Review By Hariet Bazley

Like Cathy Knowles' 1979 "The Epic", this zine is a legend in its own lifetime. It's been appearing on 'highly-recommended' lists since not only long before I ever encountered fandom, but long before I encountered 'Blake's 7' itself. I rationed myself on it greedily, breaking off after only a few pages every day to make it last, savouring the memory of each fragment between indulgences -- the highest tribute I know how to give to any zine! It wasn't difficult. Despite its length, this zine wastes few words. Each short scene carries its own emotional punch, and very few of them ring false... even when rewriting the past.

The is a post-Gauda-Prime zine featuring Vila and Avon. It's difficult to say much more than that about the plot without damaging its carefully-crafted revelations: even mentioning Avon's name is, technically speaking, a spoiler for the first scene, although the identity of the wreck of a man known as 'Merrit' is fairly rapidly made clear. The zine comprises five linked stories, each raising the stakes -- and the potential for disaster -- a little higher, until the climax rivals the tensions of 'Star One'. In the process, it also sheds new light on history we thought we knew.

Some elements of this work better than others. The revelation of Tarrant's role in Avon's madness, for example, is bitingly effective, while the dying confession we get at the bottom of page 106 really is enough of a shock to serve as the ending to that story on its own -- the trailing half-page of continuation tells us nothing we can't already deduce or know. I felt that the contradiction of accepted wisdom about Vila's past was less successful; we know he's an untrustworthy source of information, but a deception on that scale requires an unconvincing change of personality, and rather undermines one of the major themes of the first few stories, that of Vila's self- transformation in the face of necessity.

The zine manages to keep up a high level of emotional tension almost throughout while rarely appearing either maudlin or impossible to credit (there is, however, one case of a medical condition that is cured a little too conveniently). By and large, it manages to put its characters through one struggle after another towards understanding and personal stability without resorting to open sentimentality of the sort that can be wincingly hard to read. It manages to bring back past characters from the series without making it seem gratuitous, and creates vivid original characters in Ferran, Jaana and Nolasco. (I have to say that I felt Varlo to be a failure in that respect: after a promising introduction he dwindles back into little more than a cipher.)

Like "The Epic", this zine manages to be both a thrilling adventure and an enthralling exploration of its protagonists. Occasionally, the plot-levers are a little too obvious (the abrupt introduction of the limiter into the last story comes across as a /deus ex machina/) and some of the amateur psycho-analysis left me sceptical; but it thoroughly lives up to its reputation, and more than justifies its length. The legend lives! :-)

## 9/10


(novel by Ann Wortham & Leah Rosenthal; S5; A-V, V/Kerrill)
Editor: Ann Wortham
Contributing editors: Barbara Tennison & Liz Sharpe
Publisher: [Ashton Press]
Date: [1987]
Format: letter size, 235 pp., comb binding, card covers, color front

Chapter titles:

Ann Wortham, Editorial
Ad for Probability Square

Leah Rosenthal front c. V (color)
(all illos) p. 30 A-V
p. 91 A-V
p. 131 B-A
p. 141 ocms
Deb Walsh p. 4 V
Dani Lane p. 9 A-V
(all illos) p. 17 A, V, Kerrill
p. 22 A-V, other crew
p. 25 V/Kerrill
p. 27 A-V
p. 32 V-ocf child
p. 36 V-ocm
p. 40 Ta
pp. 46-7 Kerrill-A
p. 53 V-Kerrill
p. 59 A-V
p. 61 V
p. 65 Se-Ta
p. 69 Se/Ta
p. 75 A in bed, C, ocf child
pp. 88-9 A-V
p. 97 Ta-Se, V-A
p. 104 A
p. 107 Se, Kerrill-child, V-Ta
p. 109 V
p. 115 Kerrill-Se
p. 122 B
p. 147 V-B
p. 159 V-A-Kerrill
p. 167 B-A
p. 183 A, explosion
p. 193 B, V/Kerrill
p. 220 Se-ocm
p. 227 A-J-B on Liberator
Marc Thorner p. 197 space battle
Karen River back c. V


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Last updated on 26th of June 2004.