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Cover reveal for 2 PIRATES + 1 ROBOT

I’m thrilled to reveal the cover of my next picture book, 2 PIRATES + 1 ROBOT, coming from Kane Miller next month! Art by Shiho Pate.

Space pirates Flotsam, Jetsam, and their robot’s rejoicing at their newfound plunder is cut short when they’re attacked by other pirates. They evade by flying into an asteroid field, but their ship is damaged. Despite the robot’s repair efforts, they don’t have enough fuel to reach port. Will Flotsam and Jetsam accept his valiant offer to be jettisoned in order to save them? It’s Firefly meets THE GIVING TREE. An author’s note explains some of the math and physics behind the shenanigans. My engineering degrees finally paid off!


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Famous Spaceships from TV & Movies

I enjoy a well-conceived plot and fully fleshed-out characters, but like every science fiction buff, I also enjoy high tech gadgetry. This post is a gallery of some of the best known, nay, iconic spaceships from TV and movies. Enjoy the variety of shapes and sizes!

Enterprise
USS Enterprise (original Star Trek TV series)

“The USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) is the central starship in the fictional Star Trek media franchise. The original Star Trek series features a voice-over by Enterprise captain, James T. Kirk (William Shatner), which describes the mission of Enterprise as “to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before”.” — Wikipedia

Millenium Falcon
Millennium Falcon (Star Wars)

“The Millennium Falcon is a fictional spacecraft in the Star Wars universe commanded by smuggler Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and his Wookiee first mate, Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew). The highly modified YT-1300 light freighter first appears in Star Wars (1977), and subsequently in The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Return of the Jedi (1983) and in a cameo in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005).

According to Star Wars creator George Lucas, the Millennium Falcon’s design was inspired by a hamburger, with the cockpit being an olive on the side. The ship originally had a more elongated appearance, but the similarity to the Eagle Transporters in Space: 1999 prompted Lucas to change the Falcon’s design.” — Wikipedia

DeathStar
Death Star (Star Wars)

“A Death Star is a fictional space station and superweapon appearing in the Star Wars science-fiction franchise created by George Lucas. It is capable of destroying an entire planet with its powerful superlaser.

The original Death Star’s completed form appears in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Commanded by Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing), it is the Galactic Empire’s “ultimate weapon”, a space station capable of destroying a planet with one shot of its superlaser. The film opens with Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) transporting the station’s schematics to the Rebel Alliance to aid them in destroying the Death Star. Tarkin orders the Death Star to destroy Leia’s home world of Alderaan in an attempt to pressure her into giving him the location of the secret Rebel base; she gives them the false location of Dantooine, but Tarkin has Alderaan destroyed anyway, as a demonstration of the Death Star’s firepower and the Empire’s resolve.” — Wikipedia

DrWho
TARDIS (Doctor Who TV series)

“The TARDIS; Time and Relative Dimension in Space) is a fictional time machine and spacecraft in the British science fiction television programme Doctor Who and its associated spin-offs.

A TARDIS is a product of the advanced technology of the Time Lords, an extraterrestrial civilisation to which the programme’s central character, the Doctor, belongs. A properly maintained and piloted TARDIS can transport its occupants to any point in time and any place in the universe. The interior of a TARDIS is much larger than its exterior, which can blend in with its surroundings using the ship’s “chameleon circuit”. TARDISes also possess a degree of sentience (which has been expressed in a variety of ways ranging from implied machine personality and free will through to the use of a conversant avatar) and provide their users with additional tools and abilities including a telepathically based universal translation system.” — Wikipedia

ALiensDropship
UD-4L Cheyenne (Aliens)

While technically more of an orbital assault ship than a spaceship, we’re including the Cheyenne Colonial Marine Dropship because of its cool combination of firepower and troop transporting ability, without which, the Colonial Marines wouldn’t be able to face off against the aliens in, well, Aliens.

FifthElement
Fhloston Paradise (The Fifth Element)

This  Steampunkesque space cruise ship gets shot up pretty badly as Corbin Dallas and Leeloo retrieve the four Element stones from Plavalaguna, and fight off a group of heavily-armed Mangalore mercenaries who also want the stones. Later, the ship is blown to bits, after the cruise ship passengers have fled. The ship’s destruction also helps  the passengers avoid the food poisoning so common on real-world cruise ships…

Thunderbird5
Thunderbird 5 (Thunderbirds TV series)

“Thunderbirds follows the adventures of the Tracy family, headed by American multi-millionaire philanthropist Jeff Tracy. A widower, Jeff’s adult sons – Scott, John, Virgil, Gordon and Alan – are named after Mercury Seven astronauts: Scott Carpenter, John Glenn, Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Gordon Cooper and Alan Shepard.

