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Review by Predatrix

This 'zine is in general too tasteful for me (it intentionally avoids the sexually explicit), and the writing is of wildly varying quality and mood, with a fair proportion of sheer fluff. People who really like _Oblaque_ or _Dark Fantasies_ will probably not really enjoy this (not high on psychology, kink or sex). People who run screaming from those 'zines will probably enjoy it.

There is poetry in this 'zine. I find the verse by xBryn fairly impressive, the rest of it is normal fan poetry standard (or, Why Did They Bother). I don't like standard Fan Poetry, which is why my slash poetic debut is a fairly technically flashy thing done with sonnets, which just happens to be an explicit sex scene (see _Fire & Ice IV_, forthcoming).

Now, on to the stories...

All of Twelve Hours (A/B) xBryn Lantry

Avon and Blake getting drunk together. I love this one: xBryn apparently thought she got it wrong to have Avon say "women to me are the equivalent of sandwiches: I prefer to do these things with style", but I think it works marvellously in the context that Avon is trying desperately and drunkenly and ineptly to pull Blake, who is too sozzled to notice. The sex scene in the restaurant manages to be outrageously hot in a very few sentences. Definitely my favourite in this 'zine.

Queen of Thieves (V/ocf) - Spirk and Kock

Vila teaches a couple of thieves that it's actually quite fun to have sex in bed. Het, a non-explicit PWP, and no characterisation that really jumps out and bites me. But then I have no manners and no morals, so I'm not the ideal person to judge "tasteful". Seems slightly bland to me.

Pastoral Scene (A/C) - Sue Bursztinski

Oh god. Avon and Cally on a sort of neo-Celtic neo-pastoral neo-pagan planet where everyone is terribly nice and involved in childrearing. With unicorns. Avon about to make love to Cally for the first time in a long time (having been apart for unspecified plot reasons) and having a concerned telepathic conversation with her about Parental Responsibility should they conceive a child... <snort> <snigger> I'm sorry, I'm trying to take this one seriously, but I just can't. I'm sure people who like this sort of thing wd love it, but it's just not my sort of thing.

Decisions (A/V) - Sue Clarke

Not overtly sexual, but sort-of hurt/comfort/angst. In three pages manages to pack slightly more punch than the two stories before it. Vila and Avon are given some sort of truth drug by Servalan.

Intermezzo in B (B/C, A/J) - London Bates

Good god, a het story by London Bates. Seems to head in the direction of A/B (which I would have preferred) but then lurches towards het, and I go to sleep... Typical London Bates unmistakable prose in the sex scene: pulsating towers (incidentally, since this is a het story, we here find out that the feminine of "tower" is "vault") and multiple orgasms all over the place. And what on earth does "burying her lips with a passion he'd almost forgotten he was capable of" mean? I'm sorry, I'm generally frankly incapable of appreciating this writer's work, I just seem to have a blind spot for her.

Creation (Se/?) - Sue Man Chew

Not sure whether the character is meant to be Avon or not - not named, anyway. Servalan does not have a sentimental attitude to her human sex toys, and one should be carefully attentive to what words she uses when trying to make a deal with her.

Pillar Talk () - Sue Bursztinski

Inspired by a picture of a naked Avon chained to a pillar. People do love to put the man in embarrassing situations, for some reason.

Manger du Sucre (Se/Tr) - Cally of the Alley

Eye meets eye-patch across a crowded room - but who's trying to pull whom? Travis says, "I am yours to command," and Servalan replies "Isn't everyone?"

Dealer's Choice (V/?) - Maree Celeste

Poor Vila is getting desperate - but which of his crew-mates is he going to end up with?

Nearly Beloved (A/B, A/Ta, B/Ta) - London Bates

PGP with Blake very angry at Avon. This tries to be heavy on the psychology and sex, but I don't think it succeeds that well. If you want a Blake-as-dominant-alpha-male vs. very-feminised-and-scared Avon, you'll probably think the characterisation's fine, but, putting that together with the way she writes sex scenes, it reminds me of nothing so much as a traditional romance novel, and I miss the shifting power dynamic you get in a lot of slash. Some people think the sex scenes are explicit, but I can't see it myself: purple prose, an unrealistic number of multiple orgasms and London Bates's dictionary of _1001 Interesting Euphemisms for the Male Organ_ don't do anything for me, and I feel she manages not to be very specific about either the physiology or the emotions. I think the xBryn story earlier in this issue manages to be *far* more erotic and outrageous while trying less hard. But then I do find London Bates' prose naturally antipathetic and her characterisation of Blake and Avon nowhere near mine. Maybe this story should be reviewed by somebody who likes her writing, just to add balance.

Welcome to the Liberator (A/D) - Janet Kragg

One of those sweet, tasteful, Avon shows Dayna what it is all about things. I don't think it's that well-characterised of either of them, as it seems to be fitting into a pattern of Innocent Virgin & Experienced Mentor rather than anything about Avon or Dayna's personalities. However, this is as always just personal taste.

Sorry about That, Chief (Tr/Se) - Sue Bursztinski

Half-page funny filler. Travis could really do with a safety-catch on that finger.

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last changed on 21st of December 2007