Ghost (Blake's 7 zine)
|Title:||Ghost: Blake's Seven: a Sixth Series|
|Editor(s):||Judith M. Seaman|
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Ghost is a gen Blake's 7 anthology subtitled "Blake's Seven: a Sixth Series." The fiction is by Judith M. Seaman. It is digest-sized and was published in England.
Fan Comments on "Ghost" and/or "Program"
Only for the Avon fans. A PGP serial where Avon is the suffering hero, with new characters and twists. 
As of the second volume of the sixth series (Ghost), things have gotten very desperate indeed--but Avon (battling his own paranoid tendencies, uncertainty as to the true identity of intermittently-loyal and not very reliable crew members, assorted gross physical trauma, and Federation-inflicted drug addiction, to name a few of the discouragements that have so far crossed his path) is still in the fight. And he's making his presence felt, though brute force of intellect, flexibility in his methods and powers of endurance which occasionally verge on the superhuman.....If the established characters occasionally seem a bit undistinguished, Ms. Seaman's original characters (a veritable host) shine all the brighter. In fact, at times they threaten to run off with the storyline. Thanks to her heavily intercut style of writing, a reader devoted to following one character's dilemmas at a time can easily skip through other characters' story segments--and then come back to unravel the remaining threads. It's worth coming back, because many of the secondary characters are engaged in struggles interesting in their own right; and everything ties to the main story in some way. Two particular well-developed characters with whom Avon and his crew find themselves entangled are the ubiquitous and very, very competent investigator Seul (who acts as a sort of suave and personable political guardian angel to our wayward heroes); and Federation Commander Elam, who finds his integrity and fierce personal loyalties sorely tested by the inconsistencies in Federation policy and practice which he keeps encountering in his role as watchdog, and later as hostage, for the crew of the RSC Blake. If you are not interested in stories focused on Avon, or if you don't like digressing from central storyline to explore the complexities of a painstakingly-detailed universe of broad scope, no matter how well-written, then this zine is not for you. Otherwise you find Program/Ghost a rare treat.
The first volume of PROGRAM sets the stage for this well-thought-out, tightly written, and believable 5th season epic. In the wake of Gauda Prime, Sleer/ Servalan has collected all the prizes: Our Heroes (somewhat dented), minus Blake (R.I.P), plus ORAC (deliberately sabotaged beyond Federation repair by Avon). Despite the relatively diminished political status of her Sleer persona, Servalan manages to maintain possession of ORAC and control over the immediate destiny of Avon and his crew. However, to truly capitalize over her rather shopworn spoils, she requires a functional ORAC--which in turn requires not only a functional, but a cooperative, Avon. Blake could have told her it wouldn't be easy. Sleer, however, has both the resources and the utter lack of scruples to bear on Avon that Blake never managed. The contest is bitter, shrewd and fascinating; it rages across several star systems; involving conflicting governments at many levels; and sweeps up a number of strong and interesting original characters in its wake.
GHOST series - without looking in my giant box, I can't remember exactly which one I'm up to, 2 or 3, but they are excellent. I enjoyed reading PROGRAM (Judith Seaman's 5th series) but GHOST is even better -and I'm eager to see what happens next. My one gripe is that with having read so many other zines (including many other PGPs) with the time gap in reading the different chapters, I can't always remember what happened before. A brief precis of 'events that have gene before' would be nice. 
In the absence of a 'real' fifth series, I have adopted Borrowed Time, for whilst continuations such as Program and Ghost by Judith Seaman describe the adventures of familiar characters, they are vitally different from B7 as I see it. Program, enjoyable though it is, concerns a series better re-named "Avon's Clones." To me, however, reading Borrowed Time was like finding a long-lost friend. 
Though a particularly dark view of our Heroes' lives after Gauda Prime, it is masterfully written and introduces new characters that truly come alive, The characters Elam and Seul spring immediately to mind. I only have two complaints. I don't particularly care for the supernatural sub-plot introduced with the character Marti (I tend to like my science fiction straight) and I wish, just once, something really nice would happen to the characters, especially Avon and Vila. But those are minor details and I'm still eagerly awaiting Ghost part 6. 
