Star Four

Review by Natasa Tucev

This is a very enjoyable collection. There is a variety of topics, styles and modes, ranging from conventionally written linear plots to experiments in form and language, and from comedy to tragedy. My objection to some of the stories is that they take too much licence in interpreting the series, but they are all recommended for their literary qualities.

Under the Influence (Una McCormack) focuses on the interaction between a Federation interrogator and a prisoner. In spite of his position of strength, the interrogator comes under the influence of his seemingly powerless victim. The idea is not new but it is wonderfully rendered. Another story by Ms McCormack is short: 'Other People's Problems', with an interesting twist in the end.

In The Quality of Mercy (Natasa Tucev), Blake is stranded on a very hostile planet along with a Federation security officer. This story tries to balance the ruthlessness of B7 universe by introducing a different set of values. They are personified in a character from Blake's past, but also prove relevant to his own personality.

Trap of Glass (Penny Dreadful) discusses whether it is just a coincidence that Travis's personal tragedy and psychic disposition are so suitable to the Federation needs. There is some fine eye/optic/glass symbolism and it is very professionally written.

Trade (Morrigan) demonstrates Avon's skills in dealing with criminals. A rather enjoyable thriller, with fast pacing and some brisk dialogue.

London's Burning (Nickey Barnard) proposes a kind of transitory period, in which Blake has regained his memory but still hasn't re-established his former self as the resolute leader of men. Provided one accepts this 'uncertain Blake' as a premise, it is a very good story, especially in its realistic depiction of convicts and the overall threatening atmosphere aboard the London.

How to be Topp on the Liberator (Neil Faulkner) is a humorous story - a real treat, and very postmodern in the way it derives its comic effect mostly from the written language.

In Small Revenge (Marian de Haan), the Liberator crew are presented as a rather unpleasant bunch, torn by antagonisms and suspicions, with hardly any warmth in their relationships. The story is about their encounter with someone who is even less pleasant than they are.

I Know You All (Dana Shilling) is a quote by Shakespeare's Hal, who hangs around with all sorts of morally dubious characters, but proves to be a worthy ruler once he inherits the throne. This becomes a parodic reference to a humorous story written in Dana Shilling's inimitable style, about a successful coup in which Blake, Avon, Anna and Servalan all play a part.

Rehabilitation (Gillian Taylor) suggests that the treatments Vila received from the Federation in his childhood haven't left him as intact as it usually seems. The idea is interesting, although Vila's sentiment is somewhat out of character. Four Little Words, by the same author, dwells on some nastier traits in Avon's personality.

A Price to Pay (Julia Stamford) is a PGP story with wonderful, requiem-like atmosphere. There is something about this final encounter between Avon and Servalan that almost resembles the resolutions of classical tragedies.

In Christmas Canto (Sally Manton), a homage to Dickens, Avon undergoes a curious transformation and changes his attitude to Blake. Sally Manton depicts her characters with great fondness and understanding. She is also very skilful in creating atmosphere and intimating events by means of carefully chosen symbolic details.

For recreation, there is an interesting Logic Puzzle by Susan Beth. The art (by Andrew Williams, Val Westal and Penny Dreadful) is to my liking, and the front cover image of Fearless Leader is everything I could wish for.

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Last updated on 18th of May 2006.