Alternative Seven

From Fanlore
Jump to: navigation, search
Zine
Title: The Alternative Seven (some "The Alternative Seven")
Publisher: Horizon, fan club
Editor(s): Pat Thomas
Date(s): 1978-?
Series?:
Medium: print
Size:
Genre: adult het
Fandom: Blake's 7
Language: English
External Links:
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Alternative Seven is an adult het Blake's 7 anthology. It is one of the first adult content Blake 7's fanzines.

This Zine, Slash, and The Fourth Wall

In 2015, a fan, Lillian Shepherd, speculated on the relative lack of B7 in UK fandom:
The production and actors in a TV show might have an effect on the series fan fiction. The various fan clubs in B7 fandom were close to the show (the Liberator Popular Front's first act was to invite the whole cast to a party, and about half of them turned up) the director's secretary was a fan, so was one of the cameramen – which was how we got to see shooting scripts before broadcast! – and one of the actors became engaged to and later married one of the committee. He also made a scurrilous fan fiction tape for his girlfriend...

This had a downside in that all the published fan fiction ended up being passed round the studio, with the explicit stuff right on top.

Which brings me to why there was no B7 slash in this country until the show had gone off air. When Pat T was editing the first 'adult' B7 fanzine, Alternative Seven, she went to see Gareth Thomas in 'The Canterbury Tales', met him at the stage door, and bore him off to the bar to feed him vodka and slimline tonics. She told him about Alternative Seven. Naturally, his first question was: "Who does Blake get?" to which Pat said, "Well, in one story so far, Cally." "Oh," came the disappointed response, "why not Jenna?" At which point Pat told him that "If things go the same way here as in the States you're lucky it's not Avon." She had to spend the rest of the evening feeding him more booze and promising him that she wouldn't let such a thing be published. Such was her rep in fandom that, until she went back to the States, it wasn't.[1]

General Fan Comments

I've really enjoyed het in B7 before, and the fact that these zines are so old (Fanlore says 1978 so, literally while only the first season had aired! Which does accord with the anecdote about Gareth in the Canterbury Tales) was an inducement I could not resist. They're also all short Anyway - these should clearly be read as historical documents, rather than fic, and in general almost all of my specific comments would be along the lines of 'that was terrible, this person can't write' (it all feels like Fanfic.Net 13-year-old writing), so I'm not going to review any of these properly, just make a few general observations and home in on any fics that particular deserve it. Julia's reviews make it seem like these are cliched, but have the potential to be good. In general, that isn't the case - I like a good cliche.[2]

Issue 1

cover of issue #1, artist is Heather Lulham: "The cover had me in absolute hoots of laughter though with a gloriously stereotyped picture that looked as if it was straight out of the only cliche that was missing from the zine..." -- from review below
alternative cover for issue#3

Alternative Seven 1 was published in 1978 and contains 83 pages.

  • Lysistrate, "The Deepest Secret" (B/C, A/Meegat)
  • Liberty Belle, "...from the Bottom Up" (V/OC)
  • Anne Lewis, "The Initiation" (A/C, B/J)
  • Robert Aries, "I Suppose it Was Inevitable" (V/C)
  • Anne Lewis, "Late Watch" (J/Tr)
  • Pat Thomas, "How Sweet the Cup" (A/J)
  • Southern Comfort, "Tonight's the Night" (G/J, G/C)
  • Art: Heather Lulham cover

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 1

[zine]: Here's a real oldie. An old Horizon zine, dating back to the days when they published adult material. This zine is rather a joy in some respects. I found it stirred fond nostalgia in me. For the early days of fandom? Er, no, 'cause I wasn't there. But among this collection of stories can be found such a collection of ultimate plot cliches that they can hardly fail to amuse.

We have Blake and Cally having sex after a well-meaning alien influences their minds.

Then there is Vila having to pick the lock on a planetary ruler's chastity belt and of course being invited by her to help out in other ways after it is removed.