I have just finished reading my FIRST zine and I thought that I would just share a few thoughts on it.
It is 'PROGRAM', a fifth series zine by Judith Seaman, 13 episodes in 5 parts. I have just finished reading Part 1. Has anyone else read it?
It was quite interesting with very good characterisations. The plot is quite complex (involving clones etc) so no-one is really sure who is who. So Blake is dead and the others escape from a federation medical space station in a ricketty little ship. But where is Orac? And why does it appear as if their escape was too easy? Why does the Federation not destroy them? What is Servalan's plan?It is quite a gripping story. Yet there are a few interesting recurring features. The action seems to revolve around Avon completely, with the other characters present somewhat only to give Avon a stage. However although the action is Avon-centred, the thoughts of the characters are 'Blake'-centred. There are numerous references to Blake and Avon killing Blake. There was even this fascination with Blake present in Tarrant, Dayna and Soolin, none of which had ever known Blake. So although Blake is dead, his idealism, the 'ethos' of Blake, if you want to call it that, serves to provide a framework of reference for the drama and characters. 
I had occasion to correspond with the author a few years ago and was astonished to learn that she considers Blake "the worst thing that ever happened to Avon." I'd never have dreamt that in a million years, based on what she actually wrote. Which just goes to show that what a competent writer puts into a story is not always what a reader takes out of it.
I stayed up till 12.30 last night (far too late for me) reading Program by Judith Seaman. This is a four volume fifth season story in which Avon escapes from imprisonment with the Scorpio crew, but we gradually discover that some of them aren't the real people but clones programmed to betray him at a critical moment. the question is, which ones are the clones... Score four out of five. 
I have read Program by Judith Seaman, as well as (what exists to date of) her 6th season series Ghost. (I seriously fear she's abandoned the latter project because it's been a very long time since the last instalment appeared.) Both serials are done in a multi-zine format, and each contains (or theoretically will contain) 13 chapters - parallelling the 13-episode-per-season-format of the aired series. As with the aired series, each 'episode' is both self-contained and linked to those preceding and following it. The chapters vary a good deal in quality (as did the aired episodes), but the best of them are quite good, indeed. The author's interpretation of Avon is well within the mainstream spectrum of such interpretations (definitely not 'oversentimentalised'). There's an anti-Blake feeling running through these stories, but it's not overbearing, and since Blake does not actually appear as a character (having been truly killed by Avon on GP), it should be within the tolerance limits of most pro-Blake fans. I don't remember the cost of the zines, but I believe this information, as well as page numbers per zine and Judith's address, is listed in the Horizon N/L.
I didn't want to like these novels, but I found myself caught up in Judith Seaman's 'Program: a fifth series' and 'Ghost: a sixth series' far beyond my expectations. I picked up 'Ghost' in a used zine sale, and borrowed 'Program', and do not know about their current availability. And I find that 'Ghost' is four, no five chapters short! According to the list at the back of 'Program', I'm missing Journey, Vision, Slave, The Coming, and Master. So were they written? and if so, does someone here have them and could I borrow them?
These are finely detailed post Gauda Prime sequential novels - really just one very long story. Quite a few new people are introduced, both evil and ambiguous, several of whom I found myself caring about. The details about the operations of the Federation and the Outer Worlds are well developed, coherent and believable. The story is told the way I like 'em, in dialog more than exposition. And if you like plot, you'll like these.
PGP...Servalan needs Orac, and only Avon can fix it. So she cooks up a complex scheme to get Avon to agree to do it - by letting him escape from the Medical Station where he has been held prisoner for three months, along with Vila, Soolin, Tarrant and Dayna. Except that Avon knows that she had clones created from all of them, and that any or all of his companions are copies, and undoubtably conditioned to kill him at a certain time. But they each believe themselves to be the 'real' one.
