Celeste Hotaling & Leah Rosenthal, "The Wild Child's Guide to Blake's 7" (S1; humor) (6 pg)
Pat Nussman & Jacqueline Taero, "Fresh Start" (S1; humor)(3 pg)
Celeste Hotaling, "Epilogue" (S1; humor) (3 pg)
Leah Rosenthal & Ann Wortham, "Sweet Savage Soma" (S2; humor) (Bizarro series) (3 pg)
Jill Grundfest, "One Can Make a Difference" (S2) (9 pg)
Alicia Ann Fox, "An Evening Out Can Be a Terrible Thing" (S2; humor) (3 pg)
Julie A. Nowak, "Skip to the Loo" (S2; humor) (6 pg)
Jean Graham, "Bitter Wine" (S3) (4 pg)
Carole Bede, "The Wizard Must Die" (S3) (14 pg)
Barbara Adams, "Breaking Point" (S3) (6 pg)
Alicia Ann Fox, "The Bishop" (S3) (4 pg)
Laura Chevening, "Discoveries" (S4; crossover with "Robin of Sherwood;) (23 pg)
Holly Hutchison, Alicia Ann Fox, & Kim Wigmore, "Many Happy Returns" (S4; humor) (1 pg)
Kathy Hintze, "Twice the Fool" (S5) (60 pg)
Deb Walsh, "Scorpio Rising"
Laurie E. Cohen, "Times Two"
"You Are Receiving This Zine Because..."
Ann Reckner, "Emnity" (S1)
Jacqueline Taero, "Roj Blake's Rules of Revolutionary Procedure"
Pat Nussman, "Orbit Zero"
Kim Wigmore, "Collage"
Holly Hutchison, "Testimony at Star One"
Holly Hutchison & Kim Wigmore, "Gauda Prime Lament"
Pam Auditore pg 94 A during "Blake"
Gail Bennett pg 2 PD & A
pg 3 MK & V
Laurie E. Cohen inside backcover V
J. Arlene Gogan pg 70 illo for "Discoveries"
pg 74 V
pg 86 illo for "Discoveries"
pg 88 Avon & Robin of Sherwood
pg 91 So
Celeste Hotaling pg 6-11 illos for "Wild Child's Guide"
pg 12, 14 illos for "Fresh Start"
pg 30 illo for "An Evening Out..."
Nancy Kolar front cover A
Susann Molnar pg 21 V
pg 25, 29 illo for "One Can Make a Difference"
Julie A. Nowak pg 34, 37, 39 illo for "Skip to the Loo"
pg 41 B7 a la Elmer Fudd
Sheila Paulson pg 96 A, V
pg 101 B
pg 108 A
pg 113 V
pg 117 Se
pg 121 A, V
pg 131 A, V
pg 138 C
pg 143,147,152 illos for "Twice the Fool"
Karen River back cover V
Leah Rosenthal pg 18 illo for "Sweet Savage Soma"
inside backcover V
Deb Walsh front cover V
pg 42 A, C
pg 46 V
pg 51 D, V
pg 56 A, C, D, Ta
pg 60 V
pg 66 A, V
pg 80 Robin of Sherwood
'"A nightmare." Avon's voice was incredulous. Even now, he could hardly believe that it was not in fact true, that he had not spent four years of his life among mental defectives he detested and abhorred, waging a war he had no interest in whatsoever....' It takes real style to pull this one off -- but believe it or not, 'Fresh Start' manages it. *In* character. *With* humour. And in the follow-up story, contributed by the illustrator, we even get to find out the long-term effects on the Federation!
## 8/10 for the stories as a pair
'Sweet Savage Soma' I had encountered before, in the Bizarro 3 zine, though I imagine this was its first appearance in print. It's still one of the better Bizarro stories. Here, Jenna reveals an unexpected taste for cheap romantic fiction, for reasons that become obvious, and Vila turns out to know a little more about it than anyone realises....
'One Can Make a Difference' is a brave experiment that doesn't quite come off. Blake attempts to get three suspicious rebel factions to work together; while the author sets out to create a selection of memorable original characters to work alongside the regulars, and simultaneously explore the practicalities of fomenting revolution beyond simply blowing things up.
Only Andrea, the enthusiastic but somewhat romantic young revolutionary, really comes across as an individual, however. Her male counterparts are ultimately fairly indistinguishable, and the plot hinges after all on blowing something up. The other problem is a slight tendency towards long explanatory digressions in the writing. There's nothing wrong as such with following your characters' train of thought, but there is more than one place in this story where it comes across as mere space-filling, or the author taking over to spell out her plot by numbers, followed by an awkward transition back to the action.
Like its illustrations, 'One Can Make a Difference' is a gallant attempt at doing something original for once, which isn't quite backed up by the necessary technical skill.