Unknown to the public, the Tracys are the force behind International Rescue: a secret organization committed to saving human life, founded and funded by Jeff. Assisting the family in this mission are technologically advanced land-, sea-, air- and space-rescue vehicles and equipment, deployed after conventional rescue techniques prove ineffective. Foremost are five machines called the Thunderbirds, each assigned to one of the five brothers:

  • Thunderbird 1 – a 115 feet-long, hypersonic, variable-sweep wing rocket plane used for fast response and rescue-zone reconnaissance, and as a mobile control base. Piloted by primary rescue co-ordinator Scott Tracy.
  • Thunderbird 2 – a 250 feet-long, supersonic, VTOL, lifting body carrier aircraft, which transports major rescue equipment and vehicles to rescue zones in detachable capsules known as “Pods”. Piloted by Virgil.
  • Thunderbird 3 – a 287 feet-tall, vertically-launched, re-usable, single-stage-to-orbit spacecraft used primarily for space rescue. Manned by astronaut Alan (with Scott as co-pilot).
  • Thunderbird 4 – a 30 feet-long utility submersible used for underwater rescue. Piloted by aquanaut Gordon and typically launched from Thunderbird 2’s Pod 4.
  • Thunderbird 5 – a space station, 296 feet-wide and in permanent geostationary orbit, which monitors SOS transmissions and relays communications within IR. ”
    — Wikipedia

spaceghost
Phantom Cruiser (Space Ghost TV series)

“Space Ghost is a fictional character created by Hanna-Barbera Productions and designed by Alex Toth for CBS in the 1960s. In his original incarnation, he was a superhero who, with his sidekick teen helpers Jan, Jace, and Blip the monkey, fought supervillains in outer space. In the 1990s, the character was brought back as a host for his own fictional late-night talk show, Space Ghost Coast to Coast, on Cartoon Network and Adult Swim. In the 2000s, he was revamped as a serious superhero once again in a DC Comics mini-series.” — Wikipedia

Futurama
Planet Express Ship (Futurama TV series)

“The Planet Express Ship is a fictional spaceship in the animated series Futurama, which bears the official designation U.S.S. Planet Express Ship. The ship was designed and built by Professor Hubert Farnsworth and is the sole delivery ship of Planet Express, a delivery service owned by the Professor. The ship is typically treated as an inanimate object, though Bender refers to the ship’s autopilot as “him” (and laments being defeated in a martini-drinking contest by same) in “How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back”. The later episode “Love and Rocket” shows the ship to have an artificial intelligence, voiced originally by Maurice LaMarche and then (after installation of “new improved ship’s personality software” including “adjustable voice”) by special guest Sigourney Weaver.” — Wikipedia

A Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy
S.S. Heart of Gold (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)

“S.S. Heart of Gold is the first prototype ship to successfully use the revolutionary Infinite Improbability Drive. It is 150 metres long and has been represented in various shapes. The original radio series did not specify a shape. In the novel adapted from the first four episodes of the radio series, it was described as a sleek white running shoe, which the TV adaptation adopted as a basis for its depictions. In the 2005 movie, it is more spherical with a hole and red brake lights on the rear that form the shape of a heart, a shape derived from a teacup in the brownian motion producer that powers the Infinite Improbability Drive. It also features a mural around the hole which depicts the invention of the Drive. It was built as a secret government project on planet Damogran from where Zaphod Beeblebrox, the then-President of the Imperial Galactic Government, stole it at the launching ceremony.” — Wikipedia

Jupiter2
Jupiter 2 (Lost in Space TV series)

“Lost in Space is an American science fiction television series created and produced by Irwin Allen, filmed by 20th Century Fox Television, and broadcast on CBS. The show ran for three seasons, with 83 episodes airing between September 15, 1965, and March 6, 1968. The first television season was filmed in black and white, but the remainder were filmed in color. In 1998, a Lost in Space movie, based on the television series, was released.

