Gambit 4

Review By CB

Published by Peacock Press 1993

Edited by Jean Graham

Card cover Comb bound 275 pages + several pages of adverts

This genzine has six pre-series stories (pp 4-29) one series A (pp30-42) seven series B (pp44-107) ten series C (pp109-227) five series D (pp229-255) and one PGP (pp 256-7); a further three are listed under "Other Dimensions", and there are twenty poems.

"Brothers?" by Paulie Kay is an Avon-and-Vila-as-brothers story starting with their childhood and ending when they/'ve spent a year on Liberator. Its basic premise is that Avon is Vila's older brother but doesn't remember him because he has been mindwiped following their parents involvement with rebels; Vila escaped and became a delta. The basic idea is reasonable but the writing is a bit stilted and the action moves too quickly to let their relationship develop beyond a rudimentary level.

"The Gambler's Bane" has a young Cally involved in drug dealing and motherhood. The violent story heavily involves her father, sister and son, and ends just before she goes to Saurian Major. This is a well constructed story but I couldn't really see the Cally we know in the series. There is a sequel in Gambit 6.

"Carleen" is a short account of the death of Gan's woman. "The Rules" by J.S.Mulvey is a well above average Avon and Vila as boys encounter, in which Avon is rescued by Vila; the second half of the story involves Orbit. I don't usually get much from childhood stories but this one is written with real insight and neatly relates to the situation in which the adult characters find themselves.

"Hammer into Anvil" by Alicia Ann Fox is a one-pager describing Tarrant's thoughts as a cadet.

"Seven days to Karma" by Juli Cleveland is the only series A story. It covers familiar ground, a seven day slog through inhospitable country for Avon and Vila, with the usual unspoken camaraderie underneath the sniping. Quite enjoyable, but it didn't tell me anything new.

"A Fate Worse Than Death" by Cyndi Hubb starts with Blake getting a request for help from an old acquaintance; is it or is it not a trap? Avon and Vila are stranded separately on an inhospitable planet; will Vila help Avon and if so, why? This is not the standard view of the two as loyal friends. I found this story believable, except for the ease with which the bracelets were retrieved. Avon actually says at one point "The first thing I will do when we get back is to fix these bracelets, they fall off far too easily". Hallelujah! I wonder what stopped him?

"Relations" by Jan DeVore is about Jenna. Blake persuades her to meet her estranged father, a Federation governor whom Blake thinks may be sympathetic to the Cause. The story expresses well the tentative relationships between Blake, Jenna and Avon and the problems all the Liberator crew have in understanding and trusting one another.

My favourite story was Sheila Paulson's "A Question of Priorities" which takes place immediately after Avon and Grant have disabled the solium radiation device on Albion. Blake's high handed refusal to allow Vila and himself to be transported until the very last minute so infuriates Vila that he contemplates jumping ship. In the course of the story Blake sees the error of his ways, in part courtesy of Avon, and Vila gets to be the hero. This is a satisfyingly good read, and not just for Vila fans.

"Star Struck" by Michelle Moyer is a humorous story in which Avon - does he really wear R2D2 pyjamas - meets his idol and is disappointed. Zen gets all the best lines here.

"Untitled" by Steve Oualline is another light-hearted story, this time featuring a dragon from another dimension. "The Inmates and the Asylum" by Tom Beck is told entirely in the present tense, an interesting idea but after a page or two I began to irritated by it, a pity because the basic story line is amusing enough. Avon and Vila attempt to rescue someone from a high security asylum and have an unusual personality problem.

The first of the Series C stories "Things that Go Bang!" by Nancy Klauschie is a sequel to "Stealing's Quicker" in Gambit 3. In the earlier story Vila became leader of Liberator following Star One, with Avon's support. Here he continues to establish his new persona and leadership style, not just with the new crew but with Jenna; nice story, happy endings are in sight.

"The Clarity of Darkness" by April Giordano is an alternative Cally story featuring the Thaarn. The dead Cally is locked into a mental struggle with him; meanwhile Liberator answers a distress call from Auron. Servalan and Anna also make an appearance, as does Terminal. This one absolutely does not have a happy ending.

"Snips 'n Snails n' Puppy Dogs' Tails" by K.D Swan is an enjoyable Vila story which puts his childhood experience into a Liberator context. It includes some amusing moments, especially between Tarrant and maple syrup.

