|Title:||Horizon Letterzine ("The Horizon Letterzine" (on the cover of issue #1), "Horizon Letter 'Zine" (on the cover of issue #2), and "Horizon Letterzine" (subsequent covers)|
|Editor(s):||Jackie Ophir (1-12), Neil Faulkner (13-14), Lucy Collin & Dennis Collin (15-21)|
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The letterzine began at a time when interest in Blake's 7 was undergoing a resurgence, with all the episodes being released on VHS by the BBC.
It ran twenty-three issues, the last one was published nearly four years after its predecessor.
Overlay and Relationship with "Horizon Newsletter"
Increasingly long gaps between appearances of the society's official newsletter, Horizon Newsletter, together with the need to edit letters of comment (LOCs) there for reasons of space, fueled a demand for a forum in which fans could discuss Blake's 7 at length without fear of being cut.As a result, the editor, Jackie Ophir, published edited versions of letters of comment sent to the letterzine in the newsletter. Fans who subscribed only to the newsletter saw truncated versions of the letters in the letterzine. In 1992 in the letterzine's second issue, Ophir wrote:
Comments by Ophir in the third issue:One of the comments made by the anti-Letterzine faction when the idea was first proposed, was that it would lead to 'two-tier discussions', comments in the Newsletter not keeping up with those in the L/zine. I think, with two L/zines being produced for every one Newsletter, plus the fact that the L/zine is quicker and easier to produce (there are fewer stages it has to go through), that this is inevitable. The next Newsletter (N/L 28) will be sent out in the next couple of weeks, and its LOC section will contain edited letters from the L/zine #1 (plus similar letters from members who haven't subscribed to the Letterzine). I'd be interested in your comments regarding the editing, and any suggestions for the future. Should the L/Zine become a separate entity entirely? (But then we'd be back with the old problem of limited space for comments on the Newsletter, which the L/zine was created to solve!) Let me know what you think.
A fan, Ros Williams, wrote in the third issue:Judging by the ever-increasing number of subscribers and the length of the letters I receive, the Letterzine is certainly proving a popular idea! In my last editorial, I asked for your views on the way the discussions in the Letterzine were diverging from those in the Newsletter. In fact, none of you seem terribly bothered! Some have sent individual LOCs for the Newsletter and Letterzine, but most of you are happy to see the Letterzine and Newsletter LOCs go their separate ways. Edited versions of your Letterzine LOCs will continue to appear in the Newsletter, (as well as non-Letterzine LOCs) - so as not to deprive those Horizon members who don't/can't afford to subscribe.
Maybe I'm being disgustingly lazy, but I don't WANT to decide which bits of my letters are for the N/L and which only for the letterzine. If I didn't think something was important enough to print, I wouldn't have written it in the first place. Before we had the letterzine, I accepted the practical reality that letters had to be edited. If we' d been given a specific limitation on the length of our contributions, then I'd have ended up de facto doing my own editing. But the way things stand now, I think it's more appropriate for the editors to make those choices (sorry, Jackie!) - they, after all can view our individual contributions in the context of everyone else's and (presumably) make some of their selections on the basis of balance, repetition, etc.
In its first 15 issues, the Letterzine ran almost 280 LOCs from 54 contributors. Issues typically contained about 20 LOCs and ran for about 60 pages. LZ 6 contained 23 LOCs, whilst LZ 7 ran to 66 pages plus cover page. LOCs ranged in length from a few short paragraphs to ten or more pages. Regular contributors included Pam Baddely, Brad Black, Neil Faulkner, Russ Massey, Lois Pierce, Judith Proctor, Caroline Robertson, Louise Rutter, Andy Smith, Kathy Swadling, Sondra Sweigman and Ros Williams. Discussion ranged across the whole spectrum of Blake's 7 fandom, including character and episode analysis, technical speculations, and the nature of fannishness. Humour was an important component, with many aspects of the series being gently (or not so gently) ridiculed.
Fan fiction was, however, the single most discussed subject, with many of the contributors being Blake's 7 fanfic writers themselves and others becoming so after subscribing to the Letterzine. Many story ideas were debated in the pages of the Letterzine, some of them subsequently being developed into works that appeared in fiction zines. The Letterzine's enduring contribution to Blake's 7 fandom might thus be assessed as the inspiration it injected into Blake's 7 fanfic and the encouragement it gave to a new wave of B7 fan writers and editors.A fan in 1992 wrote:
In general, I find the overall quality of the discussion in the Horizon letterzine to be vastly superior in both substance and prose structure to anything I've seen on the USENET newsgroups or in this mailing list. Part of that's probably the relative inexperience of the list members. There's been a lot of reinventing of the wheel going on, and sometimes it has square corners. 
Editors and Production
Production standards of the Letterzine were deliberately kept low to minimise cost and ease of production.
The first twelve issues were edited by Jackie Ophir using an Amstrad PCW and printed out on a dot matrix printer. Print quality was variable though never so poor as to become unreadable. LZ 11 and 12 were produced on a Sharp Fontwriter, with much improved clarity and readability.
Increasing work commitments forced Ophir to stand down as editor after LZ 12, the editorial reins being passed to Neil Faulkner. LZ 13 (April 1995) and 14 saw a reversion to dot matrix print, with LZ 14 being particularly faint and photocopying poorly in places. Disagreements with Horizon over editorial policy prompted Faulkner to stand down after editing two issues, with Lucy and Dennis Collin taking over the editorship for LZ 15 (November 1995). The letterzine continued to #23.
Declining Readership: Change in Management
The size of the Letterzine, together with the number of contributors and subscribers, declined by about 30-40% after LZ 11. This might be in part due to Jackie Ophir announcing that she would no longer continue as editor.
Declining Readership: No Slash Please
Increasing discussion of slash fiction in the Letterzine may also have contributed to the decline. LZ 14 included a lengthy editorial statement from Diane Gies (co-ordinator of Horizon) discouraging - though not banning - future discussion of slash. This and other editorial restrictions prompted Neil Faulkner and Judith Proctor to consider publishing their own independent Blake's 7 letterzine, which subsequently appeared as AltaZine and ran for seven issues.
The issue in question was that hoary old chestnut called slash. I had allowed discussion of slash to enter the pages of the HLZ, and several people - I think it was four in all - cancelled their subscriptions as a result.....Anyway, from now on - said she - no mention of slash was to be made in the HLZ. This directive was coupled with the way Judith Proctor had used her LOC in HLZ #14 to advertise - quite legitimately, IMO - a number of zines she had acquired from the States. Unfortunately, some of these were Ashton Press publications. There is an unwritten rule in Horizon that you do not advertise Ashton zines. You do not even acknowledge their existence. Even though Ashton produce some highly regarded publications - including the marvellous Hellhound series - Horizon is not the place to find about them. That part of Judith's letter had to be replaced by an editorial paragraph of mine, which was naturally not allowed to mention Diane's belief that Judith was deliberately shit-stirring by discussing slash and advertising proscribed zines. If you have a copy of HLZ #14, you will notice that some pages are barely legible. This is because my printer ribbon was worn out with reprinting the 'offending' passages, not once but twice, since most failed to meet with Diane's approval first time around. ...
Horizon Letterzine 1 was published in January 1992 and contains 54 pages. It was edited by Jackie Ophir.
From the first issue: "Members consent to their names being held on computer records."
It is stapled in the top left corner. Aside from the Horizon logo, there is no cover art.
The editor comments that so far, 45 members have joined the letterzine.
Most comments to this letterzine are responses and comments to Horizon Newsletters #24-27, as well as directing the show and characters. There is very few comments on fandom itself or fanworks.From the editor:
One comment regarding gender and media fandom:
When we first proposed a separate publication for unedited LOCS, we weren't sure how to the idea would go down with Horizon members. However, the response we received to the suggestion in Newsletter 26 was enough to make us cautiously optimistic, so we decided to go ahead. We still thought it best to err on the side of caution, though, and make the first issue a one-off, so that if nobody expressed any further interest, we could quietly forget the whole idea!
Well, as you can see from these LOCs, interest has been very positive indeed, so we've taken the decision to continue with this quarterly Letterzine at least until the end of the year.
[snipped]One way we're trying to keep the price down is by foregoing the glossy and expensive look of the Newsletters and producing the Letterzines as simply as possible. This one was done on my Amstrad PCW (those with similar machines will have recognized the printer!) However, there's a good change that the next issue will be produced on a superior computer using superior software, which hopefully will bring the typesetting up to the standard of the newsletters -- well, we'll try anyway!
ST fandom has always been female-oriented. I don't think the lack or otherwise (vis a vis Doctor Who) of characterizations has much to do with it. ST (certainly Classic ST) emphasizes a 'bond' between individuals. Girls/women are socialized into valuing relationships over achievement and to sublimate their own needs for achievement through those of others, especially men. Therefore, they identify emotionally with the men, vicariously enjoying their activity/achievement. And since girls mature earlier than boys, there is the added element of a sexual interest in the most dynamic of these male characters. These factors would tend to explain the huge preponderance of women over men in ST fandom. There appear to be more male fans in Horizon than ST clubs to which I belong, but on balance, a lot of their interest in both fandoms lies with the technical aspects. This is not to say boys/men are not interested in characters, but since they are socialized to value achievement and being their own agent/active players in society above relationships, they would identify with the male characters too but for a different reasons than girls/women.My experience in DW fandom (1977-86) showed only a handful of women in fandom at any one time, more at the beginning as a lot were Tom Baker fans and dropped out when he left. I think the Doctor appeals to boys/men as a supremely intelligent achiever but less to girls/women as he has no 'deep and meaningful' relationships with anyone else. His companions are usually inferior in some aspect (I exclude Zoe from that) and there is no bond (or alternatively, no conflict) between equals. The Doctor certainly never gets involved in sexual relationships which most pre-adolescent boys tend of find a real bore, so there is nothing to put them off at an impressionable age when their allegiance to the program can be established.
Horizon Letterzine 2 was published in April 1992 and contains 52 pages. It was edited by Jackie Ophir.
The cover features an illo of the Liberator (Blake's ship) with the power unit of the ship rendered as an overspilling mail bag, coupled with the emblem of the Terran Federation. This cover design was by Daniel Dresner, who had also designed the Horizon Fan Club badge and logo.
The zine was titled as the Horizon Letter 'Zine (no issue number).
The pages are held together by two staples down the margin, and this binding method subsequently became the norm for future issues.
Most of the comments are very canon-centric and focus on characterizations and motivations. Other topics in this issue: comments on The Mind of a Man is a Double-Edged Sword , the four banned Star Trek episodes in the UK, the lack of well-developed female characters, fan's Avon-centric views, the feasibility of a pro-written series of Blake's 7 books, and the beginning of the long-running "Ushtan watch" discussion (was the watch on the character, Ushtan, a continuity gaffe, an antique, or something more?).
One of the comments made by the anti-Letterzine faction when the idea was first proposed, was that it would lead to 'two-tier discussions', comments in the Newsletter not keeping up with those in the L/zine. I think, with two L/zines being produced for every one Newsletter, plus the fact that the L/zine is quicker and easier to produce (there are fewer stages it has to go through), that this is inevitable. The next Newsletter (N/L 28) will be sent out in the next couple of weeks, and its LOC section will contain edited letters from the L/zine #1 (plus similar letters from members who haven't subscribed to the Letterzine). I'd be interested in your comments regarding the editing, and any suggestions for the future. Should the L/Zine become a separate entity entirely? (But then we'd be back with the old problem of limited space for comments on the Newsletter, which the L/zine was created to solve!) Let me know what you think.
I'm still using the jolly old Amstrad, so further contributions are welcome on 3" PCW 8256 disks; as are ASCII files on IBM compatible 3 1/2" and 5 1/4" floppies.
Myself and my dear friend Paula had a wonderful time at the Visions '91 convention in Chicago. The guests of honour included Paul, Steven, Sally and David. There were also some people in green tights and a fellow named Tom Baker. (Ros - if you still think Dr Who is sexless, you should see the out-takes from the Key to Time episodes!). Steven Pacey made a rare con appearance. I have never considered myself a Tarrant fan, and still don't, but after this con I am now a lifetime Steven Pacey fan. Hooray for curly hair and straight teeth!
I agree with you about the underdeveloped potential of the female characters in the series - but this can be put right with some story writing! Having tried it, I have to say that the one who comes over most strongly is Jenna, while Cally, being 'alien' (if 'not all that alien') is quite hard to write about convincingly. I never had a great deal of sympathy with Dayna's character, and while Soolin might have had interesting potential she did not appeal much as a character. It is interesting how, when writing about them all, they seem almost to take over and write their own personalities!
Rather than comment on what Lois actually says, I would rather draw attention to how much she writes about what. Namely: Blake and Vila - 19 lines each. Tarrant -- 11 lines. Jenna, Cally, Dayna and Soolin -- one sentence each. Gan -- absolute sod all... and 2 1/2 pages for Avon. I've got nothing against Avon. He is an interesting character after all, and clearly the most dominant personality, and the best developed. That doesn't stop me from feeling sick to the roots of my teeth reading about him. I could pass some comment on how he seems to have been dragged into the role of the classic female fantasy of the outwardly cold and emotionless man twisted by a terrible past who only needs the right woman to prompt him to bare his soul and release the pent up feelings he's suppressed for so many years in an overwhelming emotional catharsis and then be Mr Perfect forever after (and probably not only help with the shopping but clean the lavatory as well), and compare this concept with the equally ridiculous stock male fantasy of the beautiful innocent virgin with five megatonne libido just waiting to be switched on for the benefit of the fantasies and him alone, and point out that this particular fantasy as well as other classic male fantasies have quite deservedly received a lot of flak because they have no underlying basis in reality, ignoring as they do the possibility of individual motivation on the part of the fantasised subject beyond her assumed relationship with the fantasiser, and that womens' fantasies vis a vis cold brooding males are equally worthy of scathing condemnation for, despite operating on something higher than a crudely physical level, they are still primarily sexual in nature if only because cold and unemotional female characters are happily slagged off as cunning and manipulative bitches, exposing an alarming tendency in both male and female fans, despite all insistence to the contrary, to evaluate characters primarily in relation to their gender rather than as individuals in their own right. But I won't.
But if anyone suffered at the hands of the writers it was Cally. Some characters (like Soolin, or Gan) could be given a few token lines that just about anyone could have said, but writers seemed to feel an obligation to make something out of Cally. Her debut was promising, clattering down the cliff like that, pointing her rifle at people and making quite clear she knew how to use it. (And before anyone pipes up, yes, I do know the good-looking woman with a gun and a heart of gold is another stock male fantasy. But it's a good deal healthier than the simpering subservient nymphette or the cold psychobitch, and at least it offers something as a positive role-model. And I happen to like it, so there!)
But from there on, it was pretty much downhill. Cally the combat wise guerrilla turned into Cally the bleeding heart mystic, Cally the soothing nurse, Cally the cosmic hippy, or as often as not just Cally the teleport operator. From the second season on I remember her mainly as looking harassed and drawn, rather pitiful even. In many ways she became increasingly cast in the role of Victim. I'm not sure, but I think she got captured and tortured more than any of the others. And of course, there's the mindjacks, starting with The Web and culminating with two in a row at the end of the third season (Sarcophagus and Ultraworld), with Shadow and Pawn of the Gods in between. Quite why being a telepath makes you more vulnerable to this sort of thing I can't imagine. I' m more inclined to think you'd be better equipped to resist it. Lois Pierce suggesxs (iw» writers didn't know what to do with Cally. I disagree. They just showed a lack of imagination regarding what to do to her. I'm not sure it's going too far to suggest that some of those alien takeovers were little more than a euphemism for rape (especially DotG, by far the most pointless example). Why I'm not sure, but I suspect her aura of sexual innocence had a lot to do with it. Cally somehow seemed to be chaste, pure, inviolate. She never had to suffer the plunging necklines and bending low over consoles inflicted on Jenna, Dayna, Servalan and Soolin.
I see yet another brief dissertation on differences between male and female fans, and especially how the latter are drawn by the characterisation and such. I won't argue, If only because I tend to agree with her, but nobody so far seems to have pointed out that all those episodes building up those detailed personal Interactions and subtle nuances of character were, with two exceptions, written by MEN.Some did it better than others, of course. There was Terry Nation, who somehow managed to scrape up something decently workable from what were basically very tacky Ideas (or recycled ST plots). His approach worked better for Dr Who, I think (Genesis of the Daleks ~ sheer genius!) and fell flat in B7 at times. Take Pressure Point: Two ordinary rebels, out on what they think is an ordinary patrol. Little do they know, they are about to enter... the FORBIDDEN ZONE!! (dudoo-dudoo dudoo-dudoo.. . ). Still, if It weren't for him there'd be no B7 in the first place, so I won't be too harsh on him. Then there was Allan Prior, with his obsession for investigating social dynamics in isolated cultures. Horizon was a good specimen of a script, and Hostage was also a script. His other three were Just specimens and don't even deserve to be pickled. Robert Holmes was another solid old pro like Nation, good at meaty space opera with a strong line In sharp dialogue. Chris Boucher seemed to go more for straight drama within the SF setting, and putting in a harder edge if he could, a bit of violence, drug addiction, zealotism, My Lai, and a good twist to round an episode off with.
In N/L 27 you ask why it is that Jenna, whose past is well documented, is easier to write for than Soolin, whom we know nothing about. The answer is that while Jenna's PAST is well developed, JENNA is never fully developed as a character. In The Way Back, Spacefall and Cygnus Alpha, she is set up as a tough pirate. She even subtly threatens Avon in Cygnus Alpha. After this promising start the character rapidly deteriorates into a passive clothes horse. Jenna is the only person on board Liberator who has experience running Federation blockades, yet there she is, making tea and taking orders from Blake, Avon or whatever man is present. We know where Jenna comes from, but we don't know HER. She is always being acted on and never allowed to take action. It's really a shame.
I'd also like to take issue with those of you who have said that Jenna is acted badly. How can Sally be blamed for bad acting when half her lines in any given episode are things like: "Be careful, Blake" and "Standard by five and rising". No wonder Sally left the show after two seasons.Cally receives similar (mis)treatment. She is a freedom fighter, a commando, a female Del Grant whose first on-screen action is to kick Blake down the side of the rock quarry. By the third season she is the naive medic whose mind is constantly being taken over by nasty aliens. Must have been written by a man. (Jac - apart from Sarcophagus, which was written by a woman - Tanith Lee. )
I don't think you have a skewed view of the Beeb, much of what they produce IS period costume drama. I also think you are right that they are ashamed of being in television at all, which is probably why they bought Neighbours. As an aside, was Blake's 7 a period costume drama? It wasn't set in the present, they wore costumes and it was certainly drama.
I'm not sure that American TV stations have as big an audience as British ones either. OK, so the US has 250 million people, but it also has about three thousand TV stations to our four. Alright, SLIGHT exaggeration, and I didn't include satellite, but do you see my point? By the way, has anybody been as annoyed as I have with the BBC adverts for the B7, Red Dwarf and Doctor Who video tapes. The have the three best British SF programmes, and they advertise them using cliches from Star Trek!! I dunno, what ARE we going to do with them?
One of the many high points at the Blake-Wake was seeing the episode "Blake" again. This was the first time I had seen it since it was first shown, and being surrounded by fellow devotees added an extra layer of suspense and anticipation. For those of you who are interested in any opinions of the episode, here goes. Taken in isolation, all the action up to the final scene seems badly conceived and was a disappointing end to a series that deserved far, far more. But taken in the context of a build-up to that wonderful confrontation between Blake and Avon, then it gains some merit. I think that any pretence at a real plot was sacrificed, Just to set up that confrontation, and on the whole it was worth it. It would have been better if they had split the plot over two episodes, and spent more time trying to get a convincing story line. Summary? B minus, could do better. Maybe one day I'll write my own alternative Blake. You have been warned.
The expression ' fan" does, for me at least, mean ANYONE who enjoys and regularly watches a programme and certainly B7 was watched enthusiastically here by millions of 'fans'.
I didn't find Nathan Spring of Star Cops unsympathetic. Intelligence, Integrity, wit, talent - yes, but the vital ingredients which gave Avon such appeal simply evaded Nathan. No accounting for individual taste, but the viewing figures speak for themselves and I felt within ten minutes of episode one of SC that (barring a sudden, startling improvement which didn't come) it was a failure; worse, Nathan's two colleagues I detested on sight. I do sympathise with your frustration over this issue!
How is Avon so successful? He's sarcastic, secretive and sexy, can be witty, he gives a sense of personal strength and integrity, he's ruthless in a sensible way (so you can depend on him) . . . and the character has great depth so you can discover in him the possibility of virtues which appeal to you (that is vitally important).
I've no arguments with most of your character assessments but one point does stand out re the general plot. A surprising number of fans are so captivated by Avon that they forget the original theme of the series is rebellion against the Federation - NOT AVON'S LIFE STORY!
I expect when you get to know other enthusiasts personally, you'll be less unhappy about the chatty bits in letters! So yes, please include the chatty bits as they do make the letters more personal and the writers more approachable. I agree that editing letters, relocating particular issues so that comments re those are put together... all that is theoretically a possibility, but have you ever tried to do it? Even the sophisticated indexing and cross-referencing systems of WordPerfect can't think for the operator.
Re: Ben-Hur and accents, I didn't mean to Imply I didn't know why different accents were used, merely that the Americans had the finance and the potential big audience, so quite understandably their accent was given to the heroes! I don't mind about that. I don't think many people these days think all Americans are rich (we hear so much about deprived people in American cities), ride horses (I never thought that!) and we certainly don't think they all come from Texas! But that impression may have been given to Americans yonks ago. I wonder how much the American producers would have to pay Paul Darrow in order to make him (could they make him at all?) have Avon look sheepish at the end of every episode and confess he didn' t mean all the nasty things he had said'?
I'm sure you didn't mean to imply that British B7 fans have the opinions about Americans which you describe. Actually, we see so many U.S. cop shows, you could equally argue that we think you must all live in slums and deal in drugs etc (Kojak et al). From what I've read, the average American has a far more distorted view of the UK than we have of the States, believing we all wear bowler hats and talk in BBC accents of the 1940 variety. Or perhaps things have improved?