Though the original television series concept centered on the Robinson family, many later story lines focused primarily on Dr. Zachary Smith, played by Jonathan Harris. Originally written as an utterly evil but extremely competent would-be saboteur, Smith gradually becomes the troublesome, self-centered, incompetent foil who provides the comic relief for the show and causes most of the episodic conflict and misadventures.” — Wikipedia

Serenity
Serenity (Firefly TV series)

“Serenity is a fictional spaceship that appears in Joss Whedon’s Firefly television series and related works. Set in the 26th century, the series follows the nine-person crew of the Firefly-class vessel, a small transport ship, as they earn a living through various legal and illegal means. The ship is the main setting; it appears in all fourteen episodes, the film, and all of the published comics.

Serenity first appeared in the pilot episode of Joss Whedon’s Firefly, which is set in the year 2517, in a star system humanity migrated to after using all of Earth’s resources. She is the property of Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), a former sergeant who served on the losing side of a civil war that ended six years before the series began. Mal acquires Serenity from a used spaceship yard after the war (as depicted in flashbacks during “Out of Gas”), intending to hire a small crew and take various jobs to support himself and wartime comrade Corporal Zoe Alleyne, while keeping out of the way of the Alliance, the multi-planetary government they were fighting against.” — Wikipedia

BattlestarGalactica
Battlestar Galactica (Battlestar Galactica TV series reboot)

“The story arc of Battlestar Galactica is set in a distant star system, where a civilization of humans live on a group of planets known as the Twelve Colonies. In the past, the Colonies had been at war with a cybernetic race of their own creation, known as the Cylons. With the unwitting help of a human named Gaius Baltar, the Cylons launch a sudden sneak attack on the Colonies, laying waste to the planets and devastating their populations. Out of a population numbering in the billions, only approximately 50,000 humans survive, most of whom were aboard civilian ships that avoided destruction. Of all the Colonial Fleet, the eponymous Battlestar Galactica appears to be the only military capital ship that survived the attack. Under the leadership of Colonial Fleet officer Commander William “Bill” Adama (Olmos) and President Laura Roslin (McDonnell), the Galactica and its crew take up the task of leading the small fugitive fleet of survivors into space in search of a fabled refuge known as Earth.” — Wikipedia

Buckaroo
Black Lectroid Ship (The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension)

“The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension!, often shortened to Buckaroo Banzai, is a 1984 American science fiction film. It concerns the efforts of the multi-talented Dr. Buckaroo Banzai, a physicist, neurosurgeon, test pilot, and rock musician, to save the world by defeating a band of inter-dimensional aliens called Red Lectroids from Planet 10. The film is a cross between the action/adventure and sci-fi film genres and also includes elements of comedy, satire, and romance.

Banzai prepares to test his Jet Car, a modified Ford F-350 pickup truck powered by a jet engine and capable of exceeding Mach 1. The car is also equipped with a secret device called an “oscillation overthruster”, which Banzai and his associates hope will allow it to drive through solid matter. The test is a success: Banzai stuns onlookers by driving the Jet Car directly through a mountain. Emerging on the other side, Banzai finds that an alien organism has attached itself to the undercarriage.

Hearing of Banzai’s success, physicist Dr. Emilio Lizardo breaks out of the Trenton Home for the Criminally Insane, after being held there for 50 years. A flashback shows Banzai’s mentor, Dr. Hikita, was present at Lizardo’s failed overthruster experiment in 1938. Crashing half through the target wall, Lizardo had been briefly trapped in the 8th dimension where his mind was taken over by Lord John Whorfin.

Whorfin is the leader of the Red Lectroids, a race of alien reptiles who wage war against Planet 10. After being defeated by the less-aggressive Black Lectroids, Whorfin and his group were banished into the 8th dimension. Lizardo’s failed experiment accidentally released Whorfin and he soon brings many of the Red Lectroids to Earth in an incident that was reported in 1938 by Orson Welles in his radio broadcast The War of the Worlds, only to be forced by the aliens to retract it all as fiction.” — Wikipedia

Click to Tweet: Famous Spaceships from TV & Movies at http://wp.me/p31Xf4-DV via @Nimpentoad


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The Worst Fictional TV/Movie Pairings

I just read somewhere that W.H. Auden tried (unsuccessfully) to convince his friend J.R.R. Tolkien not to create a romance between his Lord of the Rings characters Aragorn and Arwen. Happily, Prof. Tolkien was not dissuaded.

