Tales from Space City #5

Reviewed by Hafren

TALES FROM SPACE CITY 5 - The Gauda Prime 20th Anniversary Wake, ed Helen Patrick

As the title indicates, this had a specific theme; it was fiction posted on FC to mark the 20th anniversary of the first showing of "Blake", that episode so many of us admire but wish hadn't happened. It follows that there is a *lot* of angst, and that the focus is mainly on Blake (and to a lesser extent his relationship with Avon). That suits me fine, being as I'm an angst fan and they are two of my favourite characters.

But there is also something for those who prefer, say, plot or politics. "Tales" is a mixed zine, which means you can find gen, het and slash all between the same covers. I prefer it this way, because it makes things less predictable. AnnaS's thought-provoking gen story "Face in the Crowd" is one of my favourites. Told in the second person, it addresses the ordinary citizen, the "face in the crowd", watching the execution, on Earth, of Blake and the others after GP. This particular citizen would have liked to be part of the revolution but never was, for exactly the same reasons most of us probably wouldn't have been. "Would it have done any good if you'd risked your dreams and damned your family and gone to find him? Would it have mattered? Would it have made a difference to how things ended here, today?

Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Now you'll never know."

Another very short but incredibly powerful piece is Jenner's "Swept and Garnished", based on Kipling's short story of that name, where cleaning up blood becomes a symbol for expiation. And a third brief piece is Executrix's "Among the Dead", which is beautifully written and I think would probably make as much impact on me as the other two, except that it's based on Hitchcock's "Vertigo", which true to form I haven't seen.... you could fill encyclopaedias with films I haven't seen, because I don't like cinemas, and it sometimes causes a problem for me when E'trix, with her comprehensive knowledge of the genre, uses it as a source. But I wouldn't lose this allusive characteristic of her writing, because it's how she gets some of her best effects.

Other stories I really liked: Susannah Shepherd's "A New Life", with a girlfriend, children and bittersweet ending for Vila. It's a good Vila voice, which makes almost any story work for me. Another crackinig Vila voice in Nova's "Love Means Never Having To Say You're Sorry" Belatrix Carter's "Til Death" which, IMO, provides the only possible canonical happy ending and has a wonderful wallow factor. Zenia's "Slience", another good wallow. Steve Rogerson's "Consequences" has a convincing original character voice and Predatrix's "Tangled Reflections" is funny and well writen, though nobody, but nobody, will ever convince me that Vila/Tarrant is a goer. And Willa Shakespeare's "PGP", apart from being a much-needed cheering-up fic at the end, is beautifully sensual. Cinnamon and peppermint...

The pervading tone, as you would expect, is melancholy - GP was hardly a barrel of laughs. But if it does leave you depressed, by far the best remedy would be to buy Tales from Space City 6, in which Willa convincingly HEXed all the sad ones in here.

Posted on 27th of July 2003

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