|Date(s):||1979, March 1998|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
Mindfire by Ermentrude Postlethwaite-Smythe (aka Lillian Sheperd) is an adult het and slash 134-page Blake's 7 novel revised from a 1979 circuit story. For a while it was considered a bootleg zine (copied and/or published without permission)  but in 2000 the author was persuaded to approve a revised release.From Judith Proctor's site:
Mindfire is the first ever publication of this classic novel to be authorised by the writer. Written by EPS (aka Lillian Sheperd), Mindfire deals with the hell in which Avon has to live when his latent empathic skills are triggered. He literally cannot escape from other people's emotions. This is an adult zine featuring Avon, Blake and Cally. It's mainly heterosexual, but there is some slash content. 
Read an extract here.
Reactions and Review
I just read Mindfire, a very nice B7 novel, by E.P.S. someone better known nowadays for Tail of the Tiger, an emphatically slash sequel to a gen Pros story (Action of the Tiger) and other slash in Pros.
I liked the novel, one that starts out set 2nd season, and then goes off into its own story line.
Plot: On a planet that Blake hopes to overthrow the Federation on, Avon meets highly evolved aliens, and in a stunning miscommunication asks them to solve his problem. Looking at him as a whole, they decide his problem is that he can't really tell friend from foe, and give him very strong and uncontrollable empathic powers, so that he can't help telling them apart.
He finds that Blake is the only one whose feelings don't bother him, and finally is able to ask Blake to help shield him from all of the other people there. But, other aliens on the planet (bred deliberately by the Fed) almost drive him crazy. Blake and Cally find him, and try to help, and once in relative safely, find themselves overcome with passion for each other. They are a little surprised at this, but willing; as they are about finished, Avon stirs from his coma and joins them; both physically and empathically. The aftermath knocks them out.
Avon recovers; they pussyfoot around all of this, finally the three of them talk. After some fighting on Avon's side, they agree that they will commit to each other; that basically they are married, and happy to be so. (Liberator crew is less than thrilled; Jenna is (gasp!) jealous, and Gan thinks non-monogamy and homosexuality *both* are perverted; Vila is just upset that if Avon can read his feelings that he'll know that he likes him (ooh ick).)
Avon and Blake even have a discussion where they admit that even if Cally died that they'd still be together, and that they have faced their attraction for each other. End Plot.Now the point of this post: The slash fan that sold me the novel called it gen... [Name redacted] read it and said it's slash, but then said, well, it's not gen... I have to admit it is slash, I mean Blake and Avon do have sex (fairly off-stage, but explicitness has never been a slash requirement) and say they love each other, but it doesn't *feel* like slash... It feels as little like slash to me as gay novels do (not gay stroke books--they feel unlike slash too, but in still a different way.) I'm not quite sure what I'm saying here. Has anyone else read the novel? It's not bad... 
We're back in get-Avon territory here (not that I'm complaining). It is truly amazing the ways writers find to abuse the poor man, but this is really hitting him where it hurts, as some gods with a diabolical sense of - well, something - turn him into an empath. That's right, our Kerr, who has enough problems acknowledging his *own* emotions, now has to deal with those of everyone around him. To put it mildly, it nearly kills him...
This is a really good story; it has its faults, but the good points vastly outweigh the bad. Avon and Blake are both somewhat too soft for my taste - given the intolerable (to Avon especially) situation they're in, the potentiality for some *really* splendid fire-and-acid-drenched fireworks is a bit fumbled (they argue, but not nearly as much as the TV characters would have!!). This softer characterisation also impacts on the quality of the bond between them, which is strong and deep, but without the fierce but unsentimental quality I love. But, given that, I still liked both men and their interaction is warm, involving and quite believable.
Cally is *very* well-written, very much like the tough Auronar warrior we hoped for at the start of the series, and even given something of a sense of humour (not too much, though). Vila (again a bit too soft, but not as much as Blake and Avon) and Gan are more superficial, but well done; Jenna is a problem, since her negative qualities are in my opinion rather overdone, but they are also one of the fulcrums of the plot, so must be accepted.And it's a very good plot, too, with believable and well-sketched secondary characters, a nicely-developed and interesting background, logical flow of action (and lots of it), some spectacularly formidable monsters, and the above-mentioned, horrendous and almost continuous mental and physical anguish that Avon goes through. Strongly recommended if you like to see him *suffer*... 
The author notes right up front that she never intended this story for publication, but after sharing it with friends, it took on a life of its own and was broadly pirated. Fortunately the author consented to publication so that the rest of us can get our hands on a cracking good story. The story takes off and rarely relents in pace, pulling the reader on an incredible journey. A real strength is this author's ability to portray alien/non-humanoid life in rich detail. The reader sees it in "Mindfire" and particularly in "The Quibell Abduction" which was written under another pseudonym, Lillian Shepherd.
It would be impossible to easily encapsulate the plot which gradually reveals itself. The affection between Blake and Avon strengthens and deepens when Avon is gifted/burdened with the ability of total empathy. Avon undergoes a number of harrowing experiences, devotedly supported by Blake and Cally, that involve Avon's 'gift' and something with the potential to alter the fate of the galaxy. While the Avon/Blake/Cally relationship is a central motif, there is danger, adventure, subterfuge, and the Federation too. The rest of the Liberator crew - Jenna, Vila, and Gan - are not as prominent but are not entirely in the background. They play a major role in the latter part of the story.
I enjoyed the author's portrayal of Avon and Blake; both were richly drawn and quite human. Although Cally was well done, I would have preferred to see a more action-oriented Cally. It is a minor quibble that "Mindfire's" Cally is not as well done as "The Quibell Abduction's" Cally since "Quibell" is without question the best Cally I have seen in fanfic. Gan and Vila were more broadly sketched than in most fanfic, particularly Gan who is often overlooked. I felt that Jenna was a bit harsh and obsessive. The original characters were plausible and three-dimensional, another treat.Having owned this edition of "Mindfire" for nearly two weeks, I've read it through twice and have reread sections several times. There are adult situations that would classify this more as "adult" than "gen," and a m/m relationship is alluded to without explicit scenes. Recommended. 
- "Mindfire, EPS's wonderful Avon/Blake story, was written for and distributed to only ten of her dearest friends, and now I'd hate to guess how many people have a copy, but at least exponentially more than the original list." -- from DIAL #3
- from Judith Proctor
- In 1993, Sandy Herrold posted this review to the Virgule-L mailing list. It is quoted here with permission.
- from Sally Manton at Judith Proctor's Blake's 7 site
- from Morrigan at Judith Proctor's Blake's 7 site