Sometimes, Auden’s advice should be taken however. As proof, I offer this recently discovered (by me) article “Romance Fail: The Worst Fictional Pairings, and Why They Happen” by Katherine Trendacosta at http://io9.com/romance-fail-the-worst-fictional-pairings-and-why-the-1522745762. Some images you’ll love to hate are below.

Romance Fail: The Worst Fictional Pairings, and Why They Happen

Look, we all know that writing believable romance is hard. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to admit that not every story needs a relationship as it’s A, B, or even C plot. A story without romance is better than one with a bad one. I’m so, so tired of thinking “Hey, these characters are solid, the story’s fun – oh, oh no. Stop it. Where’d this relationship even come from?!”

These unconvincing relationships fall always seem to fall into the same patterns. Below are the ones to avoid, and the reasons they’re just awful. When you see these happening, bail. And if it can go into more than one of these categories? Do directly to jail. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.

SPOILER WARNING: Since this discusses characters who end up together and characters who break up, there are spoilers. SPOILERS STARTING RIGHT NOW!

Romance Fail: The Worst Fictional Pairings, and Why They Happen

Pairing the Spares

I’m just going use the TV Tropes name for this one, because I always hear it in my head, just like Voldemort saying “Kill the spare.” Because that’s how bad this trope is.

Does everyone have to end up paired off for there to be a happy ending? Even Shakespeare occasionally left some people unmarried at the end of his plays. It’s like people think romance is some sort of closed system, with no external matter allowed. There are other people in the world. We do not need to see them immediately paired up to believe they’ll be okay.

Top honors in this category goes to Enchanted for Nancy and Edward, who stand as an example of the particularly egregious practice of pairing off the exes of the protagonists.

See also: Martha Jones and Mickey in Doctor Who; Twilight; Doggett and Reyes in The X-Files; Oliver and Chloe in Smallville

Romance Fail: The Worst Fictional Pairings, and Why They Happen

Oh, Shit, the Story’s Ending. . . Um, I Guess They’re a Pair Now

This is closely related to the above, although that version has a more intense need to make sure that everyone‘s paired off with each other. This one can be more isolated, and doesn’t necessarily pair a regular character with another. Instead, it seems like, as the story winds down, the writer just thinks that a neglected character deserves a love interest. It’s the lack of development that bugs me in this category. Although, the above-pictured couple hit the trifecta of last-minuteness, lack of chemistry, and just plain stupidity.

See also: The movie versions of Faramir and Éowyn in The Lord of the Rings; Leela and Andred from Doctor Who (ends her story); Pen and Cinnaminson from Terry Brooks’ Shannara Series; Principal Wood and Faith, Buffy

Romance Fail: The Worst Fictional Pairings, and Why They Happen

Hi New Guy, Welcome to the Love Triangle

Congratulations! You’ve got two actors with great chemistry that the fans want to see together. But you can’t them together yet, that’d bring the dreaded Moonlighting problem. And then, brilliance! Just give one (or more) of the pairing a different love interest.

Dear writers: Please stop doing this. Please stop introducing new characters with the sole personality trait of “obstruction to the couple everyone knows will end up together.” Please stop telling us before they show that we think we’ll really like them. If you’re right, you’ve got your protagonist breaking a perfectly good person’s heart (See: Richard, Superman Returns) OR you end up committing character assassination in order to make that character bad and therefore absolve your protagonist of any blame. (See: Jason Teague in Smallville)

If you’re wrong, you’ve got bland filler that’s attracting all sorts of fan hate just through their existence. If they’re lucky, the audience ends up forgetting they were ever even there. That’s what happens when you write a plot point rather than a person.

Special shout-out to the comic-based media properties who have a tendency to give this character a well-known comics name, but none of their interesting comics personalities. Sorry, Spider-Man 2‘s John Jameson and The Incredible Hulk‘s Leonard Samson, you weren’t quite well known enough to compensate for your on-screen blandness.