"Realm of Darkness" by Jean B. Hubb tells what Blake is doing these days. He helps a group of miners and an alien entity against Servalan, during which he contacts the Liberator incognito via Orac; the ending is inconclusive, suggesting that Avon knew his identity, but giving little hint about anyone's motivations.

"Pairing off on the Quiet" by Aya Katz is a convoluted Cally and Avon story whose themes would have been more at home in an adult zine. I didn't think it rang true of either of them.

"A Light in the Dark" follows Anna's death. Vila takes Avon for an enforced rest in Avalon's safe house, where they meet a rather unconvincingly drawn young female rebel to whom Avon is attracted. Back massage comes into it, but not much else.

"Xiaodan" by Catherine Kendall introduces Avon's brother Paatrov on a plague planet. Avon and Dayna contract the plague, and Avon's differences with his brother are resolved.

"Legacies" by Roxie Ray starts with Zelda's death and Cally's collapse. It revolves around Franton's proposal that the Liberator crew provide each provide a genetic sample to help start building a new Auron race. There is an appealing Cally/Vila conversation on the topic.

In "Duck, Duck, Goose" Vila becomes seriously ill after being got at by the Federation in a way that I cannot describe without giving away the plot. He then does the noble thing (twice in one zine - is this a record?) by his comrades and survives to enjoy his cure.

"Where the Shadows Are" by Ana Dorfstad takes place on Terminal after the loss of Liberator and explains why Cally called out Blake's name. "A Chance for Life" is a macabre one-page alternative to what happened immediately following Dorian's death.

In the post-Malodaar "Taken by Chance" by Sophia F. Mulvey, Vila decides to leave but encounters trouble from an old acquaintance. Subsequently he has to rescue his crewmates, and ends up back on board. I liked this story, which had some deft plot twists, except for the final reconciliation between Vila and Avon which was much too easily brought about.

"73 Kilos of Ballast" - I wonder what this one's about? A short, adroit and ironic Orbit alternative by Adrian Morgan and Brendan O'Cullane.

"Rest Ye Merry" by Dee Beetem has them all settled down with their kids for Xmas; as a comic story, this didn't work for me.

Listed under Other Dimensions is an amusing story by Teresa Ward "10th Annual Blake's7 - Mary Sue Convention", "News Break" by Janet Walker, and "Conventional Warfare" an entertaining account of what might happen at American conventions.

Overall this edition of Gambit should appeal particularly to fans of Vila, Avon and Cally. The others have their moments, but they are not strongly featured


Editor: Jean Graham
Publisher: Peacock Press
Date: May, 1989

Paulie Kay, "Brothers" (pre-S1; A-V)
Mary Gerstner, "The Gambler's Bane" (pre-S1; C)
Susan Murrie Eoff, "Carleen" (pre-S1; G)
J. S. Mulvey, "The Rules" (pre-S1 & S4; V-A)
Pamela London & Holly Hutchison, "A Man of His Word" (pre-S1; A-B)
Alicia Ann Fox, "Hammer Into Anvil" (pre-S1; Ta)
Juli Cleveland, "Seven Days to Karma" (S1; A-V)
Cyndi Hubb, "A Fate Than Worse than Death" (S2; A-V)
Jeanne DeVore, "Relations" (S2; B-J, A-J)
Wolf Klauschie, "Slash?" (S3 humor)
Sheila Paulson, "A Question of Priorities" (S2; B-V)
Michelle Moyer, "Star Struck" (S2 humor)
Steve Oualline, untitled (S2)
Tom Beck, "The Inmates and the Asylum" (S2)
Nancy Klauschie, "Things that Go Bang" (alt-S3; sequel to "Stealing's Quicker", G3)
April Giordano, "The Clarity of Darkness" (alt-S3)
K. D. Swan, "Snips 'N' Snails 'N' Puppy Dogs' Tails" (S3)
Jean B. Hubb, "Realm of Darkness" (S3)
Aya Katz, "Pairing Off on the Quiet" (S3; C-A)
Mary Pat Cheney, "A Light in the Dark" (S3; V-A)
Catherine Kendall, "Xiaodan" (S3)
Alicia Ann Fox, "Arrival" (S3)
Roxie Ray, "Legacies" (S3)
K. Rae Travers, "Duck, Duck, Goose" (S3)
Ana Dorfstad, "Where the Shadows Are" (S3)
Steve Oualline, "A New Beginning"
Kimberly Wigmore, "A Chance for Life" (alt-S4)
Sophia R. Mulvey, "Taken by Chance" (S4)
Adrian Morgan & Brendan O'Cullane, "73 Kilos of Ballast" (alt-S4)
Dee Beetum, "Rest Ye Merry"
Teresa Ward, "10th Annual Blake's 7/Marysue Convention"
Janet Walker, "News Break"
Steve Oualline & Sandra Lyons, "Conventional Warfare"