Then Jenna, Cally, Avon and Blake fall in with a group of matriarchs who of course assume Jenna to be the leader and Avon and Blake to be little more than pets - and they have to sleep with each other to keep up the pretence.

Next, we have the 'aphrodisiac accidentally mixed into the coffee' which causes Jenna and Avon to have a fling, and that gives a complete quartet of the most cliched stories in existence.

There's also one uninspiring Vila/Cally (trapped in a cave) story and two others that are fairly original. The last story I really enjoyed. Blake makes up his mind to finally make a pass at Jenna, only to discover that she shacked up with Gan long ago. Then, just to make life complete for the Gan fan <hurrah!> we discover that he is in such hot demand that Jenna and Cally are having to take it in turns every other night!

Actually, considering the zine is fully of such ancient plots (well, maybe they were new back then), the stories aren't that badly written. The cover had me in absolute hoots of laughter though with a gloriously stereotyped picture that looked as if it was straight out of the only cliche that was missing from the zine (but then Avon and Blake as sex slaves is usually slash, not het fantasy).[3]

Issue 2

cover of issue #2, Heather Lulham
alternate cover of issue 2, by Paul Mark Tams

Alternative Seven 2 was published in 1978 and contains 42 pages.

  • Surprise, fiction by A.N. Opedhus (J/V) (1)
  • What a Way to Go, fiction by Carole Fairman (B/J, with A/C) (7)
  • Lya, fiction by Miss Terious and A.N. Other (G/OFC) (10)
  • Empathy, fiction by Miss Terious (A/C) (20)
  • Song of the Rebel Leader, poem (a la "Hiawatha") by Liberty Belle (31)
  • Rhushalla, part 1, fiction by Varian Martin (B/OFC) (32)
  • Night Shadow, fiction by Pat Thomas (Se/?) (39)
  • Manipulative Dexterity, fiction by Miss Terious (A/OFC) (42)

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 2

[What a Way to Go]: Carole Fairman, "What a Way to Go" (B/J, with A/C) - Jenna is a virgin waiting for the right man (seems quite drawn from life). Blake doesn't really slow down when he realises this.[4]
[Rhusalla]: Varian Martin, "Rhushalla, part 1" (B/OFC) - even for an early fic this is impressively Mary Sue. Rhushalla is a gorgeous Federation officer, who then reveals herself to actually be a gorgeous rebel. All the men fancy her, but obviously she and Blake have a special connection. An amusing misprint gives the final line of their consummation as: 'His cock jerked spasmodically as the hat semen poured into Rhushalla's cauldron." [5]
[zine]: Extremely ancient het zine from Pat Thomas, founder of the Horizon fan club, with the first few issues apparently predating even Horizon. The quality of the writing is very variable, and on average significantly poorer than to be found in later zines. One reasonable story for Gan fans, the rest of the stories in issue 2 aren't really worth bothering with--they're mostly PWPs, and they're generally either very poor quality or they've been done often, and often better than in this early effort. 42 A4 pages, about half of which I'd consider reading again. Don't pay more than a quid for this one.

Surprise - A N Orephus: Jenna is fuming at being left on teleport duty, and ends up n a bath with Vila. Lightweight PWP but nicely done.

What a way to go - Carole Fairman: A very early example of the author completely ignoring characterisation as shown in screen in order to force the sex scenes she wants. I don't really see either Blake or Avon deciding that a shag with Jenna or Cally is far more important than dealing with the pursuit ships bearing down on the Liberator. Jenna as a shy virgin isn't terribly convincing either, even in a story probably written during the first run of the first season.

Manipulative Dexterity - Miss Terious: Half page funny.

Lya - Miss Terious & A N Other: A look at a newly married Gan's relationship with his wife, and how he ended up with a limiter and a sentence to Gauda Prime when he should have been able to plead self-defence. There's some good discussion of the corruption in Federation society, although I don't think it's sufficiently clear why a trooper attacked Gan's wife.

Empathy - Miss Terious: Avon unwittingly experiments with a tasp (direct electrical stimulation of the brain pleasure centres), and is driven insane. Cally has to use her empathic capability to draw him out. It was a new plot then, and it's nicely written.