See also: Lauren Reed in Alias; Viktor Krum and Lavender Brown in Harry Potter; Groo in Angel; Atherton Wing and Tracey Smith in Firefly; Shakaar in Deep Space Nine; Asha Barlow in Dark Angel; Lou/Jill/Hannah/Shaw from Chuck; Kocoum in Pocahontas; Martouf in Stargate SG-1; Pete Shanahan in Stargate SG-1 (who, despite being engaged to Sam Carter, I only remembered as “that guy, you know, that one”); Smallville, just, Smallville all the time

Romance Fail: The Worst Fictional Pairings, and Why They Happen

What are you talking about? I’ve always been in love with *spins roulette wheel*

This is when two previously established characters end up together out of nowhere. It can be closely related to the above category, substituting an established character for a new character. At least in this case, the characters have already existed, so they’re not starting as a plot point. On the other hand, using a character this way invites the same character-assassination-or-protagonist-heartbreaker conundrum as the new character. And when it’s a character that hadn’t previously shown any real interest in, or chemistry with, their new partner, chances are that there’s some serious revamping of their character involved in making this work. Plus, there’s a risk of turning a fan-favorite into someone whose death we’re all suddenly rooting for.

And when two characters are just pushed together without any previous interaction, a writer is lucky if the audience is merely confused, rather than shocked and appalled. (Manfully restraining myself from re-using Seven of Nine and Chakotay’s photo here.)

The later seasons of Battlestar Galactica were particularly prone to this trap. Dualla and Lee fall into the first category, and Tigh and Caprica 6 into the second.

See also: Lex Luthor and Lana Lang, Smallville; Harry and Ginny (for some) in Harry Potter; Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks, Harry Potter; Galen Tyrol and Cally Henderson in Battlestar Galactica; Worf and Deanna Troi, Star Trek: TNG

Romance Fail: The Worst Fictional Pairings, and Why They Happen

The Romance Kudzu

All you wanted to do was add a little romance to your story. Just for color. To make the world more believable. But suddenly, it’s taken over everything. You can’t beat it back. The original intention can’t even be seen any more. Instead, the romance has overtaken everything, leaving the landscape unrecognizable. That’s the Romance Kudzu, consuming everything it can.

The first Matrix movie had the opposite problem, putting a one-sided romance in at the end. The second and third? Hoo, boy. Back! Back, Romance Kudzu!

Minor variation: There’s a romance for no reason, which is so distracting it detracts from everything. An out of place Romance Topiary, if you will. The bland dude/bland mermaid relationship in Pirates of the Caribbean 4, for example.

See also: Wheel of Time; We Can Build You by Phillip K. Dick; Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy (2005 movie); Farscape season 4

Romance Fail: The Worst Fictional Pairings, and Why They Happen

Pairs Juggling

This isn’t just a love triangle. Instead, this is when the writers aren’t really sure where they want the characters to end up, so they keep all the balls in the air. Every pairing’s a possibility! Everyone loves everyone! We’ll just wait for the audience to tell us which ones they like. Or for the actors to develop chemistry. Or for the tea leaves to finish steeping. Just don’t force us into a decision, we’re not ready! Characters pair up, break up, form new pairings, break those up, go back to each other . . . eventually someone has to walk away, right? Or, in the alternative, no one ever gets together, they just all alternately stare longingly at some and glare jealously at others.

By all accounts, the new Tomorrow People‘s got this problem. Astrid and Stephen? Stephen and Cara? Cara and John? Cara and Stephen?

See also: The Vampire Diaries; Emma, Hook, and Neal in Once Upon a TimeTeen Wolf; Community

Romance Fail: The Worst Fictional Pairings, and Why They Happen

The Leads Have No Chemistry

Just give up.


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Muppets & Fraggles meet the scifi cult classic Firefly

Joss Whedon (@JossWhedon) created an innovative and popular sci-fi (space Western, really) TV series ‘Firefly’ (and a subsequent movie ‘Serenity’). Diehard ‘Firefly’ lovers have lamented for a decade the cancellation of the series, much like the die-hard fans protested the cancellation the original Star Trek TV series (and not without good cause).

A recent San Diego Children’s Book Examiner post, showed a hilarious mashup of ‘Muppets’ and ‘Game of Thrones’ by Yehudi Mercado (@ymercado). Here is an equally clever mashup of the ‘Muppets’, ‘Fraggles’, and ‘Firefly’ characters, affectionately and appropriately entitled ‘FireFrog’ by artist James Hance (@JimJeroo). You can purchase your own copy of this poster at http://www.jameshance.com/prints.html

Thanks to @LaurenDavis at @io9 for bringing this to our attention.

firefrog

Kermit the Frog as Mal

Mal

From wikipedia.org:
Kermit the Frog is puppeteer Jim Henson’s most famous Muppet creation, first introduced in 1955. He is the protagonist of many Muppet projects, most notably on The Muppet Show, and Sesame Street, as well as movies, specials, and public service announcements throughout the years.

