Avon (Blake's 7 zine)

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Zine
Title: Avon
Publisher: The Avon Club (Paul Darrow Society)
Editor(s):
Date(s): 1991 to 2003ish
Series?:
Medium: print zine
Size: A5
Genre: gen
Fandom: Blake's 7
Language: English
External Links:
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Avon is a gen A5 clubzine from The Avon Club. Some zines are novels and some are anthologies. The Avon Special is an anthology put out for the twentieth anniversary of Avon. An in depth review of the zine series was done by Helen Patrick. Excerpts from those reviews are included below.[1]

Issue 1

front cover of issue #1, back cover is blank
sample interior page, issue #1

Avon 1 is a trilogy called "Aftermath, Timeslip and Nightmare" by Yvette Clarke and Brenda Callagher. It was published in 1991.

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 1

[...]In an alternative universe, things have gone differently after Pressure Point, eventually leading to Blake's death and Vila being mentally injured. The crew have to deal with their situation as best they can - and then they have to deal with the reappearance of Blake... [...] Some minor technical flaws but in general nicely written; and the AU crew are more than just cannon fodder for the plot, which I liked. Some good Vila h/c, and a strong focus on Blake and Vila. I liked this zine.(excerpt of review; read full review at the link below)[1]
"Timeslip" by Yvette Clarke (in Avon-1) was another one I liked simply because it was another one that went against the grain, in showing that the grass is *not* always greener on the other side of the fence, since it had a parallel universe where things were *worse* than the normal one. [2]

Issue 2

Avon 2 was published in 1992 and is a 70-page novel called "Nemesis" by Carol Wyke.

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 2

Nemesis' is a single story genzine by Carol Wyke which is just about the best genzine account of Vila after Malodaar that I have ever read. The opening six pages in themselves would make an excellent short story, but there's much, much more. Without giving the plot away, the story centres on Vila's earlier and continuing bond with Avon, and vice versa, and takes place after Gauda Prime as Vila tries to locate his whereabouts. Soolin and Servalan also have a part to play. Some of it is intensely bleak, though not without dry humour - Vila travels under the pseudonym Deeta Travis because it's easy to remember - and some of it ultimately hopeful. This is a hurt/comfort story par excellence, not overly sentimental but full of anguish. No fan of Vila and Avon should miss it. The central scene is extraordinarily powerful.[3]

They say that you should never judge a book by its cover. This zine is certainly a case in point. It's a small seventy page digest zine. The cover picture is a frame grabbed video-pic, and the height width ratio doesn't look quite right — Vila's face seems a little elongated. There is no inside artwork at all.

However, once you get into the story inside, it rapidly becomes absorbing. This is an alternative universe story which begins when Vila decides that he simply can't stay around any longer after Malodaar. He leaves Xenon base with a little help from Orac and Avalon. (Orac feels a little out of character, but that's a minor quibble.) Although he settles down into a new identity (he asked Orac to give him a name he wouldn't forget and Orac chose Deeta Travis!), he can't forget his old friends, especially Avon. Eventually he hears news of what happened on Gauda Prime. Orac contacts Vila via his bank account, and Vila learns that everyone from Scorpio's crew, with one possible exception, is dead. (There are some rather dubious bits of plot involving Orac's key — frankly I don't believe that Vila made a spare, or that he just happens to have it in his pocket several months later. The plot could have worked just as easily without this contrivance being used.)

With a lot of effort, Vila convinces Avalon that he has to find out more about what happened, and to do that, they need to rescue the survivor. In a neat bit of plotting, they rescue Soolin who was at the point of death. An emotional relationship between Soolin and Vila builds up, and I really like the way this is handled. Soolin had lost all hope, and initially is very panicky and unsure of things. She and Vila both benefit from each other's support.

Eventually (and I don't really think it is giving much away to say this, as I've yet to see a PGP where Avon doesn't show up at some point) they discover that Avon is still alive and being held by Servalan. I won't say what happens after this point except to say that there is a real tear-jerker at one point. This is definitely a wallow.

Overall, I enjoyed this zine. There are a few bits of weak plotting, but the characters are well drawn, and the story draws you in. I like the way Carol handles Servalan — ruthless, but not sadistic merely for the sake of it. And, being a Servalan fen, I really do love the ending — whatever Servalan does, she does it with dignity. I'd recommend this novella. It may not look pretty, but I've paid a lot more for zines that had a lot less interesting stuff in them.

Word count estimate: 38,000 words.