Using the term English is simply shorthand for some future pan-Terran-Federation language. I'm sure most fans don't expect it to be present-day English and we say Terran when we remember. Incidentally, consensus fan lore is that B7 occurs during the 3000th century (the 3rd century of the 2nd calendar), with the Atomic Wars two or three centuries earlier. I don't think the 'true' proposed date is ever clearly stated, but to me several millennia is too far away - the B7 society doesn't seem that alien and humans haven't spread that extensively in the galaxy (not that they have to have done so at any particular time, I agree, but it is a point fans note. ) Dune, which is far less parochial, far more alien than B7, is better suited to many millennia ahead of the present.
Re articles in the newsletters being short, I think most of us try to keep them short simply because we know space is at a premium. . . and some fans make it clear they dislike long articles. I remember reading an earnest fan's assessment of Terry Nation in a B7-DW-HH zine. The zine was excellent in quality and the article very erudite - but, oh boy, it was long... page after page after page of minute print so each page contained an awful lot of data. Even I, a keen reader of long books and non-fic, was hard put to wade through it. Many topics have been explored in depth by us long-term fans over endless years and it is not always sensible to repeat well-documented points yet again for a new article when ' most fans' already know ' most points' pretty well! Finally, on this subject, If you want long articles or analysis, Horizon is not the place to look as it is mostly not their style anyway (indeed, some members have complained re such articles altogether as they prefer more pract leal feat ures). LPF used to feature long introspective articles, but they are sadly defunct. Try some American clubs, or the Australian letterzine? (Jac - Comment from Your Editor: The reason articles in the newslet ters are short, is because that is what contributors have sent us! We do tend to prefer short ones on the whole, because that way we can get more variety within the newsletter, and cater to the different tastes of as many members as possible - especially, as Ros says, when space is at a premium. However, that's not to say that we won't print long articles if any are submitted! Over to you... )
The Mind of a Man trilogy is The Mind of a Man Is a Double-Edged Sword and its two sequels, by American writer Susan Matthews. The first part is one of the best B7 stories around, a long, imaginative, introspective psychological drama, an example of the American style of B7 fanzine at its best, but a notably demanding read. The second story drags quite a bit and lacks sufficient action but is still worth reading. The third story is the easiest read, exciting, dramatic and moving. Most of the characterisation is good, though Susan has totally lost touch with Vila's personality by part 3 and one of the final scenes is too much for some people. When you've read the story you'll understand those two comments!
The Mind of Man trilogy (better known this side of the Atlantic as Double-Edged Sword - the full title of the first instalment being The Mind of a Man is a Double-Edged Sword') is a marvellously intricate 'alternate universe' story which diverges from the aired series beginning at a point near the end of the episode Star One, The first novel in particular is a psychological masterpiece, but I can't tell you why without giving away the whole enchilada - which would be worse than rude in the event you (or anyone else out there) intends to read it: it would be unpardonable. Personally, I don't think Parts 2 and 3 are quite up to the standard of Part 1 (I especially don't care for the 'domestic' note sounded in Part 3), but they're still a cut above most fan fiction, and the 1st andard' established by Part 1 would be hard for anyone to match consistently.
Trying to get B7 novels published. The publishers of Afterlife certainly weren't interested when I asked them. The videos are bringing much more publicity than Tony Attwood's book, so just maybe a publisher here would be interested. The best way to deal with this would be a consensual approach (a deputation with the official backing of the Horizon club, perhaps also other clubs and an attempt to VISIT the publishers, show sample stories and put the case). Although American publishers may consider fan ventures more favourably, the fact that B7 is seen as a dark, depressing, minority-viewing programme there will count against it, whilst here it is so well known to viewers generally that - if only some publisher-has the money and some individual in authority there likes the programme, we might be lucky.
A 'bookline' on Blake's 7 (similar to the copious numbers of books on Star Trek presently on the market) might be interesting, however, only if they were written by people with an eye to B7 rather than how much money could be made - eg by the fans, rather than less interested parties. After all, the quality of much of the stuff in the Horizon zines, albeit not novel length, and other items show there are people who can write out there and have a feel for the series (even if the stories don't always gel with everyone elses view of the B7 world).
With respect to your idea of convincing a publisher to start a B7 book line, all the publishing interest in the world won't do one whit of good unless there are authors interested in writing the books. I know vaguely that there are professionally published Star Trek novels, though I haven't read any. But why do such books need to be 'professional'? The fact is, there are already a whole slew of B7 novels (AND short stories AND poems) - they're called fanzines! Some of them are even listed in each issue of the Horizon newsletter). I'll grant you that much B7 fanfic is mediocre, and some of it is terrible, but some of it Is absolutely outstanding (and some of the folks who write it ARE professional writers in their 'regular' life). So I don't myself feel any great need for a line of professionally published B7 novels. But I am definitely looking forward to the Virgin Publications book. A good professional nonflet ion work about the series would be marvellous.
Rodney Grant mentions wishing there were more B7 novels available professionally. The fan-published novels include several of high quality — maybe higher on average than would be available professionally. (In Star Trek fiction, the best fan writing tends to be equal to the best pro writing, and there are perhaps more fan than pro stories that could be grouped among that ' best' ). Some of the longer B7 fan stories that I've enjoyed have been the Mathews Wind, Jean Lorrah's Trust Like the Soul - an alternate history' in which Avon and Cally are put back wrong way round after Ultraworld, Sheila Paulson's The Uses of Adversity, an ' alternate history' in which the 3rd season Avon manages to find Blake, with fortunate consequences (published by Janet Walker), Jean Airey and Laurie Haldeman's The Totally Imaginary Cheeseboard - a cross-universe story with Avon at a B7 fan convention (as it turned out, I liked it so much I wrote a sequel in collaboration with them, The Other Side of the Coin, Lillian Shepherd's The Machiavelli Factor, a 4th season story written after Terminal and before the start of the actual 4th season (I think this one's out of print) and Anne Wortham's and Leah Rosenthal's Last Stand at the Edge of the World - a post-Blake story in which Vila has to take charge and does.
I entirely agree that Blake can be extraordinarily and inexplicably objectionable now and again, and is exceptionally so to Avon at the end of Redemption. I would not have been at all surprised if Avon had clocked him one then and there, but hitting people is not Avon's style. I suppose one could say that Avon also is frequently inf uriatingly provocat ive, it's difficult to decide which of them is the worst, and perhaps Blake was sufficiently on edge at this point to decide to get a bit of his own back. On the other hand, killing Blake in the final episode is an extreme reaction to a few insults and some personal incompatibility! Some fans seem to think that good reason to kill Blake and talk pretty flippantly about it, but would you consider you had serious reason to KILL someone and would contemplate doing so quite seriously, might even actually do it, Just because you didn't like them and they'd insulted you a few times? I agree there may be some good reason for the assassination. . . but we don't know what it is. What we have seen on screen is no excuse for blatant murder. . . unless Avon genuinely felt his own life was threatened. However, I think Paul has implied, and some fans certainly seem to think, that the murder was at least partially premeditated (to the extent that Avon was suspicious of Blake for some reason and quite prepared to kill him if necessary). I've no argument with that angle - so long as it's clear Avon didn't casually decide to kill Blake Just because he found Blake irritating; because THAT would, in my opinion, make Avon a pretty unstable, pretty nasty, pretty unattractive individual and not all the worthwhile character I think he was.
Yes, I know now that some fans thought, even before they'd seen the whole of Series 4, that Avon was mad... but I wasn't a fan-club member in those days, nor until after the Series 4 repeats, and had no contact with FAN CLUB members, and had never heard the issue even proposed amongst friends or on radio, TV, in printed word etc. When I later Joined some clubs, I was staggered to discover 'all these fans who thought Avon was off his head', I was also affected (more favourably) by Paul Darrow' s comment in the first newsletter I received <?Horizon?>, when he judged a competition re Avon's possible insanity and wrote that 'for the record', he did not consider Avon was mad.
Who are the easiest characters to write for? Carnell, Avon, Vila, Orac, Blake, Largo, Servalan, Inga, Chesku, the Thaarn, Kelller, Arlen. Who have the most potential to be written for? I could easily write stories about most of the following and many more characters than those I've listed have potential even if I personally don't want to write ALL those stories: Carnell, Avon, Jenna, Avalon (rebel leader activities), Largo and the current President (the Terra Nostra), the Blake clone(s), Kasabi (her view of Servalan), Tynus (past interaction with Avon), the Thaarn (history of Auron and relationship with Cally), Chesku (background to Anna/Avon and the relationships with Servalan and Anna), the fantasy characters in Sarcophagus (background history of an alien), Dorian (history), Deva (working with Blake). I find it amazing that so little fiction has been written about Jenna, Carnell (except by me, but most of mine still isn't printed yet), Avalon (I find her boring but a good fan story could convert me), Tynus, Deva and Dorian.
I think Paul Darrow said once that Avon was easier to play than Blake (he also said if he'd had the Blake part he'd have acted it exactly as he'd acted Avon). One reason Blake is slated is because he has to make fearful moral decisions. Avon la fortunate - most of the time, he can stand aloof from those decisions because he is not very interested in either freedom fighting or the fate of the drugged masses. So, he can criticise when he thinks Blake makes a mistake whilst knowing that he himself doesn' t have to take the decisions. I don't blame Avon for his attitude - it suits his character - but I think his holier-than-thou moralising (whether he's right or not is only part of the issue) is an aspect of B7 which is not always sufficiently considered when Blake is compared morally with Avon.
...Oh, good, another fan who sees Avon as sane, tough, sensible and disinclined to introspection! I think a little angst in his past adds to his charm, but some fans carry the angst to what I'd call extremes and Avon's personality becomes an embarrassing, depressing, sometimes thoroughly unattractive mess. And I thoroughly agree with you too that it's Paul/Avon who made B7 such a thumping, thrilling, unforgettable success, notwithstanding the input from everyone else involved.
Re the chatty bits. I like them, it makes you feel that you are conversing with friends, rather than business associates and after all, isn't that partly what fandom is all about? I'm probably better at rambling chatty bits than coherent considered comments, so maybe that's why I like them - who knows?
Finally, I have a confession to make: when I joined Horizon I stated that my favourite character was Soolin. I only said so because I wanted a free photograph of beautiful Glynis Barber. I apologize for my indiscretion, but it was a very good photograph! My actual favourite character is Vila, although after watching the first 26 episodes again Avon comes a close second. What a cynical old anti-hero he is!
So, only 45 people have joined the letterzine so far? That surprises me, considering that we have a membership of 1000. I'm not surprised that only 4-5 might want to contribute to it (I wouldn't be surprised if only half that number wanted to contribute), but I'd have thought more folks would have been interested in reading it. Perhaps they're waiting to see how much is 'lost' out of the LOG section of the Newsletter... (Jac: By the time the first issue went to press, there were nearly 60 registered subscribers, and more are joining all the time!)
Hear hear, the newsletter is not for fiction. The world is full of it, you can get it all over the place. Lets keep the newsletter for events, comments and other bits and bats of interest. I also agree with all your comments on A: ATA and stand by my view that only the TV series is definitive (and you can probably get round some of that if you want). As soon as writings become definitive it detracts from people using their imagination to come up with alternatives.
Maybe I'm being disgustingly lazy, but I don't WANT to decide which bits of my letters are for the N/L and which only for the letterzine. If I didn't think something was important enough to print, I wouldn't have written it in the first place. Before we had the letterzine, I accepted the practical reality that letters had to be edited. If we' d been given a specific limitation on the length of our contributions, then I'd have ended up de facto doing my own editing. But the way things stand now, I think it's more appropriate for the editors to make those choices (sorry, Jackie!) - they, after all can view our individual contributions in the context of everyone else's and (presumably) make some of their selections on the basis of balance, repetition, etc.
I like the presentation of the Letterzine as it is. I would be much less inclined to read lengthy letters in handwritten form. Trying to relocate comments once they are in typewritten form is bad enough, but it would be an incredibly difficult task if in the original state.
I was tremendously impressed with the punctuality of the release of Letterzine #1, and the standard of all the submissions, long may this continue. The advent of the Letterzine can only be good for the future of the society, giving the membership a very wide representation of views.
I was more than a little unjustifiably terse with [L H] regarding space combat rules. I unreservedly apologise for any offence given. Andrew Wimble pointed out the short-comings of an overly simplistic system far more tactfully, with the added rider that simplicity isn' t necessarily a flaw at all if the game emphasises role-playing over combat. I* m not so sure about this rider though: role-playing rather than roll-playing is fine, but it tends not to kill characters. Combat can Cany decent SF combat system should be LETHAL). If the PCs stand to die, it's worth using rules that attempt to be ' realistic', offering scope for tactical decision making. Added complexity is the price, unfortunately. It's a matter of taste where you draw the line. Of course, there are players who actually like detailed combat systems. But then there are players who like critical hit tables describing horrendous injuries in terms of unspeakable puns. And what GM hasn't praised combat at some point? No more impromptu ham acting, no need to hastily redesign a disrupted plot when the PCs go off at a tangent. No, Just leave it to the dice and the rule book for an hour. As a GM, I' d sooner run a three way fire-fight than a cocktail party.
Starting off, I would like to say a very large Thank You to Mr Terry Nation, without whom Blake's 7 would not have been. I remember very fondly the first time I watched B7. I was drawn to the show and could not wait to see each new episode. Little did I know it then, but B7 had been out of production for several years by the time I saw the first episode, and it came as quite a shock when after watching Blake I found out that it was the very last episode. But what happened, my mind cried. Surely they could not all be dead? And how could Blake have changed so much, from a clean cut freedom fighter to the dingy, scarred man we saw in that last episode? Surely there had to be more. But there was none at all. Tony Attwood tried to give us more, but somehow Afterlife simply did not seem right. The characters were all wrong.
But now perhaps there will be more. In the United States rumours abound about a sequel to B7 written by Terry Nation, that focusses on Avon and Vila. The story is said to take place eleven years after the events in the episode Blake. I have heard that Mr Nation has been working on this book for close to two years now, and I hope that he will finish it soon. I, as well as many American fans, would love to read such a novel. I have also heard that Terry has been very ill, and I would like to wish him a speedy recovery.
B7 has touched me very deeply. It has been entertaining, exciting, and an adventure that many fans cannot get enough of. I would like to than Mr Nation again for sharing with us the Blake's 7 universe. It has meant more to many of us than you could know.
I would also like to thank the cast of B7, who took a simple role and turned it into individual characters that we cared about. Who among us could not help but shed a tear when first Gan died, and then Cally? Who was not shocked when Blake lay dying with Avon standing over him? The actors and actresses made the characters their own, and to many fans, they became like friends.A big thank you must also go to the Horizon staff for keeping B7 going strong into the '90s.
B7 has been a waxing and waning obsession ever since that first announcement of a new space series, when I was 13 (ok, work it out!), and that shot of people going up and down on escalators (I'm sure that's where it comes from). It has lasted through exams, university and into my second full-time job. For me the interest is in the escapism involved (not that real life is that bad) into a world where there are no alarm clocks, no limited leave and no supermarkets! I confess to being less than enthralled by the doings of the cast and crew - no offence, gang, but being an actor is just another job. Nobody rushes up to me and says ' gosh, a real live electronics engineer, can I have your autograph?' It also ruins the illusion to see what a decade of real time has done to some of the lithe and lean individuals on the screen. (Hi diddly dee, an actors life for me!
But seriously, B7 remains a happy reminder of those halcyon days when British TV produced real science fiction and we didn't drown in Aussie soaps and inane game shows. It is a sobering thought to revise that with all the resting/ending of Doctor Who, there is NO SF in production at all, and all that is shown is a few DW repeats (about time, too!) and some dodgy American stuff where the nice guys always win and no one is ever unkind to anyone else. (I'm sorry, Star Trek just isn't the same without the flared trousers, Captain Kirk's shrink-and-grow stomach and the guy in the red shirt always being the one to get it in the first scene.) Real, intermittently depressing hard SF seems to have stopped since Terry Nation stopped writing it. Even the bookstores are no filled with the pseudo-tolkien nonsense that Private Eye so loves to slag off, and the odd, puerile Doctor Who continuation.
So I am particularly interested in the fan fiction kicking around. I find it hard to get hold of anything other than the Horizon zines but for those who haven't read them there is some truly excellent stuff around. My all time fave divides between Inheritance and Captivity. Keep writing, Mary!
If there was a 'whole consistent and coherent framework... adopted as de facto standard in B7 fandom, then I would not be half so interested as I am in participating in discussions and contributing comments of my own. Until the release of videos started last year, my memories of the B7 episodes were very limited. I have been a part of B7 fandom for about 8 years I suppose (although I was a fan from the second episode back in 1978), but during most of that time I did not feel qualified to comment on many of the whys and wherefores of the episodes and all the other little complexities that fandom revels in. Certainly there are a few fans who are well known and who contribute an enormous amount towards keeping B7 fandom extremely alive and well, but fortunately there is also room for the likes of me who has probably already caused one or two people reading this letter to say "but I made that very comment in such and such N/L - why has she copied it". I do not intend any plagiarism at all. My memory is still bad. I cannot recall exactly what I have read before. B7 fans do not seem to take offence fortunately (that I have noticed at any rate) and there is room for the ramblings of people like me, particularly with the arrival of the Horizon Letterzine. Poor Jackie, she has to type it all up!
The banned ST episodes are Miri (nasty blotchy illnesses), Who Gods Destroy (depiction of madness), The Empath (too violent), and Plato's Stepchildren (interracial kissing, Kirk and Uhura -- shock horror!). I haven't actually seen any of these, only read the James Blish novelizations, but the ban was made in the '70s so in these days of A Time to Dance and Terminator, the episodes would probably have all the scare factor of a wet sponge.
The four banned Star Trek episodes have been a rather sore point for* British fans for years. The episodes in question are Whom Gods Destroy, jiri, Empath & Plato's Stepchildren. In actual fact, Miri was shown the once, but then banned because of complaints from viewers about the unsuitabillty of material in the episode (violent children). Whether or not material in the episodes was considered suitable for viewing was decided back in the '60s by the censors, and I understand that it just depended on who was on the censorship boards at the time. In this way, episodes like The Gamesters of Trlskelion in which there is quite a violent bullwhipping scene slipped through the net. As far as the BBC is concerned, the material of the four banned episodes was not considered suitable at the time, presumably they did not therefore buy the episodes and that is the end of it. They just do not want to review this decision 20+ years on. Interestingly enough, I understand that Patterns of the Force is the only episode to be banned in Germany. This too is a ridiculous piece of censorship. The German people are not proud of their recent history, but they do not deny it either and are not afraid to confront any reference to Nazism.
To answer your question about the banning of Star Trek episodes by the BBC: Four ' classic' episodes were banned. Miri was shown in 1970, but subsequently banned as too disturbing for children. The Empath was advertised in the Radio Times, but replaced by another episode; when I wrote to ask why, I was told it was too violent. Similarly, the stock reply re Whom Gods Destroy and Plato's Stepchildren is that they contain disturbing scenes of violence and madness. There have been letter campaigns asking that these episodes be shown late at night, but the BBC say children would stay up to watch them, ' because they' re Star Trek' ! Now that CIC have issued all the old episodes, we can buy them - before, we put up with fuzzy 'nth' generation copies of a conversion some U.S. fan had supplied or saw them at conventions. The general public, of course, didn't see them at all. As for TNG, The High Ground has been banned as the BBC think it is sympathetic to terrorism. Having seen the video, I don't think it is. (Sac. - I think it was Data's casual reference to the unification of Ireland that got the episode the thumbs down!). A lot of classic episodes are edited - I don't know if TNG has been cut - apart from Conspiracy where the killing of the mother creature was so badly hacked it didn' t make sense -but the BBC regularly cut the old series on second showing to fit a 45-minute slot. Other episodes had the ' naughty bits' cut out, like the encounter between Kirk and the slave in Bread and Circuses or part of the other - Kirk's assault on Rand in The Enemy Within, or have had parts cut which the Beeb found too violent, like Kirk's scream in The Man Trap when the salt vampire touches his face. Once cut, the last footage is gone for good, as they" ve continued to show the si iced-up versions. Mind you, we can't complain too much: a ST club, IDIC, published articles by a German fan last year detailing how the cutting and total re-writing of episodes (via dubbing into German) is so bad in some cases that the story is completely changed. The worst example was Amok Time when the whole of Spock's experiences on Vulcan turned out to be a nightmare resulting from a dodgy bowl of plomik soup! So, you see, it could be a lot worse and at least we can now spend all our money acquiring the uncut versions on video. (Jac - Further comments on cutting: while visiting the U.S., I happened to see an episode of Blackadder, that had so much cut out in order to make room for THREE commercial breaks, I couldn' t figure out which episode it was! Furthermore, those Americans who watched Prime Suspect saw a cut version -we were instructed to remove most of the ^hots of naked dead bodies - and to cut dialogue referring to their stench. Go figure it.)
Horizon Letterzine 3 was published in August 1992 and contains 52 pages. It was edited by Jackie Ophir.
The cover for issue #3 features Dresner's reworking of his earlier design. The Liberator is more detailed, with a cascade of envelopes spiralling out from the rear of the ship. An open face font (in upper case) is used to identify this issue as Letterzine 3.
This issue has much discussion about characterization and plot points. Plus, comments on Avon: A Terrible Aspect, fans' fascination with the character Kerr Avon, the lack of science fiction fans in Israel, info on the banned Star Trek episodes, the Sherlockians and the origin of the term canon, the viability for a market for tie-in Blake's 7 novels, and the bravery of putting a Blake's 7 window decal on your car.
Welcome to our third issue - especially those of you who have newly subscribed. Judging by the ever-increasing number of subscribers and the length of the letters I receive, the Letterzine is certainly proving a popular idea! In my last editorial, I asked for your views on the way the discussions in the Letterzine were diverging from those in the Newsletter. In fact, none of you seem terribly bothered! Some have sent individual LOCs for the Newsletter and Letterzine, but most of you are happy to see the Letterzine and Newsletter LOCs go their separate ways. Edited versions of your Letterzine LOCs will continue to appear in the Newsletter, (as well as non-Letterzine LOCs) - so as not to deprive those Horizon members who don't/can't afford to subscribe. Other comments have included a request to make the Letterzine "more visually attractive". It's not difficult to comply with that request (even my trusty AMSTRAD has various fonts and styles available), but it IS time-consuming, If this is a majority view, I'll work on it - but if the rest of you aren't too bothered, then quite honestly I'd sooner spend that time working on Horizon's other publications (no, I haven't forgotten the Poetry Zine!).Conversely, one subscriber (hi, Micky!) asks whether it would be possible to receive the Letterzine on disk, for convenience and to save on postage costs. I don't see why not - would anybody else be interested in this?
