Afterlife (Blake's 7 tie-in book)

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Title: Afterlife
Creator: Tony Attwood
Date(s): 1984
Medium: print
Fandom: Blake's 7
Language: English
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Afterlife is a Blake's 7 PGP 218 -page tie-in novel written by Tony Attwood who also wrote the tie-in guide. Unlike many fanfics, the novel assumes that only Kerr Avon and Vila Restal survived.

Afterlifeatwood.jpg

Fanworks Written in Response

Reactions and Reviews

Unknown Date

One of the most revealing shocks I have experienced since first watching Blake's 7 - aside from Terry Nation's desire to kill off Vila in the second season - was the almost universal rejection by fans of Tony Attwood's Afterlife. I had liked the novel when I originally read it in the late 1980s. ...

I liked Afterlife for many of the reasons that I liked Blake's 7. There was an appropiate mix of continuity and change and the book had an episodic feel that reminded me of the series. The novel focuses on three characters: Avon, Vila, and Attwood's own creation, Korell. They travel, in a space freighter and another vehicle which was quite a hoot, to about half a dozen worlds. Each visit and escape reminded me of an episode. Avon's secretive plotting dominates their course and there is the usual banter and exchanges. It reminded me of how I wanted the last few episodes of the 3rd season to work, like a more involved Terminal written over several episodes, only with no Blake at the end. Afterlife really focuses on Avon as a conspirator, problem solver, and field technician, this time without the aid of Orac for the most part. The book also shows Avon as a builder of his own computers. His dialogue is a bit strange at times and over the top, "I will not be defeated again.", but after having viewed the 4th series, this did not seem too out of place. Campy portrayals I could forgive because this was by and large the Avon I liked, secretive, determined, not some emotional cripple who could not face his feelings, but a man with an agenda. This Avon could dump Vila out of an airlock, or keep him around. It would simply depend on how useful Vila was at the moment.

Speaking of Vila, as mentioned above he seems quite the moron in the book, and I cannot imagine Vila fans, to say nothing of Michael Keating, being too happy with the portrayal. ...

Overall this is a good book and I do recommend it to any fan of Blake's 7. I'll admit to cringing a few times, especially when Avon and co. travel through a white hole; I kept getting flashbacks from Dawn of the Gods. On the whole, Attwood handles things very well. Afterlife is a fun novel.[1]
Certainly what I didn't expect is Afterlife to have such an engaging plot, or Tony Attwood to be such a good writer.

One of the problems with reading someone else's take on characters is that you're left thinking "but they wouldn't really say that." Okay, I can't quite mentally put the word "dunce" in Avon's mouth (Chapter Four), but for the rest of the time he gets the characters spot-on. Okay, we're reading the pratt version of Vila, which is a bit of an obvious route to take, but effectively we're being shown the story through his eyes. Just what is Avon up to? How loyal is their new found ally, Korell? What and where is MIND, and is it controlling them?

Discussion of the novel's plot is inadvisable here, save spoiling it for those who haven't got to read it yet. It's continuity-based, but not anorakky, and with white holes, parallel universes and independent wine-tasting computers Attwood certainly brings something new to the mix. Taking up the story of just Avon and Vila (although there is a likeable but unnecessary cameo in chapter twelve, which seems oddly superfluous when the rest of the plot is so tight), in many ways it's like a revisionism of history, akin to Paul McCartney adjusting credits so that Lennon appears second. All the years of John being the cool one are seemingly played out here, with Attwood suggesting that Blake wasn't quite as heroic as we'd been led to believe, and absolving Avon of a lot of responsibility.[2]

1985

Is it worth the wait I hear you ask. Frankly no. But then again it had its moments. It is entertaining and the characters are true.

The story involves Avon and Vila and what happened to them after Gauda Prime. As I said a good read, in fact it would make a very passable Fanzine story, but how it got to be a novel is beyond me. Tony Atwood must have friends in high places. Personally I think he should stick to the 'Programme Guides'. In the story he uses every B7 cliche he can think of. If you do find the book, see how many you can find. Also to fill the book up as what plot there is doesn't take up much space, Tony Atwood resurrects two familiar ((too, too familiar - [Jane Carnall])) plot holes - for a fanzines writer ...