It's funny really, but two of the best Vila stories I have read, have both been published by the Avon club! I guess I'd better start tracking down the Vilaworld zines and see if they do good Avon stories... [4]
The only other thing I've read recently is a short novel called Nemesis published by the Avon club in the UK — a major "forget it" for this crowd, IMO (not only isn't Blake in it, but whenever he's mentioned, he's more or less trashed). [5])

Issue 3

Avon 3 was published in 1993 and is 84 pages of stories by various writers. Includes the winning entries from the Space City Short Story Competition.

  • Shadows & Survivors by Julie Talbott (reprinted later as a standalone zine: Shadows & Survivors)
  • other unknown content

Issue 4

Avon 4 was published in 1993 and has 68 pages. It contains two stories from Judith Rolls and two from Judith Seaman.

  • "The Way Things Are" by Rolls
  • "Strategic Withdrawal" by Rolls
  • "Phoenix by Seaman
  • "Neither Foes nor Loving Friends can Hurt You" by Seaman

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 4

This edition contains two stories from Judith Rolls and two from Judith Seaman. It opens with the superlative "The Way Things Are" by Judith R., in which Vila recounts in flashback what happened to him and Avon in the years following GP. This is eminently NOT a sentimental story, but a harrowing tale that grips the reader because it has the ring of authenticity and is exceptionally well told. This is not a tearjerker awash with tears and declarations of hidden love (not that I don't enjoy those too) but a realistic and mature view of what the likely outcome would have been. The relationship between the two men is all the more moving because of the writer's restraint. This has to be one of the best Avon - Vila stories around.

Ms Rolls' second story "Strategic Withdrawal" is also told from Vila's point of view. It is set pre-series in the Delta domes and describes an initial encounter between Vila, who is busy thieving, and Avon acting in a rather unexpected official capacity. This too is spot on for character and very well told. The first of Judith Seaman's stories "Phoenix" takes place several years after GP. Avon has been incarcerated alone on a planet, and Vila has sunk into destitution, when Servalan takes a hand. As the title suggests, this has a more upbeat ending than you might expect.

The second one "Neither Foes nor Loving Friends can Hurt You" is also some years on from GP. The crew are still operating on GP but having potentially fatal technical problems because of interference from Blake beyond the grave. The plot device allows the crew to acknowledge their feelings towards Avon and the debts they owe him by helping him against Blake's malignant ghost (poor Blake; well, this is a Judith Seaman story, he should be used to it by now). Both these stories are written to the usual high standard.[6]

Issue 5

Avon 5 is a 104-page novel called "The Way It Was" by Caroline Robertson.

Summary: Caroline's view of Avon's early life from his childhood right up to the prison ship, London.

Issue 6

Avon 6 is a 36-page novel called "A Matter of Time" by Anna Richmond.

This story was an entry for the "What If" Competition, but arrived after the entries had been judged. So here it is as a zine.

Issue 7

Avon 7 is a 62-page novel called "Prisoner's Dilemma" by Judith Seaman.

From Knightwriter's site:
Avon is captured after a raid on a planet Canton - a Federation Transit Station. His leg is badly injured he is treated by Dr Lilley - the Station Medial Officer, who hopes there will be a place for him with Blake if he manages to save Avon. This he plans to do whilst Avon is being transfered to Fleet HQ - but they have just 5 days to come up with a plan to get rid of the crew and make good their escape.

Issue 8

Avon 8 is an 88-page novel called "Dependency" by Ros Williams.

A story that continues from the last episode of the fourth series, 'BLAKE.' An excerpt: "It's not the fight you care about is it?" Vila had said, alone on the flight deck with Avon one quiet evening. "It's the new ship... Are you rebuilding the Liberator, Avon?" - "Well now, what do you think?" Avon asked, that thin, cold smile just touching his lips."

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 8

[...] The story starts in the last scene of Blake, except Avon actually gives Blake a chance to explain, thus leading into a fifth season story with Blake still alive and kicking. But Blake has a secret, one that could be lethal. It does not bode well that I got halfway through reading this zine before realising that I had read it before, and probably less than a year ago. There are some good ideas, but the story doesn't really hold me. [...] (excerpt of review; read full review at the link below)[1]

Issue 9

Avon 9 is a 42-page novel called "A Bad Case of Frostbite" by Anna Richmond.

Summary: Avon and Jenna go down to the planet Brecca to do a deal with Landry (an old friend of Jenna's) who also happens to be doing a deal with Servalan. This zine also contains a short play by Richmond as well.