I can easily see there is a problem re whether or not to separate the Letterzine entirely from the newsletter, but I can't see an easy answer. I've enjoyed all the letters. It is nice to see them in full. Here with some responses...
The stories you mention, I've read Trust Like the Soul. It is terribly sloppy by my standards (romance - lovely, slop - urgh, but so difficult to define the difference) and has no plot other than the standard fan sex story sort in Avon's or Cally's bunk. It consists mostly of many lengthy sex-and-empathy scenes, also relies heavily on the physical embarrassments of the 'switch', Most of my own correspondents were also disappointed by this story, but I know there are others who love it - no need to tell me that furiously in the next nl (each to their own!). For me a sex wallow has to have more grist to it than just bed scenes and intimate discussions about, for example, the monthly curse, how Cally explains to Avon what to do and how Avon copes with it (how voyeuristic can you get?). There is a lot of that kind of thing to wade through. Avon in particular is too sweet. That may appeal to some Americans? Finally, though it really comes first, I was thoroughly put off, even before I started on the STORY, by the very lengthy self-advertisement the writer put in at the start in which she rhapsodised about her own brilliance and her stories for some other fandom I didn't want to hear about.
In spite of my comments in my last LOC, I don't think B7 fiction will ever be published other than by fans. Given the rather poor quality of much pulp, fiction, some fanfic is far superior. It is also very much geared to the dedicated fan and may no appeal at all to a non-fan publisher whose interest is in making a profit. We could (if anything were published at all) end up with commercial fiction which is inferior to our fine fan fiction and even written by non-fans, eg mediocre pro writers who have little interest in the series and churn out junk to a saleabllity formula. Perhaps we are better off as we are? Sorry, that's rather depressing. I am often filled with gloom when I look at the racks of best-selling paperbacks - so few of them appeal to me! It's no wonder I read mostly non-fiction even though I love a good story.
It's no good you complaining if Avon gets an excessive amount of attention from fans! Let's face it, he's popular, not only with women, and Paul made sure we noticed him and thought about nim. If you men are more interested in the women characters, then for heaven's sake write about them. How come the women characters haven't spawned clubs name 'Servalan' or 'Cally' or whatever in the way that we have a number of Avon clubs, Vila enthusiasts, Tarrant APA, Blake APA...? There was even a Travis club at one time. I think Cally, Auron and the Seska did receive some such attention but Servalan hasn't (so far as I know). I'd have thought men would be falling over themselves to join a Servalan club and rave about her attributes.
I am always interested in reading how various fans would like to related to Avon. I don't feel any real desire to be with him except on a purely professional level, I would love to work with him - I too am a perfectionist ana a workaholic. I wouldn't want to work with Blake (much as I like him) because freedom fighting doesn't appeal to me. Obviously Carnell would be the ideal lover/ companion/ colleague for me in the B7 universe - no restrictions on the kind of relationship I'd want with him! Mind you, life with him would be pretty dangerous, probably more dangerous than with Avon, but also more rewarding as I think Carnell will survive and be successful whilst Avon's emotional problems (whatever we decide between us they are) would annoy me and his difficulties (with Blake, with Servalan, enforcedly - through Blake - with freedom fighting however much he may not wish to be associated with it) seem likely to make him ultimately a loser. Whatever Darnell's hangups are, I don't think they are of the type that would annoy me too much, and whatever problems and dangers he may face, I think he would deal with them in a way I personally find sensible. No, of course you aren't the only one who doesn't find Avon enigmatic, unfathomable, frightening, or particularly dangerous! I don't think he's in the least enigmatic or unfathomable.
We heard a lot about Terry Nation's sequel, some years back. He talked of it at a Con. Later, he said he found story writing very difficult and had only done a few pages, and later still he became ill.
APA vs LOC. I contribute to one and maybe shortly to another. I like the personalised approach of the APA and that leads to a feeling of close friendliness that even the letterzine doesn't have, enjoyable though it is. (Jac: We're doing our best!!) I can see this would be costly for a largish group. It works extremely well for a small group.
To various people including Ros re: B7 novels. I doubt if this would work out and agree with Kathy Swadling on this. Publishers these days are In a cut-throat business, with take-overs and mass sackings common, so they're far more strict about commerciality. Despite the videos and fan following, it's not current, not on TV now and therefore would be regarded as having limited appeal. One of the factors with the ST novel series is the guaranteed on-going public exposure thanks to films, TNG and now Deep Space Nine (The TNG spin-off about a space station: judging by the way the BBC have let SKY buy TNG from the 4th series on, it's doubtful if we'll ever see it on terrestrial TV, and will have to wait until 1994 for the rest of TNG. Short of buying a satellite dish, we have a lot of expensive trips to the video shop in store).
The other problem with B7 books is copyright - presumably still with Terry Nation? No-one can write anything for professional publication without permission from the copyright holder and, I imagine, negotiation of a fee or licence. To answer Sondra Sweigman's point - tf a publisher wanted to do it and was licenced, the writers would not be a problem. They would be commissioned in the same way Pocket Books commissions writers for its ST novels. Of course, only agented writers would get a look in so, with the exception of a few professionally published fans like Jean Lorrah, fans would be turned away as having no agent and no track record. It's very hard to get published as a new writer these days and very hard to get an agent: I can vouch for this from personal experience.
I'm glad you didn't pass any comment on fans' fantasies! Seriously, you're right that it can be a pain in the neck, I'm sorry a lot of this letter has been about Avon but I hope you can see it's not due to fantasising (honest) ~ I just disagree with certain opinions. And I certainly did not wish to imply that men aren't capable of writing good character interaction - after all, there are a lot of great male novelists and playwrights who excel at this. I was commenting instead on what makes women and men fans of an SF programme and how the technical side appears to interest men more while women are interested in the characters, and how this is mostly cultural. I can't recall if I've mentioned this, but recent studies in schools have found that girls are still being discouraged for various reasons from taking an interest in technological subjects. Interestingly enough, I attended a ST con for the first time in ten years this May and found male attendance had greatly increased - about 50% men, I'd guess. These cons were always packed out with women before, with much lusting after 'the Big Three* (Kirk, Spock, McCoy). I got the impression that TNG had brought all these men in. I can't believe it's all for the Special FX, good as some of these are. Maybe men are becoming more interested in characters, maybe the style of TNG is more open with its larger cast enabling more interaction and variety rather than centring around three characters. Perhaps they respond to the good looking Intelligent women in it (though I still think female characters in TNG get short shrift, but that's another story).
The BBC is supposed to show classic ST this year, but NOT the banned episodes. And they'll be showing the same censored or hacked up to fit into 45 minutes' copies as before (see my earlier note on TNG to see how they're treating us on the series!). Incidentally, the reason they give for banning Plato's Stepchildren is that it contains scenes of sadism. The multi-racial kiss is the reason why it's banned in some Southern States of the U.S.
I don't think you meant to imply there was an actual censorship board like the British Board of Film Censors at the BBC. The decision to ban St (and TNG's The High Ground, for that matter) was taken by BBC management. To back down now would be to lose face, of course. I think it must have been very ad-hoc - I remember The Empath was billed in the Radio Times then replaced without explanation by another episode, so presumably they did not preview the whole lot before starting to show it. And on second showing various 'naughty bits' were cut as I mentioned, last N/L.
Avon - Avon, Avon, Avon, Avon, Avon, Avon, Avon, Avon, Avon, Avon, Avon, Avon, Avon, Avon, Avon, Avon, Avon, Avon, Avon, Avon. So there! Seriously though, it's good to have people who are sick of us 'Avonites' around, if just to keep our feet on the ground.
I reckon the idea of a set of professional B7 novels being published is a marvellous one, but in the present financial climate, unlikely. If you want to read some good B7 fiction then look no further than the Horizon zines. My personal all-time favourite is The Epic (or Defects of Loneliness') by Catherine Knowles, but most of the fiction published by Horizon is of a very high standard. Ros Williams has written some superb stories, many available through Horizon - Possible Futures, Afterdeath, Fools Trust, If You Would Have Power. Also there is Perils Of Cheat and Charmer available in the Vilaworld club zine Interface. I haven't yet read Ros' B7 prequel The Way to Rebellion, published by the Avon Club, but I hear that it is brilliant so I'm saving up for it now! Other stories I can recommend are: Strangers Among Us (a B7/Trek crossover), The Alternative Rescue by our friendly Editor, Jackie Ophir available in The Web and Eclipse by Sharon Eckman in Horizon 1+8.
Not having seen all of Star Cops, I'm not sure I'm all that qualified to comment, but watching the first four episodes, I knew It wouldn't be a success because, apart from Nathan Spring, I found the characters to be unlikeable and unsympathetic and the disappointing ratings reflected this. There was also the fact that Chris Boucher had a lot of arguments with the producer during filming. "It Won't be Easy" sang Justin Hayward in the rather out-of-place theme song, and he was right, it wasn't.
The collective name for a series such as Sherlock Holmes is the Canon (borrowed from religious terminology, because Sherlockian fandom grew out of Msgr Ronald Knox's article on textual criticism of the Holmes story - he meant it as a joking way of suggesting that textual criticism was a nit-pickingly silly way of trying to prove the Bible non-historical, but SH fans ignored the intended point and concentrated instead on the amusing game of applying questions of historical consistency to fiction). I should think for most B7 contexts, Just 'the episodes' or 'the show' would be clear enough as a way of talking about it. B7 fans don't actually play the game that Sherlockians do of pretending that Holmes and Watson were a real detective and his real biographer, and Arthur Conan Doyle merely the Literary Agent. cn^a quoiffmsn'fi comment that getting a publisher interested in doing B7 books.
Regarding the comment that getting a publisher interested in doing B7 books wouldn't result in any books unless authors wanted to write the books - It's fairly easy for a publisher who thinks there's a market for a not-yet-existent book to find some sucker of an author to do it. For instance, if you have a stack of woodcuts of blithering idiots failing at various sports, it's easy to talk a young Charles Dickens into writing Pickwick Papers to go around them. But publishers aren't usually quite so lucky in the quality of the resulting work-for-hire as to get a Dickens. As you say, B7 fan fiction is probably a better deal (in spite of the disadvantages of low circulation) than professionally published B7 fiction would be.
In defence of Avon: A Terrible Aspect - I'd like to take an apparently unpopular stance and say I loved the book and I'd like to see Paul write another. Yes, there were continuity problems and scientific anomalies you could fly the Liberator through, but...
Yes, ATA contains many mistakes that you must forgive if you are to enjoy the book, but are Paul's mistakes any worse than the ones we see in the actual series? I remember reading an interview in which Paul stated that he had submitted a rewrite correcting these flaws, but the editor had turned the rewrite down citing the deadline. Damn, bloody nuisance, editors, except of course for our belovea dynamic duo, Jackie and Diane.
Yes, I enjoyed the book and I'm not afraid to admit it. I like the background Paul gave Avon. I particularly like how in Paul's universe the Grant's had Ten own Avon since childhood^ I'd be very interested in reading anything else Paul would care to write, series related or otherwise. I think he should write a PGP. Avon IS different in the book. I don't think Paul was trying to write the Avon we know and love/hate. Rather, I think his intention was to show what events in Avon's life made him what he is. What is so wrong with the Terra Nostra being so prevalent in the book? The Terra Nostra is running the Federation as late as Shadow and probably until Servalan launches her coup. Or perhaps it's that being born in a town John Dillinger used as a hideout, and living an hours' drive from Al Capone's old headquarters, I'm not surprised to see organised crime involved in government. Rather than being criticised, Paul Darrow should be praised. If not for the virtues of ATA, then for taking the time to write the book in the first place. After all, he is only doing what we do ourselves, writing a story about a character he feels very strongly about. If you disagree with nim, fine. But give the man credit for caring enough about his fans and a character he once played to offer us his views on the subject.No, we can not consider ATA the definitive prequel. The only person who can write the definitive prequel is Terry Nation. ATA is not gospel in that it is not part and parcel of the series, but I think it still belongs in the B7 bible. Perhaps we should just consider it one of Paul's epistles.
[A letter in the previous issue] was an interesting discourse on male versus female fan fantasies. (Loved the Mark Antony touch at the end.) Did you mean "sexual" or "sexIST" in the phrase "they are still primarily sexual in nature"? Seems to me you meant the latter. At any rate, my own view is that all fans, male or female, are fully entitled to their private sexual fantasies and even entitled to make them public if they're willing to live with the degree of self-revelation doing so engenders I suspect many such fans have no idea how much they're disclosing about themselves, above and beyond the sexual fantasy per se, when they do that;, but I don't really find the content of such fantasies a suitable topic for discussion in a letterzine. I mean, what is there for anyone else to say about it except maybe "I share your tastes" (or, "I don't")? We can hardly debate the accuracy or inaccuracy, probability or improbability, moral rectitude or moral bankruptcy of statements made under the rubric of erotic daydreaming.
Does anyone know if B7 is still officially banned in Israel? (Jac: Was it officially banned? I did have a theory that Israel TV balked at showing a series where the heroes are (arguably) terrorists with a space-ship called Liberator (oy!). However, there way well be a far more prosaic reason, which is simply a lack of audience - in general, Israelis are just not into Science Fiction. B7 wasn't the only series never shown - they've also never screened Star Trek, Doctor Who, Hitchhiker, Red Dwarf, Star Cops... though my sister tells me that they've started showing TNG on - would you believe - Educational Television!)
If the female characters write their own personalities in a story, it just underlines the shoddy way they were treated in the scripts. I can't see much potential in Jenna myself, though, whilst Cally is arguably one of the easiest. Her time on Saurian Major is a tantalising hook - it's not explicitly stated, but I'd wager that fighting a guerrilla war on a day-by-day basis (as opposed to cruising around ana blowing things up now and then the way Blake did) might have exacted a pretty terrible toll on Cally. Avon may or may not have grown progressively more unbalanced through the series, but I think there's a case for arguing that Cally might have been the only one of them who could actually grow saner.
B7 novels: it does seem as if the possibilities are rather slim, doesn't it? What about an anthology of the better fan short stories? Would it sell to anyone except fans (who would probably have all the stories anyway)? And how would the content be selected?
I think you might have hit it on the head about the Star Cops issue - too many people want their SF to be romantic and escapist, and putting genuinely ordinary people in close orbit in the near future lacks the appeal of pseudo-ordinary people in Outer Space in the far future. I must confess I only watched one episode of SC, and I recall it was the SFX that put me off. I don't believe that good visuals are necessary for good SF, but some of that CSO was painful to the eyes! I also had the feeling that the cast were struggling to come to terms with what they were doing, that it wasn't SF as they thought it ought to be (silly costumes and wigs?), and that led to some rather stilted performances (on the other hand, in B7, I sense that when an actor is given what is effectively a 'straight' part in a less-than-straight setting, s/he treats it with the utmost respect and gives a worthy performance. When the part is written dismissively, and Costume decides to have a wacky fun time, s/he either goes through the motions to get the damn thing over with, or hams the whole thing up and treats it like a joke).
I think B7 could have been made rougher, tougher, darker and more disturbing without (and this is very important) undermining the characterisation or compromising the intelligence evident in the majority of the scripts.
Maybe some people will think I've got a down on the whole series. I haven't. B7 deserves to be applauded for trying to break free of a pernicious mould, which is more than ST ever did. When it succeeded it was brilliant, and when it tried but failed it was still highly commendable. But on the few occasions it didn't bother, it stank.
I don't know who cut your letter (Jac: Probably Rosemarie) but it must have been a different person to the one that did the butcher job on mine. Upon reading the comments of mine that were left, I felt gutted. Some points were missed out entirely, some were severely shortened and others only left the bare facts with no human touch. It felt like being stabbed by a pair of scissors. (Jac: Oh dear... Listen, I'm sorry you feel that way, but surely by now I don't need to remind you that LOC space in the newsletter is limited, 'and most letters are cut in order to allow as many people as possible to have their say- Chatty bits (what you call the human touch), points that are made in other letters, and non-Blake discussions all tend to be first for-the chop. Feel free to ramble on in the Letterzine about incidental music in Australian soaps, but that's the sort of thing that won't appear in the newsletter. This is, after all, the Blake's Seven Appreciation Society!)
Our theories on the orientation of female fans within Star Trek fandom seem to me to be generalisations and stereotypical assumptions. Are they or do you have evidence proving that it is the case? Do males really value need for achievement over relationships? I know this isn't a personal attack, but it still struck me. With relationships falling around my ears, I am placing more and more value on them than ever. I once read an interview with Melanie Griffiths saying that the thing she valued most in life was her friends. "If you have a good group of friends you can do anything". I love Star Trek for the close relationships in it. The fact that virtually everyone is willing to sacrifice themselves for their crew mates at some stage is admirable and I admit it is difficult to empathise with in everyday life, but I do believe that you tell if a person would do it for you and around here there are very few of those types. Out of interest, I don't think I know a single female around here who likes either Star Trek, but there you go, Never mind. As for your comment regarding Ros iHftwic. t stnnri corrected (to quote the Valeyard). Thank you.
Right off, I would like to thank everyone who responded to my idea of starting a Blake's 7 professional book line. I would especially like to thank Ros Williams for describing an excellent way of going about approaching a publisher, and Ruth Berman for recommending several zines that she has enjoyed as well as supplying addresses from which to obtain them. Many thanks. I would also like to thank Sondra Sweigman even though I can see that we have a difference of opinion on many subjects. The first being that I consider fanzines (and yes I do know of them and in fact own several) to be more short stories or novelettes than novels, and second I feel that there is no lack of of authors out there interested in writing a Blake's 7 book. As you mentioned yourself, there are many zines out there, and I think the publishers should be informed that the book-buying public want Blake's 7 material. After all, the publisher is running a business and is always working at ways of making more money through increased book sales. With over 120 Star Trek novels out in the US, with sales in the region of quarter of a million; over 100 Doctor Who books and a new line also coming out, I don't feel it is asking too much to want a B7 book line. A reason for wanting a pro-line of books is that it would hopefully make the books available to more people by having a higher quality of storyline as well as being more visible by promotional means. Unfortunately, if fan interest is not shown, the publishers will have no incentive even to consider doing a line of books. It was not a lack of Interest on the author's part but that of the publisher that put an end to the Virgin Publishing B7 project. But even though Sondra and I have a difference of opinion as to the interest or need in a professional line of Blake's 7 books, we can still find a common middle ground, that being our love of the show.
How many people have bought B7 window stickers and have not had the courage to display them yet? Come on own up! I purchased a sticker for my car and after a couple of weeks I decided to take the plunge and duly put the 'I love Blake's 7' sticker next to my 'I run on Unleaded Petrol' sticker. I am an accounting technician working for a firm of chartered accountants and a few days later my boss called me down, unexpectedly. I thought, "What have I done wrong now?!". But everything turned out OK, as he had seen the B7 sticker on my car and was a great fan of the show. We had an interesting discussion on B7 in which he revealed his favourite character was Servalan. I lent him N/L 27 which he found a bit too 'deep', I think his enjoyment of the series, like mine at first, was on a pure entertainment level.
So you don't think ST:TNG is 'serious science fiction', but you do seem to accept that B7 is, why? Could it be because ST:TNG presents a hopeful and positive view of humanity's future, The Borg excepted, while B7 portrays a more dark and unpleasant future for our descendants. Both strands of science fiction are legitimate and represented to good effect by the aforementioned shows.
I don't recall mentioning having fantasies about Avon - sexual or otherwise. I wrote the most about Avon simply because he is the most interesting and unique character in the Series. (I know I'm letting myself in for a bashing with that statement). Avon is not a stock character easily ordered up from Central Casting (or the British equivalent). As endearing as Michael Keating was as Vila, the lovable thief is not a unique character. Nor is the angst-ridden hero (Blake), the impetuous youthful hero (Tarrant), nor the vengeance-bent orphan girl (Dayna). The hard-as-nails woman in the (stereotypically) man's job could fit either Soolin or Jenna, though Jenna's character, I think, had the potential of breaking out of that mould. Cally's character was rather unique but was never well written for. Which brings us back to Avon. He's neither a villain nor a hero, and I don't think I'd call him a side-kick or a buddy. He's a genius, who are stereotypically cast as old curmudgeons but that type better fits Orac. I like the character of Avon for the reason I like ^the character of Data on ST:TNG. That's because I haven't seen the same character with a different name on a dozen other shows. I think a large part of the credit for Avon's uniqueness has to go to actor Paul Darrow. Years ago I had seen Paul Darrow in the Lord Peter Wimsey mystery Murder Must Advertise. It wasn't a huge part, but it stuck in my mind, so at least 6 years later, when I first saw Blake's 7, I remembered Paul Darrow right away. He played the murderer in Murder Must Advertise but had done it so sympathetically that I had liked his character. Interestingly, I had seen Gareth Thomas far more recently, but didn't remember until it was pointed out to me. Well, there, I'm done, I mostly talked about Avon and I'm not sorry at all!
Would it be too radical a suggestion that you offer subscribers the option of receiving their L/Z copies on diskette? Except for possible cover art (OK, so enclose a nard copy of the cover) it's all Just straight text, and surely it would save an enormous amount of money in printing and postage (especially overseas, plus we'd get our disks back, which it currently isn't economical to do). I would actually find it easier to work with an electronic copy, since I could do string-searches for the points I wanted to respond to. If I really found I had to have a hard copy, I could just print it out on my end. (Jac: Interesting suggestion. I don't see why not - if you don't mind receiving ASCII files, that is. I'm continuing to use my trusty, faithful, reliable CPM-based AMSTRAD for the Letterzine - especially since our all-colour-all-singing-all-dancing, IBM compatible, hard-disked wonder Machine is severely unwell. I do find it amusing that Ros Williams wants the Letterzlnes to look more visually attractive, while you'd prefer to receive it in digital, non-visual form!)
In answer to your question, I think most female fans find Avon fathomable, and yet they don't agree on what they find when they fathom him. In 10 years of hanging in or around B7 fandom, I've found Avon to be a mirror in which half of fandom (no matter how disparate the individuals) see themselves and which the other half (no matter how disparate their fantasies) see their desire. (OK, the sum comes to 100%, which is exaggerated. A few fans out there don't expend much energy on Avon at all.)
Horizon Letterzine 4 was published in November 1992 and contains 56 pages. It was edited by Jackie Ophir.
The only significant change for the cover of issue 4 is the adoption of lower case for the title. The title page format is thus established and remained unchanged thereafter.
