Careless Whispers

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Zine
Title: Careless Whispers
Publisher: Horny Press
Editor:
Author(s): S. Lewis
Cover Artist(s): Randym
Illustrator(s):
Date(s): 1992
Series?: possibly?
Medium: print zine, fanfic
Size:
Genre:
Fandom: Blake’s 7
Language: English
External Links: online here
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.
cover by Randym

Careless Whispers is a slash Blake's 7 200-page 4th-5th season Avon/Blake novel by S. Lewis. Cover and other art by Randym. It was edited by Jennie McGrath and proofread by Angela Reese. It won a 1993 FanQ. It is online here.

A sequel called "Paradise Lost" was planned for publication in 1993, but it is unclear if it was ever published.

From the flyer in the back of Careless Whispers: "As a sinister plot threatens the fledgling reforms brought about through Blake's government, Kerr Avon and Roj Blake must confront a personal crisis that could destroy their newly found happiness forever."

a 1993 flyer, printed in Bill Hupe's catalog

Interior Art

Sample interior art by Randym

Reactions and Reviews

1992: Comparisons of The Last Best Hope and "Careless Whispers"

Some fans in October 1992 compared two Blake's 7 novels, The Last Best Hope (1988) and "Careless Whispers" (1992):

The CW universe is similar to the LBH universe in that:

the timeframe is post-Gauda Prime
Blake is President of the new Federation
Avon is his chief advisor either formally or in fact
Avon is shot and comes close to death
B/A end up in love and together by the end
Scorpio crew, other friends welcome/accept B/A's relationship
outsiders in power are not pleased with B/A's close relationship
Servalan is either dead or does not appear

They are different in that:

CW focuses almost exclusively on B/A; LBH has subplots involving the other characters and "fictional" characters
LBH supposes as a major plot point that B/A knew each other prior to the London; CW does not
LBH delves into the question of why Avon is the way he is; CW does not
lots of plot and angst (like the whole first non-slash novel) occur before the sex in LBH; B/A get right to it after only a short period of angst in CW
on the other hand, CW has a long period of B/A angst when Avon is wounded; the Avon-wounded angst is less protracted in LBH
LBH sees Blake and company driven from power by conspiracies and so forth; CW appears to be saving this for the next novel
the Avon of LBH is somewhat more reticent about things personal than the Avon of CW; B/A's relationship is no less deep or intimate, however
LBH saves anal intercourse for the wedding night; CW does not [1]

CW is wunnerful, just wunnerful. And it is similar to LBH and LWB in that it occurs in a future (to the series) timeframe. It's a few years after Gauda Prime and the subsequent overthrow of the Federation by Blake's rebel forces. Blake is serving as the President of the new government. Avon is his Chief Advisor. The other members of the crew have various roles in the new regime, mainly diplomatic/advisory. The new government already has the seeds of corruption which Blake, with Avon's help and support, must battle. The relationship is one of years of longing but fear to express it on both sides. Finally, something happens and "our boys" get together. And then they get together again. And then again. And . . . you get the idea. Then there is a gut-wrenching angst-y hurt-comfort crisis. And then they get together again (of course). The focus is very much on the B/A relationship. The other characters and the background of the politics are just settings in which the B/A story takes place. The story is a "nice" one, almost "sweet" in places. But, I enjoy that sort of thing. It is not sickeningly or repulsively sweet, however. The author gets inside "our boys" heads and lets us know how they are thinking about each other - and this is very well done. The sex is very well done and exciting. And it keeps going, and going, and going, like the Everyready Bunny, in several places. Very nice.