'An Evening Out can be a Terrible Thing' takes a light-hearted look at the consequences of official hospitality. In other words, it's an excuse to get Avon very, very drunk and see what comes out -- which could be a cue for maudlin disaster, but fortunately is treated here with a rather lighter touch. '"The crashes stopped." "That was a battle, Avon...."'
Sadly the same cannot be said for 'Skip to my Loo'. This is a one-joke story that milks its infantile humour for rather more than it's worth -- and, moreover, the whole thing appears to hinge on an American cultural confusion between 'lavatory' and 'bathroom'. It's not entirely unfunny, but quickly outlives its welcome.
'Bitter Wine', based around the fan-beloved concept of a secret telepathic link between Cally and Avon, could have been excruciatingly self-indulgent. But, mercifully, the author resists the temptation to wallow in hurt/comfort cliché and allows both characters to retain their dignity and independence. The result is a bleaker but more convincing story: he who drinks the bitter wine of revenge must drink alone.
'The Wizard must Die'
It is perhaps unfair to write off the 'mediaeval crossover' genre as a fan-based invention, since at least two broadcast episodes had the crew clashing with pre-industrial superstition. However, the concept of a deliberate theme-park planet doesn't really seem to fit into the bleak Federation universe, and while the detective-style plot is intricate enough, it comes across as a rushed afterthought to the 'let's dress up in mediaeval clothes' element. It also suffers from somewhat clumsy dialogue and description: 'Tarrant had been pacing the flight deck as he spoke, now he sat down next to the pretty brunette Auron, and looked at her concerned expression.'
A more experienced author might have carried this story off more successfully.
In 'Breaking Point', Vila teaches Tarrant a much-needed lesson... and if only it had stopped there, this story would have been twice as effective! Sadly, we are then treated to Vila's delusions of grandeur, in the form of an ill-written dream sequence, followed by Vila's revenge on the rest of the crew. I'm not quite sure if this is supposed to be humour, or if it's simply bad characterisation. Either way, it's a limp twist to a story that was perfectly good before it had one.
'The Bishop' is basically a nice little character piece in Vila's voice without a lot of plot implications, although the end is a touch darker. Short, but doesn't attempt to be over-ambitious.
The trouble with crossovers like 'Discoveries' is that, instead of doubling the potential readership to fans of both worlds, they end up restricting their appeal to the small number who are familiar with both. In this case, it's a Robin Hood crossover -- but a televised Robin Hood that clearly differs from any variant of the legend I know.
I'm not particularly happy with this version of Robin, nor, as I've mentioned, with mediaeval crossovers in general. The most potentially interesting part of the story is when Soolin falls in with the villain, Guy of Gisburne, and takes him aback by totally failing to behave as expected of a kidnapped maiden; judging by the advertisement for "Guy's Gang" that follows, I suspect this may be because the author has a /tendre/ for the individual in question! Otherwise, to someone who isn't familiar with the series, all the character-chewing angst is simply tedious; when we are told that Avon 'wanted to get back to a rational universe in which cause and effect worked scientifically', I'm afraid I found myself in absolute agreement with him.
In 'Many Happy Returns', the events of Gauda Prime are all a set-up -- for Avon's birthday. Admittedly, that backfires, as it were.... Very brief; mildly amusing.
But finally... oh dear, dear. 'Twice the Fool', sadly, sets off practically every fan-fiction danger signal I know. The author has resurrected Jenna, Cally, Blake and the /Liberator/ post-Gauda Prime, done an 'Avon-shot-the-clone', invoked Del Grant for a cathartic confrontation with Avon, brought in a telepathic entity to work with Cally, and had the entire crew forgiving each other (and Avon) at enormous emotional length. What's worse is that it's badly written to boot: '"It's all right, Vila," Blake comforted. "You're safe now. Cally is too. Avon...." He didn't know what to think about Avon.'
This is the sort of story that used to give fan-fiction a bad name. The author should have tried something more in scale with her talents. It's not outstandingly awful, but it doesn't come anywhere near to justifying its length, let alone its inclusion in this zine. Avoid.
'Orbit Zero', by Pat Nussmann, is the only poem worthy of note in this collection (although it's hard to judge lyrics when you don't know the tunes in question). The earlier 'Enmity' shoots itself in the foot at the very start by attempting to rhyme 'away' with 'quay', and suffers from strained rhymes thereafter; but 'Orbit Zero' demonstrates for once a really effective use of rhyme and repetition. Most fan poetry has more gush than bite. This one is notable in that it's simple and it works.
This zine starts out well, but doesn't fulfil its promise. The cover art is unadventurous but good; the interior illustrations are far from outstanding. There is some attempt to venture beyond the standard head-shots, but without a photograph to model from, the resulting figures are often distorted or out of proportion.
There are a number of good short stories, but I found too many of the long ones disappointing. The finale, occupying a third of the entire zine length, has been allotted to the weakest story in the collection -- not much of a selling point! Lack of experience among the first-time contributors also shows.
Almost twenty years on, much of this zine is of largely historical interest.
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Last updated on 26th of June 2004.