As usual, there is much detailed discussion about plot lines and characterization. Some other topics discussed are favorite fanfics, fan clubs and their uses, pushing for a tie-in Blake's 7 market, members of the Horizon Fan Club giving Paul and Janet Darrow a microwave oven, tips for writing good fan fic,
Some letter, Neil! The fact that you're developing a B7 role game tells me a lot... Of course that demands Internal consistency in the same way that a written story does, but that a TV episode does not, necessarily. When the series was originally screened we hadn't seen the video boom which would preserve the episodes forever and make inconsistencies so much more obvious. I cope quite happily with the inconsistencies/anomalies, but when I write a story it is consistent within my concept of the B7 universe.
As for B7 with puppets. Wasn't Tarrant a puppet? Sorry, Tarrant fans, I couldn't resist it. Let it be known that I've changed my views on Tarrant somewhat since I met Steven Pacey at the last Visions con. What a sweet man, and gorgeous at that!And yes, I even got to speak to Paul Darrow (gasp!). I encouraged him to keep writing. I'd especially like to read his account of Avon after Gauda Prime, and I told him so. By the way, I had to ask him how and Janet liked their Horizon microwave oven. Paul said it was very nice and rather like piloting the Concorde - so many buttons. I think I startled him with that question by the look on his face. Just thought the other members would like to know.
I'd like to thank you, and the Airey/Haldeman team for finally writing The Other Side of the Coin. You don't know how long I've waited for Paul's view. And I recommend the first story, The Totally Imaginary Cheeseboard to all. It was wonderful. Especially the part where Avon picks up the package of contraceptives in the convenience store. Hysterically funny!
I tend to agree with what you say about Orbit and Vila. There's no time to react to his death In Blake and, as the longest running character, he deserved something better. If they'd left in the (censored) tears too, that would have been something - imagine Vila forced into the airlock at gun point, tears streaming down his face. (No, I'm not a sadist: it would have been a very powerful, shocking image and I think it would have made people reconsider their views on Avon. Vila's death wouldn't have been easy to brush aside like, say, Dr Plaxton's). Roslyn is also right that there's an enormous change In Tarrant's character between Series 3 and 4. Personally, I don't see anything in the series itself to account for it. As I've said elsewhere, the other characters get wrenched out of true in Series 4, which deteriorated at times into the Avon and Servalan Show'.
No, you're not the only one who thought the others should have reacted more to Cally's death. I didn't expect them to sob Into their hankies, but the odd sign wouldn t have gone amiss - eg having someone say "Cally" later on and then remember, shared glances, etc.
To update my previous letter. The BBC have shown a few 'Classic ST' episodes and, judging from the fact that Kirk's scream was shown in Man Trap, it looks as if they're showing new UNCUT prints. Yippee! Fingers crossed - they might even show the banned episodes!
Was was that an exact quote of official BBC policy: 'Give the people programmes WE want' rather than THEY? If so, perhaps they have! Their management have certainly had a real downer on SF by the way they've treated B7 and DW and now ST:TNG. Perhaps they think we should like the same sort of programmes they do - Eldorado and game shows? I've heard that they're having to rethink and may have to reduce the number of game shows and US imports (knowing our luck, that's TNG!)...
Right off let me say that I have been a very big supporter of a professionally published line of Blake's 7 novels. My wife would even go so far as to say that I was obsessed with the idea, but like Ros Williams, I too now feel that the possibilities of getting anything, either fiction or non-fiction, published professionally on Blake's 7 is almost impossible. I have come to this conclusion after several conversations with American and British publishers. First, let me say that I am a professional writer who had considered very seriously writing a Blake's 7 novel myself, but after a conversation with Virgin Publishing's Editor Peter Darvill-Evans, I feel that even if I did write the book - In fact, no matter who wrote the book - chances of it being published by Virgin are non-existent. Mr Darvill-Evans stated quite matter-of-factly, and I must say bordering on the point of being rude, that Virgin had no plans or even thoughts of doing anything on Blake's 7. The reasons Mr Darvill-Evans gives for this are first that there is absolutely no interest whatsoever in a book by either the book buying public or the booksellers to which the interest in or lack of can either make or kill a book project. Second, Mr Darvill-Evans stated that there is just no one who is willing or interested in writing a Blake book to begin with. I find the latter very hard to believe. He also stated that he had taken a proposal for a large format illustrated Blake book to the book trade (was this possibly the complete Blakes 7?) and there was absolutely no interest in this project. In fact, he also stated that the only reason the book by Mr Andrew Pixley and Mr Alsop was cancelled was because the writers decided that they just did not want to write the book. This is contrary to the reasons given by Mr Pixley and I for one tend to believe Mr Pixley, especially considering the attitude with which Mr Darvill-Evans speaks of anything 10 do with Blake's 7. I have had much contact with various publishers but this is the first time I have come across such an attitude of open hostility that Mr Darvill-Evans projected. Not to be unfair to him, perhaps I just caught him at a bad time. I really don't know.
I have also talked to American publisher Carrol Publishing, and at one time they were negotiating with a Star Trek author about possibly doing an original Blake novel (Jean Lorrah, perhaps?) and they had even spoken to Paul Darrow about doing another Avon book , but unfortunately it seems that they have since cooled on both ideas. When I spoke with the publishers I asked in what way fans could show their interest in a Blake book. They both stated that the best way to get publishers interested in doing anything on Blake's 7 would be to start a petition, making the results known to both the larger booksellers and the publishers themselves. Publicity, they said, was the key. My experience with petitions of any form has led me to the belief that there is just never enough participation to make them work. A good example is the 'Save the Doctor' campaign for Doctor Who.
Also disappointing is the fact that even more than an original book line I hoped to one day see the much rumoured Terry Nation sequel novel In print. After Mrs Williams' comments In Letterzine 3 I fear that this too will never be. It seems that we Blake fans Just cannot win sometimes, much like the B7 characters themselves, I guess. This is really too bad.
Now about this notion of a doing a complete Blake's 7 book that is illustrated and in a large format. The idea is just too good to let die due to the lack of interest on the part of a publisher. How about Horizon doing it? I know, are you crazy I hear committee members saying. Well, just hear me out first. I know that this would be a very monumental undertaking but I feel Horizon could do it. Horizon could keep the same general outline that Virgin was going to use, after all, they don't want to do the book. The same things could be written about, such as chapters on the actors, the creation of the show, actual making of the show, cast and crew interviews, a section on merchandising, unseen photos, and a biography of Terry Nation. Instead of doing it in a book format it could be done much in the same way the Horizon Newsletter is done. It could be A4 in size, 84 pages long, over 2 or 3 volumes or issues. I know that this would be a very large undertaking, but this project is Just too good to let die and besides, who else better to do this project than the fans who love the show so much. I'm sure many people would support this project, possibly many would like to contribute, and I'm sure many more would want to obtain it. Well, it's just a suggestion. I hope something comes of the idea!
If anyone knows of a booklet Mr Darrow wrote called Blake's Something which was sold at various conventions and could tell me if it is still available or would be willing to sell me a photo copy of theirs, I would be very grateful. (Jac: I've never heard of it!)
I was just wondering whether there was any way Horizon would consider obtaining a copy of [the blooper reel] and making it available on video cassette to Horizon members, much like you did the Dark Justice video. I for one have never had the opportunity to see the Blooper Reel, but would really like to get a copy of It.
Why should a Terry Nation prequel/sequel automatically be definitive? No disrespect to the guy, since B7 was his idea, but the best episodes are not necessarily his. Chris Boucher's were generally better, but even so I would not automatically regard a Boucher continuation as 'definitive'. I much prefer to regard B7 the TV series as dead and unressurectable - any additional material, whoever from, can only be regarded as speculative. This view may stem from my jaundiced attitude to the 4-th season, which is largely negative. I can't help but see a 5th season take the 4th's weaknesses a stage further, further undermining the underlying integrity of B7. I'll admit it would be nice to be proved wrong, but I'd be the first to acknowledge that a 5th series meeting with my approval would not necessarily meet with the approval of all, some or even any other tans.
Your remarks about favourite fan fiction shows that you've collected a very wide selection: I've only read one of your choices. What I notice from those choices and remarks, yours and others, is that stories appear to be Judged primarily on the basis of their content, their relevance to B7, the accuracy of character portrayal/motivation etc. I detect (perhaps wrongly) en implicit disregard (or rather lesser regard) for the quality of the writing itself. The style, in other words. Style is important. A story can have the best ideas in the world, but if the writing's bad then it pulls the whole thing down (conversely, of course, good writing alone does not a good story make). The only fan fiction I've read is the currently available Horizons, and while the level of content is generally high, the quality of writing Is very variable. One story, which I shall not name (but not one of yours), was so utterly dreadful I failed to read more than three pages despite several attempts to get into it.
It might be too much to expect high standards from amateur writers fired by enthusiasm, some perhaps writing for the first time in their lives, but there are clearly some very talented people around. On the other hand, there are seme people out there with good ideas who often fail when it comes to putting them down on paper. I'm not happy about comparing the efforts of beginners with those of more seasoned hands, but ultimately a story has to be rated on its own qualities. It would be helpful at times to see a brief intro from the writers themselves, though, to hear what they are trying to do, and then to judge their efforts accordingly. The following list is of the main bones of contention I've found in fan stories. The criteria are personal, but I'd be interested in hearing what other people think. Not all these points are pertinent to all stories, of course, and some stories are free from all of them (but I won't name names).
1) Poor writing technique. Call me a stick-in-the-mud traditionalist if you will, but I believe that conveyance of thought and feeling should come through action and/or dialogue rather than bald authorial interjection. I prefer to see narrative viewpoint maintained throughout a story or discrete section of a story, rather than changed at will (sometimes within a paragraph). Vivid description helps a lot too, and the use of simile and appropriate metaphor. Stories told through the viewpoint of a particular character should accurately reflect that character, or at least the author's interpretation of the character. I prefer small incidents detailed in depth to sweeping epics of broad scope but correspondingly shallow background.
2) Too many stories carry a sense of the archaic, surely inappropriate to a technological, largely atheistic future society. Whilst it could be argued that the far-future is so far away that modern idioms of expression are inapplicable, this was not the general approach of the series where dialogue was largely very modern In tone, not a rehash of a thud and blunder historical romance. I can't help wondering to what extent some writers really capture the feel of the series and its milieu and, perhaps more interestingly, should B7 fiction written today try to reflect the mood of the 1990s, as if B7 were still being made today? I've read various references to 'consorts' and 'gallants' and even (ouch!) 'Servalan's cub', but I've yet to see a mention of 'bodycount* or 'collateral damage'.
3) The approach to many stories owes more to the pulps and serials of the '30s than the more rational attitude of later years. New metals and minerals (inevitably mined by slaves) rear their ugly heads with no sense of even an elementary chemistry textbook being consulted beforehand. Various humgrommets (wonderful word!) crop up all too, often, devised solely to expound on a clever idea with little apparent consideration for any wider social-political- technological considerations. This isn't exclusive to B7 by any means, and was plaguing SF before the term was even dreamt of, but I think it's recognised that its more nonsensical applications have had their day. Perhaps the worst offender is the futuristic society, which usually comes across as a simplistic (Utopian?) blueprint even if not actually intended to be. Setting and background atmosphere are crucial to a good story and require particularly demanding attention in SF: without scientific or socio-economic conviction in the background, the story immediately suffers, however good its plot or characterisation may be.
4) Another hangover from the pulps irks me a bit more and It plagued the series. There is the ultra-powerful Liberator, Orac the super computer, Avon the great computer genius, Vila the master thief, Soolin the fastest gun, Tarrant the FSA prodigy: the biggest, the fastest, the greatest, the best, the only - if that's not speaking the language of the power trip, then what is? Is half the appeal of B7 really the thought of being up there with these people (where we think we ourselves belong?), and am I alone in preferring to regard Avon, Tarrant, Soolin etc as merely being highly skilled? It lurks in the fiction, too, partly as over-powerful bits of technology, but more insidiously in the incidental characters. Sometimes it seems as if everybody has to be Somebody, a genius, a hero, a prince-in-waiting. Where are the little people? Where are the proles?
5) This last one is pure speculation and may be quite unwarranted, but I detect an unconscious connivance at times between reader and writer to keep B7 fiction along a narrow set of rails. In just a handful of zines I've read two rewrites of the Orbit shuttle scene, and two stories with Avon telling a dying Cally (or her ghost) how much he loves her. I get an overwhelming sense of mutual indulgence at work, an ongoing re-experience of fondly treasured moments only superficially disguised by the overlying differences: a reliving rather than a true reinterpretation. I also detect in such cases a tendency for real emotion to be eschewed in favour of simple sentiment, which only serves to further trivialise the content.
That doesn't mean I'm saying that there aren't any good stories (always assuming I can spot a good story in the first place). The Horizon zines have carried some excellent stuff. I particularly like the irreverent humour, it's a healthy reminder that fandom is basically pretty trivial and having fun is a big part of it.
Wendy Ingle's Dimples and Hairpiece had me creasing up, which says a lot since I've never watched so much as a minute of Dempsey and Makepeace. Brad Black's Rescue Who sunk to abysmal depths of lavatory humour but with wit and reckless bravado and a total lack of respect for anything and anybody. Wonderfully heretical! (I found the crossovers with The Young Ones and Blackadder less successful, perhaps because they were trying to make laughs out of someone else's humour.) Judith Seaman's All The Days of Christmas was very clever: I like the way she matched the different items to the characters. Fliss Davies' My Late Lamented Friend was more restrained, but conjured up some wonderful images. Val Leibson's Deja Vu was totally unrestrained, and brilliant with it.
For the serious stuff, I like the way Helen Pitt's The Power and the Glory paints a very vivid picture of the planet Paorl: I don't agree with the story's assessment of Blake's aims, but the politics are at a far higher level than Servalan's Cunning Plan which belongs more to Blackadder than Blake's Seven. It's not a perfect story, having several irritating features, but its strengths pull It above its drawbacks. Judith Rolls' The Revenge of Haki is also very vivid, and the landscape of Haki springs very readily to the mind's eye, perhaps suspiciously so. The story is so well written it can even change tense without jarring. As an examination of Avon's past it relies heavily on novelty value, which is no bad thing in itself, and I'm prepared to give it the benefit of the doubt. Judith Seaman's (why is B7 fandom is full of Judiths?) Seeds of Legend is a straight, no-frills adventure. I like the limited scale of the action: a small blow struck for freedom without altering the fate of millions, an accurate reflection of the painstaking piecemeal way in which real-life progress is made.
Mary Moulden's Inheritance I like for its older, mellower vision of Avon (I'm sure Mary didn't mean it, but I picture him as long-haired and stubbly-chinned, a bit like Mel Gibson at the beginning of Thunderdome). The plot is reasonably sensible for this brand of space opera and it generally steers well clear of its potential pitfalls. Pamela Wright's Life-Watch: I include this one because when I twigged what was going on I groaned and then came out the other end pleasantly surprised. It treads a very fine line between emotion and sentiment and never once goes right over the edge. Rather than wallow in details it lets its depth of feeling steadily accumulate through what is actually a rather fast-moving story.But if I had to pick an all-time favourite out of the Horizon offerings it has to be Margaret Scroggs' For Jenna. THIS is the kind of B7 stuff I want to read: It operates on a sensible scale of proportion, treats its hardware with respect a humgrommet-free zone), and oozes with deliciously sleazy atmosphere. Despite the odd trite moralising platitude about drugs (when's someone going to give us a first hand account of a Shadow trip?) the story radiates decadence and menace, and avoids two pitfalls that have marred some other tales. First, it makes clear that frontier dwellers do not live like idealised medieval peasants (as they seem to in, for example, Judith Seaman's Fruits of the Moon Tree, a bit whimsical for my tastes but with superb dialogue -- the characters words alone identified them much of the time, and that's rare). Second, the Federation's evil black-clad troopers were portrayed in a refreshingly ambivalent light, reminding us that there are human beings under those helmets and not monomaniacal thugs. It was, in many ways, a good Spaghetti Western, and that's a compliment.
Of the zines that I have managed to get hold of so far, I find that my favourite stories are written by just one author; I can spot them now without having to look at the index. I find that if I begin a story and feel a 'tingle' within the first couple of paragraphs and the hackles rise on my neck and I know it's a Judith Seaman. In my opinion her work is excellent. Her portrayal of all the B7 characters is faithful to the nature of the originals in the programmes. An achievement bordering on the impossible when you remember that the programmes themselves had a variety of writers. What I particularly enjoy though is her DEVELOPMENT of the characters, especially through all of her Program and Ghost series. I feel that her grasp is so accurate when she writes within the four season framework that I'm happy to let her lead me on beyond Blake feeling that she knows enough not to do them any disservice. Add to this her ability to see and express the funny side and you have a very considerable talent indeed. So full marks to Judith and PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE may we have Ghost 6? I agree with Ros that Yvette Clarke's Inheritance is rather wonderful, as is Avon 1 by Yvette Clarke and Brenda Callagher.
There are some other very good stories around: Open Season by Vicky McManus in Gambit 8 is the very best thing in the zine. It's a lovely portrayal of the Cally/Avon relationship that shows a working, practical involvement that encompasses a variety of emotions without ever descending into 'slop'. Again, this is a story that raises the hackles because of an immediate conviction that... yes -that's right! That's how they WOULD behave.
Another enjoyable story is Mirage by Jean Graham. This isn't a hackle raiser, but a very pleasant steady read with a rather nice basic idea behind it. It leaves one feeling good and with the conviction that one had suspected all along who was REALLY organising the galaxy!Another that fits, in my opinion, In the 'pleasant read' category are all the Sheila Paulson Jabberwocky stories. I wish I could get hold of more but it's that dreaded American minefield again. Couldn't Horizon members club together and send someone over there to buy a load of zlnes? It's very frustrating... sorry! Where was I? Oh yes, Jabberwocky. I think these are lovely, safe and comforting (I bet they're the sort of thing that you either love or hate!). They're the evening cup of hot chocolate stories that leave you with a warm glow and a good feeling of everything being all right really. There is soon to be released a Jabberwocky Collected zine that also has some new material. I'm about to buy this - wish me luck!
Back to hackle raisers - Nemesis by Carol Wyke, in the Avon club's Avon 2 zine. think this one is excellent. Perhaps it just suited my mood at the time but I felt as though I'd been grabbed by the throat, hauled around the room, bashed through a window and launched into orbit. By the end I felt I'd suffered but my God... it was worth it! I'm trying to save up enough emotional energy to read it again!
Let's not forget that the programme was funny at times, so I also like a well written humorous story. Judith Seaman naturally takes pride of place with All the Days of Christmas (next to B7 I love Christmas most!). Also Interval by Judith in Horizon 6, and Rescue Who by Brad Black in Horizon 16. Another one I like is in Interface 12 - Intergalactic Velvet by Leah Rosenthal and Ann Wortham: "If you do," he pronounced slowly, "I will personally hunt you down, and plug you... three times... with a projectile weapon... and I swear Blake, I'll stand over your body, gun smoking in my hand... and I'll laugh! I swear I will!" Roj Blake grinned, clapping Avon on the shoulder, "You're such a joker"...
Ouch! Some of the B7 poems are funny as well, but I'm not going to mention any 'cos I'm not actually sure whether they're meant to be funny sometimes. Oh, there is one - Smuggler's Blues by Rebecca Ann Brothers (Down and Unsafe 7). I found this one very moving, it's not often anyone writes from Jenna's point of view and I'm becoming more interested in her lately!
Must get off the subject of zines. Actually, am I allowed to admit that I'd rather read B7 than watch it, or is this considered bad form? (Jac: Not bad form at all, just another valid way of enjoying fandom!)... Many thanks for allowing me time to state my opinions on B7 stories and zines. Isn t it wonderful that with zines, as with the programme itself, the knowledge that others are seeing it totally differently and disagreeing with what I say Is actually adding to rather than detracting from the enjoyment of the whole rather strange experience of B7 fandom.
Yes! I own up. I haven't yet plucked up the courage to put my B7 sticker in my car. I shall probably buy but never wear a T-shirt And I put all my N/Ls and zines in a cupboard rather than on a shelf. I don't pretend to understand this. It was only when I read your letter that I realised I was a closet B7 fan! Is there a cure? HELP!!
L/Z on diskette... Good God! Pass the Valium. May we have hardback editions of the L/Z with wonderful thick creamy pages, words printed beautifully and clearly, detailed illustrations, decorated capitals throughout. Can it reach me still smelling of ink and glue so that I can hold it and smell it and absorb its sheer bookiness and SEE all those lovely WORDS. Diskette!! This may be worse than [mentioning the show] 'Neighbours'! Do something, Jackie. (Jac: Cor, I despair of you lot sometimes! a) No, you can't have illuminated manuscript-type Letterzines.)
Letterzines on disk? Why not? It would certainly be better for conservation. We could send in disks, which would be cheaper for Horizon, and reuse the same ones over and over again. Having a find command available would be an enormous benefit and we could print them out if we wanted to.
Star Cops - I heard that Chris Boucher was unhappy about the casting. I wonder who he'd have chosen for the parts? I am sure the series had great potential but the casting I recall was absolutely dreadful, apart from Nathan who was quite nice, though not charismatic enough for me.
I didn't find Avon very 'different' in Paul Darrow's novel; on the contrary, he seemed the only recognisable aspect of it. Avon's personal charm came over with stunning force, although his intellect didn't feature so well. As a novel in its own right (one of Avon's ancestors in a grim Gothic scenario, as one reviewer put it) it's racy and interesting. It should have been promoted as a Gothic fantasy based on the Avon character, but I imagine the publishers couldn't see the distinction or felt that kind of description wouldn't sell it. Unfortunately for Paul, many fans were (I think - am I wrong?) expecting something with atmosphere and content and close to what we'd seen on screen. According to the Macbeth programme, Paul is writing another novel.
Re Jabberwocky, The Edge of Infinity  and some other epics, what a shame it is that some good long stories are split into bits and submerged here, there and everywhere in multi-story zines. I know it is difficult sometimes to produce single story zines, but I do hate having to hunt from one zine to another to find bits of a story. I am always tempted to rip up the multistory zines and rebind the epics, indeed I have occasionally done so, which is rather hard on the writers of shorter stories, so in my opinion mixing genuine single-zine length stories with true short stories is a trial for all the writers. I gave up trying to get it, and may well never see the rest of Edge, which I hear is appearing gradually in parts in various zines.
