Archive for 'Joss Whedon'

A leaf on the wind
by Jessa Slade on July 19th, 2010

Currently working on: Revising back cover copy for Book 3
Mood: Tweaky

First off, thanks to everybody who commented last week for a chance to win the signed copy of Nalini Singh’s ANGEL’S BLOOD, that I picked up at RomCon.  With the help of, we have a winner:

JenM, who hiked to Machu Picchu, congrats!

And I finally unpacked from RomCon and found an extra copy (unsigned, I’m sorry) of Jeaniene Frost’s DESTINED FOR AN EARLY GRAVE, which goes to:

cories, who — very sensibly, I think — would rather attend romance cons than work ones

Email me at jessa at jessaslade dot com with your snail mail addy and I’ll make a PO run.

Onto our topic of the week, which is “The TV show I miss the most.”  I didn’t even have to contemplate for a microsecond.  Even my XY knew what I was going to write about.


Joss Whedon’s cowboy space opera Firefly played for one gorram season in 2002 before being brutally and summarily cancelled by the evil Fox network, may their bean counters burn in a special level of hell reserved for People Who Don’t Get It.  The world lived on through graphic novels to a 2005 wrap-up movie, Serenity, and occasionally, wistful rumors surface of another movie.  (A photo tweeted earlier this month of some of the main actors with the sly caption “Together. Again.” was enough to get geekdom panty-wadded for several long minutes.)

The storyworld (or ‘verse, short for universe) inspired a fanatic group of followers, the Browncoats (a reference to the rebellious frontiersmen who fought for their freedom against smothering Fox executives… I mean, against a smothering central government).  The Browncoats continue to stage charity viewings of Firefly, Serenity and other ’verse ephemera, including a fan-filmed movie, Browncoats: Redemption, that has been screened for select audiences but is not yet in wide release.

Why I loved Firefly

firefly-shipI love science fiction.  I love anti-heroes.  I love Joss Whedon.  It’s like Firefly was always aimed straight at me. 

Anything with spaceships gets my attention — even the old black and white movies where two pie tins squashed together served as the spaceship.  And the little Firefly-class ship, Serenity, was as adorable as two pie tins, with her lit-up butt and hard-loved interior.

firefly-crewBut it wasn’t the hardware that made this show.  It was the crew.  From the first episode (aired out of order by idiots), the crew revealed themselves in all their dysfunctional and yet highly effective glory.  From the wounded soul of their fearless leader, Captain Malcolm Reynolds to the shattered mind of their mysterious and dangerous passenger, River Tam, their interactions were endlessly (and by endlessly, I mean ended after one season, thank you, Fox) fascinating, entertaining, emotional and true.

And damned funny.  Of course Whedon usually inspires clever, but never better than Firefly.  As a writer, I drooled over those lines.  Oh, I’m sure they were written and revised for best effect, but they were always delivered with such beautiful immediacy that I couldn’t help but despair of ever writing as well.  And while I despaired, I laughed, I cried, I bought DVDs. 

I could requote all the wonderful lines here, but fans have read them all before and non-watchers (it’s YOUR fault Firefly died and I will never forgive you!) would just scratch their heads, but I have to give just one back’n'forth between the captain and his second, Zoe, as they come — once again — to save the day (after having nearly lost the day, of course): 

Mal: “Well, look at this! Appears we got here just in the nick of time. Whaddya suppose that makes us?”

Zoe: “Big damn heroes, sir.”

Mal: “Ain’t we just!”

You were, Mal.  To me, you were.

Are you a Firefly fan?  Can you recommend another other good cowboy space operas (or anything remotely similar) in TV, movies or books?

Dark heroes wanted: Wimps need not apply
by Jessa Slade on April 13th, 2009

Warning: Some of the following may cross the line into slight snark and spoiler territory.

Currently working on: Judging the 2009 Prism contest
Mood: Happily awash in books

joss-archerIt’s tough being a dark hero.  Sure, you’re sexy, powerful, sexy, and possess a seemingly endless supply of black leather jackets. 

But you’re also tortured.  The forces of evil are arrayed against you in ways that most cowboys, architects and veterinarians just don’t have to deal with.  Even billionaire sheiks wouldn’t put up with the brooding shadows that haunt your eyes when you’re a dark hero.

I know last week I said I was in love with my brooding hero.  But – oh fickle heart of mine — my loves only last about 400 pages, and then I’m on to a new love. 

joss2This week, I’m enamored with this hottie:

If you don’t recognize him, that’s Joss Whedon, the creative genius behind Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, and — most recently — Dollhouse.  Sure, “creative genius” is overused, but I don’t think I’m overstating the case to say that Buffy and Angel helped crack the floodgates for today’s feast of paranromal and urban fantasy romances.

While Whedon is most often lauded for his strong heroines, I think he does a smashing dark hero.  Emphasis on smashing.

joss-angel2Angel, of course, was the first.  (I’m skipping the movie version of Buffy, because apparently creative genius goes through a crawling stage before it can fly.)  The vampire with a soul, poor Angel had to pay endlessly (or at least through the five seasons of his own show) for his sins.  Love was granted him — with the absolutely wrong person, naturellement, a vampire slayer – then torn away (repeatedly).  He even lost his soul on occasion.

But he portrayed one of the important lessons of a dark hero: Redemption is so often a path, not simply a destination.


In contrast (the hair, if not so much the black leather), Spike was the unrepentant dark hero.  Reveling in his badness, he offered a delightful foil for the self-flagellating Angel.  

In Spike’s human past as a minor Victorian poet with a penchant for tearing up — and that’s tearing as in crying as opposed to shredding – we see another vital aspect of the dark hero: Vulnerability must be hidden from the world. 

Until, of course, the heroine rips you wide open.  Being a dark hero is sooo much more difficult when there’ s a heroine out there with your name stenciled on her love bullets.


Which is not to say that torture, remorse and vulnerability has to get a man down.  Whedon does the wounded warrior with a light hand, like the wise-cracking Captain Mal from the criminally cancelled, one-season space-opera Firefly and its movie sequel, Serenity.

Mal lives one of the dark hero’s most deeply cherished credos:  That which does not kill me gives me a right fine opportunity for target practice. 

joss-horrible21Even when the hero is a villain (and, hey, villains are the heroes of their own stories), Whedon delivers a character of such depth that you can only hope a heroine comes along to set him back on that path of redemption.  (I will not spoil Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog for those who have not seen it — and why haven’t you? — but those who have know I am being very snide with that last sentence.)

Dr. Horrible taught us: It’s okay for a dark hero to sing.

joss-ballard2All of this (except for that last example, which is probably undermining my efforts) is a thinly veiled attempt to interest you in Whedon’s work because I am thoroughly enjoying his latest, Dollhouse, and I’m fatalistically convinced it won’t survive the season. 

We’re only now beginning to unravel the layers of Whedonesque plotting, but already the dark-hero-in-the-making FBI Agent Ballard is suffering nicely.  He needs to be roasted a little longer to be truly dark, so I’m hoping more people find the show.  Soon.  I need my Whedon fix since he seems to know: Dark heroes, like dark chocolate, are good for the heart.

Any fellow Browncoats in the house?  And speaking of brown coats, will someone please tell me what’ s sexier than a black leather jacket?  No, srsly, I need something sexier than a black leather jacket.