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Literature / Firefly: Big Damn Hero

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Firefly: Big Damn Hero is a novel continuing the story of Firefly, set between the end of the series and the events of the film Serenity.

It's a day in the life for the crew of Serenity: taking possession of some ridiculously-dangerous explosives on behalf of old associate Badger for delivery, then quietly slipping off to meet a man called Hunter Covington about an additional job. Of course, since one Malcolm Reynolds is involved, things don't go smooth. While meeting with the mysterious Covington, Mal goes missing right under Zoe and Jayne's noses, and their cargo of explodium won't wait for them to search for him. Shepard Book has some ideas, so stays behind to look for Mal while Zoe takes Serenity to deliver the crates before they quite literally blow up in their faces.

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This Novel includes examples of the following tropes:

  • Bar Brawl: One starts due to insults over Jayne's Nice Hat.
  • Continuity Nod: Pretty much every single episode of Firefly is referenced at one point or another to some degree. Not that that's hard, given how few episodes there are.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Mal's backstory growing up on Shadow is explored. He was one of the "Four Amigos," renowned troublemakers of the Shadow community. Mal, Toby, Jamie, and Jaime's sister Jinny. Things started to fall apart when Toby and Jinny started dating, Mal having just decided the time was right to make his own move on her. Then Mal, Jaime, and Jinny got into their own scrape, resulting in Mal and Jinny starting to spend some quality time while Jinny was still dating Toby. Then Jinny dumped Toby but decided not to take up with Mal, Mal, Toby, and Jaime joined the Independents, and the Alliance attacked Shadow, destroying a weapons cache Jinny had been guarding, killing her.
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  • Dirty Cop: Downplayed. The Sheriff in Mal's backstory isn't as bad as some examples, but is married to one of the daughters of a local bigshot rancher, so when said rancher rustles a dozen of a competitor's cattle the Sheriff isn't too keen on looking into it all that hard. He does value law and order, that only puts him squarely against "the Four Amigos," and his disliking quickly escalates into outright harassment and culminates in attempting to lynch Jamie, though when Mal puts a stop to it the Sheriff and Deputy swear they were only going to let him dangle for a minute or two to scare him. Whether they're being honest about that or only saying so because Mal had just shot one of them is left open.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Zoe engages in this when the Alliance board Serenity. Despite her admitting this sort of thing isn't quite in her wheelhouse, she very quickly has the Alliance commander wrapped around her little finger.
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  • It's Personal: The real reason Toby has Mal tried before a Kangaroo Court of Browncoats. He knows Mal didn't aid the Alliance one bit, but wants revenge on Mal for stealing Jinny from him.
  • Hanging Judge: Toby as head of the "court" of assembled Browncoats.
  • Kangaroo Court: The mob of Browncoats Toby has assembled. They've dealt with actual traitors to the cause before, but now Toby's using them for personal revenge against Mal, and they don't care one whit his evidence if flimsier than Serenity' primary buffer panel.
  • Kill 'Em All: Not deliberately, but no one but Serenity crew makes it out of the abandoned mine the Browncoats set up their Kangaroo Court in. The HTX-20 crates were on the verge of blowing up with no way to stop them, so Wash had to put them in the entrance of the mine. The Browncoats are too busy trying to gun down the escaping "traitors" to listen to the warnings of big crates about to go boom, so make no move to escape before they do.
  • Made of Explodium: HTX-20, a mining explosive nicknamed "Satan's Snowflakes." It's extremely powerful and extremely unstable, exploding readily if it gets wet, gets too hot, or gets bumped too hard. Everyone is understandably nervous about having five huge crates of the stuff aboard.
  • A Man Of Wealth And Taste: Hunter Covington, with his dapper attire complete with beplumed homberg and ornamental cane. Should thus be no surprise he's one of the more despicable characters to walk the 'Verse thus far.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Harlow plays this of the deliberate sort. He claims to be just a classic go-between, a man who'll move small things, notes and the like, from one hand to another without asking any questions or getting any information, supposedly well-known for his discretion. Thus, when Zoe questions him about the particulars of the note he slipped Mal in Taggart's, Harlow claims he can't answer most of her questions because he deliberately chose not to ask them himself. In point of fact, he's deep in Hunter Covington's pocket, knows exactly what Hunter wants with Mal, he just doesn't care to let Zoe in on it.
  • Retcon:
    • Supplemental materials indicated Mal's homeworld of Shadow was rendered completely uninhabitable by the Alliance during the war, hence why he's never returned. The novel indicates the damage is much more limited and the world is fully Alliance now (though not a "Core World"), and Mal even ruminates about visiting again someday near the end.
    • The series implies but never outright states (though supplemental material confirms) that The 'Verse of Firefly is one extra-large solar system (basically quintanry) with lots of moons and planets that could be made habitable with terraforming, and all space travel is strictly slower-than-light. The novel doesn't outright deny this, but talks about The 'Verse as though the characters are traversing most or all of a galaxy, not one extra-large solar system.
  • Sadist: Hunter Covington. He threatens his bondswoman with a slow death via numerous knife cuts, and is all to happy to witness the Browncoats lynch Mal, now that his schedule allows for it. Mal even notes that Covington doesn't have any personal interest in Mal being hanged; Covington's just there to enjoy watching a man die by slow hanging.
  • Shoot the Rope:
    • In Mal's backstory, Jaime was being hanged by the Sheriff and Deputy who'd had enough of the Four Amigos and their shenanigans. Mal employs a variation of this, throwing his knife at the rope to cut it and save Jaime's life.
    • By the time Zoe and Jayne make it to Mal, he's already being hanged. With a whole cavern of angry Browncoats between them and Mal, Zoe has Jayne do this to save Mal's life. Justified twice: Jayne misses his first shot, and he's using Vera. . . and if any pair could succeed at this, it's Jayne and Vera.
  • Shown Their Work: "Short-drop" hangings are discussed, and the hangings seen in the novel aren't a "drop" at all, with the victims being hoisted by a rope around their neck off the ground. In such cases, it can indeed take several minutes to loose consciousness, and even longer to die, from lack of oxygen.note 
  • Space Is Cold: To keep the HTX-20 from exploding, the crew seal off the cargo bay and open it to space to cool the crates down quickly. While this would cool the crates, it wouldn't do so quickly.
  • Where It All Began: The novel starts pretty much where the original pilot did: Serenity and her crew at Persephone's Eavsdown Docks, getting a job from Badger. It contributes to the book feeling like the start of the second season of the show.
  • Wretched Hive: Taggart's, a bar in the bad part of Persephone's Eavesdown Docks that's bad even by the already-low standards of that particular area.
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