The Good Book
By Eric Greene
“I wish they hadn’t killed you in Serenity,” I earnestly protested to Ron Glass at a recent screening of Otto Preminger’s celebrated yet lamentable Porgy and Bess. He smiled a smile that could best be described as, well, serene, and told me how nice everyone on the production had been, what good people they were. And I don’t doubt it. I didn’t think it was malice that led to Shepherd Book’s demise. But I wish he had lived.
Book was an endless font of paradox that drew me in, made me want to know more. We all have our share of complexity, of course, but sometimes you encounter people whose inner worlds seem so rich that you could spend a lifetime delving into them and never get bored. That was Book. Perhaps it was the juxtaposition of a man of faith running with a gang of criminals, Friar Tuck in outer space. Maybe it was his discomforting familiarity with secret military operations and the tantalizing suggestions of a shameful hidden past as an Alliance agent/interrogator/torturer (“I don’t give a hump if you’re innocent or not so where does that put you?”-how chilling is that in these Abu Ghraib/Guantanamo days?). Or the fact that, as Joss Whedon says on the DVD commentary for Firefly’s pilot, Book was “a man of peace, not at peace.” It could simply have been the elegance and beauty Ron Glass brought to the character. But definitely part of the fascination was Book’s relationship to Mal.