A5 zine, 236pp, hand-bound with ribbon, clear acetate over front and back covers. Cover art by Val Westall.
Out of print.
"Well, well, well," Avon said as Blake and Jenna materialised in front of him. "I had wondered when you would bother to look me up, but I did hope you would have the courtesy to call ahead. "As you can see," he gestured at the box-files piled haphazardly, but presumably in a completely logical order, around his office, "I have rather a lot of work on at the moment. Or did you automatically assume that if I knew you were coming -"
"We know you have no intention of betraying me to the Federation," said Blake ("well some of us do," Jenna muttered), "but I was unsure if you would be willing to talk to me after all this time. I have a business proposition for you."
Now that last got his attention. Obviously he had not entirely committed himself to academia since they had seen him last.
"I will be a lot more willing to talk," Avon sat down at his immaculately tidy desk, "after I have finished marking these papers. Or I could perhaps spare a few hours tonight. Over dinner for example. If you would like to come to the flat tonight... I assume you have that address also?"
Of course we do, Jenna thought. Just surprised you'd actually invite us round.
"You're going to do it, aren't you?" Travis closed the dishwasher and stood upright.
"I hadn't decided yet. But it is rather tempting."
"Don't lie to me, Avon. Blake shows up and you're just putty in his hands. It doesn't matter what I say, you'll go ahead with it anyway."
"I said I was going to think about it and I meant exactly that. And I obviously value your opinion."
"Central Control's a myth," Travis said. "Gives the resistors something to focus on so they don't go trying anything more efficient. Killing High Council members for example."
Avon gave an appreciative half-smile.
"Sometimes I wonder whose side you are - or were ever - really on."
"My own, simple as that. And yours, when it doesn't go against mine. I'm not supporting you this time. If you go looking for Central Control with Blake then don't expect any help from me."
"The money he's offering means nothing to you?"
"Money? Haven't we got plenty of that already?" Travis gestured around the kitchen. "Isn't all this enough for you?"
"Maybe. But there's more to having money than the acquisition of material possessions. Security for example. Both of us still have considerable prices on our heads."
Mere seconds elapsed between the instant Par exited the warehouse and the eruption of laser-fire outside. Travis grabbed Avon's arm and pulled him down behind the crate, covering their only exit with his pararifle.
"Military Police?" Avon whispered.
"Be surprised," Travis muttered grimly. MPs on Mars had always been a bit of a joke, most of them on the take one way or another. No, whoever was outside would be more likely after them for the bounty than after Par for his scams
Travis unwrapped the sacking from the second pararifle, set it to semi-automatic mode and handed it to Avon.
"We see if these are as good as Par said they were."
It's an entertaining and generally plausible what-if that takes a look at the politics and social structure of the Federation and its surroundings. It's also sexually explicit where necessary to the plot, without having sex scenes for the sake of it. Some nice sex scenes, although anyone buying the zine purely for smut is going to be disappointed, as there's far more plot and politics than smut. In general it does a good job of showing how the events of the second season would have been changed given the basic premise. The only nitpick I have is with a couple of characters who turn up near the end, which seemed to me to be a case of stuffing in as many series characters as possible just because the names will be familiar to the reader rather than because there's any logical reason for it to be those particular characters.
Nice clear print, generally good proof-reading but some rather odd typos that could have done with outside editing - for example, "discrete" and "discreet" are two different words. The ribbon binding is very pretty but I suspect could become a pain in a copy read more than a couple of times, as I had to keep tightening the bow while I was reading.
Rather tasty colour cover art of Avon in mirror shades and toting a gun, with Travis standing behind him nuzzling his ear.
Recommended to anyone who isn't put off by a) sex, b) m/m and f/f sex. My only caveat - this is an AU version of second series, so there's not a lot in it to interest people who don't enjoy the first two series
Now I know some people find Avon/Travis an improbable pairing, but that shouldn't stop them reading this fascinating zine. The story starts properly some two years later when Blake contacts Avon to enlist his help in finding central control. We are then taken on an adventure through the familiar haunts of season two, but everything is slightly askew. We meet many of the same characters - Rontance, Bercol, Par, Bek, Jarriere and so on - but in different circumstances, sometimes on different worlds. There is even a brief appearance by a young Del Tarrant.
The quest also gives more hints than we get in the TV show of how far the Andromedans had progressed in infiltrating Federation territory, with guards regularly turning to green gloop when shot posing another mystery for Avon and Travis.
Sex? Yes there's sex, m/m and f/f, but no m/f. Those who like sex scenes will have their enjoyment, those who don't can be comforted by the fact that when they appear, they are short, the plot and story dominating the novel's pages.
My favourite line, I don't know why, is: "Travis was unconvinced. He had always know there was something distinctly suspicious about Cambridge."
In summary, a cracking zine, an enjoyable read that takes you effortlessly through to the conclusion on Star One. Canon references abound and nearly all the people and places are familiar, though rarely as one would expect them to be.
Posted on 01st of February 2006
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