On the subject of romance, I agree with you 100%. Stories can get slushy. I think that's one reason that there were no obvious relationships between crew members on screen. Was it thought that romance would detract from the ongoing stories, or that it was not what the audience wanted to see? That's why characters like Kerril and Zeeona were brought in - they were one-off characters easily disposed of at the end of an episode (not so easy to do if the romance is between regular characters). If they had written a potential relationship between Cally and Avon or Dayne and Tarrant then there was no turning back. Screen is irrefutable, irrevocable and more or less permanent in the fans' minds (even if there were stories like Star Drive that are far from popular). At least if a fan story overdoses on the slush you can cheerfully forget it. Anyone agree? Or did the BBC have another reason for their 'no romance' policy?
Re Avon ATA - I also enjoyed the book, it was very well written indeed, which makes Paul Darrow sickeningly talented. I met him at a signing session in Stevenage recently, and he seemed a little apologetic about it, he said that he wasn't too sure about the science in it. The only thing I didn't like about it was a bit too much He took her roughly, but all in all it was a very professional novel and highly enjoyable. It was a bit of a let down finally meeting him, I was expecting to meet Avon. Paul Darrow is far too nice for me!
Letterzines on disk? Why not? It would certainly be better for conservation. We could send in disks, which would be cheaper for Horizon, and reuse the same ones over and over again. Having a find command available would be an enormous benefit and we could print them out if we wanted to.
1. In the Wake of Ruin by Linda S. Willard (Horizon 11). Though comparatively short, this is the best PGP I have read, because it doesn't just accept what happened on Gauda Prime, but gives a credible reason as to WHY it happened.
2. Program and Ghost series by Judith Seaman. 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.
3. Fool's Trust by Ros Williams (Horizon 13). One of the first pieces of fan fiction I ever read and still one of my favourites. It's an alternative universe story that relates just exactly what I thought would happen if Blake ever won his fight against the Federation.
4. The Mind of a Man Trilogy: (The Mind of a Man is a Double-Edged Sword, Mascarada and Shadowplay) by Susan Matthews. As others have stated, the first part of the trilogy is the strongest story, the last part is a bit of a wallow. As Ros Williams stated, the Vila sub-plot is totally ridiculous and there's a hole in the Anna Grant part of the story (Anna Grant again!) big enough to drive a train through. But overall the story is well-written and captivating.
5. Seven Days to Karma by Julie Cleveland (Gambit 4). Set in Series 1, this could easily have been one of the episodes of the show. Accidentally stranded in the wilderness, while the Liberator is away delivering medical supplies, Avon and Vila must trek for 7 days to reach the nearest inhabited city. The characterisations of Avon and Vila are perfect, the banter clever and the plot exciting.
6. Reflections in Shattered Glass by Joe Nazzaro. What if an alternative universe existed where everyone has a twin whose personality is exactly opposite of their own, and what if due to a teleport malfunction those two worlds are mixed up, with an alternative Avon and Vila exchanging places with the original. The original Avon and Vila find themselves in a confusing world that includes an ultra-evil Blake and a heroic Servalan. A fascinating story.
7. Possible Futures by Ros Williams. (Horizon 7 and 8). I liked this story chiefly for its unique way of resurrecting Cally and its practical ending. I always knew Avon would defeat the Federation if he wanted to.
9. Edge of Betrayal by Kathy Hanson. (Down and Unsafe 7). Tarrant is discovered to have been originally an agent from Central Security sent to infiltrate the crew. Now the others must decide if he has stayed true to his original mission or has really defected and is therefore worthy of their trust. A series 3 story with good characterisations.10. Regency by Irene Stubbs (Gambit 6). Normally I dislike PGPs where everyone improbably survives. But this story has such a clever angle that I found it plausible and fun to read.
Why are the Dr Who and Star Cops debates in B7 fandom? I don't know, but I am glad they are because otherwise there wouldn't be anywhere else I could indulge in them. I am a big fan of (original) Trek and have belonged to several Trek fan clubs over the last few years. It only seems possible to have a good discussion about anything one wishes within B7 fandom. Trek fandom concentrates on Star Trek alone. Maybe it is because there are, with the advent of the films and TNG, new things to discuss in Trek, whereas there isn't in B7. Not that B7 is dead, far from it, but B7 fandom is strong enough to embrace a multitude of other aspects of science fiction fandom.
You seem to write off [Pam B's] comments about female fans in Star Trek fandom as generalisations and stereotypical assumptions. You are treading on thin ice! Go to any Star Trek convention and there is a good chance that women will outnumber men, possibly by about 2 to 1, maybe more, maybe less. I went to a Humour in Science Fiction convention earlier this year (oh what the heck, it was Inconsequential). The ratio of women to men was 1:2. I have belonged to 4 Star Trek fan clubs. The two to which I still belong are either predominantly or completely run by women. Of the other two clubs, both predominantly run by men, one was rather serious and heavily into the ranks business (I was destined to remain an ensign forever) and the other club, with a beautifully typeset newsletter (men Just love to play around with computers) was a bit too fond of including lengthy, boring reviews of someone's visit to the US, how they went to Paramount, met Richard Arnold (yawn) and had a go in the Next Gen show at Universal City. (Maybe this is an appropriate moment to say that I have just been on my hols in the States and whilst in LA visited Universal City... and didn't go to the Next Gen show).
As for whether you know any women who like Star Trek. I get the impression that you are a younger fan (late teens/early 20s?). Girls of that age are desperately trying to follow (fashion) trends, meet boys etc, and I had to put up with a fair amount of ridicule when I developed my interest in SF whilst in my teens. Even now I am frequently ribbed about it by work colleagues, my family having mostly just used to it, but learnt years ago to ignore it and instead to try and spread the gospel, so to speak.
Horizon Letterzine 5 was published in March 1993 and contains 59 pages. It was edited by Jackie Ophir.
This issue saw the first appearance of a contents and it listed the names of twenty fans and the length of their letters.
As per other issues, the discussion was mostly about characters and characterization and plot points. Some topics: was Blake a terrorist, fan writing techniques, the feasibility of Blake's 7 tie-in novels, the Blake's 7 blooper reel.
With regard to B7 novels (and others too, for that matter) - publishing, like everything else, is in deep recession and it's quite true that many so-called 'best-sellers' are hyped to be so and/or are 'formula' pieces. I can think of any number of novels and novelists who fall into this category. Any new writer today faces long odds and a hard struggle. And anyone contemplating fan fiction as a money spinner is naive or worse!!
Writing. Hear, hear, you ole stick-in-the-mud traditionalist, you! I'm a great believer in thought and feeling coming through action and dialogue. Especially the latter. There are dangers here, though, in that a writer can get swept into the characters and their exchanges, almost to the exclusion of the reader! And yes, the small canvas is often a better medium than the larger one. It is also important to know when a story is finished. They do have a natural end - or should do.
The sense of the archaic that you mention is interesting-. I know just what you mean, too. I think it comes over because of the desire to create the rather Gothic horror of a B7 universe. This desire for the Gothic element comes, I think, because of the darkness, metaphorically speaking, of the Federation society scenario. The futuristic element is clear enough, but maybe writers get confused with the feeling of dark horror and that of bright promise usually or often associated with a futuristic society - all that shining metal and clean lines! As a matter of fact, outside of the B7 universe, I see no reason why the distopian future should be obviously 'modern' rather than obviously 'archaic'. It might depend on how society reached the future postulated. My own view of a distopian future is that there's a mixture of the archaic with the new. Certainly the attitudes tend to remain archaic. Depressingly so!
One of the biggest problems in writing, as you rightly say, is the setting of a background and atmosphere. Every writer has their own way of doing this - I think that they should grow in the awareness of the reader through the characters' conversations/actions and so on. One of the problems in the B7 universe is the assumpt ion that everyone having seen the series knows exactly what that background is. Although that can have advantages if you really want to be lazy about it and simply have a 'conversation' which I confess I find a satisfactory way of doing things sometimes.
Re zines - I find them fascinating. Anyone who has as complete as possible list of early B7 and DW ones would earn my undying gratitude,.. Anyone who cares to tell me why they enjoy reading/writing/collecting them would earn similar undying gratitude.., Anyone know how many there are? I'm fascinated that you would rather read B7 than watch it, and can understand it. There's something satisfying about some of the stories and it's a satisfaction that's often longer lasting that 50 minutes of TV somehow.
LPF was "Liberator Popular Front" which began as a joke by a group of fans who wore T-shirts at cons and then decide to set up a club, This happened in 1980. It was a good club and produced a lot of lively debate. (The name was probably a joke from the Citizen Smith TV series which featured the "Tooting Popular Front"). Anyway, the club closed in 1986. On a related point to Ruth Berman who asked about Anne Lewis: sadly, she died in 1982.
LPF was Liberator Popular Front (Tooting Popular Front was on TV at the time, wasn't it? Repeating again now, lovely!). Club run by Audrey Waller and Jane Passfield (two of the best editors around, and Jane wrote excellent fiction and poetry) with a lot of input from Tim Pieraccini (more excellent fiction and some prodigious scripts). The club commenced before Horizon, I think, and was larger for a while. When interest began to flag, before the series was shown in the US, Audrey and Jane decided to close LPF - also, they no longer had the time to deal with it. I correspond occasionally with Audrey, who is still a fan, but have no idea what has happened to Jane. Newsletters were quite serious, heavy on analytical LOCs and articles, with some short fiction, rather like the Avon club newsletters.
Re censorship in Star Trek. It wasn't government pressure that caused problems at the BBC but Mary Whitehouse and her Viewers and Listeners Association. For example, her outbursts about the early Tom Baker Dr Whos resulted in the producer being changed and the new one being instructed to lighten it up and make it humorous.
As for your question about Mary Whitehouse's longevity, you might have gathered from my answer to Kathy that Mary and her cohorts have been around since the mid-70s at least, probably earlier. I seem to recall they started up in the 'permissive' late 60s.
Technicalities? Some fans aren't interested in whether a 'new metal' is viable, or how the teleport may work... that isn't what they watched for, or would never write anything if they worried about it because they aren't technically minded. It would be a shame ii the most popular non-technical fan stories were - um -excised from the B7 universe and clearly there are quite a number of fans who prefer the non-technical tales so fiction has to cater for them too. I go halfway to your viewpoint - I don't like untechnicalities, but I've also read a few 'technical' stories which had no other merit at all (in my opinion), ie they were excruciatingly boring. Furthermore, B7 isn't just 'technical'!
To be fair to fan writers, canonical B7 would sometimes resort to pulp style made-up metals, elements, and especially crystals: Monopasium 239, Herculanium, dynamon crystals, ison crystals, crystals for the Liberator machinery, fuel crystal for Scorpio, TP crystals for code-breaking, 'ice crystals,' Kairopan crystals, feldon crystals.
Horizon zines: are good and bad. Equal to the best in artwork/physical presentation although some Americans (Americans tend to use a whole tree for each zine) say they think the little Horizon zines rather poor value for money. I like the small size - it is cheap to post, easy to store, easy to carry around and anyway, it's the content that matters. I think raost Horizon stories ore of acceptable standard, a few are memorable, and another few are quite awful.
I think it's sad that Horizon won't issue B7 novels as single-story zines, as they are missing a whole dimension of B7 fiction. However good short stories may be in a multi-story zine, for me personally anecdotes don't compare with a major, complex novel - and the moment you chop a long story into bits to spread it across zines, you've diminished its impact in several ways (the only conceivable benefit being to people who don't like long stories?) I'm not au fait with Horizon's financial arrangements and perhaps they can't afford to take on B7 novels. Industrious American zine editors will promote and sell your novels widely over there. But you friends in the UK may never even hear about your novels unless you tell them or they've American contacts (because the Americans don't seem to publicise their zines much outside America). I'm being pressed continually by some American friends to send all my longer stories over there and really it does seem the only possibility for novels. Much British fiction is no longer in print.
(Jac: We do print B7 'novels' occasionally - 'The Epic' and 'Strangers Among Us' are single-story zines. However, you're right about the consideration being financial - we really can't afford to risk printing single-story zines that might not sell. ('The Epic' and 'Strangers' were already established 'best-sellers' before we did the professional re-issue). In America, a) printing costs are a fraction of what they are here, and b) the market is vast, with huge 'zine-conventions' like Media West. So with a lower initial financial outlay and guaranteed sales, American editors are in a much better position than we are to take risks. That's why we tend to play it safe, and aim for mass appeal in the Horizon zines, with a mix of long and short, funny and serious, different seasons, PGP and Pre-WB stories. One last word on the subject of breaking down long stories and spreading them across different issues: It didn't hurt Charles Dickens!!)
Writing style. You are wrong if you assume I don't take writing style into account. Chameleons gets into my top ten mainly on style and quality of plot construction, because I'm not very enamoured of the story itself. Yes, some people don't like Servalan. She is OTT - I find that immensely amusing. Perhaps you'd have preferred the original Servalan as devised by Terry Nation - originally male, then changed to a tough, humourless, thigh-slapping masculine type of woman. I think she was described as repeatedly whacking her thigh with a riding crop), sounds crashingly boring to me but Terry acknowledges he finds writing for women difficult, so possibly this was easier for him. Jacqui refused to play it that way, thank goodness.
I've little doubt that a B7 book would sell very well over here since the videos are high on the sales lists - but I think it would have to be a glossy compilation rather than a fiction series, at least to start with. I don't understand the professional publisher's antipathy to B7, no fans seem able to understand it any more than we understand the Beeb's determination to axe one of the most popular series ever shown in the UK. A fiction series would be fine -if it were well done, not kiddies' stories like the DW series.I like your idea of a book produced by fans! The problem might be deciding what to leave out!
Buying zines from the US. DO NOT attempt to write to the editors unless you know them personally -- that isn't maligning editors (except the bad ones) but it is easier for them to deal with their own nationals. DO NOT send money unless you are sure the editors are reliable. Even then you payment may never get there -- the US post is dicey (or so Americans continually tell me). Don't waste your money sending IRCs to strangers abroad -- they may never reply. Get yourself some American pen friends (i.e. write to letterzine contributor as they are obviously keen on letter writing) and have a reciprocal arrangement with them -- you buy their European merchandise, they buy your American merchandise. Some US zines can be bought from Janet Ellicott [address redacted] She has a very long list of zines for sale, Bill Hupe has a good name as an editor in the US (he's issued one of my very long stories handsomely, quickly and very competently indeed) and his agent over here is Susan Ford [address redacted] You may be able to get Double-Edged Sword through Janet or Bill, I got the trilogy via US friends. Another way is to contribute yourself to zines and get freebies.
Beware of the notorious American bootlegs. For further info write to Horizon, some of whose zines have been bootlegged, They have details of others as well, I believe.
Advertise for old zines you want. Read other people's ads, go to B7 auctions or ask anyone attending to bid for you, ask anyone you write to if they've zines for sale. You may be lucky!
I wonder if some fans miss something if they actively hate a character - do they blind themselves to any good in that character, do they judge those they hate with a different standard to those they love? I expect it depends on the way you analyse characters. I don't think I could watch B7 if I hated one of the characters and I can't myself imagine what you get out of loathing Blake, and how can you watch a series feeling like that? I don't much like Anna, even now, but I don't feel that violent towards her.
I doubt if true Blake haters will ever agree with those of us who can't understand why some fans have this emotional reaction to Blake. It's one of the insoluble mysteries, a perennial wrangle along with "Blake is/isn't a hypocrite" or "Avon is/isn't the true leader/a heartless thug/a softie inside", "Tarrant is/isn't a berk"... etc.
The fact that Avon actually killed Blake suggests to me that Avon cared a great deal in some way or another) about Blake. Avon suffered despair when he did it. He didn't go there calmly and coldly intending to 'get rid of that nuisance Blake once and for all' - the latter would suggest he was dangerously trigger happy and generally nauseatingly unsavoury and not my kind of hero at all. Needless to say, don't think Blake deserved to die unless there are many other factors of which we know nothing (the kind of thing we can put into fanfic.)
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.
Since offering my (longer) lists of recommended fan fiction in the last issue, I've read an absolutely marvellous short story that should have been included. It's not new, by any means - it's in that one-of-a-kind Australian zine Enarrare. (I was incredibly lucky to lay my hands on one of the last 13 copies available for sale anywhere in the US.) But for anyone who hasn't read it and can beg, steal or borrow a copy: Fragments of Yesterday by Ana Dorfstad. It's set on GP prior to 'The Event' and has Blake meeting up with one of the youths he's supposed to have sexually molested. I shan't give away the ending (which IS a true surprise ~ a shocker, in fact), but I will say that it's one of the most beautifully written and psychologically sophisticated stories I've ever read, in or out of fandom.
Oh, you're so right about the quality of fan writing being as important as the content. I'm very put off by bad writing - I can't even say 'bad writing in an otherwise good story' because, to me, there is no such animal! Some specifics: What you call 'bad authorial instruction' is, in my opinion, the single most pervasive failing of fan fiction (and using dialogue doesn't necessarily heip; considering how frequently we're treated to the writer's analysis pouring out of the character's mouth!). On the other hand, I don't necessarily agree with you, about the necessity of maintaining point of view. That depends on the story. Most (not all) of my own stories are written in 3rd person omniscient (which I realise is terribly out of fashion these days, but anyone who knows me knows just how much regard I have for fashion!). Even so, I believe I manage to avoid putting MY thoughts and words into the minds and mouths of my characters... I'm also not as upset as you seem to be by technological naivete - perhaps because, to me, B7 isn't primarily science fiction. However, when a writer does manage the world-building aspect of a story with care and skill, it obviously enhances the pieces, and I definitely appreciate that touch... Again, I tended to overlook the 'biggest-fastest-smartest-best' syndrome that sometimes afflicted the aired series, so I'll overlook it in fan fiction, too, IF the story in question has sufficient compensatory features. (Actually, I find most of the better fanfic FREER of that particular annoyance than the series itself,)... Last but not least: No, I don't think your criticism of there being an 'unconscious connivance' between reader and writer to rehash certain emotionally treasured moments and to do it in a sentimental way is unwarranted at all. In fact, that's probably my second biggest pet peeve about B7 fan fiction (not unrelated, of course, to my first).
Re the question of B7 novels: In a recent DWAS poll, Blake's 7 was top of the list of TV shows most requested to be 'returned', as Doctor Who has been, in a 'New Adventures' format. This belies the belief that there is no interest in B7 novels. I feel B7 is ideally suited to this format: strong characters and situations, etc. Also, in a novel, there are no budgetary considerations - another plus! The only drawback I can see is that 'unsympathetic' writers will alter the characters beyond recognition (an accusation levelled at some of the Doctor Who new adventures). Since potential readers will nave their own ideas about the characters anyway, perhaps this is a moot point, but B7 fans won't want the liberties taken in the early B7 novels repeated in any future books.
Letterzine on disk - difficult to read in the bath, and the consequences computer virus don't bear thinking about. I'll stick to paper, thank you.
I read your comments about fan fiction and the style of writing etc with great interest and general nodding of head in agreement. Typos, spelling mistakes and other inaccuracies in fan fiction irritates me as much poor writing. Sweeping epics of broad scope can so often be just a series of events with a set of characters as the common denominator. Some professional writers are also guilty of this style of writing. I would much prefer a thoroughly intense, detailed story covering a short period of time. We have covered the 'archaic' aspect in previous Letterzines. Does mis- and over-use of superlatives (fastest, greatest, best...) perhaps show a lack of imagination on the writer's part, or a ack of confidence in their writing? Someone at some earlier point in fan fiction maybe referred to the 'the great computer genius, the master thief, the fastest gun' and some subsequent writers decided that was the benchmark. My least favourite is 'the little thief..Like you, I would not dare to presume that I could recognise a good story anyway and l certainly could not write any story, be it good, bad or indifferent. But there does seem to be an inclination to contain B7 fiction within certain boundaries as you suggest. Better watch out though or this discussion could slide into the 'predominance of women in B7 fandom' field. Heaven forbid!
Re Star Cops. Boucher was unhappy about the casting, most notably he intended Nathan to be younger. Star Cops could have been superb, the scripts are all strong (though the Boucher ones are best). I didn't like the way it was produced - some of the direction was awful, the sets were utterly uninspiring and I thought the music was totally out of keeping with the feel of the series, and too intrusive. It also had the most off-putting credit sequence I've ever seen. A great pity, really, though it sill managed to be good despite its problems.
Thanks for the last Horizon Letterzine. It seems to have taken off with a vengeance! The only problem might be floods of identical ripostes to some of the more controversial views (viz Neil Faulkner's lambasting last time) but that's perhaps inevitable - how to be original if thirty other minds are busy plotting nis downfall? Don't worry, Neil, I wouldn't dare to respond in print, much as I enjoy hearing from you. Affects a John Cleese impersonation: "Don't mention the aliens!"
Just a suggestion for a possible future charity video. how about doing a video with out-takes, if you have them, and bloopers. Then again, how about copying the whole Blooper tape and selling copies for charity, surely those in the Bloopers would mind seeing how it's going to charity. Just a suggestion, as many of us American fans have not had the opportunity to see the Blooper tape and I for one would really like to obtain a copy. (Jac: I'm afraid copies aren't available at all. - the Blooper tape is very closely guarded and is only screened in 'supervised showings at conventions, etc. Permission doesn't exist to make copies to sell, for charity or otherwise.
I would love a copy of the blooper reel, especially as it seems I'm never going to get to a convention. Too scared of being mobbed by rampant Tarrant fans. I hear there are conventions where they let them both in!
The episode "Sand". My apologies to everyone who liked this episode, but I hated it! It was so dire. Servalan's character changed out of all recognition, but Jacqueline acted it so well that I sometimes watch the episode again just to marvel at it.A Servalan fan club? No, I don't think so. The character is not one that lends itself to such an organisation. A fan club should revere and honour, but the Servalan character was meant to frighten and be hated. Now a Jacqueline Pearce fan club, however....