Jean Graham, "Editor's Forum"
Letters of Comment
Zine ads

Poetry & Filks:
Teresa Ward, "Vila's Song" (filk)
Pamela V. London, "Roj Blake" (filk)
Margaret Scroggs, "Soliloquy" (B)
Rosanna Filipello, "The Sounds of Screaming" (filk)
Cindy Rancourt, "In Memorium" (G)
Alicia Ann Fox, "Purpose" (C)
Rosanna Filipello, "The 12 Days of Christmas -- Sung by Servalan" (filk)
Teri Sarick, "Dreams Lost" (A-Anna)
Teri Sarick, "Love Granted"
Jennifer Tifft, "The Knife"
Sharyn Sobel & Leah Rosenthal, "Freedom's Son" (filk)
Teri Sarick, "Unrelenting"
Rosanna Filipello, "Blake & Crew" (filk)
Teresa Ward, "Second Thoughts" (Ta-V)
Teri Sarick, "After" (A re GP)
Alana McShane, "Suffer Thee" (A)
Rosanna Filipello, "Crew" (filk)
Teri Sarick, "Blake's Christmas" (filk)
Sharyn Sobel & Jean Stevenson, "Federation" (filk)
Pamela V. London, "At My Will" (filk)
Rosanna Filipello, "O'Servalan" (filk)

Adrian Morgan front c. (V)
p. 189 A-Kay, illo for "A Light in the Dark"
p. 192 V-A, illo for "A Light in the Dark"
p. 216 V-C, illo for "Legacies"
p. 254 V, illo for "73 Kilos of Ballast"
Sonja Van den Ende p. 3 Scorpio
p. 57 A
A. Hamilton p. 231 C
p. 233 A
p. 235 B
Bruce Mitchell p. 175 C
Suzie Molnar p. 113 A-V-C, illo for "Things that Go Bang"
Michael Williams p. 6 A-V
p. 9 A-V-Se
p. 24 Tr
p. 27 A
p. 28 A-B
p. 35 A
p. 43 B
p. 48 B-J-C
p. 179 A-V-C, illo for "Pairing Off On the Quiet"
p. 182 Se
p. 209 A
p. 244 A-V, illo for "Taken by Chance"
p. 259 Tr
Jean B. Hubb p. 166 illo for "Realm of Darkness"
p. 173 B-Se, illo for "Realm of Darkness"
Denise Loague p. 84 A-V, cartoon "Delta Mailing Service"
p. 108 C-J-Tr, cartoon "Alpha Nurses"
p. 237 A, cartoon "Alpha Management Corp."
p. 252 So, cartoon "The Scorpio Club"
Mary Gerstner p. 10 C, illo for "The Gambler's Bane"
p. 18 illo for "The Gambler's Bane"
p. 121 cover page for "The Clarity of Darkness"
p. 132 A-C, illo for "The Clarity of Darkness"
p. 145 illo for "The Clarity of Darkness"
Susan Landerman p. 21 A-V cartoon
p. 160 A-V cartoon
Kathy Hanson Back Cover (A)
Judith Boguslawski p. 65 V-B, illo for "A Question of Priorities"
p. 77 J-V-A-B, illo for "A Question of Priorities"
Jennifer Tifft p. 29 illo for "Hammer into Anvil"
p. 83 illo for "Star Struck"
p. 100 V, illo for "The Inmates & the Asylum"
p. 197 illo for "A Light in the Dark"
p. 210 illo for "The Knife"
p. 236 illo for "A New Beginning"
p. 238 illo for "A Chance for Life"
p. 257 illo for "Crew"

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