This is a PWP!
Avon has returned from his session with Shrinker and everyone is concerned about him... Tarrant goes along to Avon's cabin (armed with drink) and attempts to 'reach' Avon with the wine-whereupon Avon says that 'no-one wants him', so Tarrant starts to show Avon how wrong he is, when Avon falls forward and stops breathing... when Avon is put into the medical unit... It materializes that ALL of them have administered various drugs to Avon, to help his recovery.
Orac tells them Avon is not unconcious in the classical sense and he is aware of his surroundings and capable of responding to stimuli... and recommends that Avon has low sexual esteem that needs to be helped... which everyone one board sets about helping to boost from now until the end of the book!
The frame story: after Rumours, Avon lies in a coma brought on by the combined effects of independent efforts by several crewmates to sedate him. Orac diagnoses Sleeping Beauty Syndrome, the result of low sexual esteem, which the others must help to cure by telepathically sharing Avon's wildest fantasies. And they're pretty wild, as a glance at the pairings listed below will indicate. The original setting was Space City's own Hotel Smut, but the inside of our favorite leatherboy's smutty mind works surprisingly well as a substitute.
My one complaint is that I would have liked to see the individual vignettes more clearly separated, perhaps as separate chapters with their own titles. And maybe the frame story could have been in a different typeface from the fantasies. As is, the novella format encourages one (or at least me) to read too much in one go and overdose. For best effects, I recommend taking these slowly, one or two vignettes at a time, to savor just how funny and how hot each one is all by itself.
I can explain some of my reasons behind some of the more odd-ball parts of it (but nothing can explain those *typos*. I was irked to see them- particularly the one at the end. I really hated that one. I proofed that story so many times! I missed a couple typos, but I think more crept in during computer translation from Mac to PC and in the editing process. Also agree that the shifts from frame to inner stories were poorly delineated. I just could not think of a good way to do it & the editor couldn't either, so we wound up pretty much shrugging & going ahead anyhow.)
CAN began as a joke, and I decided early on to incorporate as many cliches as possible along with as many puns, double (or better still, triple) entendres as I could possibly squeeze into it. I was trying to get them all out of my system. The 'vulnerable' Avon, the 'thick-witted' Blake, the 'deft-fingered' Vila, the 'bold and heroic' Tarrant are really quite funny once you let them run around naked, doing whatever they feel like without regard to physiology or physics.
The excessive underlining, italics, and * + symbols was in homage to the early B7 zines. I did draw the line at putting!!! in nearly every sentence, though.
The Americanisms are also deliberate. I'd heard that some people assumed Willa Shakespeare was English, or at least a Brit, and I wanted to set the record straight (or slashed, whichever.)
Chee-tos are a bright yellow-orange, crispy, cheese-flavored snack food shaped like large bumpy worms. They go good with Adrenaline and Soma. The color contrast alone is very Delta.
The never-let-the-reader-pause-for-breath pace was another deliberate dirty trick. I wanted an impression of the Queen dragging Alice along in her wild and senseless race to nowhere. Nothing in that story was intended to make sense.
In general, if an idea seemed totally silly, it went in the pot. When I finished my Frankenstory, I was quite pleased with the lurching, shambling beast.
So there you have it. I'm sending this direct because I don't know if it would be of interest to FC, but if you feel it is & want to forward it (or parts of it) to the list, feel free.
Willa Shakespeare---The Bawd of Avon
MINOR NIGGLES DEPARTMENT:
I *would* complain about Americanisms here, but as it's a Silly Universe story it doesn't jar quite as much as the average zine: it's just clear (as it is in some Hotel Smut pieces, and this is rather like Hotel Smut in tone & ambience) that The Writer is an American (what the hell *are* Chee-tos anyway?). Nice moment when Avon picks Tarrant up on saying "horny": "In Dome England, we call it 'randy.'" A remark which I often mutter to myself while reading Yank 'zines.
A more serious minor niggle is typography: as Sarah T picked up in her review, the editor really ought to have used either a different typeface or indents to make clear whether we're in Avon's dream or the real world. Instead she uses line-breaks for the different scenes, and occasionally forgets those. As if to make up for this paucity in the DTP department, the editor or writer has gone a little overboard with other effects: asterisks, underlines, slashes, brackets and capitals are liberally sprinkled throughout, and although there is a reason for each of these (eg shouting is usually in caps, asterisks indicate a computer speaking, brackets may indicate thoughts while slashes indicate actual telepathy) I think she may be overdoing it.