Naturally, the quality of writing is a vital aspect when analyzing one's enjoyment, or otherwise, of a B7 fan story. However, you're right, it isn't the first thing one looks for.... In B7 fan fiction, one is looking for stories that seem credible within our own pre-determined ideas. We would like them to be well-written, but will show a remarkable degree of tolerance if the idea is an "oh gosh, I wish I'd thought of that" sort, or if the characters just suit our own interpretation. Fan fiction doesn't pretend to be Shakespeare any more than the original B7 programme pretended to be Ben Hur. It is the fact that it's the focal point of our interest that is important. Most of the stories are written and read with love and enthusiasm and this very frequently compensates for any lapses in technique. I have just read Checkers, an American zine which turns Avon into something of an emotional whipping boy, Blake into a sentimental teddy bear rather unaware of his surrounds, Jenna into a cross between Catherine de Medici and Madonna, Dayna and Tarrant into also-rans and Soolin into a cardboard cut out. Vila was a quivering wreck with hardly a witty line -- but I like it. It's warm, friendly and full of hope. Once I had managed to suspend my belief to the point of accepting that Avon and Jenna might actually compete for Blake's affections, it became great fun. Two strong and ruthless characters who offer and give no quarter both determine on the other's downfall -- great fun. Not great literature but frequently quite moving, with many a chuckle and making a pleasant change from all those Avon teaming up with Jenna stories... though at the end... I would still recommend the zine and will buy others by the same writer. Anyway, the colour cover made it worth every penny.
Blast! I feel I've just given the impression that I think fandom abounds with 'inferior scribblers' who need an abundance of nurturing. This isn't true. Many of our (that 'our' is an important word) writers are accurate, stylish and devastatingly expert. It's just that I do feel, very strongly, that anyone who wishes to share their ideas should be offered support and encouragement, I would hate any fan writer and particularly any prospective fan writer to m discouraged. It's a wonderful aspect of fandom that so many people do 'have a go'. Good for you, say I, and more power to your ball point!Hands up all those people who do mind stories whose insufficient consideration has been given to 'wider social-political-technological consideration'... yup, that's what I thought. However, each to his own, so, if it does matter, try 'The Last Best Hope' by [Melody C]. It's available from Kathy Resch an American zine editor who doesn't keep people waiting for 16 weeks and 2 days and still counting.
Several people have cited the enormous number of ST novels that get into print. What this shows is that Buck Rogers and ST are industries rather than fandoms. ST does have a fandom, of course, and very thriving it is too, but it is overshadowed by the ST industry. Do we want B7 to follow the same route? Personally I don't, nor do I think it could because - be honest! - it's not really all that big a thing. I don't have comparative statistics to hand, but I strongly suspect Horizon is pretty puny compared to some of the many Trek clubs. I'm also concerned at the prospect of B7 appreciation being taken out of the hands of fans and put under the control of those more concerned with making a fast buck at our expense (look at the Programme Guide and the Marvel monthly). From what people have said about agented writers, the prospects for a B7 book line are potentially frightening. Rolegaming fandom was full of debate about the redundancy of the industry and the high quantity but low quality of its output. The general consensus was that the hobby could continue quite happily without the industry and moreover should do so. So, sorry Rodney, but on balance I would rather not see B7 on the bookshelves. I don't think it would sell, either: the tapes I buy get passed around some half a dozen people, none of whom have the faintest inclination to join a club, read zines, or even discuss the series to any great depth. They just enjoy watching the tapes, and there are times when I envy them for that. Let landom belong to the fans and have the rest of the world pass us by. If any of them want to drop in then by all means welcome them, but I'm generally opposed to active conscription.
Sometimes it amuses someone to write Avon (for example) as superhuman even if they don't really think he is: it is a kind of in-joke which many of us Avon fans adore. Superheroes aren't unusual in fiction - mostly they seem rather popular. Perhaps some fans really see Avon that way. If you are particularly interested in the proles, write the relevant fiction and see if people like it?
Personally I'd rather devour a live guinea pig than read Afterlife again. If the poor animal lived long enough after eating the thing, it may at least have passed on the definitive version of Attwood's prose. It you really want a copy, my address is in NL-28. You can have it for nothing but you pay the postage.
I suppose it's about time somebody hauled me up, However, I do object to the way you make me out to be an arrogant, opinionated, bloody-minded, tunnel-visioned imbecile bastard. I have never regarded myself as tunnel-visioned.
It may seem like B7 is all the rage in the States sometimes, but it's a misleading impression that probably stems from the fact that American B7 fandom can get pretty intense sometimes and has thrown a few big B7 cons (big by media fandom standards) in the past. In actuality, though, I'd be surprised if more than 1% of all Americans have even heard of B7 (more's the pity), much less like it, so the idea of launching a line of professional B7 novels in the States would probably strike an American publisher as daft.
Many many times I have seen people in real life getting jealous/possessive over someone for whom they had no more than a physical infatuation. It's not a matter of love or emotional attachment. It's a feeling of territoriality: I saw him first, I've staked him out, keep your hands off. Distorted? Could be. I came to regard Avon as a great psychological mirror after hearing people who reminded me most of Vila tell me that they identified most with Avon, people who reminded me most of Tarrant tell me that they identified most with Avon, and even people who reminded me most of Blake tell they identified most with Avon. Vastly different people and personality types all convinced that they were most like Avon. I don't think that I've ever come across another fictitious character that lent himself to this degree of, erm, adaptability on the part of the individuals in the audience.
Horizon Letterzine 6 was published in June 1993 and contains 55 pages. It was edited by Jackie Ophir.
There were 23 tribbers. One of them is a fan named Anne C who is asking for fans to contact her so she can interview them for her dissertation (topic: women in media science fiction).
Some comments include those about the fiction Horizon zines appearing in small parts rather than as novel-length single zine stories, the viability and desirability of "bookline" Blake's 7 tie-in books, a fan's humorous but critical skewering of fans of The Prisoner (in part due to a recent interview in "Radio Times" where a Six of One: The Prisoner Appreciation Society member had said that Prisoner fans were more intellectual than Blake's 7 fans), bad taste in many fans' mouths about the fic Trust Like the Soul with a specific emphasis on Jean Lorrah's self-promotion and perceived attitude revealed in the a letter to Horizon Fan Club, unhappiness with the Beeb, mainstream attitudes regarding fandom and cult television, the change in the script for Blake from Blake's dying line, "Oh Avon. I didn't take any of them on trust... except you... you are my... only friend." to just "Oh, Avon!," the cold lesbian bitch as an overworked stereotype, a fan's statement that "the BSFA has an organised network of 'orbiters' for passing fans' work around, generating honest constructive criticism - a sort of postal workshop," and some comments about the early indoctrination of a wee Soolin'ater and her ability to overcome her assimilation.
Re Jackie's remark about Charles Dickens: his relevant stories were written specifically as serials for weekly journals because he wanted to make money and the weeklies were popular. Writing a serial is a particular skill and he was very good at it, hence his collated episodes don't appear much (if at all) like a serial. The problem a B7 fan writer faces is usually the opposite one - Horizon don't issue zines weekly or even monthly and if we write a novel, our novel gets chopped into two or three bits printed with very long intervals between, or if it's too long it lies around unused as Horizon don't know what to do with it. I'm sure that if Horizon Committee really wanted to print novel length stories they'd find a way to do it. But they don't, so they don't. All it means is that we must send/buy our B7 novels elsewhere.
Re any series of B7 [tie-in, for-profit] novels, the point you raise re commercial writers is what worries me too. It's highly unlikely (in England anyway) that fan writers would get their stories published. Any commercial novels produced would surely be written by hack writers chosen by a printer or the Beeb, whose aim would be to produce facile, slick pulp - mediocre action stuff with little or no characterisation and the usual kind of stereotypes.
Henry Jenkins book (Textual Poachers) about 'fans' and their low standing in society is particularly relevant. The odd thing about it all is that most people (all people?) are very likely a fan of something and possibly the media fan is rather despised because television is still regarded as passive/unintellectual/silly/faintly reprehensible entertainment from which you can't really get any useful stimulation.
I doubt if any highly regarded writers would write B7 fiction even if they are fans - it'd damage their reputation terminally to be connected with 'mindless' TV 'pulp'. I'm sure no publisher would publish real B7 fanfic - they couldn't take the contempt of their peers. If the fiction is to be mediocre, I don't want it published at all. But I would like to see a big, glossy presentation book - articles, lots of lllos, archive etc.
I agree totally with your comments about keeping commercial industry away from B7. I'd far rather stick to reading fanfic written by people who know and love the programme (even if some of it does require a lot of work to track down). If Afterlife is what we get when B7 tries to make a profit, then we can do without it - and ftttwood claimed to be a fan! I haven't read any of the DW new adventures, because all the feedback I've had from those who did was extremely negative. Personally, I like B7 fandom fan-orientated. And I agree that sales would be limited - everyone I mention B7 to says, "I remember that, it was great," but only a few asked to renew their acquaintance with the series by watching the tapes, and none were inclined to take their interest any further. I know what you mean about envying them, there are occasions when I get fed up with being regarded as "a little eccentric"! (not least by my family). But I leave them to their vague interest, and they leave me to my, er... hobby. I try not to be too anti-social when making time to write these letters!
As to the discussion of a novel, I for one would like to see all 52 episodes come out in novel form like Target has done for Doctor Who, only in a more adult-type format. And I'm all in favour of new adventures too, but I'd want writers who were 'sympathetic to B7 and its characters', as [Craig St-J-T] mentioned. Of course, while I'm wishing, I'd like a 'making of B7' type book, with the history of the show and lots of photos, etc. And finally, a blooper tape... But asking Horizon to publish it... I'm sure they have the enthusiasm and guile, but please - give the poor over-worked, under-appreciated and unpaid staff a break! They do enough for us without the added burden of getting into really serious publishing. (Did I say that right, Jackie?) (Jac: Thank you, Paula!...)
Yes, there's a subtle difference between writing sincerely about why and how you wrote a story and seeming blatantly conceited about it. Trust Like the Soul's writer announced her story's availability loudly in a brash letter to Horizon as though we'd all been waiting just for this B7 offering from a busy, successful ST writer! A friend of mine who'd read some of her ST novelette's said "Usually she's quite a competent writer, but Trust is a failure, she hasn't comprehended the characters nor the atmosphere." I had the feeling Trust's writer felt she was doing B7 fans a favour by writing something for us, and presumably, to those many Avon fans who love the story, she was.
Firstly, let me just say how incredibly annoyed I am with the BBC. So much for the proposed "The Making of B7" video - I received an extremely patronising reply to my letter begging them to reconsider their decision, which is par for the course as far as I am concerned. The Beeb will do absolutely nothing for us poor B7 fans, yet those 'thinking people' (ha, ha!) in The Prisoner fan club have even got calendars they can buy In Athena, for god's sake (smoke coming out of my ears at this point, goes away to cool off a little...) There seems to be very little professional merchandising for B7, compared to other cult programmes, although (I hasten to add) what there IS available is of a generally high standard, and much appreciated by yours truly. And yet those *!#£#!* at the BBC won't even produce what I'm sure would be a much sought after video by us fans, not even to further swell their wretched coffers. And they have the nerve to put the licence fee up yet again! (goes away once more to soak head in a bucket of cold water...)
[Horizon Newsletter #28] is a lovely issue, as always. I believe I recognise the artwork on the back cover as being the front cover of the newly published B7 novel Checkers. Actually, Lucia's portraits of the B7 characters have begun popping up all over the place. I think she's a fine artist and I hope she sticks around tnis fandom for a long time.
I also had mixed reactions to Checkers. I thought the Avon-Jenna feud was the worst (most ludicrous) thing about it. I thought the characters of Blake and Avon, particularly with respect to their feelings for one another, were intrinsically correct, but the author's depiction of their manner of expressing those feelings was way, way off. Evidently that's too subtle a distinction for most people to bother trying to sort out, though, and I can't really blame them... [Melody C's] novel, The Last, Best Hope on the other hand, I can recommend without qualification.
Your moving description of your reaction to seeing the episode Blake again after more than 10 years made me really appreciate what it must mean to fans in the UK to have those commercial videos available (and how lucky US fans have been to have had interim access to the series via PBS). It also gives me hope that a lot of false impressions generated by the intervening decade of frequently distorting fan fiction stand a real chance of being corrected in the wake of this opportunity for widespread re-exposure to the original source material.
You comment on disliking changes between the script of Blake and the production, especially the change from an eyepatch to a scarred eye for Blake's make-up and disliking the shortening of Blake's dying line, "Oh Avon. I didn't take any of them on trust... except you... you are my... only friend." to just "Oh, Avon!" My reaction would be different. I like both changes, feeling that the original versions would be way too over-obvious.
I MUST disagree with one of your comments regarding Blake. When I first read the rehearsal script for that episode, my main reaction was profound relief - whoever cut that TERRIBLE last line of Blake's deserves a knighthood! The line was totally unnecessary, all that it said and implied is there to see in the acting, the way-Blake looks at Avon as he falls to the ground. So subtle, but all the regret comes across superbly, B7 wasn't over-sentimental, and if that line had remained it would have made me want to be sick. It would have ruined the entire atmosphere of that stunning scene, destroyed the impact of the episode, and as a consequence lessened the brilliance of all B7. I'm sure you will have gathered by now that I feel very strongly about this point!
I'm sorry that you've been disillusioned about UK SF. Unfortunately, as I believe I have said before, the BBC which used to be a good source of interesting SF/fantasy has had a severe downer on it for some years. I suspect it must be due to the personal prejudices of those highly placed who make the decisions about programming. Currently, they either show US imports like Star Trek (and even there show a cavalier attitude to screening them as seen by their treatment of TNG) or treat them as strictly "kids' stuff" or comedy. Thus you get the odd fantasy/occult stuff turning up among the children's programmes, like the recent Century Falls. Their only adult SF is Red Dwarf - it seems you can only get it on the BBC these days if you treat it as comedy, which says something about their view of it.
As for ITV, it seems to be swamped with sitcoms these days - there any SF on there? Maybe I blinked and missed it. It's a great shame because there used to be a lot of good SF/fantasy/supernatural stuff around - even the latter is relegated to the comedy/sitcom slot - I'm sure I've seen two different sitcoms lately about the problems of living with a ghost. Maybe it's the recession: no money for things like decent models, SFX and costumes? Anyway, back to Micky's original point - probably the reason why the only things anyone here is interested in are TNG and DS9 is because they're the only things that are new.
You are more than welcome to read anything I've written, I hope that my PGP tale may be published in the States - at the time of writing I'm waiting to hear - but meanwhile, if you will pay a small contribution toward the cost of printing it out again and pay the postage which I know is considerable, then you are welcome to borrow a copy. You can do that in the knowledge that you'll be providing a copy for anyone else who may want to read it. I printed out several but now have only my own left! My address is:[redacted] Those who have read it seemed to like it. And comments are welcome - if you write you automatically put your head above the parapet. Mine's full of holes'!
The Visions con is great. Glad to hear you'll be there this year It's a wonderful time and there are PLENTY of B7 fans. Of course there are lots more Dr Who fans and I even saw one Prisoner fan last year. Visions bills itself as a celebration of American and British television science fiction (so what are all those Robin of Sherwood people doing there?).... Paula and I will try to keep in touch and run into you, at this years con. We can usually be found In the video room around two a.m., watching the really bad stuff like Star Maidens.
Given your comments to me in the last Letterzine, I trust you, enjoyed Hunters and Prey. Quite frankly, I'd have loved to have given the story a rewrite. I wrote it a couple of years ago. Paula had been after me to put some of my ideas into a story. Finally I sat down at my then new computer and started scribbling. rtae result was the aforementioned story. It was the first thing I had written since my high school English comp class (ten years earlier). Much to my surprise . discovered I actually ENJOYED writing for the first time in my life. Anvway, I made some dreadful amateur mistakes, like developing a plot point through I narration rather than dialogue and action. Sorry about the ragged edges, but -have had no formal writing classes, I'm learning as I go along. If it weren't for Horizon, my word processing program would be gathering dust somewhere. Blake's 7 has become my escape from mundane reality. I live in my own private, but cluttered, little world.
... my zines from Florida still hasn't arrived. It's now thirty-four weeks, one day, five hours and twenty-three minutes since I posted my order, but I'd hate anyone to think I was obsessed by this!...
What worries me most is that this particular editor is well known and her zines are frequently discussed in the N/L. I'm told by a kind USA correspondent that her record for reliability has previously been very good and it's only over the last year or so that her zines are not be being delivered promptly or not at all! If anyone is about to order from the USA and would like to reassure themselves that they aren't sending money into a black hole, I don't mind if you give me a ring on Kidderminster 850160 and I can tell you if the person from whom you are about to order is the same person who is torturing me. It's not about money, you understand, it's the thought of all those stories just sitting there unread, unloved, and unappreciated. Here I am ready and willing to give every single little printed word a kind and loving home. I'll just sit here and cry quietly for a while...
By the way, thank you, to you, and all the other people who told me about Bill Hupe. He is wonderful. He gets zines to me in eleven days. He's friendly, efficient and packs his zines so well that when they arrive they still have corners!
I certainly don't want to come over as a sort of fanatic who thinks everything to do with B7 is good - after all, that's one of the things that I dislike about other fans, and that's not just those involved in B7 fandom. But at the other end of the scale, I can't stand fans who target a certain area of a show and totally crucify it, for example I know it's very trendy in Dr Who fandom to rubbish everything that John Nathan Turner did to the show, but surely if these fans feel so strongly about this they would simply ignore every episode he was involved in, very much like what many Beauty and the Beast fans did concerning the third season. Luckily it appears that B7 fans occupy a sort of middle ground, in that they will happily discuss both the good and bad points about the show and not fall into the trap of taking things too seriously.
Yes, Star Trek is definitely a fandom and an industry, whereas B7 is just a fandom. But as a ST fan I am sure Horizon is not puny in comparison to ST clubs, in this country at any rate. If anything, Horizon may be larger than many. I think the big difference between ST and B7 in the UK is that there are many more ST clubs than B7 ones, so people have more choice of which club(s) to join. That spreads the jam a bit more thinly than in B7 fandom.
Actually, before I upset [C S], I've got a confession to make. Now this isn't an easy one. In the beginning, there were 'The Soolin'aters', a dedicated group of people, led by my sister, who walked from the room five minutes into the fourth season and vowed never to return again... of course they did, and their greatest pleasure was to mercilessly tear Soolin's character, or lack of one, to shreds.My sister and her friends, dedicated followers of B7, I mean they had the Liberator bracelets made from washing up bottles and masking tape, everything... well, they being the mature age of 12 and me being an impressionable 9 year old, taught me that Soolin was nasty, Soolin was horrible, and we never wanted her anyway... so there... Until recently, that's been the way I've read about her. Not in those exact words, you understand, but not far off. Within the Letterzine there has been the most amazing change around. Gone, or at least rapidly fading, is the almost traditional way of referring to her as a bimbo. She's becoming a 'female Avon'. I've no doubt that there's still an army of Soolin'aters out there (my sister's still one of them) but even I'm beginning to think more of her than I used to.
The cold lesbian bitch is an overworked stereotype. I can't claim to have met a representative sample of lesbians, but none of them fitted that mould at all. More the opposite, if anything. Which leads me onto my next diatribe - why is it always a firmly heterosexual future? The only suggestion of homosexuality in B7 was Krantor and Toise, and they were little more tnan Jules and Sandy with switchblades, (Jac: Is it always "firmly heterosexual"? In Tanith Lee's The Silver Metal Lover, society happily includes 'mirror-biased' - ie those attracted to members of their own sex.)
I don't really want to slide into the 'predominance of women in fandom' debate (possibly meaningless since the bulk of Horizon's membership is male), but most fan fiction is written by women, and that may be a contributory factor to fan fiction's current shortcomings. If and when men write more stories there'll be a whole new load of things to gripe about. I will say right now that all my favourite 'serious' stories come from female writers, and most of my favourite humorous ones too, so I'm certainly not suggesting women can't or shouldn't write, A preponderance of female writers might take some responsibility for the excess sentimentality, scientific naivete and archaic/romantic mood of a lot of fan fiction, and I think these are trends that need to be counterbalanced, if only to show that there are different ways of writing B7 fiction. In the event of more male writers coming to the fore, I think wevll end up with more violence, more hardware, more cynicism and more bite. I for one would welcome this - new blood can only be invigorating - but not to the point where it digs its own rut.
Many fan writers are indeed very good, and I hope I wasn't trying to suggest that fan writing in part or whole should be aspiring to the standards of 'great' literature. That isn't necessary: fan fiction is written out of enthusiasm, out of love and - most crucially of all - for sheer good fun. It has every right to pander to the whims of the writer and a narrow band of potential readers if it wants to. That doesn't mean there is no room for improvement. I certainly do not believe that any prospective writer should be discouraged in any way, and support and encouragement should certainly be offered where possible (not a carp at Horizon, Jackie - I'm sure you've got far better things to do than write detailed critiques of every submission that comes through your door).An idea that's been floating through my head ior a while: the BSFA has an organised network of 'orbiters' for passing fans' work around, generating honest constructive criticism - a sort of postal workshop, if you like. Could something similar be set up specifically for B7 fan writers? Ros Williams has complained in the past about not getting feedback on her work, and I doubt if she's the only one who feels that way. Would there be sufficient interest in such a network? I'm genuinely keen to investigate the possibility, and so have no objection to anyone dropping a line to Boris the Gnome , [address redacted].
Horizon Letterzine 7 was published in September 1993 and contains 66 pages. It was edited by Jackie Ophir.
The editor notes that the letterzine now has 74 subscribers and that this issue is the biggest yet. She begs fans not to "all send in LOCs, otherwise the Letterzine would have to be published in several volumes!"
The table of contents lists 18 tribbers, less than the last issue, but their letters are much longer.
Some comments were about: fans of The Prisoner and recent comments in a publication called "Radio Times," the Blake's 7 role-playing game being developed by Horizon Fan Club, B7 role playing in general, a frustrated fan's appeals regarding zines ordered from Ashton Press, the zines Checkers and Jabberwocky Collected, is Blake's 7 escapist, the topic of slash is VERY tentatively mentioned, are science fiction fans socially dysfunctional, there is more ragging on Star Trek, and a sly reference to a secret handshake.
