The Morality & Humor of
by Suzan Lovett
Most of the others don't even start off with much moral fiber. Avon and Vila are convicted thieves, although their styles differ widely. Jenna is a renowned smuggler. Gan, convicted for killing the security guard who murdered his woman, is the strongest voice for morality in the group, but his death half-way through the second series silences his arguments. After Gan's death, Cally, a trained guerrilla fighter, presses the occasional moral point, but she, like Blake, is a tempered idealist who believes in fighting with what one can muster.
Each of the later replacements have less virtue than the people they succeed. Gan is replaced by Orac, a machine. Blake and Jenna are succeeded by Tarrant and Dayna, both younger and more ruthless than their predecessors and rarely too troubled by ethics. Cally is replaced by Soolin, a killer, who exhibits few principles.
The stories show a touch of the reality of war and revolution as the people fighting evil begin to become more like those they oppose. But though the rebels are not "heroes," neither are they villains. They are complex individuals who are constantly forced to make decisions affecting themselves, those around them, and, sometimes, the fate of mankind.
Humor in this science fiction adventure series arises from the crew's constant stress and frustration. It materializes in sarcastic insults thrown back and forth among the characters -- a safety valve which keeps them from throwing anything more substantial. They are confined to each to each other's company almost exclusively, giving rise to frustrations which they vent in a kind of playful malice (or is it "malicious play"?).
The touch of seriousness underlying these insults has been cited by some critics as evidence that the crew members have never learned to like each other. Others merely see the whole situation as the natural reactions of people unavoidably living too close together. It does help the situation, for though these people are of opposing viewpoints on just about everything, rarely is a temper lost among them.