Blake's 7 RPF

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RPF Fandom
Name(s): Blake's 7 RPF
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Blake's 7 RPF for the show Blake's 7 very much mirrors Star Trek RPF.

Most of the RPF were humorous fics describing the actors and characters switching places.

Fans being fans, there certainly was RPS before the internet, but it was almost entirely underground and in the form of drawerfic.

RPF took the stage during the Blake's 7 War, but its public prevalence, and even very existence, was hotly debated.

Earth, Liberator Switcharoos

Like much Star Trek RPF, the vast, vast majority of the small amount of Blake's 7 RPF had the set-up of "the actors and the characters end up switching places, and have to find their way back to their own reality."[citation needed]

The only known public example of Blake's RPF that includes a spouse is the very tame fic, "Episodes," by Judith Seaman in the zine 1982 Episodes. It was written with the "approval and permission of Paul and Janet Darrow." This zine was reprinted in 1988, right at the cusp of The Blake's 7 Wars.

Examples of Differing Memories and Explanations

In 1989, several fans wrote in The Federation Archives that they have never seen the RPF explicit story that was rumored to have been sent to Paul and Janet Darrow:
As to the "Paul and Janet" naughty story...I've never heard of anyone outside of the Darrows who has actually seen it. It certainly hasn't ever appeared in any zine I've ever seen." [1]

A fan's explanation in 2005, one that begins innocuously enough, but then drifts into a version of the repeated urban myth:

Back in the media fandoms, there continued a small fan base in that community that wrote fan fiction based on the actors of their shows. The Blake's 7 community during the 1980s was one of the *media fandoms that engaged in the writing and publishing of ActorFic. According to members of the fan community like Celeste, Langley and Sidewinder, the material of this nature was generally rare but it still circulated either published in fanzines or as drawerfic. The material circulating generally had three flavors: humor, canon exploration or sexually explicit. The more sexually explicit material tended to circulate as drawerfic but, according to Celeste and Langley, some of this material made itself into the hands of Paul Darrow. He was apparently not happy to have received a sexually explicit story featuring himself and his wife from a well meaning fan, though he took no action and did not attempt to actively and publicly crack down on this material. [2] [3]

In 2006, another fan explained:

I started off in Blakes 7 fandom, where possibly-not-even-ever-really-written RPF was a small part of a huge kerfuffle which devastated the whole fandom. So the concept of RPF was complete anathema there. There were a couple of completely innocuous 'the actor goes into the show world' stories, and even they were regarded as a bit iffy. I don't think I've ever seen even a shadow of any RPS. [4]
An exchange in 2007 illustrates the unreliability of memory:
[jamethiel_bane]: Oooh! I have information on WHY RPS is forbidden in Blakes 7.

Way back when, there was a conference in Australia. There were 'zines available at the conference, and one of the zines contained RPS. Paul Darrow read it (I am not sure whether he was browsing and found it or had it presented to him) and was NOT IMPRESSED. Neither was his wife, who was with him at the time.

(Nothing to do with anything. I just heard this from someone who was there, and thought you might like to know).
[nopseud]: I've heard roughly the same story (and another version where the story was sent to him by post and he subsequently turned up to a con with it, breathing fire). However, I don't know of anyone who has actually *read* this RPS story, or can produce a copy of it, or can even say who wrote it or what it was about or what zine it was. So I'm always a bit hesitant to actually say it existed. Because, well. Given the turmoil in B7 fandom at the time, I wouldn't trust Paul Darrow not to embellish the truth on something like that. [5]

See much more at The Blake's 7 War.

Increased Visibility

It was the internet that pushed all RPF, not just that for Blake's 7, into greater visibility. From Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Henry and Cynthia Jenkins (2012):

[Cynthia Jenkins]: You dumped [a fandom] into the Internet and a year later, it was a hundred times bigger, and a year after that, it was hundred times bigger, and a year after that, it was a hundred times bigger. The growth was so exponential that the culture that had been transmitted was swamped by the newbies. And everybody felt like they had just lost control of their culture. Because in the past, you'd brought people into fandoms and cons a few at a time, so if you had a con with a hundred people, and you had ten new people, this was fabulous, but the ten new people didn't get to define what the con was. As opposed to having a con with a hundred people and having a hundred thousand people suddenly show up. You can't control that. And I think that there was a sense that everything was out of control, and that none of the assumptions that had come to be central to the culture could be taken for granted anymore. One key example here would be Real Person Fic. Because for a long time, I guess growing out of conversations like those with the actors in the mid '80s, there was a very clear sense amongst the fandom, "We're writing about the characters, we're not writing about the actors." RPF existed, but it was underground and it was acknowledged as a little transgressive, because you were really crossing a line there. And people enjoyed crossing that line maybe, but they still would pass the stories to their friends, they didn't publish them in zines. There was an assumption that there was a line. When everything slam-dunked the Internet, that assumption went out the window. And suddenly, people were writing stories about real actors as if they were characters with no sense that there could be a line. And I think, say, the old members of the community were looking in horror and thinking, you know, "Oh my God, they don't understand."

[Henry Jenkins]: Because I think the actors who flipped out in Blake's 7 flipped out in part because they were anxious about how people perceived their sexuality as human beings, and were they showing too much of who they really were, I think there may have been some closet cases among some of those actors, it's hard to know. But the freakout was a very personal thing for them. And the fans had kept saying, "We're not writing stories about you at all. We're writing about our version of your character." And that line was very, very clear. And when writing Textual Poachers, people would slip me a Real Person Slash story every now and again, but I was absolutely told, "Don't write about this. This is the secret of the community." And I respected those secrets. There was no reason to reveal those secrets. And the taboo was there for reasons. I'd lived through the Blake's 7 blowup. I understood why people were so — why that was a very sensitive area. Then, suddenly, a decade later, this is all over the Internet, and people are starting to write about it, and other academics have published about it, and it's just like—the side of me that lived through that history, I cringe. And more and more, when this stuff comes out, and I still have this kind of reaction.

Some Examples

Fic Without a Sexual Element

  • "Episodes," a story by Judith Seaman in the zine Episodes. It was written with the "approval and permission of Paul and Janet Darrow." In the story, Paul Darrow is knocked unconscious, ends up on the Liberator, minds his way home, and then has a conversation with Michael Keating and Janet Darrow. (1982, reprinted in 1988)

Fic With a Sexual Element

Blake's 7 Characters Writing RPF

  • Willa Shakespeare's "The Inkplot Thickens" in Tales from Space City #7 (2003 or 2004) has Vila writing RPF about his crewmates. "He and Avon see money to be made; Blake sees it as propaganda for the revolution. The money-making side goes awry, but Vila is not defeated and at the end is branching out into a new fictional field...." [6]

References

  1. The Federation Archives, Second Addendum, March 1989
  2. Well. This is only partly true -- see The Blake's 7 Wars.
  3. from Our Community, Our History: A History of RPF/RPS by Laura Hale (October 2005).
  4. comment by nopseud at On RPF/RPS, and Why Real People Are Just Better (2006)
  5. both are comments at RPS and privacy (April 29, 2007)
  6. by Hafren at Blake's 7 - Tales from Space City #7,