LBH and LWB occur in the same time frame as CW, and with the same basic parameters (Blake as Pres, Avon as right-hand man, etc.) Like CW, Blake and Avon "discover" their needs for each other. Unlike, CW, however, they discover they share a very complex past. I'm fascinated by this past and am convinced it is true for Avon's case. (I'll be posting on this in r.a.sf.tv this weekend.) In LBH and LWB, this background has a much more important cause and effect and driver relationship to Blake and

Avon. And the other members of the crew have extended roles which assist in creating the story. The sex and the relationship seem more desperate in these stories. Probably because the universe of LBH and LWB is more menacing to our heroes that that of CW. [2]

Unknown Date

Yes, it's mush. But even I'm in the mood to read mush on occasion, and this is the mush I read. It's *good* mush. I could pick lots of holes in it (for details, see the review Anna wrote after seeing my review:-). I don't care, since however flawed it may be, it still manages to hit the spot for me when I'm in the mood for gooey angst with a happy ending. Some years after Gauda Prime, President Blake finally manages to get it together with his Chief Advisor Avon. Rapturous sex, followed by Blake doing a Henry II and having cause to regret joking, "Who will free me from this turbulent priest?" Much angst when Avon's ship is reported missing, followed by joyous reunion just in the nick of time, since in this case the would-be assassin has only managed to gravely wound Avon and strand him on an uninhabited planet, not actually kill him outright.

The paper zine includes illos by Randym. They are really not my thing, but other people seem to like them.

WARNING: if you're thinking of buying a copy of the paper zine, bear in mind that it uses a large font, double-spaced lines, and very large margins, and manages to spread some 58 000 words over 200 letter size pages. As a comparison, I have several A4 format zines of 60-70 000 words which run to less than half that page count. You will be paying postage on double the weight that might be expected for this length of story. As an example, you'd be paying around an extra pound to post it within the UK (2002 prices).

It's currently available on the Web. I prefer cellulose to CRT as a reading format, but I personally wouldn't buy a paper copy of this zine where I had to pay postage, and even "in person" I wouldn't pay more than I would normally expect to pay for a zine of that length in word count, rather than in page count. My opinion may of course change when I get old enough to want Large Print format books... [3]
If you like Careless Whispers, if reading it makes you warm and fuzzy, then you might not want to read this review. Stop now, in fact. Because this is not a reasoned critique. This is not an analytical review designed to help potential readers. This is 'Why I Hate 'Careless Whispers', In Three Thousand Five Hundred Unnecessarily Angry Words'. This is vitriolic, unfair, opinionated catharsis.

Just to get this out of the way, someone will doubtless respond with 'if you don't like it, you don't have to read it'. I know. But I found CW in the days when fanfic was a new and shiny thing to me and I wanted to read it all. Now, older and wiser, I would probably read the first page, snigger, and hit the back button. Back then, I didn't know better. Initially I hoped it would get better, and later came the horrible, irresistible compulsion to see if could get worse. And I read it again -- or parts of it -- to review it. Anyway, if you think you might be the person who reminds me that reading is voluntary, then don't forget that you don't have to read this review either.

I do not like CW. How much do I not like CW? Well, to give you an idea: generally, I think people should write what they like. Generally, I'm against book burning. But for CW I'll make an exception. In fact, if I were the Supreme Commander of Fandom, I would gather every copy, pile them up, light the match myself, scatter the ashes and sow the ground where they fell with salt so that nothing might grow there ever again. That's how much I don't like CW.....[snip]

Why? I mean, I realise that I could throw a rock a ff.net and hit a dozen far worse writers. I have nothing against fluff in principle, as anyone who has read my fiction will know. I prefer happy endings, and I enjoy a bit of angst along the way there. I like PGPs where everyone survives. I love slash.

Yet CW manages to be everything I hate in fanfiction in one far-too-long package.

Firstly, despite the reasonable spelling and grammar, the writing style causes me acute pain. It's like the genetically-engineered mutant offspring of Barbara Cartland and the Brontes' idiot sister. The language is mildly Americanised nineteenth-century romance novelesque. The sentences are convoluted and often flat-out ugly. The dialogue is contrived and incredibly stilted. I keep waiting for Avon to perch pertinaciously on Blake's knee.....[snip]

Avon suffers. Blake suffers. Avon nearly runs away, then changes his mind because He Don't Wanna Live Without His Love. They angst about Gauda Prime. Avon is on the receiving end of a man-to-man chat from Tarrant. The reader screams, "JUST FUCK ALREADY!" at the screen. Blake feels hollow and unfulfilled. Vila makes a few cryptic comments. Avon watches Blake through binoculars from his balcony, then broods some more. The angst piles up in thick drifts of sub-Bronte purple prose, and the reader thanks God that it only *feels* like the story is dragging them though every second of that ten year wait....[snip]..... [4]