These are, (A) Give them somewhere to hide, in this case Terminal (B) Introduce one of Avon's many relatives. I will not say anymore on that.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not slamming the novel. I really enjoyed it, but I do object having to fork out well-earned cash on something I can read in an inexpensive fanzine.[3]
Well, I've read better fanzines. The one thing I can think of in Atwood's favour is, he didn't do what most fanzine authors seem to do, assume that everyone except possibly Soolin (and sometimes Blakes) survives the Gauda Prime massacre. ... If he'd stuck to one plotline, MIND & Terminal, and kept it to just Avon and Vila (with less of the fourth-series Servalan and more of the highly intelligent, utterly ruthless, and attractively deadly black widow spider of the first three) I at least would hve felt it was worth that proportion of my library I had to sell to buy it.[4]

(Ed. - Just a pre-P.S. before Sharon starts - she doesn't give away all the plot, but she does mention a few things, so don't read after the 2nd line of the next page if you really don't want to know).

The bible starts:- "In the beginning..." Tony Attwood ("Who?") starts 'Afterlife' in the same manner. From this, the more discerning reader may deduce that Mr Attwood perhaps thinks he is on a par with The Lord - after all, he does call his tome "the authentic sequel", a point which may be debated at length amongst irate authors of Post G.P. stories.

But, where do I begin? How about with a couple of basic spelling errors - Vila Restell? Tarriel cell? As this is meant to be authentic, have we been wrong all this while? (or the BBC credits?)

Nevertheless, the story begins in a predictable sort of way, with Avon waking up in a cell confronted by Korell, 'a beautiful woman', who unfortunately hangs around for the whole book - she's very dull. I think she's supposed to represent Avon's conscience - a bit like Jiminy Cricket - she acts like she knows all his darkest secrets, anyway. Vila then frees him and they all escape to a convenient freighter along with Orac and his twin brother (or sister) called, would you belie Caro? (Actually, in the same line, it is referred to as 'Cora', thus confusing matters even further). Servalan reappears and nicks Orac (or was it Caro/Cora?) (or both?) and makes herself President (again). Undeterred by this, our intrepid heroes go off to find minerals and rebels and other goodies.

I won't give the whole plot away as I don't think you could take it all in (and also because it's so tedious that I don't remember most of it) but in the course of their travels they acquire 2 more computers, one of whom, called KAT, is a sort of alcoholic version of C3P0 and the other, which Vila christens 'Blake' to upset Avon, is invested with its own personality (by Vila) to do really very little at all.

As for characterisation - Avon is enigmatic, cold, hard, etc. etc. and BORING and Vila is totally lacking in wit, spending all his time annoying people and getting plastered which is not what I think Vila is all about. Servalan is OK - she's so obvious that not even Mr Attwood can get her wrong.

Tarrant makes a guest appearance near the end of the book and dies about 6 pages later, which is quite hilarious.

As if you hadn't guessed, I found the whole thing long-winded, badly constructed, confusing, the characters Z-minus and unlike the ones we know and love. My final word is - if you were thinking of buying a copy - borrow it instead. [5]

Phew... I have to say that I agree with Sharon on this as I found it rather dull, and with some very stupid, ridiculous and pretentious ideas. If this had been sent to us as a zine submission, my comments would be 'Oh God - another Post G.P. story - I suppose we could use it if we were desperate...' I certainly hope it never gets made into a '5th Series' - some of our fan fiction is far better.

I can't even offer to lend my copy to very many of you, as the actual quality of the book is so poor that with-only 2 people having read it it is already falling to bits and lots of the pages don't open properly.

HOWEVER, I have no doubt some of you that have read it will be up in arms about the above... I would like to hear from anyone who has read it and we will have a SURVEY of the resulting opinions. This does NOT mean I want you to rush out and buy it, though, just to answer the survey!!! [6]

1987

[from the Liars' Panel at Scorpio V]:

"What do you think of Tony Attwood's book "Afterlife"?