[from the editor]:
This is a bumper issue - at 66 pages, the biggest yet, which is both good and bad news. The good news is obvious - you are prolific, witty, entertaining, analytical, daft, thought-provoking contributors! I've had a lot of fun reading and typing up your massive missives! The bad news is that when the subscription prices were calculated for the Letterzine, they were based oh a 55-page issue. Printing and posting this issue will be more expensive than we budgeted for. As it would be unfair to ask for more money at this stage, especially when most of you paid the full whack at the beginning of the year, Diane Gies has agreed that Horizon club funds will cover the Letterzine costs to the end of the year (that's this issue and #B). However, I can't rely on Horizon's support indefinitely - the Letterzine really needs to keep within its budget. We discussed various suggestions to solve this problem: one Idea was to limit the number of pages, and edit the letters to fit. The editing would be along the lines of Just a Minute, ie taking out repetition (LOCs repeating facts - poor [G L]; just about every LOC points out that Avon WASN'T giving Egrorlan the real Orac, Don't feel persecuted, [G]!), hesitation (errs, umms, ha has, and dot-dot-dots are fun to read and give the LOCs character, but are very space-consuming) and deviation (ST:TNG is rearing its gorgeous head more and more in these pages, and I'm as guilty as anybody for doing this, but we should really be sticking to B7, folks - not everybody likes or watches TNG. Same goes for Dr Who, classic Trek, etc - and as for Neighbours...)* However, you'll be relieved to hear that we quickly abandoned the editing idea, The whole point of the Letterzine is provide a publication for unedited letters, and if it drifts Into becoming a forum for discussing fiction zlnes or other TV SF, so be it.
Other rejected ideas included reducing the print size (unattractive & bad for the eyes!), doing the L/Zine on a 'fill-up-and-go' basis, ie mailing them out as soon as they hit 55 pages (unworkable when it comes to calculating issues-per—year and subscriptions. There could be long gaps between issues, or they could come out fortnightly - it'd drive me mad! If works best as a regular quarterly publication) or holding over post-page-55 LOCs until the next issue (which would cause an ever-growing backlog). It seems that the only solution is to base the subscription charges on a 66-page issue. With issue 8, all subscriptions come up for renewal, and there would have had to be a price increase anyway (postage going up again...). Would you be willing to pay even more for more pages per ssue? If not, what would you suggest? I'm open to ideas!
I am in fact a die-hard Prisoner fan and have been for as long as I've been a die-hard B7 fan, ie fifteen years without dying, how much harder can it get? I found your assessment of the Priz' quite humorous. Unfortunately, I still think you're taking things far too seriously. Not only you, but the other correspondents who reacted so defensively to the original Radio Times article - you remember, the one where ONE Prisoner fan said we were more Intellectual than B7, DW, Trek, der-der-der-whatever-fans 'cos we don't wear monster costumes and shoot each other. How sad it is that people generalise groups in this way (generally). ONE Prisoner fan says what they think, it is printed and suddenly it's what we all think. Well It is not. I don't want to fall into the trap here and take it all too seriously, but one thing the Prisoner will teach you, if you have an open mind, is tnat everyone Is an individual, everyone has a right to be different and hold different views so long as they don't restrict others" rights. All the Prisoner fans I know like B7, or at least tolerate It, and enjoy the ideas and great acting (something the Prisoner has in abundance too). The fan who was quoted in the RT, obviously not one who dresses up and joins any Six of One re-enactments like the Human Chess Game, had their own mundane view. I'd personally love to dress up as Travis and run around the woods, it sounds excellent!
Define 'intellectual' please, before I comment on it. Maybe I do you an injustice, but you appear to have used the words 'smart' and 'intellectual' as synonyms. Okay, so there are University courses on The Prisoner. There are also educated Idiots. Anyone who is really 'smart' realises the intellect is just a tool, to be picked up or put down like any other, when it is appropriate. It is not always necessary to bring a vest intellect or education to bear when watching TV SF; for example, look at all the problems we are having in reconciling distances, ship speeds and bizarre astronomical events (most of Dawn of the Gods'.). I would say some education or research would be a great help to most B7 writers and Paul Darrow's book would have been even better for It, as he acknowledged. I have to switch off some critical faculties when I watch B7 in order to enjoy the relationships, the scope and drama, without worrying about astrophysics or energy conservation, although my 'intellect* knows about tnem to some degree. Similarly with special effects.
When I watch the Prisoner, different standards are applied. That series has no poor effects, no shaky scientific theories (the science is too advanced to even attempt explanations on screen, in most cases; eg the 'robot' guardian is an intelligent, gelatinous bubble summoned from the sea-bed) in fact the SF element is played down. Clones appear, but no reason is given, all is enigma. In B7, a huge fuss is made of every robot, android, clone or other SF cliche. But stop! I love both series immensely, and I won't bother replying to unfair criticism of either from now on. Just continue to like what you like, and so shall I. Can I put my crayon away now? Oh yes, just to say that Six of One is having a good laugh at Horizon's reaction to the RT article - the comments were of course a wind-up and as Neil Faulkner says, it is the British national pastime. Take it all in good part, and you'll never be 'had'! Right, enough of justifying myself.(Jac: What incensed us about the Radio Times article, was that it DIDN'T say that it was one person's opinion. It purported (rightly or wrongly) to speak for the Prisoner fan club as a whole, and sneered at other SF fan clubs for being intellectually inferior. And this appeared not in a club newsletter or fanzine but in one of the two most widely-read TV listingsmagazines in Britain. When we met Dave Lally (head of Six of One, and never without his boater...) at a recent convention, he was very hot under the collar about it! Frank, you don't have to justify liking the Prisoner - [C S], after all, has raved about Neighbours in past issues - you are a Free Fan! But space in the Letterzine is starting to get a bit tight, and as far as possible letters should be kept to B7-related subjects, okay?)
The relative paucity of (obvious) homosexuals in B7 (there are many characters whose sexual orientation is never dealt with, so why do YOU assume they're heterosexual?) is one of those areas that fan writers have attempted to "remedy" (with widely varying degrees of success).
Re the (supposed) tendency of fan writes to shy away from writing about relating and other manifestations of belief: I'm not sure that's a well-founded accusation. Personally, I have very strong spiritual convictions, and my moral beliefs pervade my B7 writing. The particulars of my ideology do not because that would be out of place in the universe I'm writing about. Example: I believe in reincarnation, but the folks in B7 don't seem to, so I'm not about to foist that on them. On the other hand, I've seen some fan writers who manage to inject concepts like reincarnation into B7 in a very acceptable way -- by going the "fantasy" route. (I've also seen some who do it dreadfully, so don't imagine that I uncritically applaud a story just because an idea I fancy is "in" it.) What I haven't ever seen is a B7 story with a conventional religious bent (fundamentalist Christian, for example) - but I think there's a perfectly logical reason for that: I doubt that there ARE very many persons of that orientation in B7 fandom; I don't think the series would especially appeal to them.
Shortly after the 4th series, there were comments in a rather exclusive series of newsletters for a high IQ group, about the Beeb's discussions over a 5th series and their eventual decision to axe it. I forget the name of the N/L, someone sold the copies to me and I passed them elsewhere years ago. I don't know how true the comments were. 
I suggested Horizon producing a B7 souvenir simply because they'd know what the fans would want. Obviously they'd need extra people to produce it. I am sure it's not the provision of enthusiastic compilers that d be the problem, but finance to produce it as it'd cost an enormous amount more than a zine and copyright could be a serious problem. Incidentally, I do sympathise if Jackie feels overworked but the remedy surely is to refuse to do so much, to say so very clearly and seriously and point out that unless more help is forthcoming, the nls, lzs etc will be drastically delayed. I'm sure there are many fans actually keen to help but too retiring to suggest it - because they haven't been asked in a personal kind of way. The Committee do ask for help occasionally, but perhaps not in the kind of detailed way which would make a fan think 'unless I offer to help, the club will suffer' or I'd like to do that, I'll write in and offer immediately'. After all, this is a friendly amateur club, our Committee don't have to do all this work unless they actually want to, and if they are seriously stressed about it they should say so pretty forcibly.(Jac: ... I do receive frequent offers of help in typing, however many of these are from owners of computers that are totally incompatible with ours. Also, we need our typists to have a good level of literacy because they often have to correct the spelling and grammatical mistakes in submitted stories and articles. Too often I get offers of help from people who freely admit that they rely on their computer's spell-checker to find errors. The other problem is the level of commitment that is required. There have been a number of club members who started off very keen to help out and lend a hand - some of whom even worked their way up to committee level - and then balked when they found out the amount of actual work that is Involved, and the degree to which Horizon could impinge on their home and social life. We've come very unstuck in the past with such volunteers not fulfilling their roles. That said, we're eternally grateful to our sterling troop of regular helpers, stuffers, collators, typists, proof-readers, type-setters etc, but for whom...)
I put 'will it sell' first because, to the publisher that's pretty important and we were talking about commercial B7 material - ie if the publisher thinks it won't sell in some category or another, he won't publish it. f you mean is it satisfying 'to other people than the writer' then it comes into the 'will it sell' category teg will it sell to fans at any rate). If you mean, is it satisfying first and foremost to the writer tie the writer has no idea and doesn't perhaps even care whether other people will like the story) that's a different situation entirely. An experienced writer might enjoy writing a self-indulgent piece for personal amusement, but also should have a pretty good idea what will sell. Henry Jenkin's book about fandom has a lot to say about fans vs commercial output.
I agree Avon doesn't have to be In charge in a 5th series, but so far as I am concerned it's Avon or Blake as leader for me in any scenario. I know individual fans like to visualise other scenarios, but I would say (to be honest) that those stories all come in the 'will it sell' category because unless your new leader grabs the fans more than the other character (s) they adore, they'll resent your choice. You can bring in a character as a foil for Avon, Tarrant or whoever, (le not as leader of the rebels but in alliance with them)... but as outright leader displacing OUR HERO? Risky.
Nah, nah, na, nah, nah... I've got Jabberwocky collected, I've got Jabberwocky Collected! Don't give up. It does exist. It's enormous and absolutely packed with the most hysterical printing errors. It's wonderful. My copy came from the Media West Convention. Keep trying, it's worth the effort needed to track it down.
Someone picked up Jabberwocky Collected for me at MediaWest this year (so I didn't have to try to write to Janet Walker). The new material in it consists of two average-length (for Jabberwocky) stories, neither of which overly impressed me - basically because they rehashed the theme of so many of the earlier tales (you know, something breaks the mindllnk with the ship, and someone gets traumatised as a result). I don't recall how much of Jabberwocky you're missing though, and if you're looking for a lot more than Just the new stories, It's still a good buy.
Lord of the Rings is thoroughly peculiar - really a story for children, isn't it? Midgets, good vs evil wizards, and animals acting as spies. Most typical of all immaturity (on some levels) is the extraordinarily stunted love-Interest. I mean, Aragorn's love life is non-existent to the point of idiocy, his interest in his future Queen is pretty minimal! As for his lady, she's nothing more than a mainly passive stereotype and much the same applies to the very few other women in the tale. Some of the characters, eg Bombadil and his embarrassingly fresh-cheeked yokel wife, are painfully twee. I agree it's entertaining, on a pure adventure-for-kids level, I quite like the elves and the poetry's nice. It's good to read on the level of attractive use of English. As for the spin-offs or whatever you'd call them, I think they're unreadable, whatever went wrong?
The only point that matters about fan consensus is that if we mostly come to agree on at least a few things we can quote them without continually re-explaining why - we don't have to keep on arguing about them, so we can get on to arguing about new things we don't agree. we'll always get the apple-cart upsetters who want to argue over what a good many of us have happily accepted, that's what comes of getting lost in a black hole until recently Chow did you manage NOT to find Horizon for all those years?) As for big bad wolves, I'm not Red R.H, so I don't care, Red R.H. was pretty stupid or incredibly young if she couldn't tell the difference between HER OWN GRANNIE and a sex-crazed MALE CANINE. I'm favour of the current theory that it's a nasty story or a warning about child abuse and I suppose it's really meant to be her randy old grandpa, him being in bed is obviously relevant, no doubt even the woodcutter's axe is desperately meaningful, what was her real grannie doing at the time?) You can have all the apples as well if you want them, I expect they're euphemisms for something or other disturbing.
Fanfic feedback organisation? I expect some writers will enjoy that. I don't expect people to send me a detailed critique (well, they can if they want to and I'll respond, I always try to answer letters). The main feedback we fan writers need is whether people like the kind of story we are writing, whether they think the plot is convincing, whether we characterise effectively (fan consensus mickyeomes in here, it's no good if no-one can recognise my Avon or Blake!). This relates to the 'will it sell' discussion between me and Caroline, see above, it helps us to improve our writing. Statistics re copies sold, whether fans write in to editors and if so what they say, these things the clubs etc mostly don't have time to tell us writers, they are busy enough already. The only way we can discover if we are writing the correct kind of story is if someone mentions our story. Even insults are useful!! I agree we write first for our own pleasure, but I think it's also to try and please others, so one hopes they get something out of it too. It's a way of communicating really. You can imagine how we feel if we send out a communication - and no-one bothers to answer! I can gratefully assure fans that since my comment, I've had a lot more feedback - thanks.
(Jac: I've edited the Horizon zines since issue 13, but apart from the occasional personal communication, I've not received feedback from fan readers about the stories/layout/content/artwork. I would of course pass on any comments to the authors/artists/typesetters.)
You must be some kind of a masochlst to keep writing to the BBC and hoping for a satisfaction. And here speaks another one! Relax, take a cold shower and keep writing. They have a very odd attitude to science fiction and to anything else that is successful. When they found that the genre was actually successful it did its best to pull back from the brink of becoming the purveyor of something genuinely popular. Odd attitude. Very. And a pity for sci fi. They produced some wonderful stuff early on. And still do the odd film classic.
Interesting how many Avon fans there are, isn't it? Interesting too now when you say you are a B7 fan so many say, "Ah, Avon" in a particular tone of voice. Men as well as women. A gay friend did just that a while ago! Which brings me to the topic of some of the zines which feature Avon/Blake relationships. I find myself fascinated by this, and have seen no discussion of it. Do other fans see It as a possibility? And if so, why? I will say now that I began by seeing it as unlikely, but having now read a bit more, I can see that their need for each other intellectually and in terms of their political and rebel/terrorist/freedom fighting/Robin Hood etc status (phew, does that cover the lot?) may well have led to something more. Comments?(Jac: It's not a subject that's actually arisen, but given the extreme youth of some Horizon members, we try to steer the Newsletter clear of all discussions of an 'adult' nature. There are many American zines that deal with 'naughty' discussions and adult stories of explicit nature, but these are sold only to those over a certain age. We prefer to keep Horizon PG-rated! Comments welcome, but tread carefully.)
I remember ST in: the '70s, I used to watch it on and off, until B7 came along whereupon I stopped watching ST then and there. Beside B7 it seemed pretty bland then and (honest) I can't be bothered to find out if I'd still think so now. I saw half of the first ep of TNG and switched off (bored, sorry). I liked Spock and the Doc, even though the Doc hilariously seemed to spend half his time checking the mental state of the crew, the rest I can happily forget... especially those appalling indoor sets (when Americans complain about the quality of B7 sets and effects, I think immediately of the standard ST set - flat wood (?) floor, slight variations in fake foliage each week, obligatory rock or two make of ? polystyrene, that kind of thing. Urk. B7's quarries ana Box Hill are REAL. I am sorry, I just can't get excited about ST!(Jac: What a shame you didn't see more of TNG! That's like dismissing the whole of B7 on the basis of the first half of The Way Back! It always takes a series a few episodes to get into Its stride, and almost every second series is better than the first - Red Dwarf and Blackadder are two examples, and I personally think that the 2nd season of B7 beats the first into a cocked hat (apart from Travis!). But by missing out on TNG, currently boldly going into its 7th season, you've missed some of the best ideas, the most intelligent plots, the most interesting characters/races, the most ADULT relationships - not to mention the extraordinary effects, sets, acting, directing, make-up (with all the modern computer technology in today's film-making, plywood sets and fake foliage are a thing of the past!) - and the faultless internal continuity and consistency - in my opinion, possibly the best TV SF ever! Whoops, enough of that, this is a B7 Letterzine after all! Ahem...)
"Game of Humanity" first appeared in an old zine called Probability Square. I've no idea if it's still available. My copy is a reprint of the story xeroxed for me by a friend. I'll be if you asked around in the UK, someone would have it. (It's quite long, so it would be very expensive to post overseas; if you were in the US, I'd certainly offer to make a copy for you.) I should mention that Sheila's sequel to "Game of Humanity" ("The Dreamers") is now available as well - as part of Ashton Press's BLAKE'S DOUBLES 4. Again, someone picked up a copy of it for me at MediaWest. (You'll understand why I'm stressing my manner of acquiring it, I'm sure.)  Frankly, I didn't find it as good as "Game" (the first 30 or so pages were wonderful, but the last 20 really veered off track), but the other story in BLAKE'S DOUBLES 4 is a chapter of HELLHOUND, so if you're following that, the zine is a must. Advice: if you're willing to wait until it reaches reprint status, you'll probably be able to purchase ft through Bill Hupe. (Could be quite a wait, though.)
Re our differing evaluations of Willard's story: I don't judge all stories by one uniform standard. It's acceptable to me for a story to oe more focussed on character than on plot (as "In the Wake of Ruin" surely is), in which case my "demands" regarding that story's plot will be correspondingly lower. Not absent, of course - but then I didn't think her plot line was intrinsically implausible - just inconsistent with my interpretation of the canon. And so what? I've done a GP story myself which is not what I believe "really" happened. (And there are B7 episodes containing plot holes so big you could fly the Liberator through them. On, but I forgot - you make a hobby out of expunging such episodes from the canon, don't you?) The question of Willard's sentimentality we'll Just have to agree to disagree about - like the question of Blake's shallowness.
Speaking with a couple other Blake fans at a party this summer, I realised that being a Blake fan is rather like belonging to a secret society, such as Masons or Druids. We have our own language, code words, etc. Now what we need is a secret handshake. I've got it... one person extends his hand for the handshake, and the other one shoots him.
Sci-fi is always "firmly heterosexual"? Obviously you've never read "Nearly Beloved Rogue" (which may be your sole redeeming virtue). And now thanks to popular demand I shall don my utility belt and purple cape and sod off to the Balkans, provided of course that the boy wonder agrees to slip into his tights and accompany me. Ready, Boris? The Batmobile is double parked.
On the question of whether B7 is escapist, I'd say not. There's a darkness to it - they have the same problems our society (or countries we see nightly on TV) has/have. There are no magic fixes" in the B7 future. Much as I enjoy Star Trek, to compare the two, I think ST is more open to the 'escapist1 charge, though they do consider important issues in some episodes. The difference Is that the characters change very little, whereas the B7 characters are changed, even scarred, by their experiences.
I do not see Blake's 7 as escapist fiction. Star Trek is escapist, as the good guys always seem to win by sheer virtue of their morality. Blake takes on an impregnable totalitarian state and winds up dead (?) despite his courage and his ideals. That's not escapism, that's reality.
Re escapism: a friend of mine recently suggested that all role gamers are, to some degree, socially dysfunctional. Since he was a Shadowrun/Cyberpunk 2020 fanatic, he was including himself in that assertion. I think he was right, and I further think that a lot of SF fans could be included to boot. The point that basically needs making is that if this is so, they/we are not socially dysfunctional through being SF fans, but the other way around. Mind you, I've just been reading Alvin Toffler. The inability to cope with the rapidly increasing rate of social change and accelerated transience is manifest at all levels of society and in many commercialism and recreational violence that has escalated over the past two decades. Escapism is a dirty word, but there's a lot worth escaping from and there's gonna be a whole lot more before the century's through.
So is B7 escapist? In one sense, defiantly yes, since there are no starring spaceships, teleports or tachyon funnels in real life, nor are there likely to be. Escapism has, however, and particularly in the most derogatory sense of the word, come to imply a hopelessly never-never land of unattainable (and supposedly lost) values. There's a TVSF series that peddles these fallacies and is frightened popular for doing so, but it's not B7. A lot of B7 fanfic, is however, all too guilty of this. Onward to the past-that-never-was, and if you don't admit there's such a thing as future shock then hey, it doesn't exist!The problem with B7 is that those 'philosophical, ethical, political or human dilemmas' you cite may be present but they are trivialised, or at least marginalised, most of the time. Since in real life most people do just this anyway, I guess its not escapist. Trek, on the other hand, does address the issues, then offers implausibly neat solutions by way of hopeless reassurance. That's escapism, especially given the way it dresses everything up in unashamed schmaltz, as if mere sentiment could ever see us through. I'm sure that everyone with domestic troubles who saw an episode like Family was relieved to find out that all they needed to do to clear the air was to throw mud at each other for an afternoon.
The diversity of different individuals' perceptions that you cite is one of the greatest attractions of fandom (and what keeps it going, after all), and one that entails putting one's perception forward (whether it's mine, your's, Pos', Brad's -- or Tony Atwood's, for that matter). Only then can they feed off each other, generate syntheses, or help define the limits of individual acceptability. The N/L articles and LOCs I've read over the past 2 years or so have done an inestimable amount for my appreciation of B7: invaluable raw material for restructuring my appraisal of the episodes, characters, themes, and the series as a whole without compromising my own personal interpretation. If nothing else, I've got a better idea of what I don't agree with, which is just as valuable.
ST, old and new, is bland, except some of the Klingon episodes. You know from the start that the Enterprise crew are going to win, and none of them are going to die (not forever, anyway), and they're all going to behave themselves so impeccably and triumph over any petty little faults they might have tucked away. Boring boring boring! And all those neat little solutions to insoluble problems. Yeah, that's really realistic, ain't it? Pity Kirk or Picard weren't around three years ago, they'd have had Saddam Hussein doing voluntary work for Oxfam.
I think a lot of people misconstrue Avon. I read Afterlife recently, and its biggest flaw in my eyes, apart from the dreadful plot, is that Avon comes out as having no depth at all. All you ever see in that book is the self-interested surface layer and there was a lot more to Avon than that.
Why is most fan fiction written by women? - well here's one possible answer. We have more time. (Jac: YOU MUST BE JOKING!!!!) I have two kids and a part time business, but the boys are both at school now and somehow in between answering all the business correspondence I have time to write stories. Another possible reason - men and women are In fandom for slightly different reasons. Assuming for the sake of argument that people are generally attracted to members of the opposite sex and that people prefer to write about their favourite characters, then women have the best characters to write about because all the strongest characters were male (apart from Servalan of course). I'm not saying this is the correct answer, I just toss it up as a possibility. Another reason - for some totally unspecified reason, women are more prone to what I call "writers itch." The knowledge that you just have to write a particular story and you aren't going to get a sensible night's sleep until you have sorted out what happens to the characters.
Writing. I find at the moment at any rate, I write because I have to. If it never sold to anyone I would still write. I think it may come of my having been exposed to Blakes 7 very much in one fell swoop. I saw the whole series (mostly for the first time) in less than two months. (Although that was half a year ago now). The only way I can get the characters out of my system is to write about them. There are stories that they are screaming at me to tell for them.I suspect as time goes by, the "Will it sell" aspect will become more important. do some professional non-fiction for magazines on occasion, and I do find money to be the most sincere form of flattery. Money per se is largely irrelevant where fanzines are concerned because you don't get paid, but if somebody is willing to pay to read what you have written, it makes you feel that it must have some merit. I suspect most of us letterzine contributors have the writing bug, why else would we sit here typing pages of contributions? Are there any of us who aren't writing stories?