Nathan Fillion as Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds—the owner of Serenity and former Independent sergeant in the pivotal Battle of Serenity Valley. Malcolm grew up on a ranch, and was raised by his mother and the ranch hands. In the Unification War, he fought for the Independent Army, the “Browncoats”, as a platoon sergeant in the 57th Overlanders. He is cunning, a capable leader and a skilled fighter. Mal’s main character drive is his will for independence. While he is not above petty theft, smuggling or even killing to maintain his free lifestyle, he is generally honest in his dealings with others, fiercely loyal to his crew and closely follows a personal moral code.”

Miss Piggy as Inara

Inara

From wikipedia.org:
Miss Piggy is a Muppet character who was primarily played by Frank Oz on The Muppet Show. In 2001. Miss Piggy began as a minor character on The Muppet Show TV series, but gradually developed into one of the central characters of the show. She is a pig, specifically, a mangalitsa who is convinced she is destined for stardom, and nothing will stand in her way. She has a capricious nature, at times determined to convey an image of feminine charm, but suddenly flying into a violent rage (accompanied by her trademark “hi-yah!”) whenever she thinks someone has insulted or thwarted her. Kermit the Frog is often the target of her alternating anger and affection.

Morena Baccarin as Inara Serra—a Companion, which is the 26th century equivalent of an escort, mistress, hetaera, courtesan, or oiran, who rents one of the Serenity’s two small shuttles. Inara enjoys high social standing. Her presence confers a degree of legitimacy and social acceptance the crew of Serenity would not have without her on board. As a highly educated Hooker with a heart of gold, Inara displays great dignity, civility and compassion. There is strong romantic tension between her and Mal, who share many character traits, but each jokingly objects to the other’s “whoring” or “petty theft”, respectively. Both neglect to act on their feelings, and try to keep their relationship professional.”

Wembley Fraggle as Wash

Wash

From muppet.wikia.com/wiki/:
Wembley Fraggle is one of the five main Fragglecharacters in Fraggle Rock. His skin is yellowish green. He has a long nose and big movable eyes, and a big tuft of yellow hair on his head. He usually wears a banana tree shirt.”

From wikipedia.org:
Alan Tudyk as Hoban “Wash” Washburne—Serenity’s pilot and Zoe’s husband. Deeply in love with his wife, Wash expresses jealousy over his wife’s “war buddy” relationship and unconditional support of their captain, most particularly in the episode “War Stories”, in which he confronts Mal regarding their relationship. He joined pilot training just to see the stars, which were invisible from the surface of his polluted homeworld, and he joined Serenity despite being highly sought after by other ships. He is very light-hearted and tends to make amusing comments, despite the severity of any situation.”

Red Fraggle as Zoe

Zoe

From muppet.wikia.com/wiki/:
Red Fraggle is one of the five main Fraggles in Fraggle Rock. She is yellow and her hair is red with yellow and orange highlights which is always in big pigtails. She usually wears a red sweater and has the most hair of any Fraggle.”

From wikipedia.org:
Gina Torres as Zoe Alleyne Washburne—second-in-command onboard Serenity, a loyal wartime friend of Captain Reynolds, and the wife of Wash. Her surname during the Unification War was Alleyne. She was born and raised on a ship and served under Mal during the war as a corporal. Described by her husband as a “warrior woman”, she is a capable fighter who keeps calm even in the most dangerous situations. She demonstrates an almost unconditional loyalty to Mal, the only exception noted being her marriage to Wash, which the captain claims was against his orders.”

Fozzie Bear as Jayne

Jayne

From wikipedia.org:
Fozzie Bear is a Muppet, created by Jim Henson. He is an orange, particularly fuzzy bear who works as a stand-up comic and has a catchphrase, “Wocka Wocka Wocka!”. Shortly after telling the joke, he is usually the target of rotten tomatoes and ridicule, especially from hecklers Statler and Waldorf. He wears a brown pork pie hat and a red and white polka-dot necktie.