Terry Nation (panelist): "It's brilliant, a masterpiece..." [7]

1988

I agree with [a fan's account] that AFTERLIFE is tedious -- and how. I think it is because nothing progresses beyond "Blake." [8]

1989

"Afterdeath - the 'Authentic' Alternative P.G.P." by Ros Williams- You can tell by the title this is going to be a light satire. And it is. I guess Afterlife is so bad it isn't even really worth satirising - was it really that bad? I guess it was. I forget what happened in it - it was so forgettable. (I think there was actually one good line in the entire novel; something Avon said to Vila.) (Surprisingly, I actually have read a PGP worse than Afterlife! I won't say what it was, though!) [9]

1995

"Afterlife" was memorable for one major reason - Tony Attwood used virtually the same plot for it as he used in "Turlough and the Earthlink Dilemma"! If there is a hierarchy of B7 literature, then the majority of fans (to my knowledge) rate this book equal last or slightly lower than Paul Darrow's "Avon - A Terrible Aspect" - which is a pity, because both novels contribute an understanding to the Blake's 7 universe.[10]

2013

Unfortunately, like one of Travis' plans to capture the Liberator it rather failed. Attwood makes no attempt to explain just how the band escaped alive after the events of "Blake" (the TV series' final episode), jumping straight into the story and taking their survival for granted. Unfortunately, he fails to capture the spirit of the original characters, and the rather weird computer he introduces to replace Scorpio's "Slave" grates badly. For plot, we get involved with alternate dimensions and all sorts of stuff not allowed for in the"reality" of the original. To be frank, I've read fanfic that's five times as good. Two stars, since anything about B7 can't be all bad. But unlike my complete set of series 1-3 DVDs, I doubt I'll ever revisit this one![11]

2014

Good and evil and weird psychedelic planets converge to create a story that is a bit... hard to follow! But you know you were never in it for the special effects. It's the dialog, the character development, the quips, the comedy gold found in the dead pan delivery of sarcasm. That's why we love Blake's 7, and why I had to buy this book off the shelf back in the late 80s and read it, then be confused by it, then put it on my shelf next to my VHS tape collection of recordings of the show off the local Public Broadcasting Station. "Blaaaaaaake!!!" 4/5 stars[12]

2016

Afterlife has been viewed as an unsuccessful, overly complicated, muddled, continuation of the show’s storyline. … Attwood himself highlights Avon’s inconsistent motivations on the show via the character of Korrell in Afterlife, as she asks Avon at a later point in the novel, “What does Kerr Avon do with credit? He is already the antihero of the whole Galaxy. He could command any sum just to lend his name to a revolution attempt at any place in the Milky Way. Or to solve some irritating little computer problem even on an Inner World. Avon could drive forever on Terminal up and down the Galaxy, just as he could on Liberater after Blake disappeared (187-88). In a meta way, Attwood has underscored the logical inconsistencies of a character purportedly encoded to represent rationality and heroism. Yes, Avon is on the surface a character who will do whatever it takes to survive. But it is this antiheroic mindset that has made him more of a dynamic character than the righteous, messianic Blake to Blake’s 7 writers and fans alike.[13]

Further Reading

References

  1. Reviewed by Jason P Juneau on Hermit.org
  2. Review on Anorak Zone
  3. Reviewed by K.A. Foley in "touched" #4
  4. Reviewed by Jane Carnall in "touched" #4
  5. from a fan in Horizon Newsletter #13 (January 1985)
  6. from a fan in Horizon Newsletter #13 (January 1985)
  7. from Diane Gies in her con report for Scorpio V, printed in Horizon Newsletter #19
  8. from a fan in Horizon Newsletter #21 (December 1988)
  9. review by Kathryn Andersen in Horizon Newsletter #22 (June 1988)
  10. Review held on FidoNet Echomail Archive
  11. A fan on Goodreads
  12. A fan on Goodreads
  13. [Gender and the Quest in British Science Fiction Television: An Analysis of Doctor Who, Blake's 7, Red Dwarf and Torchwood (Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy), pub. McFarland & Co Inc, 2016