The Mark of Kane is the latest audio tape. It's also the closest thing that we are ever likely to get to an extra bit of the series.
Brain Croucher plays Travis and Gareth Thomas plays Blake.
The introduction on the sleeve is written by Chris Boucher (who was script editor and also wrote several of the best stories)
The tape consists of two stories, one on each side of the tape. The first story involves Travis before he reaches Freedom City and looks at some events relating to the Andromedans. It also involves a mutoid and a bounty hunter called Kane.
The second story involves Blake and takes place shortly after Jenna's death. There are some links to the first story - Kane and the mutoid reappear. We also get to meet Tando (one of Blake's fellow bounty hunters).
To be honest, these aren't really stories as such, they are more like vignettes - we see a scene in time rather than an entire plot. However, they are very well done.
The production quality is excellent. The cover art for the tape is by Pete Wallbank and we get a colour portrait of GP Blake, the mutoid and a black and white picture of Travis and Kane (Kane is carrying his Boucher automatic rifle and has a little badge saying 'I love GP').
The sound quality and incidental music all feel professional.
Brian Croucher sounded absolutely spot on. It's as though he had never stopped playing Travis.
Blake was a disappointment in one way. He too, was exactly right, but this is the Blake we see in the last episode, the man who has acquired an extra layer of cynicism, who says that he used to be more trusting than he is now. If I'm going to have more Blake, I'd like to have had him earlier on, but I'll take any Blake I can get if the cards are down.
Voices are very evocative. Actors change physically, but voices tend to stay the same. Listening to this tape, I don't see Gareth Thomas, I see Blake. The speech patterns are Blake's.
As I said, this a very professional production all round. In fact, there's only one thing that gives it away as a fan production. It's too accurate! (I hasten to add that that is a compliment, not a complaint) Having listened to it once, I haven't spotted a single continuity error and if you realise that these stories fit between other episodes and refer to events going on in the world at large, then you'll soon realise that anyone who wasn't totally immersed in the series would never have got it all right.
There are continuity references that are important to the series as a whole such as how Travis contacted the Andromedans and there are ones that are completely incidental, do no harm if you miss them and add a little extra if you spot them. "It's as easy as shooting zombies off an elevator."
There's some in jokes as well. I'm sure somebody took great delight in the fact that the term 'Trekkers' is used in 'Gambit', thus making it canonical in Blake's 7. If you want to know what happens to the Trekkers in this story, go buy the tape!
The really interesting question is whether this tape is canonical. Up till now, I've only considered the actual episodes to be canonical - I have ignored BBC publicity blurb (which frequently contradicted the episodes), I've ignored the Hoyle novelisations (which I believe were done from the draft scripts), I've disbelieved 'Avon a Terrible Aspect' and I felt 'Afterlife' wasn't close enough to the series either.
'The Mark of Kane' has two claims to being canonical. Firstly, it has Gareth Thomas and Brain Croucher. That wouldn't have been enough if it was a botch job, but it most definately isn't. It's well written, well produced and well acted.
I've deliberately tried not to say too much about what happens in these stories, but I've always felt that certain events on Jevron took place the way they are suggested here. On the other hand, I've got to think about Gan... The version here is certainly possible (and one I've considered on occasion), but I haven't yet decided if I want to go along with it or not.
All things considered, there is only one drawback to this tape. You MUST know the series, and you must know it well, otherwise, the events taking place will be irrelevent to you. These are 'fill in the gaps' stories and unless you know the gaps being filled, the stories won't make much sense.
For example, Blake's closing line only rings home if you've seen 'Deliverence'.
Do I recomend it? Yes. Wholeheartedly, provided that you have seen most of the second season episodes leading up to and including 'Star One' and 'Blake'.
'The Mark of Kane' is sold out - no more copies will be available.
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