Issue 10

Avon 10 is a 56-page novel called "The Sum of Parts" by Susan Barrett.

The planet Terminal - Avon finds Blake and with Dorien's help manages to get him to Xenon (despite Servalan's plan and the loss of the Liberator) - An excerpt: "If you wish to leave, Tarrant, then I would not stop you." Avon's tone was gentle, deceptively soft. He crossed the room to Blake's side, checking the various monitors and print-outs. "Leave how?" Tarrant thundered. "Now you've lost our ship!" Swiftly, Avon turned, grasping Tarrant's collar. "I lost MY ship!"

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 10

An alternative version of _Rescue_, where Blake really is on Terminal, and dependent on life support. The survivors are "rescued" by Dorian, and taken to Xenon Base, where matters proceed a little differently owing to Blake's presence in the medical unit - and Servalan's presence on Xenon. A plausible, well-written look at a "what-if" scenario.(excerpt of review; read full review at the link below)[1]

Issue 11

Avon 11 is a 60-page novel called "The Human Factor" by Freda Hyatt. It was origianlly published in Standard by Seven #11.

Excerpt: "With every moment that passed, the link seemed to pulse with glowing desperation. It was as if a mind was reaching out into infinity, calling on all powers to help, but this wasn't any mind."

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 11

Late second season story, using a number of popular cliches but to good effect. Lots of yummy Avon h/c, and I liked the characterisation of Vila. I don't like stories where Avon has psi powers, since there is no evidence for this in canon, but the psi link between Avon and Cally in this one was well enough written that I managed to force down my usual reaction. I'd have thoroughly enjoyed this one if it weren't for the mild homophobia in the last section of the story [...] (excerpt of review; read full review at the link below)[1]

Issue 12

Avon 12 is a novel called "Mercy's Bounty" by Donna Chlouber.

From Knightwriter:
Set a few years after Gauda Prime, who are the mysterious clients that hire the bounter hunter, Tarot, to track down Kerr Avon... and what were the reasons for Blake's death on Gauda Prime?" An excerpt: "Avon turned on Blake then with a fury born of grief and dispair. "Others I can TRUST! ... And just who do you suppose that might be, Blake! Once I've murdered the beloved leader of the resistance, and put an even bigger price on my head by betraying the Federation as well, I don't suppose I'll be a very popular fellow, will I! There won't be a soul left in the galaxy that doesn't have some reason to waant me dead! Let alone trust...

Issue 13

Avon 13 is a 60-page anthology of two stories by Susan Barrett-Riaz.

An excerpt: "Blake, after considering my alternatives, I have decided to leave the Liberator. I have no interest in your 'cause', or in being killed fot it. I have taken what I consider my share from the strong room, but no more than that. You siad that I was free to go and I hope you will accept my decisssion and not attempt to follow me. I...Iwish you well." The message ended."

  • Considered Alternatives
  • Alone is Not the Only Way

Issue 14

Avon 14 is a 36-page novel called "Never Glad Confident Morning" by Judith Seaman. It was published in 1998.

From Knightwriter: "Set a number of years after Gauda Prime. The old Federation is no more and Tarrant is now an Admiral on the ship Khalif working for the New Federated Worlds, when he picks up a signal from the ship Betrayer ... and Avon." An excerpt: "Looking for someone?" Tarrant spun round, guilty as a thief. Avon was standing in a doorway on the far side of the flight deck. "Well," Tarrant said. "So it isn't adandoned after all."

A fan comments:
And in the back [of Avon Newsletter ]-- oh joy!-- is an ad for the forthcoming Avon #14, which will be a story by Judith Seaman! She is one of my very favorite B7 fan writers, so I'm thrilled to know that she is still writing. [7]

Issue 15

Avon 15 is a 100-page novel called "A Breath of Earth and Destiny" by Patricia Vernon.

cover of issue #15

From Knightwriter: "Servalan is dead. The federation are no more - they have been replaced by the League of Indepenent Planets, and the action takes place at a leisure resort..." An excerpt: "Turning her head Merneptah's long golden eyes watched, unmoved as Ryel seated himself in a nearby rattan chair, wincing slightly as he relaxed his body, his eyes remaining sharp as they fixed on her in the dusky shadows of the room. "Tell me one thing, Merneptah, are you here to kill me?" "No, Avon, I'm not." Sighing, he relaxed into the cushioned comfort of his chair, closing his eyes as if tired, hiding the fact that her answer had not convinced him. "The name is Ryel -Kerr Avon died years ago!"

