Michelle Dockrey

My name is Michelle Dockrey, and I'm a Firefly fan.

A few years back, we got hooked on Buffy by a former roommate. First watching reruns of early shows, then joining in the current broadcast at the time, eventually filling in what we'd missed with DVDs. We were amazed. Joss Whedon's storytelling, his dialogue, his beautiful, amazing camera work, everything-- we were hooked instantly. So it was no surprise what happened when I went to stay with a friend for the weekend and he pulled out this DVD set and said "here... you're gonna love this. We'll just watch one or two." And popped in the DVD set of Firefly.

I pretty much refused to leave the house for the rest of the weekend.

I watched every single episode, every single DVD extra, and was still hungry for more. By then rumors of the movie were already pretty solid. I couldn't wait. I told everyone I could persuade to hold still about the show, made everyone who came to visit me watch the DVDs. I was completely, utterly hooked.

I'm a musician; my husband and I form the filk group Escape Key, sometimes with help from friends Audrey Eschright on flute and Tony Fabris on guitar. Filk music is basically folk music that's about anything of interest to SF/Fantasy fans, and is largely played at SF/Fantasy conventions. Go to any major con and look up the filk track in the programming guide. You'll find us in one of the ballrooms late at night, singing our hearts out, laughing and crying, spinning stories. And that's the heart of my passion for Firefly, right there. That's where it got me. We filkers, we write songs that tell stories-- sometimes our own, and sometime's other people's. And Joss Whedon is a consummate storyteller. He writes the kind of stories you want to hear over and over again, you want to tell all your friends, you want to become immersed in.

The music from Firefly makes me absolutely swoon. All of it. But in particular, the opening theme song just grabbed me by the soul and wouldn't let go. Encapsulated there in that short little theme was the entire mood of the series, and especially the key to Malcom Reynolds' personality. It hinted at Mal's story, at what makes him a hero and a leader and at the same time a fallible human being. All the elements of a great story. And the more I listened to it, the more it really felt like a chorus in search of some verses. So I wrote some.

I called the whole thing "Mal's Song" because that's just what I wanted to do-- to tell a bit more of Mal's story. The song wrote itself largely in the shower; I couldn't get the tune of the theme song out of my head, and was singing it over and over, and then the tune started to sort of wander around in my head and build on itself. I performed it at a filk con in San Jose, and put a live recording of it up on our little website in case anyone wanted to hear it.

Then one day, our network was severely lagged. What the heck was going on? That night, my husband came into the room.

"Y'know all that lag we've been having?"
"I found the cause."
"What was it?"
"Someone posted a link to Mal's Song on a Firefly fan site..."
"...and now there are a ton of people downloading it."
"You mean...?"
"Yep. We've been slashdotted."

It was unbelievable. The hits started coming in from all over, as the link got handed from site to site to site by avid Browncoats. We ended up having to convert everything to bittorrents just to keep our site alive. Emails started coming in. "Thank you for writing this!" "I'm listening to this over and over." And again and again, "you should totally send this to Joss!" (I always wanted to, but I've always been kind of chicken. I imagine he'll see it now, though...) :)

Around then I started to get into various Firefly/Serenity boards, through which I got word of one of the pre-screenings. We couldn't get tickets to the one here in Seattle, but we managed to get them in Portland. A mad drive down battling holiday weekend traffic later, and we were among a crowd of singing, celebrating Browncoats. There were folks in costume, everybody sang the theme song before the movie started. Joss' speech at the beginning moved me to tears. Believe beyond reason. It was transcribed all over the internet, and I dearly hope that it makes it into the DVD of the movie.

Everything seemed to snowball after that. Jeremy Naish created his amazing music video. People sent compliments and ordered CDs. People offered to find ways to send the recording to Joss and other cast members. The Signal asked me to participate in their podcast. It's been overwhelming and touching and wonderful. Browncoats are the best. There's something about Joss and his work and his cast, that brings out the absolute best in people, and brings them together. You can tell that Joss and the cast are real people, and that they genuinely love their fans. Joss cares deeply about his fans, and about crafting the best possible work he can, the richest visuals, the most poignant balance of humor and deep emotion (often simultaneously), the music that is as much a character and a plot element as the cast, and above all, about having something meaningful to say.

I just wanted to retell a little fragment of this wonderful story, and to give my tribute and my thanks to an incredible storyteller.