The Machiavelli Factor
|Title:||The Machiavelli Factor|
|Cover Artist(s):||Jean Kluge|
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"The Machiavelli Factor was originally written in 1982. It was reprinted a few years ago in the US without the author's permission, but this edition has been produced with Lillian's agreement and the text has been revised by her." 
The Machiavelli Factor is a broad sweeping novel that takes Avon and his third season crew from Terminal to another galaxy. Here, they rapidly get embroiled in local politics as numerous power groups vie for control. Avon's knowledge of Liberator technology makes him a wanted man, and some groups would rather see him dead than controlled by the others. There's Scitech who control most of the technology left behind by an alien master race known as the Builders; the Guild who control transport between stars; the Fraternity, a criminal organisation; the Indies or Independents, and the mysterious ylln. 
The first two chapters are here.
Reactions and Reviews
When I first laid eyes on the 1996 edition of the classic Blake's 7 story The Machiavelli Factor, I said 'Wow. Oh, wow. The cover. Wow.' A colour picture of Blake holding a crystal sphere radiating light. The original looks to have been done in watercolour and pastel, and is just stunning. But you should never buy a zine for just its cover. What of the contents?
It has been a long time since I first read The Machiavelli Factor, more than ten years since I pored over a borrowed copy of it back when I was new to fandom. It was better than I remembered, possibly because the main bits I remembered were the start, and a flaw that I found irritating. But as I read it this time, some bits came back to me, and others I just enjoyed as they came.
To get the criticism over with, the main flaw is still the same as it ever was - that we don't get enough of a hint as to who Valonia is. I don't mean that it shouldn't have been a surprise - I like surprises - but because of the lack of clues, the revelation was not only a surprise, it was also hard to believe. This time around, because I remembered who Valonia was, I picked up the few subtle hints there were, but I don't think they were enough. But otherwise, this was a durn good story, alternative universe set after Terminal.
One could describe this story as a series of leaps from the frying pan into the fire, from the fire to the volcano. Rescues, escapes, captures - I'm reminded of the line in the Princess Bride: 'You've kidnapped what I've rightfully stolen.' - as Our Heros find themselves pawns (and Queens) in a power struggle in a civilization far away from the Federation. Politics, treachery, duplicity - is there anyone that they can trust? But it's not just an action-politics kind of story, there's good character stuff, particularly for Avon and Blake. Tarrantophiles probably won't like what happens with Tarrant, but I can't really say that it's out of character for a third-season Tarrant, which this is. One has to assume that the author is a Blakephile, since all the bits from Blake's point of view are done in first person. Whether this was a good decision I'm not sure, but it doesn't seem to hurt. There are bits here that are just fun - watch out for the Masters of Illusion (!).A good read. A spirograph on the Sid & Nancy scale.