Firefly Still Flying

Behind-the-scenes pics from Firefly and a chat with writer/producer Jane Espenson in celebration of a new book on the show coming out at the end of May

This is an extended version of a feature which appears in the current issue of SFX

Firefly © 2010 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved. Photo courtesy of Danny Nero

“It was incredibly fun to go back to the Firefly universe,” says Espenson, who’s now firmly entrenched in the BSG/Caprica universe. “I didn’t have the feeling of unfinished business, precisely, but I certainly had the feeling of unused muscles. I had to reread some of the original scripts to get the feel, particularly of the voices. That Firefly dialect is very specific – it felt effortless years ago when we were sort of living in it, and now it felt kind of calculated and forced at first until I found the rhythm of it again.”

Firefly © 2010 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved. Art by Tim Earls

Espenson believes the short-story format allowed her to look at the Serenity crew in a new way. “I love the freedom that prose gives me to go into a character’s head and make clear all the stuff that has to go unsaid in script format,” she explains. “And, of course, you can write anything, without fear of production costs, which is wonderful – I should probably have taken more advantage of that than I did. But I have to admit, I'll be writing along and find myself longing to just let the people talk. Dialogue has always been my favorite thing. In terms of structuring the story, that’s totally different from television. I wanted to tell a very thinky internal story that wouldn't be a natural for television, and of course I didn't have to worry about act breaks and all the built-in structure that TV demands.”

Espenson’s story, “What Holds Us Down”, is a two-hander set “right in the thick of the series – Simon is there so it doesn't predate the series, but I had the sense he was still just a little bit new.” It focusses on Kaylee and a critically injured Wash, trapped on-board a trashed craft. “I never got to write very much for Wash just because of the random requirements of the scripts,” Espenson says, “and I was thrilled to get a chance to correct that. I also felt very confident about Kaylee’s point of view, and the combination just felt like fun.”

Firefly © 2010 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved. Art by Tim Earls

Prose writing isn’t something Espensen gets much time to do, but she has dabbled. “I write short stories very occasionally – I did one for a Buffy -based collection of stories about other vampire slayers, and I did one in the style of Jane Austen, but it’s not something I do a lot. I’ve done more comic books than short stories, and I find those difficult because they're so visual. Prose stories are at the other end of the spectrum, much more in the head of the characters, and I really like that.”

But should she get another chance to go back to the Firefly universe , Espenson knows who she wants to write for. “Jayne. Definitely. He fascinates me.”

Firefly: Still Flying is published by Titan Books on 28 May.

Firefly © 2010 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved. Photo courtesy of Danny Nero