Dark Run is a fun, very Firefly-ish sort of story — in that, I mean both the setting (the world situation, the character lineup, the tone) and the actual storyline are quite like Firefly. There are a couple of lines which seem like homages, like the pilot saying “I am a leaf on the wind”… but since that doesn’t lead to disaster in quite the same way as it does in Serenity, it kind of ruins the moment? Like, I read the line and braced myself, and then it was just… a throwaway comment? Hm. It’s things like that which made me wonder how deliberate the references were.
Whatever that situation is, the book is fun enough on its own merits, and it does things Firefly should have done, like introduce more diversity. Asian characters, most obviously, but also a Maori character, which is an interesting choice. I tried not to think too much about how things related to Firefly, and instead enjoy the book for its own merits: the pacing is pretty good, the crew is a mismatched bunch who come together in that endearing sort of way without it being ridiculously easy, there’s interesting background stuff, and there are character backstories which have yet to be unravelled and dug into… In short, there’s a lot of potential.
I’m not sure I succeeded in not thinking of it as an imitation of Firefly, but I did enjoy reading it for what it was as well. Enough that I’ve ordered the second book and am ready to dig into it right away. It’s fun without requiring too much thought, and if you do want a bit of a Firefly feel (though it can be hard for stuff to match up, given the way we’ve all built Firefly up!) then this delivers.