A couple of the stories appeared in draft form on the Freedom City mailing list, but most are brand new.
Most of the stories feature Avon and Blake.
I've highlighted five of my personal favourites below, but there's a lot more to enjoy in a very varied zine.
'Polyiterophilia' (Julia Stamford) explores the darker side of Avon's nature. Some readers might disagree with the central premise of the story -- that Avon gets his kicks from anonymous sex -- but the author explores the consequences of the idea, and in particular, its effect on the relationship between Blake and Avon, with considerable sensitivity. (And, well, let's just say that this is one of the stories I had to read twice when I was proofing the zine for Judith [grin].)
In 'A Matter of Trust', Morrigan takes a completely different approach to an essentially similar premise. Avon is on trial for murdering the son of a High Councillor on a non-Federated planet after a sexual encounter that went wrong; Blake is trying to conduct negotiations with the government. Again, the complexities of the relationship between the two men are central to the story, and I particularly loved Morrigan's subtle and believable Blake characterisation.
Penny Dreadful continues her series of Travis moments unpacked in 'Uniform', which takes Thania's point of view just before the episode 'Trial'. More subtle characterisation, coupled with an insider's view into the machinations of the Federation military justice system.
Readers of Freedom City, at least, will be in no doubt as to this reviewer's admiration for Nova's B/A writing. In my opinion, 'Fire and Rain' is her best yet. Inventive, visually stunning, poignant and with the bonus of a great Avalon cameo, my only complaint was that 21 pages weren't nearly enough! Best of all for me was the way that Nova firmly anchored the piece in the response of two rank-and-file Federation troopers to a love story with all the trappings of fairytale.
And then there's 'The Seven Deadly Virtuals', another contribution from Penny Dreadful. Penny posted a draft of the story for the Labor Day theme on Freedom City; I solicited it for ttba and considered assassination of a certain UK zine editor when I found out that I'd been pipped to the post. (Cordial relations were later restored when Penny sent me a story that I liked just as much!) This must count as one of the most original B7 stories ever: funny, quirky and unforgettable.
So mostly I am writing this review as an exercise in review-writing, and do not expect anyone here to be swayed either toward or away from purchasing this Zine by my eloquent critique.
With regards to my own 16 pages of Avon-free PVC-fetishisation and whatnot, I can only say I have a guilty suspicion that they may not thrill much of FS3's intended audience...but fortunately there's still 112 totally Penny-free pages, and hey, my contributions got me a free copy, which I have read most of and enjoyed thoroughly, so the least I can do is attempt a review.
The layout is neat and utilitarian, easy to read, snazzy black and white cover, snappy black back and spine, only one interior illustration. Ends of stories indicated by that cute little zippy Liberator silhouette.
All of the stories are very well-written.
I greatly enjoyed the short humorous pieces "One Year Warranty" by Helen Patrick, "Ruminations on the Road to Damnation" by Russ Massey, and "Spoils" by Belatrix Carter (and I agree with Belatrix that her couple out-odds mine).
I also enjoyed the slightly longer and (unless I am missing some obvious thing) totally unsmutty "A Matter of Trust" by Morrigan, and the amusing and bemusing "Field of Dreams" by Executrix.
Finally, I think "Fire and Rain" by Nova, which is fairly long, upbeat (aside from the depressing notion that people may still be subjected to the tyranny of James Taylor a thousand years from now) and uncanonical, is brilliant. In style, or something, this story reminds me of an X-Files novel online which I consider to be the best piece of fan-fiction ever. It's got very vivid visuals, and...I don't know. It just rocks, is all.
Now you see why I need all the review-writing practice I can get...
Thanks to Judith for all her hard work in producing this Zine (and for editing my stories--which greatly improved them, in my opinion--and giving them space (thus allowing me to get on Sarah's List! Woo-hoo!)).
Predatrix, "The Birds and the Bees (Predatrix Meets Aristophanes and Cole Porter)" (2 pp.; script with filks; AU; A/B; humor)
Morrigan, "Waking the Dragon" (5 pp.; S1?; A/B)
Belatrix Carter, "JAB" (3 pp.; S1?; A/J, uc B/J, past A/B)
Julia Stamford, "Tea Ceremony" (3 pp.; S1?; A/B)
Belatrix Carter, "Binding" (8 pp.; S2; A/B)
Julia Stamford, "Polyiterophilia" (15 pp.; S1?; A/ocms, A/B)
Helen Patrick, "One Year Warranty" (2 pp.; S1; implied future A/B; humor)
Russ Massey, "Ruminations on the Road to Damnation" (1 p.; S2, between Redemption and Shadow; uc A/B)
Morrigan, "A Matter of Trust" (5 pp.; S2?; implied past A/ocms)
Predatrix and Julia Stamford, "Washing Your Dirty Linen in Public" (7 pp.; S1; A/B)
Jodie Louise, "Red" (7 pp.; S1?; A/ocm, A/B)
Julia Stamford, "Pulling Strings" (15 pp.; S1?; A/B)
Jodie Louise, "Recollections" (5 pp.; S2, post-Hostage; past A/ocm, A/B)
Penny Dreadful, "Uniform" (8 pp.; S2, Trial; Tr/Thania)
Executrix, "Accustomed to His Face" (3 pp.; S3; uc A/V; humor)
Penny Dreadful, "Human Bondage Ceremony" (1 p.; alt-S3, alt-Ultraworld; B/Tr)
Executrix, "Field of Dreams (or 'Nothing Very Original About Domination')" (7 pp.; S4; A/Ta, D/V, So/Ta, A/D, A/D/Ta; humor)
Nova, "Fire and Rain" (11 pp.; alt-S4, alt-Blake; A/B)
Belatrix Carter, "Spoils" (1 p.; S5; O/Se, past A/O)
Rhiannon O'Cardan, "Rivers Always Reach the Sea" (2 pp.; S5; A/B)
Penny Dreadful, "The Seven Deadly Virtuals" (7 pp.; original future SF with B7 references; ocf/Tr, etc.)
Judith Proctor, "Editorial"
Val Westall cover A on Terminal
p. 12 A
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Last updated on 21st of December 2007.