Shadow at the Edge of the World

Review By Hariet Bazley

I embarked upon this sequel with high expectations, having so much enjoyed 'Last Stand at the Edge of the World'. I was sorely disappointed.

If this were a commercial production -- rapidly produced in a fraction of the time it took to create the original, low on content, stiff with references to the past, and evidently intended as the set-up for a tie-in series -- the word 'franchise' would rapidly rear its head. Since the writers aren't intending to make a profit out of it, I can only assume that they failed to observe they were flogging a dead horse.

In a way, this is a caricature of its predecessor. All the potential flaws that 'Last Stand', by and large, side-steps so successfully, here reveal themselves for the traps they are. Perhaps the most iniquitous is the resurrection of a character at the expense of one of the most effective scenes in the previous zine: perhaps the most self-indulgent is the introduction of the insufferable psycho-strategist Carnell, complete with eulogy to the length and thickness of his eyelashes. (One of the few gems of dialogue I appreciated: "There's no need to blame yourself." "I *don't* blame myself," Avon maintained, stopping himself from strangling Carnell solely by sheer force of will. "I blame *you*.")

Avalon, Lindor, Tyce and the Terra Nostra all get an obligatory reference, and the whole plot essentially revolves around 'Vila needs psychotherapy' plus various complications to rebel love-life. This is Blake's 7 as soap-opera... as the other zine so easily could have been, and wasn't.

The original was five interlocking stories, each building on what had gone before and coming to its own completion. This sequel is a single, rambling narrative that feels much shorter and slighter -- I zapped through it in a couple of hours, with no real incentive to stop and savour -- and with no satisfactory ending. The foreword promises "we're already hard at work on the next novel in the 'Edge' series", and this is presumably a hook into it... if it ever appeared. (I'd heard of this one; I never heard of any further sequels.) At any rate, it failed of its intent to make me eager to buy the follow-ups. I was thoroughly disenchanted.

To add insult to injury, this zine is far more clumsily written. The 'party' scenes on Space City -- including the jacuzzi(!) -- are particularly bad, but the dialogue is generally more stilted overall. It's hard to be sure why. Frankly, it's hard to be sure it's even the work of the same authors; it reads like a well-intentioned attempt at homage, a fanfic of a fanfic. (And who *is* the Elvis Presley clone on the front cover? Not Colton, yet another would-be villain with a family vendetta, since he's described as 'sandy-blond' on the opening page....)

If you liked 'Last Stand at the Edge', I would really recommend avoiding this one. It only detracts from its predecessor.

## 4/10


(novel by Ann Wortham & Leah Rosenthal; sequel to LAST STAND AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD; S5)
Editor: Ann Wortham
Publisher: Ashton Press
Date: 1995
Format: letter size, 114 pp., stapled, blue card covers

Ann Wortham, Editorial

Jane Mailander, "The Lion and the Fox Cub"

Leah Rosenthal front c. Carnell, Bek, ocm, B
p. 24 V
p. 114 cartoon
Karen River p. 3 V
p. 106 Ta
back c. V, A, Kerrill
Leigh Moto'oka p. 7 A-V-V's daughter; illo
p. 47 A-V-Carnell; illo
p. 62 Tyce-Ta; illo
p. 74 A-V-Kerrill; illo
p. 96 A-V, B, Ta, ocm; illo
Dani Lane p. 14 ocm in spaceship; illo
p. 30 A-V-Kerrill; illo
p. 38 B in tub; illo
p. 55 B-J
p. 67 Ta
p. 76 A-V-Kerrill; illo
p. 81 A-C
p. 98 A-V, B, Ta, ocm; illo
p. 111 V-B-A-O-C; illo
Jane Mailander p. 112 Bloom County cartoon

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Last updated on 26th of June 2004.