I am Captain Malcolm Reynolds
By Jeffrey Hite
In so many ways I am Captain Malcolm Reynolds. Or at least I want to be, there is no way that I could every be that cool.
This turned out to be a very hard essay to write. Not because it is hard to find things to talk about, about Captain Malcolm (Mal) Reynolds. In fact, the problem is that there are too many ways too look at the ex-soldier, brown coat wearing, loyal to a fault, cowboy in space.
He calls himself a simple man but he takes complicated character and turns the knob up to 11, and for that I love him. Complicated characters make stories interesting. Even with all this in mind, there is something else that I want to talk about.
While I understand the risk of sounding like I am singing 99 Red Balloons (or is that 99 Luft Balons?), everyone wants to be Captain Kirk. I think this is a true statement, and for many reasons. You want to feel like in any situation you could end up on top. You want to walk away from the fight with a torn shirt, but otherwise unscathed. If you are a guy, you want to get the girl. This is true of Captain Mal, as much as the rest of us. But I think that the Captain takes it a step further, I think it could be said that if there was anyone who is more Captain James T. Kirk than Captain James T. Kirk himself it is Captain Malcolm Reynolds. No Sissy phasers or tricorders here, it is shoot first and ask questions later, do what’s right even if it kills me, and stick to your guns right to the edge of space or down to the planet Miranda.
What I want to talk about Captain Tight Pants, because no one flys by the seat of his pants better than he does. Some times this works out well for him and he gets to say things like,
“Appears we got here just in the nick of time. What does that make us?
“Big damn heroes, sir.”
“Ain’t We just!”
And some times it ends with him sitting on a rock in the middle of the desert naked as a jaybird.
In the end he does usually end up as the one holding the bag as it were.
In my life and in my writing I tend to be the same way. Does it always work out for me? No, but sometimes like Mal, things do seem to work out. I often meet my characters in the same way, that Mal met Saffron. He knew something about her, she was a girl, she was young and beautiful, but beyond that he had no idea who she was. It turned out that she was a lot more than she appeared to be, using adjectives such as crafty, conniving, dangerous and even deadly to describe her would not be too extreme to describe her character.
As you can imagine, and if you can’t you need to read up on YoSafBridge, meeting characters like this can be pretty darn dangerous. Some times they do crazy things, like killing off your main character halfway through the story, and it truns out they were the main character and you just started the story to soon. Mal usually deals with it, by either outsmarting them some how, or by pulling out his gun. And while the idea of shooting every character who has popped from my fingers that don’t like is intriguing, it would probably get expensive to replace all the computer monitors, I tend to try to out smart them. Unfortunately this some times ends well, “Big Damn herores.” and some times not, I am left naked on a rock as the character I didn’t even know when I started the story, end ups stealing everything I was working on.
For those of you that like to and can plan, and outline and have everything worked out in your head before I you get started, I salute you. In many ways I wish I could do that, but I have never been able to manage it. So until that time, I think I will just go on being Captain Reynolds.
Thank you to FireflyWiki.org for the Episode descriptions and Images used in this article