The major themes: choice, trust and betrayal. And how can you tell what is real? These are all prime B7 themes. None of the Scorpio crew has choice, because Servalan has removed it; Avon tries very hard to create choices for the others, while knowing himself trapped. No one trusts anyone else; how can you trust a clone? And everyone, new character and old, either betrays or is betrayed...except Servalan, who is in control.
The character's voices are, for the most part, caught very well. My main problem is repetitive dialog and adverbs. Avon is consistently either bleak, despairing, or dry. He almost always answers a question with a question (which he did do in the series, but not inevitably!). The Scorpio crew is constantly harping on the trust issue. My second problem is the revisionist history, that Blake really was selling them for money. But it is only touched on slightly, a couple of times. Over all, everyone is hopelessly caught, pushed invariably from event to event, to a horrific conclusion in 'Program', which is not relieved by the following chapters of 'Ghost'.I was trepidatious about Seaman, because of her reputation for Blake bashing. Her 3rd, 4th or PGP stories that I have read have been a cut above most fanfic, because I like the writing; maybe I've been lucky and not run into the 1st-2nd series stories she's done (or forgotten them!). But the Avon of these novels is very well drawn and believable and he suffers abominably. And it's not pretty. He attempts suicide more than once, and is not *allowed* to complete it. He suffers hypothermia, blood loss, drug addiction, heinous torture, starvation, and more. Always he is revived, through no desire of his own. He dreams terrible nightmares that wake the others - of Blake, of chasing Blake, of killing Blake, or Anna, of watching the others, the real ones, go down at GP. Even thru the repetitions, I think she has caught an Avon that is basically believable, and for whom I developed a great deal of sympathy. 
... I found and have been reading Judith Seaman's PGP novels Program and Ghost. These are long, complex novels, in which Blake is truly dead, but everyone else lives several times: Servalan has the survivors of GP cloned, some more than once, and creates an intricate scenario to keep Avon unbalanced until he agrees to fix Orac. He doesn't know for sure who is a clone, and therefore either conditioned to keep him alive or kill him at the correct release word, and who is real (but perhaps conditioned as well). Seaman also postulates that Blake really did betray Avon, for money. When I got to that part, near the end of Program, I discovered that I was reading the novel like it was an interesting piece of alien culture, or rather, like an Arrian reading Athanasius's heresy. Her premise is not part of my fundamental understanding of Blake's universe. But it is interesting, in an intellectual way.
I didn't want to like this set of novels; Seaman has a reputation for 'hating Blake'. There are annoying parts, like the repetitious dialog between Avon and his 'crew'. Avon is always bleak, dry, or despairing. Every exchange is Avon answering a question with a question (which he did do on occasion, but it makes very boring reading!), and includes the word 'trust' (as in 'Do you trust me?' Should I?' Some of the sub-plots and descriptions of how the Federation operates are engagingly presented and thought out, and several of the new characters are well developed and captivating. But she's certainly not very kind to anyone at all. Avon suffers extraordinarily - suicide attempts that fail, bleeding to near death, hypothermia, nightmares, insecurity and doubt, extreme physical torture, pain, drug addiction, starvation - and the most cruel of all, removal of choice. He is always right, though, and knows the answers to the unasked questions.Be forewarned, if you stumble into this set of fanfic. 
I ought to hate this for the way it treats Blake, but luckily he is safely dead and the story is so well written and Avon suffers so terribly that I still love it. 
For Avon fans, I also strongly recommend anything by Judith Seaman, especially her ongoing PGP (post-Gauda Prime) series, =Program= and =Ghost=. They are extremely well written, very science-fictional Avon wallows. Two warnings, just in case: she =really= likes to make Avon suffer, so you have to be a bit of a "get-Avon" fan to enjoy them (as many of us are, since he suffers so prettily); and she hates Blake. Her best stories are the PGP ones that don't have Blake in them but deal with interactions between the Scorpio crew. If this sounds good, get these. 
I can cautiously recommend them. Both Program & Ghost series... have their really strong really pleasing points. And both have disappointing weaknesses too. But to me they were worth reading at least a few times; in fact were worth OCR'ing all the zines to keep the text in lightweight digital format.
