Avon/Tarrant

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Pairing
Pairing: Kerr Avon/Del Tarrant
Alternative name(s): A/T
Gender category: slash, m/m
Fandom: Blake's 7
Canonical?: no
Prevalence: secondary
Archives: Tarrant Nostra's Avon/Tarrant fics (A/T specific archive with many high quality A/T fics) Avon/Tarrant on AO3, The Library at hermit.org (multi-pairing and gen archive), Liberated.org (multi-pairing and gen archive)
Other:
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Important Canon Interactions

The Tarrant Nostra has a page devoted to "Favorite Tarrant Moments." The page reproduces only four exchanges between Avon and Tarrant, three of which come from Tarrant's introductory episode, "Powerplay." This episode presents Tarrant as Avon's equal in cunning and ruthlessness, and more than willing to cut him down to size. The following conversation comes first on the Tarrant Nostra's page, and exemplifies the pairing's dynamic in this episode:

TARRANT: ...A very impressive performance, I didn't believe anyone could stay out of sight for so long, but then you did have the advantage of local knowledge, didn't you, Avon?

AVON: My name is...

TARRANT: Your name is Avon.

AVON: How did you know?

TARRANT: When we first came face-to-face. I said "What are you doing on my ship?". There were a dozen ways you could have answered, but you said "Your ship?". An innocent stranger wouldn't question who was in command....

AVON: I congratulate you, that's very nicely reasoned, a stupid lapse of concentration on my part.

TARRANT: Oh, don't blame yourself too much.

AVON: I'll try not to.

TARRANT: I imagine you've been under considerable stress.

AVON: I had hoped for a more inspiring epitaph.

TARRANT: So, after realizing you were one of Blake's people it was simple. You weren't Blake, I'd have recognized him.

AVON: And too intelligent for Vila.

TARRANT: It was an even bet.

AVON: Quite.[1]

Much later, in the episode Traitor, Avon says to Soolin:

Avon: Ah well. Tarrant is brave, young, handsome. There are three good reasons for anyone not to like him.[2]

This quote is widely repeated, though not always as evidence for Avon's attraction to Tarrant.[3]


Pairing History

Licence

Avon/Tarrant is arguably the first B7 slash pairing to feature in a zine. According to the author Oriole:
Licence,[4] written in Spring 1980, has the distinction of being the first 'slash' story to be published in Blakes Seven fandom. (Though by no means the first to be written.) It was originally destined for a projected zine to be produced by the Liberator Popular Front fan group under the title Seven Up, but languished in the files for years before publication in The Big Boy's Book of 1001 Things to do in Zero Gravity with a Federation Handblaster in 1983.

Though the story focuses primarily on Tarrant's sexual relationship with Jarvik, the story heavily implies that Tarrant is presently Avon's lover.

Despite this early start, according to the Hermit Library's inventory of zine published Avon/Tarrant fics,[5] very few Avon/Tarrant fics appeared in zines until the late eighties.

Bondmate

Hermit's list of favorite Avon/Tarrant stories [6] refers to Bondmate, by Dorian Gale as
A classic, early A/T. A long story, starting after "Warlord" and continuing PGP"

The story was published in 1991. Like many later Avon/Tarrant stories, the fic acknowledges the close relationship between Avon and Blake and treats Blake sympathetically. It is perhaps the originator of this trope (For comparison, see Paula's "Night Discord," another popular Avon/Tarrant story, published 8 years later in 1999 [7] which portrays a remarkably similar Avon/Blake/Tarrant dynamic)

Duty and Pat Jacquerie

Pat Jacquerie's Duty is among the most influential Avon/Tarrant stories, and Jacquerie herself was extremely influential in promoting the pairing. She died tragically before producing an all Avon/Tarrant zine, but the A/T zine Angelfood was published in her honor.

Jacquerie was not always an Avon/Tarrant fan, or even a slash fan. Her work then is not only notable for turning many people onto the pairing, but also for embodying the spirit of try-anything-twice experimentation that pervades Avon/Tarrant slash. One friend of Jacquerie writes:

She was moderating a panel, and the subject of Tarrant and slash came up. She said she loved the Avon-Tarrant relationship, but she'd kill anyone who slashed them. My alarm must have shown on my face, because she stopped to reassure me: "I'm only kidding." She was ever passionate...in this case, passionate in her feeling that Avon and Tarrant had an interesting but strictly non-sexual relationship. Imagine my surprise when, a few years later, Pat was not only no longer threatening murder to A/T slashers...she had become one of them! And that, to me, was the essence of Pat. She always kept an open mind.[8]

Another friend says:

Pat Got It about slash on August 9, 1995, at about 2:00 PM on a Wednesday afternoon - very inconvenient timing, since she was at work at the time! She had already been working on "Duty," just to see if she could write a slash story without actually being a slash fan; but it was slow going, because Avon and Tarrant are such stubborn types. For quite some time they both told their Writer, "I won't do it, and you can't make me!" Then, all of a sudden, they changed their minds in a big way, and the rest is history. The story that resulted has become one of the classics of B7 fandom.[9]

Jacquerie's Duty is set on Fargone, a matriarchal planet on which men under the age of 25 are treated as property of older men. Originally intended as a plot device to force intimacy between Avon and Tarrant, the world on which Jacquerie set the story took on a life of its own, and she and Lexa Reiss created a website for lore and stories set on that world.[10]

Notable trends

Avon/Tarrant Defined in Opposition to Other Pairings

The Tarrant Nostra's rather tongue in cheek "List of 10 Reasons Avon and Tarrant Make A Good Couple" [11] suggests that in many respects Avon/Tarrant is a pairing defined in opposition to other, more popular ships, particularly Blake/Avon, as well as in opposition to canon het pairings Avon/Anna and Tarrant/Zeeona:

10. Who else would put up with either one of them?

9. They don't violate the "Curl Rule."

8. They don't have to worry about birth control.

7. Even on the hair day from hell, Avon's hair is better than Zeeona's.

6 . Avon gets to be on top sometimes.

