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.
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. 
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.
Reactions and Reviews
[Program] and [Ghost]: 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. 
"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.