If I recall correctly, it's a Post-Gauda Prime adventure about Avon and a new team of outlaws, right?
Not really - Avon, Vila, Soolin, Dayna, Tarrant, Orac... not really a new team. The problem is, one - or several, or all - of them may be programmed clones. Yes, they do meet up with some new allies - who do not "die at the end of the episode"! (How un-canon!)
Those new allies (and enemies!) are good solid well-developed characters for the most part IMHO.
Strengths: Plot inventiveness, excellent sci-fi world-building (possibly culture too), good sci-fi tech! Apt B7 & original characterisation overall.Weaknesses: weak writing in spots (repeated adjectives over & over - very jarring), some weak plots spots (ho-hum another primitive culture...) 
Ghost Part One was published in 1986 and is a sequel to Program. It is a collection of 2 stories and is 96 pages long.
- "Ghost" (Ghost series, episode 1; S6 -- "Avon has to be hidden if he is to survive, but what can he do without the others and what can they do without him?")
- "Unicorn" (Ghost series, episode 2; S6 -- "Only a pure virgin can catch the Unicorn, but wo qualifies for that role, and would she be willing to take it?")
Ghost Part Two was published in 1986 and is 114 pages long.
- "Revival" (Ghost series, episode 3; S6 -- "Avon is back on RSC Blake and makes contact with Elam. It seems a new alliance could be possible, if only there was a little more trust.") 59 pages
- "Image" (Ghost series, episode 4; S6 -- "Whose face did Avon see in the vu-screen and why did he immediately try to run? Tarrant's attempt to solve the mystery leads him to a terrifying trap.") 54 pages
Ghost Part Three was published in 1987 and contains 113 pages.
- "Whisper" (Ghost series, episode 5; S6) ("The rumour that Avon is alive travels rapidly on the grapevine but it seems that it isn't this Avon it means.")
- "Cult" (Ghost series, episode 6; S6) ("On a distant planet there is a legend of a great goddess who brought wealth and happiness to the people before she vanished. Now they keep faith and await the return of.....Servalan.")
Ghost Part Four was published in 1987 and is 117 pages long.
- "Return" (Ghost series, episode 7; S6) 61 pages ("Byzant has much to offer its friends, but generous gratitude can be a bigger danger than open enmity.")
- "Fantasie" (Ghost series, episode 8; S6) 57 pages ("The people of Laxdaela are decidedly primitive, but they have a ruler of awesome power and she wants to see Avon.")
Ghost Part Five was published in 1990 and contains 116 pages.
- "Journey" (Ghost series, episode 9; S6) ("What has drawn Avon half the galaxy away from the Alliance and the fight that is just beginning? An offer of powerful aid...or something more ominous?")
- "Vision" (Ghost series, episode 10; S6) ("The vision of victory is always a good omen, but a false vision followed too closely can end in disaster and innocent dreams take on a more sinister meaning.")
Blake's Seven: A Sixth Series: All That Ever Was was published in 1990. It is set between episodes 4 and 5; S5.
- from Katspace, Kathryn Andersen.
- Pressure Point no.6
- Pressure Point no.6
- from Horizon Newsletter #21 (December 1988)
- from Horizon Newsletter #21 (December 1988)
- from Horizon Letterzine #4 (November 1992)
- Subject: Program Zine post to Lysator on April 20, 1993.
- Subject: Program Zine post to Lysator on April 21, 1993.
- Subject: Zines and tapes by Judith P. on Lysator dated Sept 24, 1993.
- from Horizon Letterzine #5 (March 1993)
- from Horizon Letterzine #6 (June 1993)
- Lysator, Nichole, March, 1995.
- from [N V] in Rallying Call #13 (1995), same reviewer as Nichole in Lystator
- Lysator, 1996
- Lysator blakes7-d Digest V97 #63, [Sarah Thompson], March 21, 1997
- comment by Winnie-l at Horizon, October 6, 2014