© 2020 Tim Lebbon
A map won in a card game, given importance by River’s intuition, Kaylee’s recognition of an old name, and the fact that several people tried to murder Mal to take the map back, leads the crew of Serenity beyond settled space — to the rings of a gas giant where something ancient is waiting for them. Could it be possible that some remnant of Earth that was is still intact? If the rumors are true, and there is a derelict colony ship out there for the salvaging, Mal and the rest could finally get the One Big Score they’ve been needing after months of scraping by. Generations provides a tantalizing look at Firefly’s background in another novel involving the crew, but will be more memorable for its premise than its execution.
The previous three Firefly books all featured strong ensemble showings and an excellent grasp of the crew’s mannerisms and voices. Generations, with a different author at the helm, doesn’t live up to those standards: Book and Inara disappear early on, and while the Firefly folks are definitely recognizable the energy is definitely different. Even Zoe puts in a subdued performance. That said, the premise of the novel was a winner, and I enjoyed seeing Kaylee as someone secretly fascinated by stories of Earth-that-was. For her, the idea of seeing an Earth engine, of walking in corridors deserted for centuries, is awe-inspiring. The plot also connects more immediately to Firefly’s backstory, and at one point the crew are menaced by “Two by Two, Hands of Blue”. I can’t speak for other readers, but I would have been more interested in a plot that was more unique and tied to the derelict, rather than giving River more background. She’s a great character to play with, but she borders on being over-emphasized in the books.
In summation, Generations is enjoyable enough, but not