One of the Lesser Hawks

Genzine, by Judith Seaman. Review by Judith Proctor

Price 3 pounds UK, 4.50 pounds or $9 cash USA

In appearance, this is a typical Judith Seaman zine - A5, fairly flimsy cover, no artwork apart from a small portrait of Avon on the cover. The contents are neatly typed and I didn't notice any mistakes in spelling or punctuation. Judith's zines are always good value for money, and this is no exception.

This is a story about the free traders who ply the space lanes on the borders of Federation space, picking up cargoes where they can, living on a shoestring and occasionally helping rebel groups.

The free trader Ra does a favour to another ship and takes on board an injured fugitive - Avon. The story mainly centres on the relationship between Avon and the free traders, although there are occasional flashes of Blake and his crew as we see them trying to trace Avon.

The characters of the Ra's crew are well drawn and by the end of the novella, we feel that we know them well. Although the initial relationship is very strained, Ra's crew gradually come to accept Avon and vice versa.

As is typical in Judith's stories, Avon comes across as a very withdrawn character, misunderstood and betrayed by nearly everyone. Blake doesn't come out too well, but he fares a lot better than in some of Judith's stories, and there is a sad little twist at the end where Blake is telling the truth and Avon doesn't believe him.

One thing I have always liked in Judith's writing is that it feels like science fiction. She has a good sense of background, the spaceports feel real and so do the ships. It's a bleak and gritty reality where rebels may actually do more harm than good, but that is Judith's style and she always has sound reasoning behind her plots.

I read the entire zine in one day, and that is a sign of a good story, especially as I had to read part of it while in the waiting room at casualty while my husband's dislocated knee-cap was being treated.

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