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Firefly's Nathan Fillion aims to misbehave in space again as AI narrator of 'The Salvage Crew'

By Tara Bennett
Nathan Fillion 2019

For many fans of actor Nathan Fillion, space remains one of the best settings for his thespian skills. He proved it beyond compare as Captain Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds of Firefly and Serenity fame, but he's largely avoided going back for any role except for the odd voice cameo in film like Guardians of the Galaxy or video game character such as Halo.

But he's finally heading back out into the universe ... sorta.

Fillion is voicing his very first audiobook narration for The Salvage Crew, a sci-fi novel written by Sri Lankan author and data Yudhanjaya Wijeratne (Numbercaste and The Inhuman Race), and published by Aethon Books.

The Salvage Crew Cover

For the tale, the actor will embody the first-person narrative of a human-convict-turned-AI-overseer that is tasked with making sure that colonists meant to settle planets get there unscathed. Cranky about its lot in life, the grizzled tech observes and reports on his charges as they try to set up a functional society before scores of backup residents arrive.

Available from Podium Audio on October 27, 2020, SYFY WIRE also can reveal this exclusive excerpt of Fillion's narration of The Salvage Crew:

Perhaps even more compelling than the connection of artist to story is the fact that Wijeratne actually used OpenAI technology, and his own proprietary code, to help him "co-write" the environments, situations, and characters in The Salvage Crew. The AI consulted on his text along the writing journey, and based on its suggestions and "ideas," it helped shape the final manuscript that Fillion reads.

“Sci-fi and survival are both of tremendous interest to me," Fillion tells SYFY WIRE about his personal interest in Wijeratne's hybrid tale. "This story is very inventive in not only conceiving the kinds of problems we’d face in the future, but also the solutions, practices and technologies we’d eventually come up with. Add to that the characters -- my favorite, the AI in charge of this botched adventure. Finally, an AI inner monologue I can relate to. If any of this has piqued something in your noggin, then yes. Yes, I think you’ll enjoy this book. Oh, and also, I’ll read it to you."

Now we just have to see if Fillion's AI reading is so good, The Salvage Crew gets optioned for film or TV adaptation and then he gets cast as the AI and the whole thing becomes a real-life, sci-fi ouroboros.

The Salvage Crew is available for pre-order on Audible now.