One of the most popular subjects for readers here at borg.com, Firefly is a franchise we always watch out for. We try to jump on anything new that springs from Joss Whedon’s unique world. One of the ironies of the short-lived series is that the producers, studios, and creators really don’t license many books or collectables compared to the volume released from the big science fiction franchises. Star Wars and Star Trek continue to flood the market with new content and products. What that usually means is as a consumer you must pick through a lot to find something truly new and interesting. Not so with Firefly. Each of the books we’ve reviewed have all been something any Firefly fan should go for.
Same goes for the newest book published this month for Firefly fans: Firefly: The Gorramn Shiniest Language Guide and Dictionary in the ‘Verse. Without a doubt the earlier published deluxe hardcover Firefly: A Celebration, Anniversary Edition is a Firefly fan’s best friend. A Celebration had it all, from scripts to interviews and photos of every detail of the show including blueprints of ships, concept art, props, and costumes. Check out our review here published previously at borg.com. But Firefly: The Gorramn Shiniest Language Guide and Dictionary in the ‘Verse makes a worthy companion to that book, honing in on the use of language in the ‘Verse and not in a merely trifling way.
This book is intelligently written for both a cosplayer wanting to emulate characters and language from the show, to those interested in understanding how the series writers, including Whedon himself, used word choices to build backstories for characters, to show their wealth, their roots, and how the characters reveal their own needs, both subtlely and overtly, to others. How do you create a language for a society 500 years in our future that is true to the past and appropriately modern?
Writer Monica Valentinelli, familiar with the details of the Firefly ‘verse and verse through her work on series roleplaying games among other projects, poured over the scripts, flagged every character, place, weapon, bottle of beer, and planet, reviewing terms used in the television series that build the world of Firefly from a medical, military, culture, transportation, engineering, or political standpoint. She then provides illustrative quotes from the characters showing how they use key phrases. And if you’re familiar with Firefly you’d expect plenty of Chinese in this dictionary and you will find it all here, each word and phrase, plus some extras courtesy of the series and Serenity movie Chinese translator Jenny Lynn. The book even includes an episode by episode guide to the Chinese phrases.
Those of the pickier variety may quibble with the exclusion of words exclusively used in the movie or comic books, which were not included based on licensing rights issues (such as some planet names from Serenity). Still, the average fan won’t notice much of a difference.
From a visual standpoint the book is quite attractive, with a matte finish hardcover and raised gloss photography. The interior is full of some of the best photos and concept art from Firefly: A Celebration, interspersed to illustrate words both familiar and new. As a dictionary, it’s quite readable, and the variety and breadth of language supplement the story told in the series. If younger viewers may not have fully understood what was said, all will be explained here. And for the technobabble a viewer may have understood through context alone, you’ll now be sure what was being said.
A great gift for your favorite Browncoat, you can purchase Titan Books’ new Firefly: The Gorramn Shiniest Language Guide and Dictionary in the ‘Verse here at Amazon.com.