1993

B7 has a lot of good gen novels 100pgs to 300 pgs: I could rattle off 15 without getting out my list. But slash? I can think of Melody's two, and the Careless Whispers, two (on of which isn't even out yet) and that's it! (maybe that's why there was such a strong feeling that the Whispers one was a rip-off; when you only have two novels in the entire fandom it would seem a little strange for them each to have the same basic plot. In pros, having 2 novels with the same plot (out of 20+ slash novels) wouldn't be such a big deal. [5]
This may get me lynched, but I recently borrowed a copy of CARELESS WHISPERS, to see what all the fuss was about... Well, I'm still baffled. S. Lewis can write, but it was my personal feeling that she would have benefited from cutting the novel into a short story. It went on way too long for me, with too much sex — I mean, for goodness sake, Blake and Avon are jumping all over each other like a pair of 13-year-olds who just found out about sex. That, and the obsessive nature of their relationship as portrayed there, was too much for me. I have, a horrible feeling S. Lewis may be among our members — or at least a friend of one or more of you—and I'm sorry if any feelings are hurt. While it didn't row my boat, clearly it did work for a lot of other fans. (And feel free to bash any effort by "Riley Cannon" that wasn't your cup of tea.) I want Blake and Avon to connect, to be close, but in a healthy and adult way. This view of them, in gen or slash fie, as being so wrapped up in one another that the rest of the world/universe doesn't count, that neither one can cope without the other; that if one of them dies, the other will soon follow because he can't bear this cruel universe any longer..: Well, that isn't any Blake and Avon 1 recognize. It's not any Blake and Avon I want to spend a lot of time with. (Yes, I know: So how come I liked [ Melody C's ] novels so much then? And I reply: Well, she included a pretty solid story for one thing. There was a lot of stuff going on. With CW, there's no story to get involved with; it's just all this highly fraught emotion/sex, That's OK for a quickie, but for a novel, I need something more to grab me.) [6]

1994

I would only be able to say whether I personally liked a story or not, not whether it's a "good" story or "bad" story. For example, I loved "Careless Whispers," which I'm sure made many other B7 fans wretch violently.

[snipped]

I liked it because it showed what B/A could be like in another time and place, in another set of circumstances. No, it doesn't match my own view of the aired characters, but it's an acceptable a/u scenario for me. And I'm a sucker for happy relationship stories, so I adored it (also, it was a nice break from other B7 stories, which tend to be much, much darker). [7]

1995

Perhaps the characters in CARELESS WHISPERS did not comport with what YOU saw on the screen and you are certainly entitled to say so. However, rest assured that the Blake and Avon in that story fit precisely the characters that I saw when I watched. They were not "unreasonable facsimiles" they were the logical extensions of the men I found so fascinating. Your concern that the day will come when slash is all there is puzzles me; no one is saying you or anyone else cannot write and/or read gen stories. And if you make the stories good enough, interesting enough, compelling enough there will be an audience for them. If the gen fans simply purse their lips and withdraw delicately, then gen fandom will not flourish. Speaking for myself (and issuing no absolutes) I often find that the writing is better in slash and the characters are more carefully drawn. I think this is because to write GOOD slash, you have to think a lot more than if you're only interested in doing another G-rated episode of an old TV series. I think that some of what you have to say about PGP stories has the same problem apparently you want just more of the same. While many times, too many times, the experiments that people try when writing their stories don't work, when they do, it's great. And I'd most often rather read a flawed effort at something new than a perfectly executed yawn of a story that doesn't even try to be different. If I want TV, I'll watch TV and I do, of course, often. [8]
Careless Whispers had too much white space and too little plot, and too little of the characters *I* see. [9]
I'm sorry if my dismissal of CARELESS WHISPERS ruffled feathers. Clearly a lot of people did enjoy it — I just didn't happen to be one of them. If we're going to discuss fanfic here, maybe we need to lay down some rules so no further noses get out of joint. I'd far rather be frank than fawning, but that's just my view. What does anyone else think? [10]
[Careless Whispers] was not my favorite either. I didn't recognize my own personal picture of Blake and Avon in it. Sort of like Oblaque, where I might enjoy... can one say THAT about M. Fae's dark vision? the story, but not see Blake, Avon, or Vila in her characterization. I am always amazed at how different my taste is from everybody else's. [11]

