Cat's Cradle (Blake's 7 story)

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Fanfiction
Title: Cat's Cradle
Author(s): Sebastian
Date(s): May 1991
Length:
Genre: slash
Fandom: Blake's 7
External Links: Cat's Cradle, part one; Cat's Cradle, part two

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Cat's Cradle is an Blake's 7 Avon/Blake story by Sebastian.

It was published in Oblaque #5 in two parts and is online.

Reactions and Reviews

Avon suggests 'reciprocation theory' as a way of managing the resentment he's developed for Blake's autocratic behaviour on the flight deck. Blake orders him around there, Avon punishes him for it in the privacy of his quarters. As you might expect, the situation soon spirals out of control--for both of them. In these two stories, you'll feel that anything might happen. Even--or maybe that's especially--after you realise they're in love. [1]
Why this must be read: It's 1991 and here's some slash and some smut at last! That's not to say there wasn't any written before this point, although gen zines have always massively predominated in Blake fandom and slash only began to be more popular than het in the late 1980s.

This fic was published as part of the zine series 'Oblaque', which focused on dark and psychologically intense slash. The publishers have kindly put all their zines online to read in PDF form, so if you want to get the 'reading a zine experience' without venturing out of the comfort of your own internet, this is the place to start.

As for 'Cats Cradle' itself - it is both dark and psychologically intense. That's not usually my bag, but this fic most definitely is. The way they treat each other in this fic (Avon suggests reciprocation therapy to get back at Blake for his behaviour on the flight deck) is genuinely nasty, but there's also definite, explicit, (grudging) affection/Love, which seems to me to be a very accurate representation of their relationship. There's a lot of bondage and D/s in this pairing (and in this fandom, to some extent), but this is easily my favourite. The constant battle between our heroes is as compelling as it is exhausting - and I like the way it seems like either of them could win at almost any time. Often in B/A (it seems to me, although it is debatable) and certainly in canon, it's fairly clear that Blake is going to win, but Avon really holds his own here all the way through and very credibly. Sebastian's also a great dialogue writer and writes both characters excellently - I also thoroughly recommend 'Bittersweet' (online), 'Interjunction' and 'Melancholy'. [2]
Yes, I must admit that there is an appeal to seeing a strong hero dominated. I can't analyse it, but it's there. Have you ever read Cat's Cradle by Sebastian? (In Oblaque, but I can't remember which issue.) That's one of the best examples I've ever come across. It isn't so much sexual domination as psychological, but the two are so intertwined that the one becomes the other. There isn't much actual sex in the story, but the tension created by it is incredible. Probably because the emotional cracks start to show as well. [3]

[part one]:

MUSE OF FIRE RESPONSIBLE: Sebastian

HAS POOR VILA BEEN DRAGOONED INTO THIS SHITSHOW? —

WHY ARE BLAKE AND AVON DOOMED THIS WEEK? God, how to even say it? Avon is mad at Blake for ill-defined Blakery, and is maybe closeted, maybe a sadist? I *honestly* can’t quite express this, it seems like Oblique Kismet.

EDITOR’S NOTE: ponderous, pretentious

PROSE: good

OVERALL: The first Sebastian I remember reading as a child was One Night Stand. I think I ambivalently hated it. The first Sebastian I remember reading as an adult was Cat’s Cradle. I know I outright loathed it. I had paragraphs and paragraphs of reasons, which I’m not going back to find. I assume they were fair enough. I hate this less this time (I am near the end of ObliqueQuest because I’ve been reading out of order to survive, and numb and hopeless now), but this story is some bs even as it’s a decently-written fic. Essentially: Avon is mad at Blake for on-the-job dickishness and demands an exchange of ritual humiliation/venting for the day’s work.

* I will never not hate everything about Alpha Elite bs. Never ever ever. From hell’s heart I eyeroll at thee.

* I don’t quite know why they don’t even debate Avon’s mention of reasoned discussion, mutual decisions and a sharing of responsibility–why that’s nonviable for them, what form it could take.

* I need more on this SFnal ‘normal in this universe’ process and what it’s normally like, and I need more on Avon’s motivations in this particular exchange.

* The ending is rather ??? Like, the whole why-people-do-things question in this story is underdeveloped, but because the writing’s good, I kind of skaaaate over that. But WHY does my partner really like this story? Even after I followed her around the house reading the part about the dark nimbus of the world’s sadness and evil stars and cat’s cradles!! A REAL THING THAT HAPPENED TO MY EYES! Two paragraphs that was! There is BETTER bdsm fic in the world! [4]

[part two]:

WHY ARE BLAKE AND AVON DOOMED THIS WEEK? They love each other but It Can Never Be because Blake is a user in very ill-defined ways, even though practically nothing has changed about their working relationship in the wake of Part I except it is somewhat more tense and awkward now

EDITOR’S NOTE: —

PROSE: good

OVERALL: * “No special flare for necromancy was necessary to read Avon’s thoughts” ???

* I’m not sure what Sebastian thinks Avon actually wants of Blake. I don’t quite believe the domesticity one-liner in Bittersweet. Part II makes me think we’d have done a bit better in Avon’s POV from PI.

* I both like this better than P1 and have more problems with its emotional arc. The end is so fucking Oblique I could bottle it and add essence of Oblique to cakes to dye them black and make them taste like ashes, which is always what passion tastes like in your mouth after you come in an Oblique fic. And I’m fucking done for the day–maybe the week. I’ll come back later when I’m drunk and/or have had time to remember why I LIKE this fucking pairing.

* This is well-written except for aforementioned. Though Sebastian fic is really–of a type, isn’t it. [5]

References

  1. from Katy and Molly's 77+ Favourite A/B and A-B Stories; WebCite, August 5, 2013
  2. from Crack Van, rec by Aralias, posted December 10, 2013
  3. from Late for Breakfast #24
  4. review by Erin Horáková as part of a series: see Oblique Reviews -- Oblique Reviews #2, Archived version, January 12, 2017
  5. review by Erin Horáková as part of a series: see Oblique Reviews -- Oblique Reviews #2, Archived version, January 12, 2017