Song of the Rebel Leader - Liberty Belle: Poem, missing in my copy

Rushalla - Varian Martin: Part 1 of a long story which isn't continued in issue 3, or anywhere else. I can't say I'm disappointed. Blake gets involved with a female original character, to the distress of Jenna.

Night Shadow - Pat Thomas: Servilan's (sic) erotic nightmare.[6]

Issue 3

cover of issue #3, M.J. East, portrays Blake and Jenna

Alternative Seven 3 was published in 1978 and contains 60-pages.

It contains no interior illustration.

The zine required an age statement to purchase.

  • Janet Ellicott, "Felicita" gen, A/OMC (rape) (1)
  • Carole Fairman ("from an idea by Pat Thomas") , "Time and Place" B/C, J/A, B/J, A/C (10)
  • Limericks by Marion Beet (19)
  • Catherine Knowles, "Programmed Responses" A/OFC (rape, while drugged) (20)
  • Kathleen Glancy, "The Reason Why" A/C (13)
  • Carole Fairman, "One Last TIme" Tr/Kiera (34)
  • Carole Fairman, "Order of the Court" B/J (36)

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 3

[Felicita]: Janet Ellicott, "Felicita" gen, A/OMC (rape) - this is a B/A story disguised as not-B/A fic because Gareth couldn't handle the truth but was keen to read Blake/Jenna stories. They don't have sex, but Avon does get brutally raped by a man and then Blake (who was next in line for rapings) helps him get over it by talking it through and stroking Avon, so ... I think we know what this story really wanted to be [7]
[Programmed Responses]: Catherine Knowles, "Programmed Responses" A/OFC (rape) - really grim/horrible, and actually quite good. Avon is programmed to rape and murder at a specific question (quite clever). Not eroticised at all - just about how violated and upset Avon feels.[8]
[Order of the Court]: Carole Fairman, "Order of the Court" B/J - Julia plays down the hilarity of what actually happens in this fic, which is that Avon is trapped under something heavy, Blake comes to rescue him (naked) and then drops the heavy thing on his testicles - at which point everyone says 'oh Avon's probably all right' (he was crushed by a heavy thing! If he wasn't that hurt Blake could have paused long enough to put on clothes) and focuses on Blake, who (we find out) has been steralised by the Federation. Anyway - Avon helps him get over it (no, really) ... and then Blake is able to sex Jenna again.[9]
[zine]: An ancient zine, which means it should be forgiven for the outbreak of cliches because they weren't *quite* so cliched then... The PWPs by Carole Fairman (some 22 of the zine's 60 pages) are poorly written as well as cliched, and can be skipped, the other stories are worth reading.

Felicita - Janet Ellicot: Blake is trying to persuade the leader of a colony planet to let the rebellion use it as a base. The man has other ideas about how to get an income from his planet, and is quite happy to get the information he wants by using torture on Avon - including rape. Non-explicit.

Time and Place - Carole Fairman: PWP in which Blake and Cally, and Avon and Jenna, have one night stands before settling down in their "correct" pairings.

Programmed Responses - Catherine Knowles: Avon has been captured by the Federation and programmed by a puppeteer before being allowed to escape. Vila has to help him unravel the programming. Non-explicit but still grim.

The Reason Why - Kathleen Glancy: Avon is being very, very nice to Vila. Everyone except Cally is wondering why... Amusing short.

Order of the Court - Carole Fairman: Blake and Jenna's happy sexual relationship is disrupted by Blake's accidental discovery of part of his sentence. Gives me the impression that the angst is tossed in to evade the label of PWP for the utterly gratuitous sex scenes.[10]

Issue 4

cover of issue #4, Heather Lulham
another cover of issue #4

Alternative Seven 4 is undated (probably 1980) and contains 55 pages.