Issue 16

Avon 16 is a novel called "Game Plan" by Gillian Puddle.

Set after the episode 'Shadow'. The Liberator crew have to go back to Space City - not just to drop Bek off, but also for a cure for a virus they caught while destroying the drug shadow on the planet Zonda. Excerpt: "Servalan regarded the man over her steepled fingers and momentarily caressed him with her eyes before they hardened into an unforgiving stare, "Remember, Carnell, you work for me. Not the Federation or the President. Blake and the Liberator are mine. If I thought for one moment you..." She left the sentence hanging in mid air between them. Apparently unfazed by the implied threat, Carnell smiled lazily, "We understand one another perfectly, Supreme Commander."

Issue 17

Avon 17 is a 32-page novel called "Full Circle" by Penny Kjelgaard. The story is set some years after the episode 'Blake.' Excerpt: "The voice spoke again, "What luck, Avon falling onto our little planet like you did." "Blake!" Wrinkled, bearded, with a drastic slap of silverhai, surely it was him! "Blake?"

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 17

It's an a/u unusual story set approximately 20 years after Gauda Prime. In this story, Jenna and Blake crashed together after Star One on a remote planet and raised three children who are now teenagers when Avon finds them. For us Blakies, it's too bad we don't find out a little more about those years Jenna and Blake have spent together. What is certain, though, is that Blake clearly adores Jenna, and she feels the same--even twenty years later.... In this story, Blake is presented well, though, of course, the main character is Avon. It's an action story and, with the exception of a few plot holes, is well done. (But, I suspect it's next to impossible to write any story without plot holes. My main criticism would be all the ocm's that aren't well defined or explained.)" [8]

Issue 18

Avon 18 was published in 2000. It is a 84-page novel called "Whispers of Deception" by Gillian Puddle. This one features Avon plus the Scorpio crew... Blake and Carnall.

Issue 19

Avon 19 was published in 2000. It is a novel called "The Immortal Game" by Josie McCall. Avon, Tarrant and Dayna arrive on the planet Hyperaeon only to find that a Sorceress has placed a spell on the inhabitants. Avon is challenged by the Sorceress to a ggame of chess with a difference... using real people. And losing will mean certain death.

Issue 20

Avon 20 was published in 2000. It is a novel called "Fugitives from the Past" by Pat Anderson.

Issue 21

cover of issue #21

Avon 21 is a 60-page novel called, "Lord of the Uliuk" by Sarah McEvoy.

Issue 22

Avon 22 was published in 2002. contains four stories by Sarah McEvoy, Ros Williams, Cheryl Smith and Maggie Crowe. It is 60 pages long. A review of the zine is archived here.

  • Blake's Seven: The True Story II by Ros Williams
  • A Dish Best Served Cold by Sarah McEvoy
  • Station Encounter by Cheryl Smith
  • Betrayal by Maggie Crowe

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 22

AVON 22 is a good little Blake's 7 genzine from Avon Club... The zine is 60 pages long with 4 stories, all with Blake in them to some degree.

The most Blake-less story is "Blakes Seven: The True Story II" by Ros Williams. It's the only humorous story, set in an a/u approx-imately forty years after Gauda Prime.

My favorite story was "A Dish Best Served Cold" by Sarah McEvoy. Set 1st or 2nd season, Blake and Avon encounter Amaro, an old enemy of Avon's. There are twists and turns in this short story about revenge in which we get an explanation for Avon's scar on his chin.

"Station Encounter" by Cheryl Smith. An early 2nd season story involves an ofc called Madison. In true Mary Sue fashion, she proves indispensible to the crew and Avon really likes her. I would have liked this story better if Madison hadn't have turned out to be so wonderful. But it is an interesting story with some good plot turns as Blake and company with Madison attempt to outwit Travis.

"Betrayal" by Maggie Crowe. When Blake investigates a planet with a distress beacon, he takes Gan. That alone makes the story original since Gan is normally no one's first choice as a backup man. The distress signal is from Dr. Alfred Smithson. He claims betrayal by the Federation, who has taken his scientific work and perverted its use. Avon, Vila, and Gan are captured by Travis, and it's up to Blake and the others to rescue them--with plot complications. I found strange that Blake played a practical joke on Jenna and the rest of the crew, including Avon, helped. There are interesting touches in this story, including an old friend of Vila's who turns out to be important.[9]

Issue 23

Avon 23 is a 33-page novel called "Echoes of the Past" by Gillian Puddle. This story features Avon, Soolin and Tarrant and is set in the 4th series just after Dorian's death.

