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Firefly: A Traveler’s Companion to the ‘Verse

Firefly: A Traveler’s Companion to the ‘Verse
Book Name: Firefly: A Traveler’s Companion to the ‘Verse
Author: Marc Sumerak
Publisher(s): Insight Editions
Formatt: Paperback
Genre(s): Science Fiction / Media Tie-in
Release Date: August 28, 2018

Firefly - A Traveler’s Companion to the ‘Verse (cover)I am a huge Firefly nerd. Like, seriously huge. I’ve watched the show and the movie many times. I took a movie criticism class in college and compared Star Wars and Serenity, just because I could. When I left my first full-time job, my coworker gave me Firefly comics as a parting gift. When I turned 21 on a cruise and got Serenity, I made my family hunker down with room service in our tiny cabin to watch it. My first Internet network was named “everythingsshinycapn,” I have a figurine of Jayne in my new office space, and my favorite tea mug has a bunch of Firefly quotes on it.

Seriously. I. Love. Firefly.

So, when I got Firefly: A Traveler’s Companion to the ‘Verse for Christmas, I was understandably excited. What’s this? A new book for fans like me? Yes! Insight Editions published the new Hidden Universe Travel Guide in 2018, written by Marc Sumerak and illustrated by Livio Ramondelli. (You may know Sumerak from his contributions to Marvel Comics.) Getting the book was a complete surprise and a super fun read!

In case you haven’t yet been introduced to the amazingness that is Firefly, 1) I’m so happy I get to introduce this show to you and 2) you are about to get your world rocked.

Firefly (cover)Firefly is a space western television show that aired in 2002 and follows Captain Malcolm Reynolds and his ragtag crew as they try to stay afloat in the Black, taking any kind of job that comes their way no matter how legal those jobs may be. It was created by Joss Whedon.

The Traveler’s Companion to the ‘Verse reads like, you guessed it, a traveler’s guide, spanning the Core to the Rim and the many Border planets in between. It’s broken up into helpful color-coded sections, with each section going into one of the star systems and their accompanying planets. The traveler’s companion first goes into the history of the star system, how it developed, where it is in the ‘verse (Core, Border, or Rim) and what that means for the people living in that star system. The traveler’s companion then dives into the planets around that star. Each page features a short history of the planet and then diverges into a myriad of topics, ranging from etiquette, travel tips, and dos and don’ts to getting around, nightlife, and some other fun facts about that planet any spacefarer would want to know.

2019 JAN Firefly - White Sun System

It also has handwritten commentary from the Serenity crew! I loved reading these, as it pulled me back into the character voices and made me laugh. And, as if that wasn’t enough to keep a captive audience, there are also throwbacks to both Firefly and Serenity sprinkled in like glimmering gems waiting to be discovered. Incorporating references—whether it be geese juggling, how clothing is optional in the desert, cortical electrodes, the hero of Canton, or wife-turned-con-artist—gives the hard-core fans a wink while also making the new readers intrigued. (I mean, if you didn’t know the backstory for clothing being optional in the desert, wouldn’t you want to know?)

Firefly - White Sun System 2

This whole book is quite interesting to me, since it showcases just how big the Firefly universe is, or can be, and reveals the in-depth worldbuilding that went into creating this book. Each planet has their own flair, their own primary commodity, their own people, depending on where they are in the ‘verse. Granted each planet only gets a page or two, but there are over seventy planets and it’s more than the fans got in the original series, so I’m calling that a win. I’m just amazed by the creativity.

Firefly - Shinon

Sumerak does a good job capturing the feel of Firefly, mirroring the voices of characters we love so much quite well and successfully expanding the universe with a ton of new details and interesting worlds we visited during our adventures with the Serenity crew. (And many we’ve never seen before!) Ramondelli captures the look of Firefly, too, as the art is beautiful and harkens back to the series so perfectly that I want to go watch the show again just to compare visuals.

Firefly - History

So, what’s not to like? Well, actually, I do have one criticism. Sometimes the planets were described in such a way it sounded like they only did one thing, like Gonghe in the White Sun System was only used for raising animals from Earth-That-Was or Zephyr in the Kalidasa System was only for agriculture. While I understand the traveler’s companion is meant to be a snapshot of the planets, not an in-depth analysis of them, describing them this way rubbed some shine off. However, I rationalized that those worlds did have other jobs and types of people and commodities and such, but the traveler’s companion merely highlighted the most popular one.

Firefly - Bernadette and Londinium

Overall, Firefly: A Traveler’s Companion to the ‘Verse was fun. I’d highly recommend it for anyone, whether you’re a big-time-fan of Firefly, a new follower, or someone who just wants a quirky read. Since this is a book review, I get to give it a rating! I was thinking about using the standard star rating, but I think it would be funnier (and more appropriate) to rate it with geese. The traveler’s companion does reveal what planet Wash is talking about, after all…

Rating: 9/10 juggling geese

Firefly - A Traveler’s Companion to the ‘Verse (detail)

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