  • You’d Never Believe It, But… by Ricia Watts A/Horizon fangirls (2)
  • Pleasure Palace by Star One (A/C) (3)
  • Admission of Love by Rosinante (A/C) (17)
  • Skylarna by Ricia Watts (A/OFC) (26)
  • A Jenna Story by Carole Fairman (B/J) (35)
  • Perfect Pleasure by Southern Comfort (A/Se) (38)

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 4

[Pleasure Palace]: Pleasure Palace by Star One A/C - another missed opportunity for slash in that Blake goes to a brothel to rescue Avon (he tells Cally she can't go, but why is not clear), including pretending to be interested in a catalogue of men, and then leaves him to Cally post rescue. There are a lot of Avon in a brothel stories, and I like so few of them, though it feels like it could easily be a guilty pleasure.[11]
[Skylarna]: Skylarna by Ricia Watts A/OFC - so Mary Sue.[12]
[Perfect Pleasure]: Perfect Pleasure by Southern Comfort A/Se - and I'll talk about this one properly. Blake and Cally rescue Avon from being Servalan's drugged sex slave (I guess this writer has now seen series 3 which is why we've got an A/Se), but before Orac can deprogram him Avon needs to have really rough sex for another 24 hours. Fortunately, they brought Servalan with them, so Cally (who volunteered) doesn't need to be raped. After this really bad 24hr period (it's really bad, she did not enjoy it) Servalan goes home and makes another Avon clone. Which is totally nonsensical given that you would have thought she'd learned better. Meanwhile Blake (Blake!) has decided that Avon would be better off without his memories of being a sex slave and gets Orac to wipe his memory, so only Blake and Cally (and Servalan!) know. Later writers have done similar things admittedly, and deserve my censure more. But still. It's not cool.[13]
[Perfect Pleasure]: A thoroughly vicious story in Alternative 4 where Avon was a battered offering in a Federation brothel - I was so angry about this unlikely depiction of Avon that I can't forget it. [14]
[zine]: nother batch of cliches, of variable quality. Generally not a total waste of time, but Perfect Pleasure is the only one I'd read more than once.

You'd never believe It, But... - Ricia Watts: Short funny in which a teleport accident puts Avon in a twentieth century house, and in need of emergency teleport.

Pleasure Palace - Star One: Avon is Trapped In A Brothel (TM). He has to be rescued by Blake (pretending to be a customer), and then Gently Taught To Enjoy Sex Again by Cally. Competently enough written, apart from the gaping plothole of why it's implied that the Federation were responsible for converting Avon from customer to merchandise, and yet Blake is able to walk in unrecognised.

Admission of Love - Rosinante: Third season Cally is tortured by Travis, and brutally raped by reptilian aliens under his command. Only It Was All A Dream, and Avon has to Gently Teach Her To Enjoy Sex, knowing that It Is Her First Time.

Skylarna - Ricia Watts: Avon goes to a concert by a singer he's long admired, and ends up rescuing her from terrorists. As a result they end up in bed together. This one has indigo hair as well as eyes, but is actually sufficiently readable that I'm disinclined to label her MarySue. The Tarrant Nostra need not bother, as Tarrant is (ab)used to demonstrate how much more attractive Avon is.

A Jenna Story - Carole S Fairman: Blake and Jenna have a brief encounter during their first night on the Liberator.

Perfect Pleasure - Southern Comfort

Avon has been captured by the Federation, but when he proves resistant to interrogation, Servalan decides to keep him as a pet. By the time Blake and the crew arrive to rescue him, he's been brainwashed and dosed with aphrodisiacs. So Servalan gets taken back to Liberator as well, to provide an outlet for Avon's needs while the drugs wear off. Stretches the disbelief suspenders in places, but worth reading.[15]

Issue 5

Alternative Seven 5 contains 48 pages.

cover of issue #5
  • Heather Lulham, "A Blake's Seven Story" (A/oc, T/oc)
  • Rosinante, "Xtar" (D/V)

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 5

'A Blake's 7 story' by Heather Lulham - not a bad story at all. A rather sad tale in which Avon meets a girl who has loved him from childhood. He has a brief erotic encounter with her, but is unable to accept any deeper relationship after his experiece with Anna Grant. Well written and worth reading. 'Xtar' by Rosinante - not as good as the other story in the zine. Dayna is raped and eventually turns to Vila to help her recover from the experience. Not that bad, but some irritating writing habits occasionally distract from the story.[16]

Issue 6

cover of issue #6, Heather Lulham

Alternative Seven 6 is undated and contains 51 pages.

