Tales from Space City #9

Review by Hafren

A lot of material and a lot of variety. Short stuff first: there are two filks, Cat's, to the tune of "Iris" and Predatrix's "Cygnus A" to the tune of "Jim Jones of Botany Bay". I don't know either tune, but the first is clearly in waltz time while the second's a folk ballad. I like Cat's better, but really, filks don't come over at their best on a page; they need to be sung drunkenly, after respectable folk have gone to bed.

Then there's a vicious drabbly gem by Belatrix (Calculated Risk), a brief humorous tease by Willa (Joining) and a set by Nickey Barnard called "Exiles", terse, sharp pieces on various characters on strange shores. These are very powerful but hard to quote, as they depend for some of their impact on gradually realising who's who. I think my favourite is "Joy", for the savage irony of its end.

There are two double-handers where I'd abandoned a scenario where it got hard or uncongenial (ie where I had to write a sex scene or a happy ending), knowing that Willa could be relied on to step in and sort it out. In the first, I'd written "Desperate Measures" in response to an LJ demand for cavefic or at least fic in enclosed conditions. Vila, tired of Blake and Avon quarrelling, teleports them into a locked broom cupboard, pretends there's a malfunction and leaves them for an hour to work out a way of coexisting at close quarters. In Willa's sequel, "Measure for Measure", they naturally coexist like rabbits. The other one of these is "Silent Night" (me) and "Dawn Chorus" (Willa) in which I leave them as miserable as sin, knowing Willa will come along and HEX them for me.

Laura Campbell's "Dead Ringers" is one of that small but joyous genre that attempts to explain the existence, and dissimilarity, of two Traves. I think this is one of the funniest I've seen, and worryingly plausible.

Susan Cutter's "Tatter-Coats" is a puzzle: if Vila ends up on an island surrounded by nubile virgins in red fur, how can it be a sad ending? But it is, because it depends on what you want most in the world. Harriet Monkhouse's "Won't Get Bitten Again", though it begins lightly, has dark undertones too; here Vila and Avon are enlivening the time by playing some fairly unpleasant jokes on each other, which go badly wrong.

Then we come to "Left on Shore" (Steve Rogerson), on which I'm disqualifying myself from commenting because I don't get the squick genre at all. I don't myself get any pleasure out of being nauseated and don't really see where it's meant to come from. Every squick story I've ever read, I'd rather chew an arm off than re-read, this included. If you're interested, it's Servalan, Travis and some phibians.

Dormouse's "Driftwood" is a Blake/Chenie interlude, an interesting pairing which I thought might have been even better at greater length. Sally Manton's "Time Well Spent" imagines what Our Heroes do to combat boredom on teleport duty. Some of the sections are out-and-out comic, like Tarrant's and Dayna's ("It's peaceful. Calm. Quiet. Serene, even. I like that. I think I'll make another bomb."). But others are far darker - this is B7, after all.

"Saturday Night's All Right for Fightin'" by Domino is a novel extract, with an AU Travis and Jenna. The characters and situation were certainly interesting and I'd read more. One caveat, the bartender's fractured English with its backward syntax: "Not fine whisky is, but better than slop drinking you have been." This trick seemed vaguely familiar, though I can't place it. I do know that if much more of it I to read had, zine throwing across room I would be.

Predatrix's "Hpynophilia" is a revamp of the "stop or I'll tell my father" anecdote from the Satyricon. In stories like this, (ie, unexpected fling in hotel room) Avon is normally very defensive and waspish next morning, This is a bit of a variant.

And the last is "Angels" (me), which I wrote because it was snowing and I wanted the lads to have a play. It didn't set out to be innocent, but it ended up that way. Damn!


Posted on 21st of December 2007

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