelm the crew in order to get to where she wants to go. I did think that Zoe and Simon were a bit underutilised throughout the novel, however, they still served vital supporting roles throughout the plot and they had some fun interactions with the rest of the characters.
In addition to his portrayal of the main characters from the television show, Lebbon also features some intriguing new antagonists for Generations’ story. This includes the mysterious person who the crew encounter aboard the Generation ship, Silas, someone with a connection River’s past. Silas is quite an interesting character, mainly due to the parallels between him and River, and it proved to be quite fascinating to see him in action throughout Generations, especially as he is one of the most dangerous things the crew has ever encountered. Lebbon has also introduced a new female duo the mysterious agents known as The Hands of Blue (two by two, hands of blue). Lebbon presents a compelling take on these two characters, and it is one of the first times fans of the show get to see inside the heads of any members of this secretive group. I quite liked the utilisation of them in this book, especially as the author spends time showing just how bonded and weird these characters are and it was great to get some more information on this mysterious group. Having both Silas and The Hands of Blue (with their associated Alliance backup) as antagonists in this novel really raised the stakes of this action packed novel and it was exciting to see the three-way fight that resulted between these two competing antagonists and the crew of Serenity. I really enjoyed all the excellent character work in this book and it resulted in some amazing and intense scenes.
One of the things that I enjoyed the most about Generations was the way in which Lebbon spends time exploring and expanding on the Firefly universe. Not only does the author do an amazing job replicating the old-west feel of this great science fiction series, continuing the cool adventures in a post-civil war landscape, but he also expands on the lore of this universe. As part of this, Lebbon provides a lot of background and details about the transition of humanity to the star system where the Firefly series is set, including the massive Generation ships they used as transport, providing the reader with insights into their construction and how the technology has changed in the period between the exodus from Earth and the events of this book. It was really fascinating to see the characters from the television show explore this ship and learn more about their long-forgotten history and past. It was particularly entertaining to see them interact with some of the technology and cultural items from our time period, and there are numerous jokes around the characters not understanding certain brands or references. In addition to this intriguing expansion of the Firefly timeline, certain reveals in the plot necessitate a deeper look into the history of River and the program that made her, and you get some other hints at what projects and military testings the Alliance does. All of this makes for a fantastic addition to the Firefly cannon and fans of the franchise will appreciate some of the cool new additions that Lebbon brings to the table. While Generations is probably best read by those people familiar with the Firefly show, the novel is also extremely accessible to newcomers to the series, who will no doubt enjoy the cool and enjoyable science fiction adventure.
Firefly: Generations by Tim Lebbon is a thrilling novel that takes the reader on a wild and compelling adventure into the amazing Firefly universe. Generations contains an impressive and exciting story that makes excellent use of the characters from the Firefly television show while also exploring the franchise’s expanded universe. A fun and easily enjoyable novel, this book comes highly recommended to all Firefly fans and you are guaranteed to have an amazing time getting through this awesome book.