  • Pamela Wright, "Legends" (A/OC)
  • Sharon Eckman, "You Were Right -- I Did Underestimate You, My Dear" (Soolin/Dorian)
  • Sally Jones, "The (K)Nightly Quest" (J/oc, A/oc)
  • Silver Reed, "The Final Conquest" (A/S)
  • J.D. Humphries, "A Knowing Smile" (A/So)
  • Ricia Hargraves-Wilson, "Just What She Always Wanted" (A/S)
  • Cynthia Helos, "Ceremony's End" (D/T)
  • Cynthia Helos, "Power Struggle" (Tr/S)

Poetry:

  • U.N. Owen, "There Avon"

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 6

My tastes aside, I think the best story in the zine was "Ceremony's End" by Cynthia Helos. After Ultraworld, a virginal Dayna asks Tarrant if they can complete the bonding ceremony. Tarrant reluctantly agrees. What I particularly liked about the story were the reality checks. Tarrant instructs Dayna about birth control.

And my favorite moment is when he takes off his boots while on an errand to fetch a second glass for wine. When Dayna asks him why he returned in his stocking feet, he explains that getting boots off isn't very romantic.

The zine contains many other short stories featuring various pairs such as A/Servalan, A/Soolin, Soolin/Dorian.

Though the zine isn't currently available, I believe that Horizon plans to re-release the "Alternative" series. And Alternatives frequently pop up in used zine boxes.[17]

Issue 7

Alternative Seven 7 contains 81 pages.

cover of issue #7, Heather Lulham
  • Ros Williams, "Cally" (A/J, C/Tr, A/C)
  • Ros Williams, "Interlude" (G/Meegat)
  • Mary Moulden, "The Visitors" (A/OC/OC)
  • Ros Williams, "Twelve for Teleport" (A/C, A/S)
  • Paula Dare, "Rubber Duck" (A/C)


Issue 8

cover of issue #8, Heather Lulham

Alternative Seven 8 was published in 1985 and contains 69 pages.

  • Moley Flower by Cavea Lector (A/C)
  • Catch 22 – Federation Style by Ros Williams (B/C, V/J, A/C)
  • Long Road from Innocence by Mary Moulden (A/Meegat)
  • The New Arrival by Ros Williams (A/V, A/B, A/C)

References

  1. Fandom Past - A Talk Given at Nine Worlds 2015
  2. comments by Aralias, see full post at Lots of not very good zines, November 13, 2015
  3. from Judith Proctor
  4. comments by Aralias, see full post at Lots of not very good zines, November 13, 2015
  5. comments by Aralias, see full post at Lots of not very good zines, November 13, 2015
  6. from Julia Jones at Judith Proctor's Blake's 7 site
  7. comments by Aralias, see full post at Lots of not very good zines, November 13, 2015
  8. comments by Aralias, see full post at Lots of not very good zines, November 13, 2015
  9. comments by Aralias, see full post at Lots of not very good zines, November 13, 2015
  10. from Julia Jones at Judith Proctor's Blake's 7 site
  11. comments by Aralias, see full post at Lots of not very good zines, November 13, 2015
  12. comments by Aralias, see full post at Lots of not very good zines, November 13, 2015
  13. comments by Aralias, see full post at Lots of not very good zines, November 13, 2015
  14. comments by Jackie Ophir in Horizon Letterzine #3 (August 1992)
  15. from Julia Jones at Judith Proctor's Blake's 7 site
  16. from Judith Proctor at Judith Proctor's Blake's 7 site
  17. Carol McCoy in IMHO* #2 (1995)