5. Youth & skill and age & treachery -- the perfect combination!

4. At least one of them isn't too stubborn to make the first move.

3. Avon likes 'em skinny and blue-eyed.

2. They look so cute in their matching black leather and studs.

And the number one reason Avon and Tarrant Make a Good Couple:

1. Neither of them ever killed the other.

Shimere's fic provides a more serious example of this tendency to examine exactly where Tarrant and Blake differ as (potential) lovers. As Avon and Tarrant become telepathically linked, Tarrant hears Avon thinking the following thoughts:

Pushing me just like Blake don’t think about no! Differential flux equations never came back baiting me always for two years probably with Jenna now at least Tarrant wants me isn’t playing games…

"Bondmate" and "Night Discord," cited in the Pairing History section, also participate in this trend.

Egalitarianism

As reason #6 suggests, the pairing is arguably the most egalitarian in the fandom. A survey of the fics on Tarrant Nostra bears this out, showing an almost perfectly even split between stories where Avon 'tops' and stories where Tarrant 'tops,' as well a tendency within individual fics to portray neither topping or both getting a turn [12]

Fannish Treatment of Tarrant

Tarrant himself is not a universally well liked character within the fandom. The collaboratively compiled Recurring Themes in B7 has this to say on the matter:

Tarrant bashing is a widespread sport in B7 fandom. Fan fic is beginning to treat him better...well, some U.S. authors are, anyway. (LB). Among his many crimes in fan fic are homophobia (FT), the shoot-out at GP (LB), and general stupidity, none of which have any solid basis in the series ("precipitous" and brash, yes. Stupid, no).[13]


Lillian Shepherd's The Machiavelli Factor is a notable example of a popular fic that treats Tarrant (and Tarrant alone) unsympathetically. Helen Patrick's comments on Judith Seaman's fic Oblivion [14] show a sensitivity to the rift between the Tarrant Nostra and everyone else:

it's a third season version of Tarrant, one who's trying to take the ship away from Avon, and a particularly nasty one at that. I was getting a feeling of Tarrant being put down to make Avon look better in comparison. I don't think the Tarrant Nostra would like this one

When he is not being portrayed in earnest as a reckless fool, arrogant, unfeeling, and a danger to his crewmates, Tarrant is often sent up and/or treated comically.[15]

However, where Avon/Blake fics commonly portray Blake at his worst, Avon/Tarrant shippers are overwhelmingly fans of Tarrant and tend to treat Tarrant sympathetically, often portraying him as capable of greater maturity and emotional depth than he demonstrates in the course of the show. A classic example is Paula's "Night" series, published entirely in Southern Comfort (with the exception of the gen first installment, "Night Winds"," which was published in Gambit). "Nightmusic" (Issue 6.5) and "Nightsongs" (Issue 9.5), the middle installments of the series, appear on Hermit's list of "favorite Avon/Tarrant stories",[16]

Avon, on the other hand, is allowed to be harder and colder than he is with Blake [17]

Optimism

Avon/Tarrant stories are often optimistic, featuring moments of camaraderie or understanding [18] Perhaps not coincidentally, fans have also noted the contrast between the positive arc of the canonical relationship between Avon and Tarrant and the bleaker arc of the show as a whole. As Marian de Haan writes, in her essay on Avon and Tarrant,[19]

Earlier in the episode, Avon and Tarrant have their best moment together. With Scorpio about to crash, Avon - that arch survivor - hesitates to leave Tarrant behind, while the latter abandons his We-all-die-together principle, urging Avon to get out. This is an indication of the measure in which they both have changed. They may not have liked each other but they did find a way of working together and grew to rely on, and trust, each other - a thing sorely needed in the dire circumstances of Season 4.

Notable Fanworks

Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.

Archives

References

  1. Favorite Avon Tarrant Moments
  2. Episode Transcript for Traitor
  3. For non ship oriented repetitions of the phrase, see Willa Shakespeare's gen story "Three Good Reasons' and the youtube video A Compilation of Avon's Insults and Jibes
  4. Licence
  5. Hermit's List of Zine Published A/T Fics
  6. Favorite Avon/Tarrant Stories
  7. Southern Comfort 10.5)
  8. Pat Jacquerie Memorial
  9. Pat Jacquerie Memorial
  10. Friends of Fargone
  11. List of 10 Reasons Avon and Tarrant Make a Good Couple
  12. Both Tarrant and Avon get a turn on top in Prisoners, the Shattering by Kai Aurelius, A Marketable Commodity by Pat Jacquerie and Change of Pace by Paula
  13. Recurring Themes in B7
  14. Review of Horizon 4
  15. For examples, see executrix's A Federation Officer, aralias's D(ams)el in Distress and Carnella & Comatose, "Tarrant the Terrific" (In Southern Comfort 6.5)
  16. Favorite Avon/Tarrant Stories
  17. For an extreme example see Randym's "Commitment," in Southern Comfort 6.5. See also Calico's Snatch here or here and Cami's Strange Interlude
  18. see "Getting Lucky" by Willa Shakespeare, in Resistance (8), Null G, Change of Pace A Gift to the Gods and Thinking of You
  19. Avon and Tarrant