Adam Baldwin as Jayne Cobb—hired gun. He and Mal met on opposite sides of a rivalry; Mal, while held at gunpoint, offered Jayne his own bunk and a higher cut than his current employer, so he turned coat and shot his then-partners. He is someone who can be depended on in a fight. He tends to act like a “lummox” who thinks he is the smartest person in space, but occasional hints of intelligence peek through this façade, giving the impression that he acts dumber than he is.”

Sam the Eagle as Shepherd

Shepherd

From wikipedia.org:
Sam the Eagle is a character from the syndicated television show The Muppet Show, performed byFrank Oz. Sam’s patriotic spirit differentiates him from the rest of the Muppet cast, as does his general stuffiness and pomposity. Because of this, it has been a running gag in either The Muppet Show, or Muppet movies, that shows his patriotism towards the United States.

Ron Glass as Derrial Book—a Shepherd (equivalent to a pastor). Although presented as a devout Christian, Book has profound knowledge about criminal activities and police corruption. In “Safe”, he was shown to have sufficient status in the Alliance to receive medical treatment from the military with no questions asked. He is also proficient in hand-to-hand combat and the use of firearms. While objecting to violence most of the time, on a rescue mission he joins the fight, stating that while the Bible is quite specific about killing, it is “somewhat fuzzier on the subject of kneecaps”. Book is a moral guide for Mal and the rest of the crew, a voice of reason, conscience and spirituality. Ironically, he seems to get along well with the amoral mercenary Jayne, with whom he works out repeatedly.”

Janice as Kaylee

Kaylee

From muppet.wikia.com/wiki/:
Janice is the lead guitar player in the Electric Mayhem onThe Muppet Show. She also portrays Nurse Janice inVeterinarian’s Hospital, and appears in various other sketches, frequently as a chorus member. She is occasionally seen in the orchestra during the fifth season of the show. She has a very close relationship with the Electric Mayhem’s bass player, Floyd Pepper (although, in the first season of The Muppet Show, she’s involved withZoot in the At the Dance sketch).”

From wikipedia.org:
Jewel Staite as Kaywinnet Lee “Kaylee” Frye—the ship’s mechanic. In the episode “Out of Gas”, it is established that she has no formal training, but keeps Serenity running with an intuitive gift for the workings of mechanical equipment. Jewel Staite explains Kaylee’s character as being wholesome, sweet, and “completely genuine in that sweetness”, adding “She loves being on that ship. She loves all of those people. And she is the only one who loves all of them incredibly genuinely.] She has a crush on Dr. Simon Tam.”

Beaker as Simon

Simon

From wikipedia.org:
Beaker is a Muppet character from The Muppet Show. He is the shy, long-suffering assistant of Dr.Bunsen Honeydew, and is likewise named after a piece of laboratory equipment, although his shape more closely resembles an Erlenmeyer flask.

Sean Maher as Dr. Simon Tam—a medical researcher and trauma surgeon of the first caliber (top 3% in his class at a top core-planet institution), who is on the run after breaking his sister River out of a government research facility. In the episode “Safe”, it is revealed that he and River had a privileged upbringing with access to the best education. Simon sacrificed a highly successful future in medicine, over his stern father’s severe objections, when he rescued River. His bumbling attempts at a romantic relationship with Kaylee are a recurring subplot throughout the series, and at every turn he seems to find a way to unwittingly foil his own attempts at romance. His life is defined by caring for his sister.”

Mokey Fraggle as River

River

From http://muppet.wikia.com/wiki/:
Mokey Fraggle is one of the five main Fraggles in Fraggle Rock. She has mauve skin with darker purple fur, long turquoise hair, and wears a long gray robe-like sweater, which is worn open. She wears a ring on a string of beads around her neck.”

From wikipedia.org:
Summer Glau as River Tam—smuggled onto the ship by her brother. A highly intelligent, compassionate and intuitive child prodigy. Experiments and invasive brain surgery at an Alliance secret facility left her delusional, paranoid, and at times violent, though her uncanny ability to seemingly sense things before they happen leaves question to where the delusions end and reality begins for her. The experiments seemed to have made her a psychic, providing her with a seemingly innate ability in hand-to-hand combat, and she is capable of killing or incapacitating several stronger opponents with ease. She gets frequent fits of anxiety and experiences post-traumatic flashbacks of her time in the Alliance facility. Her mental instability and uncanny abilities, paired with several erratic and violent acts, is a recurring source of fear and doubt among the crew, especially with Jayne, who very frequently requests that they be taken off the ship.”