Finding Serenity: Anti-heroes, Lost Shepherds and Space Hookers in Joss Whedon's? Firefly is a compilation of essays edited by Jane Espenson?. The book was released in late 2004 following the cancellation of the television show Firefly. Jane Espenson was a writer for the show and the book contains a series of essays that discuss the show from a variety of viewpoints, some scholarly, others with a comedic note.
Review from SF-site.com in 2005:
Jane Espenson, the "Firefly" writer who announced news of the film in 2003, has now edited Finding Serenity, a collection of essays about the television show, its universe, and characters. These essays run the gamut from larks, such as Glenn Yeffeth's? attack on the FOX executives who cancelled the show to Keith R.A. DeCandido's? well reasoned explanation for why the pilot-as-aired did not manage to attract an audience, to Lyle Zynda's complex look at the existential philosophy found in the series.
Many of the essays tend to focus on the same topics, although from different points of view. One of those topics is the strength and abilities of the women of the cast and crew. However, even as Tanya Huff? describes the abilities of the second-in-command, Zoe Warren, or Robert Taylor lauds the women as the stronger portion of the crew, Nancy Holder? sees them as weak and stereotypical.
One of the strengths of "Firefly" is that in just over a dozen shows (including the un-aired episodes), Whedon was able to create enough hooks and mysteries that the twenty authors represented in Finding Serenity are able to tackle a wide variety of topics, from the aforementioned question of the strength of characters to the existence of the Reavers, a bogeyman who the crew of the spaceship Serenity meet up with. Nevertheless, there are numerous other questions which are only touched upon in the essays, such as the mysterious history of Shepherd Book (played by Ron Glass) or the agenda of the equally mysterious Blue Sun corporation.
Several articles compare "Firefly" to other television shows, most notably Star Trek and its sequels, but also Don DeBrandt's? comparison to the cult show "The Tick." These articles rely, to some extent on familiarity with not only "Firefly" but also the other show. "Mirror/Mirror: A Parody" requires the reader to have some idea about the characters and situations of "Enterprise," as well as share Roxanne Longstreet Conrad's? opinions of the two shows.
One of the high points of the anthology is the inclusion of an article by Jewel Staite?, who portrayed the Serenity's mechanic Kaywinnet Lee Frye. Staite's essay looks at her five favorite moments from each of the episodes of "Firefly" and provides an adjunct actor's commentary to the various commentaries available on the DVD sets. It also serves to demonstrate that the actors, or at least one of them, is as big a fan of the show as the people who watched it.