Issue 24

Avon 24 is an 80-page novel called "Seek, and You Shall Find" by Ros Williams. The story includes not only Avon, Cally and Vila, but also Carnell, Servalan and a clone of Cally's, Shara.

Excerpt: "It was foolish," Carnell said. "But when did you ever think of strategy, Servalan, when your emotions were in control? However, we are not here to discuss Auron." He looked past Servalan now to Brin, and said, "Your time has come, my friend." The gun had been hanging slackly in Brin's hand. Now he raised it and aimed at Avon. "He is a sure marksman," Carnell said to Avon. "And at this distance, who could miss anyway?" His voice was no longer suave. It was cold and hard and utterly ruthless. Vila shivered. He understood now how this man could work with Servalan, or anyone like her, and survive. "You have a reputation for missing targets," Carnell continued to Avon. "Will you take the risk? If you shoot at me, Brin will kill you without fail - I guarantee it."

Issue 25

Avon 25 is a 32-page collection of two stories by Marian de Haan and Viv Gover.

  • Gate Grasher by Marian de Haan
  • Heart of Stone by Viv Grogan

Issue 26

Avon 26 is a 70-page novel called "Distortion of Time" by Marian de Haan.

Excerpt: "You mean you know where we are, and when?" Blake felt an irrational resentment; someday he'd come upon another subject, besides neuro-surgery, that Avon knew absolutely nothing about! "We're somewhere in England, not too close to the Welsh border, around the mid-12th Century." "Yes, I had worked that out too." It came out more acerbic than Blake intended. Avon produced a brief smile. "Not that this is of much use to us. Regrettably my knowledge does not stretch to information about this murder case." Blake was for a moment distracted. "It would be interesting to see whether a source mentioning it actually exists." "It must," Avon said. "How else could Orac have known about it?" Blake gave Avon a hard stare: "You mean that Orac brought us here deliberately to solve this crime?" "It is the only assumption that makes sense. That machine appears to have a disconcerting appetite for initiating experiments." Avon's cold gaze came to rest on Blake. "And you obligingly made us walk into its trap."

Issue 27

Avon 27 is a 34-page novel called "Guile" by Maggie Crowe.

Summary from the publisher, "Vila collapsing without the assistance of Soma? What on earth is going on aboard the Liberator?"

Issue 28

Avon 28 is a 36-page novel called "Play Dirty" by Hilary Robertshaw.

Excerpt: "Avon sat back in the flight seat, his booted feet resting on the edge of the console, watching, as the planet grew larger on the screen. He could not remember the last time he had slept and his eyes felt heavy. The call sign had already come, via the key, and the computer had locked on to the signal. Autonav was set and all he had to do was wait for the landing. The last time he had been here had been the end of everything he knew. The most recent information he had found indicated that it was a slightly more civilised place than before. The mercenaries and bounty hunters had left and the new administration had opened the planet to trade. That did not stop the chill of dread he felt. Somewhere in his core he could hear the warning sirens and see the destruction of the Scorpio. The last frantic sprint for the teleport, the look in Tarrant's eyes as he had volunteered to stay. The smell of burning. He opened his eyes, confused, remembered where he was and glanced at the burned out console. The smell had gone, just a memory. "The ship will be landing in 15 minutes," intoned the computer. Avon gritted his teeth, "This had better be worth it Servalan."

Issue 29

Avon 29 is a 110-page novel called "Mystery Games" by Marian de Haan.

  • Summary from publisher, "With the Liberator crew in need of rest and relaxation, Vila finds the perfect place to unwind!"

Issue 30

Avon 30 is a novel called "The Chameleons" by Gillian Mardsen. With the Liberator crew in need of rest and relaxation, Vila finds the perfect place to unwind!

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Helen Patrick. Zine review -- Avon (webcitation copy). (Accessed 03 February 2013)
  2. Lysator, Kathryn A, Jan 1995.
  3. from a review at Knightwriter
  4. by Judith Proctor from IMHO* #2 (1995)
  5. from Rallying Call #11
  6. from CB at Knightwriter
  7. Lysator, June 1998
  8. a review by Joyce Bowen at Hermit.org, Archived version
  9. Zine Reviews by Joyce Bowen; WebCite