Southern Seven 11


By Sarah Thompson

This one is a must for Vila fans, and highly recommended for everyone else as well.

All the stories are good, but the high point, IMO, is the longest one, the novella-length (50 pp.) "Tears of the Sun." This is extremely juicy h/c, and the Beautiful Sufferer, for a change, is Vila. He, Dayna, and Tarrant are temporarily stranded on a planet whose natives appear to be very friendly-- but there's a catch, of course. Incredibly lush, beautiful descriptions make it easy to visualize the setting; I would have loved to see illustrations, too.

If you liked "Path of Thorns" in =Liberator Fantasies=, and you enjoy gen as well as slash, give this story a try too.

A very different Vila appears in Vickie's wickedly funny "Wolf" stories. In "It's All in the Cards," Vila tries his hand at Tarot, with worrisome results. And in "Airlock Sealed," he, Avon, and Tarrant are stuck with each other in very unpleasant circumstances- - an interesting and disturbing story! In "What Doesn't Kill You," Vila, Blake, and Avon must all come to terms with what has happened to them.

"La Belle Mort sans Merci" is a short =Kill the Dead= story, fitting the theme of the color cover.

Other characters get their turns too, of course. "Dead Reckoning" continues the adventures of the reunited Scorpio crew. I especially like the bit about disguising Avon as Dayna's elderly uncle, and the scary-but-touching scene when he encounters what he thinks is the ghost of Blake.

Judith's "Sculpture" explores Gan's relationship with Avon. Judith, is this story set in the same universe as "A Berth on the London" in =The Aquitar Files=? I thought it might be.

"Eccentric Orbit" puts Tarrant instead of Vila on the shuttle with Avon and considers the results. "Agent of Ruin" is another Tarrant story, also involving a (somewhat) sympathetic Travis.

In "Tidings of Comfort and Joy" Avon encounters an alien shapeshifter who has read Dickens, and who gradually steers him in a direction that may, it is suggested, avert the unpleasant future that otherwise awaits him. In the hands of a lesser writer this motif could have been smarmily sentimental; but here it is handled very well, I thought. I found this story reminiscent of many of Sheila Paulson's stories, with their optimistic but believable endings.

"Fragments" is a sad pre-series story of the young Avon.

All of the stories are well-written, and the zine is very nicely produced. I had one quibble about the art in this and #12-- it has been scanned in, and so the quality of reproduction is not ideal; it's a little grainy. However, I changed my mind when I heard more about it. Apparently the originals of all those Virgil and Rosenthal goodies were sold years ago at cons; all that the artists still have is photos or photocopies, which were used as the basis for the scanned-in illos. Now that I know these are recovered treasures, I'm not going to quibble over the quality of reproduction-- I'm thrilled to have a chance to see them at all, even at third hand.

Now, if only I had a time machine to go back to some of those old conventions myself... <sigh> At any rate, it's nice to see that top-quality zines are still coming out.


Editor: Ann Wortham
Publisher: Ashton Press (Altamonte Springs, FL)
Date: May 1998
Format: letter size, 194 pp., white card covers, full-color front, black comb binding

Marian Mendez, "Dead Reckoning" (sequel to "Pilot Program" in REBEL DESTINIES #1; S5)
Judith Proctor, "Sculpture" (S2; A-G)
Marian Mendez, "Eccentric Orbit" (S4, alt-Orbit; A-Ta)
Alice C. Aldridge, "Agent of Ruin" (S0; Ta-Tr-Se)
Misha, "Airlock Sealed" (alt-S5 or alt-S0; V-A-Ta)
Susan Cutter, "It's All In the Cards" (S3, pre-Terminal; V-Ta)
Liz A. Vogel, "La Belle Mort Sans Merci" (KTD universe; AU A-V)
Susannah Lucci, "Tears of the Sun" (S4; V-D-Ta, V-hc)
Rebecca Ann Brothers, "Tidings of Comfort and Joy" (alt-S2-S0; A, A's brother)
Alicia Ann Fox, "Wolf in Wool" (S4, alt-Orbit; V; reprinted from THREADS THROUGH INFINITY)
Alicia Ann Fox, "The Wolf Unleashed" (sequel to "Wolf in Wool;" alt-S4, alt-Blake; V-B)
P. R. Zed, "Fragments" (S0; A, A's brother)
Michelle R. Moyer, "What Doesn't Kill You" (S5; V)

Letters of Comment

Jane Mailander, "Thief's Gold" (Last Stand universe; V)
Jane Mailander, "Descent into Shadow" (Shadow at the Edge universe; V)
Jane Mailander, "Bedtime Story" (Last Stand universe; V)

Laura Virgil front c. Parl-Myal (KTD universe); color
p. 77 A-V
Val Westall p. 8 Ta-A
p. 50 A-V
p. 55 A
p. 68 A
Leah Rosenthal p. 80 A-panther
p. 158 A-B
p. 173 A-B
p. 185 A-A's brother

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