1996

The author S. Lewis. Careless Whispers, and various short stories, many in The Big B7 Zine. The sex scenes between B & A are red-hot. In fact, this author may be my very favorite for pure unadulterated sex. She sees B/A as an irresistible grand passion. Yeah. [12]
I've been waiting for the sequel to CARELESS WHISPERS ever since the original came out. Though I was hoping the sequel would be long enough to merit being a zine unto itself. Then again, my major complaint about the original was that it was physically much larger than it needed to be, because of all the excess white space. [13]

2003

Why this must be read: Or not, as the case may be. People who like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing they like. I keep trying to get through the damn thing in the interests of research, and keep dropping off partway through. (Other people hate it even more than I do, but there's a contingent that reads and re-reads Careless Whispers whenever they want a three-hanky schmoopfest.) However, if what you want is an operatic bel canto version of Their Post-Gauda-Prime Luv is so Schmoopy, this is the central text. It's a happy-ending PGP AU: Blake is President of the reconstituted Federation, Avon is his chief advisor, and just like canon S1 Avon gets tired of telling Blake what a nitwit he is and decides to head out on his own. But things are never that simple, and there's palace intrigue, an assassination attempt, clinches, passionate declarations of undying love... [14]
(Raising handkerchief on stick and waving it around to attract fire while ducking)

Me?

Umm. I liked it!

But then who am I to judge. I wrote r-rated man/spaceship kink…. [15]
Some of us think it's crap but like it anyway, when we're in the mood for that sort of crap:-) [16]
I love Careless whisper. I know it's partly OOC, I know it's schmoopy as hell... But the first part, and especially the beginning is irresistible to me. I'm drawn to it again and again. Which is strange because I'm a sucker for Dark fic! [17]
I've gotten through the page 9, then had to give up. [18]

2006

I don't like the writing at all, but it's a fantastic h/c wallow.

The flaws in style include: Americanisms (and being out-of-character), poor description (compared to better writers like M. Fae, Nova or Bryn), bad pace (the very short one-sentence paragraphs get a little wearing after a while), and telling rather than showing. Everyone else I know thinks she writes good sex scenes, and I'm at a loss to see why, because they're sketchy and badly-paced, although some of them are good ideas for sex scenes that read as if they're first drafts.

But if a fluffy h/c is what I'm in the mood for, and nothing else will do, here it is. She pulls out all the stops with misunderstandings and tragic accidents, and it's just as far as you can go in the direction of 'wallow'. Marshmallow fic with a light angst sauce, it's junk food, but sometimes junk food is right for the occasion. [19]

References

  1. comments on Virgule-L, quoted anonymously (October 1002)
  2. comments on Virgule-L, quoted anonymously (October 1002)
  3. from Julia Jones at Judith Proctor's Blake's 7 site/WebCite
  4. read the much, much longer review by Anna S. at Judith Proctor's Blake's 7 site/WebCite
  5. comments by Sandy Hereld at Virgule-L, quoted with permission (February 25 1993)
  6. from Rallying Call #9
  7. comment on Virgule-L, quoted anonymously (December 27, 1994)
  8. comment by Teri White in Rallying Call #13
  9. comment in Rallying Call #13
  10. from a fan in Rallying Call #14
  11. from a fan in Rallying Call #15
  12. from a fan in Rallying Call #17
  13. from a fan in Rallying Call #19
  14. from Crack Van, posted by Executrix, November 14, 2003
  15. from Crack Van, comment by grey bard, November 15, 2003
  16. from Crack Van, comment by Anonymous/Julia, November 15, 2003
  17. from Crack Van, comment by alllinewrites, July 19, 2005
  18. from Crack Van, comment by thornsilver, October 14, 2003
  19. 2006 comments by Predatrix