Another minor niggle is erratums^W errratta^W Getting Things Wrong. Although my own zine isn't perfectly proofed (and I don't envy my editor Helen Patrick's job of cleaning up the next print run), there's one extremely teeth-gritting moment on the last page of this where a quite moving para is ruined by an obvious typo ("I seems" for "It seems"). If Maverick Press happens to be on this list, can they *please* clean that one up?
...AND MAJOR KUDOS FOR THE ZINE AS A WHOLE
The characterisation isn't how I would do it (meaning mainly that this is a very Tarrant-y zine and he tends to get a fairly easy ride, especially of Avon) but it's consistently good-humoured and funny. I don't know anybody else who's doing b7-universe sex comedy except me, so brava to Willa for branching out into the field.
So, how does she see the characters?
Blake: well, Avon's dream-Blake is bossy and worried about his weight (every time someone uses the word 'stout' he thinks it's a dig at him...). He is also, not to put too fine a point on it, somewhat dense.
"God, you're thick," Jenna muttered. Around the flight deck, several heads nodded solemnly.Well, as a Blake fan myself, I *would* feel inclined to take issue with this. If I could stop laughing for long enough.
Blake's noble brow lowered, and his forthright, sincere eyes burned with passionate zeal, as he said, "Bugger off, I am not stupid. Just because I thought five convicts, a skinny telepath and a bonking alien computer could wipe out a galaxy-wide dictatorship..." He trailed off and shrugged. "OK, I'm thick, you needn't make a federal case out of it."
Cally is very nicely used for comedy: in this zine she comes across as far from stupid but mildly unaware of the less logical side of human reactions. When Avon (in the dream) embarrasses himself by transmitting images of Blake buggering him across half the galaxy, she wonders "Why would anyone feel the need to imagine the universe desired them? A half-dozen lovers ought to be enough for anyone."
The dream Jenna is (mainly offstage) the familiar tough cool competent woman, except in the scene where she invites Avon to help her rape Travis but things don't go terribly well.
The dream Gan is a huge monster, best friends with the Incredible Hulk (crossover moment!), who can easily deal with obstacles. The door, "which was only three inches thick of reinforced herculaneum", split in half easily, for example (I love that line, one example of many blink-and-you-miss-'em one liners). He's not half as self-sacrificing as the real one, wants to try Servalan as a girlfriend, and was naturally quite violent until horribly punished (the dream version of the limiter is a form of entertainment one wouldn't wish even on one's worst enemy, and it isn't daytime TV...).
Much play is made of dream-Dayna's notorious virginity, but she's usually got rid of it doing some form of exercise beforehand (she uses Avon as a sex-slave to get rid of dream-Lauren's virginity). She has a happy-go-lucky attitude to sex and weaponry: the scene where she turns up when Blake is screwing Avon is very funny, particularly the "throwing weapon".
Dream-Vila has amazing sexual skills and usually comes out on top, or at least is highly in demand. His tricks usually get him what he wants, but watch out for the end of the zine, where as they all return to reality the joke's on him.
Dream-Tarrant is, of course, Sweet, Young & Gorgeous, & Desperately Trying to Do the Right Thing. Except when he isn't:
If he hadn't been a strongly moral, loyal, honest... hey, wait a minute, he was a deserter, a mercenary, a man who knifed his enemies in the back when that was the most convenient way to get rid of them....which is a lovely corrective to all those Perfect Young Officer Tarrant stories.
As for dream-Avon himself, he's usually underneath someone else: there's a not-too-serious psychological explanation about his wanting not to be in command, but I think the author just likes it that way. Some nice snarling moments when he's tied up. Slightly *too* Sweet, Big-Eyed and Quivering for me in places (most of which is a send-up, to be fair, especially his tearful reunion with The Friend of his Childhood), but effectively panted over by just about everyone, and some splendid Too-Clever-For-His-Own-Good moments: watch out for the bit where he makes nasty remarks to Jenna and Travis, and they get their revenge.
Oh yes. You wanna know about the villains as well?
Dream-Travis is very likeable in a strange sort of way, and his main scene is hilarious, especially the part about him having lost rather more to Blake's gun than the bits that show, and being self-conscious about that.
"It's not fair," [Jenna murmurs].Dream-Servalan is, of course, not really Servalan. Because she's a symbol for the less nice parts of Avon's character (what d'yer mean, that's all of him?) Our Heroes have to get rather closer than they would wish to her.
"Is it supposed to be?" Travis asked, surprised. "They told me I'd get to wear black leather and work closely with beautiful, sexy women. They left out a few bits."
Editor: [Jo Ann McCoy]
Publisher: Maverick Press (Pueblo, CO)
Date: [May] 1998
Format: letter size,  + 74 pp., pink card covers, black comb binding
Art: Val Westall cover A sleeping
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