Descending Horizon (story)

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Title: Descending Horizon
Author(s): Sylvia Knight
Date(s): 1988
Length: 9,750 words
Genre(s): slash, het
Fandom(s): Blake's 7
External Links: the story on AO3

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Descending Horizon is the first and the most popular story in the Descending Horizon Blake/Avon series by Sylvia Knight. It was published in Resistance #2 in January 1988.

Descending Horizon was followed by three other stories by the same author: Shards (a prequel), A Friend in Need (a sequel), and On the Edge (a sequel to A Friend in Need). All three were published in January 1989 in Resistance #3.

This story was discussed by Henry Jenkins in Textual Poachers, in the chapter on slash fiction.


This story convincingly explains why our reluctant heroes behave so strangely in the episode Horizon in which lack of trust appears to be unfounded unless, of course, you know what has gone on before...

Previously published in the fanzine Resistance #2. Part 2 in the Descending Horizon series.

Reactions and Reviews

Sylvia Knight’s “Descending Horizon” (1988) describes the initial sexual encounter between Blake and Avon in terms of a battle for dominance, starting with playfully “waspish” comments, moving toward a fight over who will insert and who will receive: “Perhaps if he could make Avon surrender now, in bed, it would be a symbol between them. All that was needed to win that final commitment. The acknowledgement that Avon wanted to be there. Or all that was needed to convince Avon that Blake was a selfish prick and there could never be a true partnership between them” (7). Each touch brings with it a risk of submission as well as a risk of aggression. Blake asserts his demands on Avon, only to intensify his partner’s consuming rage: “With a quick jerk, Avon twisted free. He crouched back on the bed, eyes narrowed, nostrils flaring. They were both breathing quickly. With that one gesture, Blake had made them antagonists…. For a minute they stared at each other. Waited for one to give way” (10). Their sexuality extends their power games in new directions, opening the men to new dangers until gradually the stakes become too high. Avon submits to intense feelings, whimpering in pleasure, convinced that their coupling has shattered all of the barriers, while Blake is startled by this response and tries to share it only too late <...>

Knight’s writing vividly captures the hunger both men have for greater intimacy and trust but also all of the forces that prevent them from finding it with each other—for more than that one fragile moment of seemingly unlimited possibilities. Blake and Avon spend most of the rest of the story trying to get back to where they began. [1]

I agree that the Sylvia Knight stories in Resistance 2 and 3 were real standouts — I've noticed that they turn up on almost everyone's list of favorite B/As. I even know one person who's not much into slash generally who liked them a lot. [2]

[Descending Horizon and On the Edge]: Sylvia Knight, "Descending Horizon," Resistance #2, and "On the Edge," Resistance #3 (there are also two other stories from the same universe in #3). Among my very favorites. I don't usually like Avon-was-an-abused-child stories, but these work for me. [3]

My favourite story was 'Descending Horizon', a A/B that takes the combative side of their relationship right to the (decidedly bitter) edge, loading it with a lot of intensity and passion, a bit of love and quite a bit of hate. There's a bit of A/C in there too (unfortunately, Cally is rather wet), but it's mostly about the darker side of Blake and Avon's tangled relationship. [4]

Sylvia Knight, "Descending Horizon" (A/B) OK - so, like 'Lay Your Bet' this is much better than anything around it. Really great dialogue, including Blake making a joke about Avon that Avon laughs at during sex, which is so important in establishing Blake as clever and equally cutting and also this a relationship that could actually work/isn't just all about hatesex. Avon domming Blake by bottoming is super hot. So much of this is good - although it has some big turn offs for me too - Blake's massive cock is an issue (like - we have to deal with it and the problems of having it - which is good in a way because there probably are problems etc, but also annoying because I don't think this is Blake's problem); they both desperately want to penetrate the other, which is good because I like dominance struggles but also a bit stupid because it isn't even about dominance until then, it's quite nice and equitable sex and then they both ruin it through this (though it leads to the sexy domming we talked about above); and there's a lot of weird emotional swings, most notably when Avon seems to realise he loves Blake, and looks at Blake who isn't quite looking fondly enough at him - then he storms off. It's - interesting, and the sex writing is great, but I feel like I'm being thrown about in a car with no seatbelts. And not in a good way. Then Avon storms off and has pity-sex with Cally - which I also find weird. And then a first mention of Avon's rape!brother (he has so many), which also comes out of nowhere for this fic (though on AO3 this one comes second, so we know all about the brother). In conclusion - too many ideas, too many emotional curveballs - plenty still to like. [5]

[Descending Horizon and Shards]: I have finished reading first two parts of Descending Horizon. The writing is actually good. The backstory is convincing. And that ‘laugh’ part is quite funny..

Minor complaints: it’s older fandom stuff so I know the ao3 tags might be incomplete, considering it was generously transfered from paper format. But it could use some warnings, also a third relationship tag needed.

I can see where most Nova’s background ideas were from lol. [6]


  1. ^ from Textual Poachers, pages 216-218
  2. ^ from a fan in Rallying Call #14
  3. ^ from Rallying Call #17 (April 1996), from a list of a fan's favorite Blake/Avon
  4. ^ from Sally Manton at Judith Proctor's Blake's 7 site, Archived version
  5. ^ Aralias' review of "Resistance", August 9, 2015
  6. ^ Review by hadescavedish, 12 April 2020