It sounds as though there are quite a few people interested in role playing the B7 universe, but I wonder what the aims of their games are. Is it to actually role-play the characters from the series (in which case, I can imagine a lot of rending of garments when a lucky federation trooper gets off a shot that kills Avon stone dead on his first mission), or is it to play a different group of rebels (or even the Feds) sharing the same background? 1 have my doubts about the feasibility of the former. If a gamesmaster has to continually come up with scenarios based on the format of the series he's going to have to have an exceptional imagination. Also I can see a lot of arguments among the players as to whether they are, or are not, playing the series regulars in character. Is the main work on the games connected with getting the background detail straight, or are people actually designing new systems for the games as well? I would have thought the 'Hero system' used in games like Champions and Danger International would be quite suitable for character design, skill use and combat, though some work would need to be done to provide a space combat system.
(Jac: The B7 RPG currently being developed by Ming Looi and Zoe Taylor caters for both types of scenarios: you can choose to be one of the existing characters, or to create your own rebel/Federation person/ordinary citizen in the B7 Universe. You can use existing space ships (Liberator, Scorpio, pursuit ships etc), but there is also scope and suggestions for creating new ships. Rules for space flight and combat have been worked out. There are warnings to gamesmasters re accuracy in existing characters, and controlling potential squabbles among players! GMs are also advised on keeping the game's continuity with the TV series, and warned not to allow key characters to be killed before their time, as it were. Players are recommended to set their scenarios post-Gauda Prime, where only past continuity has to be dealt with, although of course options exist for scenarios set in any season. This version of the RPG is currently beta-testing, and will be published by Horizon in due course.)
Blake's 7 role playing -- who needs rules. We ran a session yesterday, all characters in fancy dress, and yours truly doubling as both GM and an alien. Blake, Avon, and Vila went haring off after a matter replicator only to discover that Servalan and Travis were also after it. At the end of a hilarious evening in which both sides had to try and convince the last member of a dying alien race that they were morally and technical superior to the other (this involved everything from making paper planes to Travis playing a violin solo!), Avon escaped alone in Servalan's shuttle. Servalan very nearly seduced Avon, Travis shot Blake, and everyone else died. Orac was dismantled into his component parts and Avon was in such a hurry that he forgot to take the matter replicator with him. The acting honours went to Servalan and Travis who played their parts to perfection.If anyone wants tips on running this kind of a session, I'll gladly provide them. It is far, far more fun than table top role playing and can fit nicely into one evening. The key thing to remember is that the "law of dramatic licence" -- no one is allowed to kill anyone until 10 o'clock, and they they have to dream up their own character reasons for this. After 10.00 all bars are lifted, but you do need a valid reason to start a firefight. We use scrunched up balls of newspaper for ammunition. Everyone gets one round of ammo, people who bring a realistic looking Liberator handgun get two round. (Saw a great handgun made out of a children's marble toy and the tyre off of a. toy truck -- really amazing!
First of all, for all those people who, I know, are frantic with worry on my behalf - no, my zines have NOT arrived. I bow three times a day in the direction of Florida but it isn't working. Forty seven weeks and four days. Good grief, I can have a baby in less time than it's taking to bung eight books in a parcel and shove them into the post!... It will soon be a whole year since I posted my order - must remember to send her a suitable card!...
To finish I want to ask a favour of everyone. It's about these missing zines. Had I mentioned the fact that I ordered zines last October and they haven't yet arrived? I want suggestions, what can I try next? I've written a couple of polite pleading letters. I've written a whoops-I-think-they-must-be-lost-in-the-post letter. I've tried a I'm-crying-e very-night letter and a I'm-beating-my-children-frequently letter. I even tried to De clever and wrote a letter using all but 5 of the programme titles, you know the sort of thing, "We must have a Breakdown in communications over the DeJiverance of my zines. There's Spacef'all of them on my shelf and I won't send them all The Way Back to you..." etc. It didn't work! It's no good saying "Sue the pants off her" I mean the woman helps WRITE STORIES so I can't be NASTY to her. She may not write if she's worried so I can't upset her (OK Neil, baaa, baaa, baa - I admit it!). So any suggestions as to my next move would be gratefully received as long as they don't involve me in being impolite. I suppose I could write and ask again and NOT SAY PLEASE but maybe that's going too far. Can anyone think what my next move should be? Anyone whose idea leads to the delivery of my zines will earn my undying gratitude, a bag of fizzy sweets and the opportunity to offer suggestions for this years school nativity play.
You make an interesting point about the accuracy of Blake and Avon's characters in Checkers, as opposed to the way in which they express their feelings. You are right. It's as though the writer has made a deliberate decision to push them slightly beyond the acceptable and into the 'What if universe, thus freeing them of the emotional restraints that exist in the B7 universe we know. Have you read the spin-off story by the same writer in another zine put out by the same editor? This uses one scene from Checkers virtually word for word, but develops the situation to an extent that was merely hinted at in the original version. It puts some of the emotional aspects into a better context. If you don't know this one and are interested in pursuing it you'd better drop me a line.
Let me assure you, that you are not the only person furious with the money-grabbing, tight-fisted, unimaginative, incredibly-ancient, horribly-ugly slap-heads (allegedly) who run the BBC, but at least you had a reply! I put hours into my letter (trying to make it polite), not even a note!
Horizon Letterzine 8 was published in January 1994 and contains 62 pages. It was edited by Jackie Ophir.
There are 19 letters.
Some topics discussed: waiting for a zine delivery by Ashton Press, sexism in Blake's 7, many remarks on Blake's 7 avatars and the pro book Kill the Dead, how to solve the letterzine length/postal problem, and finally, the "Ushton Watch" question is answered.
Thanks to you, the Letterzine goes from strength to strength - and from length to length! Although this issue is shorter than the last one, it's still way over the original 55-page mark. In the last editorial, I raised the problem of length exceeding printing-&-postage budget, and I'd like to thank all of you who wrote in with various suggestions as to how to solve it. Some suggested a tiered subscription system, whereby those who contribute letters pay more than those who don't; or pay according to the length of their letter. This would be impossible to administer - not even the 'regulars' contribute to each issue (Calvin? Micky?), and letters vary in length every time. Neil Faulkner, in his LOC, suggested a certain amount of editing, and putting his money where his mouth was, highlighted various chunks of his letter that he wouldn't have minded being edited out if space was a problem. I really appreciated this offer, though as it happens, there was enough room to print his letter intact.
Overwhelmingly, those who responded said that they preferred to pay more in order to keep the letters unedited. It is the simplest solution, all round. The prices have been raised accordingly, in order to take Into account the new postage costs, the cost of printing and the potential length of the Letterzine, based on the last few issues. But we can't let it get out of hand again, so I'd like to ask you to exercise a bit of self-editing, the Newsletter LOCs and Letterzine have now gone their separate ways, so please send your Newsletter comments separately. That includes things like convention reviews, which although I've allowed this time, really shouldn't be in the Letterzine! Please could those of you who contribute very long letters emulate Neil and mark passages for possible excision. I would only drop material if it were absolutely vital in order to keep within the budget. It may not be necessary - as was the case with Neil's LOC in this issue - but it would help me a great deal if I knew who didn't mind what being cut.
Anyway, in the future AIDS probably won't even exist any more (or should hopefully be curable, at least); if the ST:TNG universe is anything to go by, no drink except synthahol (which doesn't even make you drunk, so what's the point, might as well stick to soft drinks), no drugs, everything and everyone so damned NICE - what other pleasures in life can they have left, except for bonking each others' brains out?! Well, that'll do nicely for me. I baggsy Riker.
Anyway, all this is purely academic; I'd like to make my position re Avon quite clear. Basically, I admit it, I lust after Avon - but I would willingly settle down with Vila. The latter is, in my opinion, canny, funny, intelligent (although very good at concealing it when he wants to), brave (when he needs to be), a born survivor, loyal to his friends (as is Avon), and above all, HUMAN. I could easily imagine myself having a drink and a laugh with Vila, but with Avon? Avon would be good for a passionate one-night stand, or a long weekend, but Vila... (sigh!) Excuse me, I'm just nipping off to have a cold shower.
I'm sorry, but I just don't fancy Blake at all - he's too NICE. I don't know what this must say about my psyche, it's probably too depressing to contemplate, but I would prefer Alan Rickman's deliciously sexy Sheriff of Nottingham to Kevin Costnerrs clean-cut and too GOOD Robin Hood any day. Okay, so I go for the sexy bad guy in a superficial sort of way, every time, that's just the way I am. But I would like to think that I'd have the good sense to choose someone like Vila in REAL life... It's just a fantasy, and although I think Blake is a great character, I'm afraid his physical charms have no effect on me at all. The defence rests.
Orbit has to be, for me, one of the most powerful and moving episodes, second only to Blake in this respect. I really feel for Vila. He can hardly believe that his only remaining close friend, Avon (yes, AVON), who has been with him through thick and thin throughout the whole of the 4 series, would really be prepared to kill him in order to save his own skin. But knowing Avon as well as he does he realises that Avon probably would, IF ABSOLUTELY NO OTHER OPTION PRESENTED ITSELF. Vila is positively distraught, shaken to the core, sick at heart, and so was I. THAT is why he is crying, why he doesn't try to defend himself, but hides from his stalker instead. I seriously doubt if Vila could have killed Avon if their positions were reversed, but I can understand that Avon could, and probably would. Mind you, I reckon he would have felt pretty damned awful and guilty about it afterwards.
Avon had effectively betrayed Vila, and their friendship was forfeit - I think that Vila never felt the same way about Avon again. He actively avoids being alone with him throughout the next 2 episodes, and who can blame him? He has lost a friend forever. I mean, if you had been in Vila's position on that shuttle, could YOU have forgiven Avon? I certainly wouldn't have...
I love your letters, [Joan], they always make me laugh. Sorry to hear that you STILL haven't received your long awaited zines from the States. If I were you I would either have given up by now in despair, or sent her a letter bomb - but then I'm a vindictive person sometimes, especially where money is concerned. You sound much too nice to do anything like that, could you threaten to sue her? A lot of that seems to go on over there, and maybe it'll sting her into sending them? Or do you ever intend to use her again... Maybe you could threaten to blacken her name with other zine purchasers over here, thereby threatening her future trade and profits - would that do the trick, or is that too strong for you, if you don't want to actively fall out with her? I don't know all the circumstances, I'm just trying to offer a little friendly advice, ignore me if the advice is inappropriate. I DO feel for you though - every time I order zines from overseas I am on tenterhooks until they arrive, because it's a big risk, as you well know.
Re your overdue zines from Ann Wortham (I'm through with discretion - anyway, I'll wager there isn't a zine reader out there who doesn't know perfectly well by now whom you've been talking about): There is absolutely nothing you can do in the way of approaching her directly, so save your stationery and your overseas postage. Instead, write a letter to Bill Hupe [address redacted]. Explain the situation. Include a list of the zines Ann owes you and copies of the cancelled cheques if you have them. Be sure to stress that you know he's not responsible for situation, but that you understand that he's trying to work out some kind of arrangement with Ann to resolve this humongous problem (because believe me, Joan, you're one of a crowd at this point) and that you'd like to be included if a solution is arrived at. (Feel free to tell him I'm the one who told you a solution may be in the works,) (Jac: In fact, Diane Gies has contacted Bill Hupe on Joan's behalf and the story looks to have a happy ending - and not a moment too soon!)
The reason ST is 'escapist' as you describe it is the context in which it was/is made. A lot of US TV requires a positive outcome - however much 'wishful thinking' this might be regarded. And with TNG, Roddenberry insisted there be no conflict between the crew. Having said that, there are episodes taking TNG as an example that tackle difficult issues and have non-sentimental endings. Examples include the on-going saga of Worf's family disgrace and struggle to win back his honour (which has entailed his mate being brutally murdered among other non-cosy happenings) and episodes like The Outcast (quick plot line: Riker and an androgynous alien fall for each other, but his/her society views the idea of different sex/gender roles as a perversion and brainwashes him/her into their idea of normality. Not a 'comfortable' or schmaltzy story).
As for ST fandom having a rose-coloured glasses view, you obviously don't belong to the clubs I do: the newsletters are full of reasoned criticism of the various series. Serious issues are raised in the context of the episodes, and the show(s) criticised where it is felt they duck those issues. I think the differences between ST and B7 are part of the wider difference between US and UK TV and are cultural. The US is a relatively young country with the experience, until recently, or ever outward expansion and perpetual progress (whether individuals view that 'progress' as positive or not - there's another huge issue about misuse of global resources etc. which I'll pass by this time). Thus the original ST series has a rather crusading zeal at times which is very OTT in episodes like Omega Glory of carrying the 'American way' into the rest of the galaxy. Other shows at the time like The Man from U.N.C.L.E. had the same confidence. This view started to falter with Vietnam and Watergate which reflects in the more cautious optimism of TNG and DS9, especially the latter with its air of doggedly hanging on despite assaults from all sides. By contrast, Britain is an 'old' country with its colonial past well behind it and there is a sense of the endurance of ordinary people through centuries of differing rulers and social upheavals. Naturally enough, the British character is one of staying put and putting up with things (rather than going elsewhere and starting again, since the people who wanted to do that did!) so we have more of a not so much cynical as a 'seen it all before' attitude. We're accustomed to the idea that not only are our rulers self-serving power grabbers too stupid to see the end of their noses but that only people like that would want to become our rulers in the first place. (Yes, I know there is the odd honourable exception throughout history of people who tried to better conditions, but they tend to be in the minority). I recall the attitude here of bored incredulity at the seemingly endless TV coverage of Watergate: people said, "Well, of course politicians are crooks and liars - why are the Americans so surprised?" So we're a slightly world-weary lot and B7 reflects this perfectly. We struggle on, trying to make things better, but we're not awfully surprised when it all comes to nothing. It's interesting, however, that some of this attitude has crept into the ST films, especially The Search for Spock, where we see StarFleet echelons to be a bunch of liars and xenophobes: this certainly could not have been envisaged if those films had been made earlier.
Your 'defence' of fan consensus sounds like nothing less than a justification of a sealed clique unprepared to tolerate new ideas, with the implicit message that newcomers are expected to toe the established line. Sondra pointed out one instance where such consensus is somewhat erroneous. I failed to find Horizon for so many years because, quite frankly, I didn't know there was anything to find, I was totally unaware of fandom in my callow youth. And of course the woodcutter's axe is meaningful. It's a chopper, isn't it?
First, as regards the issue of runaway expansion/expense of the LZ: Personally, I'd be more than happy to pay a higher price for it, but recognising that this may not be the majority sentiment, I also think that there is one other possible solution lurking amidst the myriad of (unsatisfactory) ideas which Jackie says have been discarded: namely, limiting the number of pages per contributor. Just that - ie, let us do our own editing, and then prinf what we submit without further alteration. The only problem would be figuring out how many of our pages equals the maximum allowed number of LZ pages, since it's not a 1:1 correspondence. Still I daresay most of us would be able to make an educated estimate and stay within the guidelines. And those of us who use computers could be given a word limit instead.
Your comments on slashzines; I've only read one (er...yeah, thanks Joan) and I'm still wondering why people write this stuff and want to read it. I don't think it's got anything to do with B7. Sensing that most if not all of it is written by women, I'm tempted to conclude that a lot of women are turned on by the thought of men getting it together (and I've met more than one woman who obsessively searches for signs of latent homosexuality in all male interactions). Is it a quest for a chink in the self-appointed White Knight's doughty armour? Or some form of sexual terrorism (nyahh, see, you're a poofter after all!)? I really don't know (but I bet Sondra could tell me, heh heh). What I do know is, if I wrote a graphic Jenna/Cally or Soolin/Dayna piece it would be immediately condemned as oppressive sexist smut, and dead right too. Fight sexual war, not sexual wars.
Has anyone else noticed how fond Avon is of grabbing hold of people? I was watching Duel the other day, and when the ship is being hit by plasma bolts, he grabs hold of Blake, presumably to stop himself falling over. They then have quite a long conversation clamped together. Thinking back, he also grabs hold of Blake in The Web, Pressure Point, Voice and no doubt there are more examples. Come to think of it, he manages to fall on top of him in Redemption. For someone who professes to despise Blake, he is very physically protective of him. There's a job for somebody, we have had the definitive Kiss list, how about the touchy/feelie list.
With regard to the possibility of an Avon/Blake relationship, you have to decide whether Avon was lying when he told Anna that there was nobody else. On the other hand, Blake had gone out of his life by then anyway. I can see it as a possibility, although not a very strong one. Many stories of this nature distort the characters beyond belief, borne seem more plausible. I see it as an interesting challenge to try and write a story of this type that still leaves the personalities recognisable.
Well, I read a few of those American zines that depict "something more" between Blake and Avon. And then I stopped reading them. Because they never convinced me; indeed, the more a story takes Blake and Avon in that direction, the less like the "real" Blake and Avon they seem to me. I prefer my fan fiction true to the on-screen characterisations that attracted me in the first place. But I can see why some fans posit a sexual relationship as a natural extension of the psycho-dynamics between Blake and Avon - I just think they're misreading the core basis of that attraction. And I can't see it at all when other pairings are posited: Avon and Vila, for example - a very popular one. (Was that treading carefully enough, Jackie?) (Jac: Yeah, that was fine. Tread on!)
I'm looking for one or several (probably several) fans to collaborate with me in the making of B7 music videos. I have 24 more or so less completed "scripts" (mostly Blake-Avon, but a few others as well), and what I need are people to do the actual physical making of the videos. It would be vastly preferable for such individuals to have prior experience (ie already know what they're doing) as I understand this is not an easy process to master! In all likelihood, they would also have to be living in the USA due to the problem of incompatible VCR formats (although if someone in the UK or Australia nas multi-standard equipment, that would be fine). Obviously it's necessary to have more than one macnine. Although physical disability prevents me from participating directly in the making of these videos, I will share all expenses (and I'll consider contributing more than 50% of same since my partner(s) will be investing more than 50% of the time!). The list of proposed scripts follows. Anyone who's interested in working on any of these and fee-Is qualified, please contact me privately (ie don't wait for the next LZ):
- Send in the Clowns by Johnny Mathis (Blake & Avon)
- What Do You Want of Me from Man of La Mancha (Avon:Blake)
- I Don't Know How to Love Him from Jesus Christ Superstar (A:B)
- Reflection of Me Cfilk) (Avon:Blake)
- Looking for Blake (filk) (Avon:Blake)
- An Innocent Man by Billy Joel (Blake:Avon)
- I've Got You Under My Skin by The Four Seasons (Avon:Blake)
- The Truth is, I Lied by Billy Joe Royal (Avon:Blake)
- Somewhere Down the Road by Barry Manilow (Blake:Avon)
- But For Love by Eddy Arnold (Avon:Blake)
- The Games People Play by Joe South (B7 villains)
- Wicked Game by Chris Isak (Avon:Blake)
- I Can't Fight this Feeling by REO Speedwagon (Avon:Blake)
- Here You Come Again by Dolly Parton (Avon:Blake)
- Thanks, But No Thanks by Freddie Hart (Avon:Blake, Anna)
- Cold, Cold Heart by Hank Williams (Blake:Avon)
- Different Drums by Linda Rondstadt (Avon:Blake)
- I Am Woman by Helen Reddy (B7 women)
- Seasons of the Heart by John Denver (Blake:Avon)
- Seasons of the Heart by John Denver (Blake:Avon)
- I Wouldn't Beg for Water by Sheena Easton (Avon:Blake)
- When He Shines by Sheena Easton (Avon:Blake)
- Children of Auron (filk) (Cally)
- Do You Remember? by Phil Collins (Blake & Avon)
Earlier this week, two smallish rather battered parcels turned up in the mail. I looked at them and thought, "Did I really pay $100 for these? Was it worth it?" Well, actually it was worth it and more, because inside the parcels was The Way to Rebellion. I was very impressed, no actually I was extremely impressed. The plots were brilliantly thought out and the characterisations were near flawless. I really liked how you did Jenna (perfect) and poor Gan. But I do want to ask a couple of things. Why wasn't there more Cally? (Well, she is my 2nd-favourite character). And I thought you were a bit rough on Anna Grant. I've noticed quite a bit of anti-Anna sentiment around, and I'm wondering if I'm the only person who actually likes her. I mean, she didn't wear evening dresses and stilettos all the time, she was obviously intelligent, and she was rather ambiguous. Three good reasons for me to like her. Actually, whenever I try to analyse her character I come up against the same kind of ambiguity one finds in Avon, Did she believe in the rebellion or did she just want personal power? Did she mean any of what she said in the cellar, or was she just lying like mad to try and save her skin? I wonder if Chris Boucher (utter genius) wrote her like this on purpose, as a parallel with Avon?
Three cheers to Diane for diverting a few pounds of Horizon funds, and a large HOORAY to our editor for all the extra work she has had to do (crawl, crawl, creep, creep, please continue to print my letters). A few thoughts on the pricing: It doesnt seem fair that those who only read the letterzine pay as much as those of us who also contribute. Would a two-tier pricing scheme be too difficult to organise? Or we could pay per letter. (Or per page, look out you seven-pagers out there!) What would those of us who receive the letterzine by disk think about not having the paper copy? I wouldn't mind as long as we didn't miss the editorial. (Jac: Thanks for your support and suggestions. It's up to the individual whether they want to be readers-only, but a two-tier pricing scheme where contributors pay more than non-contributors would be difficult to administer, expensive for those but for whom there would be no Letterzine - it could even deter people from sending in letters if they knew it would cost them more! Paying by page would be impossible to organise, with everybody paying a different rate for each issue, paying for some issues and not others, etc. Out of the 80+ subscribers, only two (yourself and Micky) have opted to receive the Letterzine on disk. So your choosing not to have a paper copy won't make much difference to the overall cost!)
You don't need to defend what you like to watch, the problem is whoever authorised release of that article to the Radio Times. If you feel the article was not representative of Prisoner fans, surely you complained about it to your club committee. I simply don't see how an article can get into the hugely-circulated RT without having the backing of the Prisoner fanclub committee. we and other SF clubs have every reason to be annoyed. I don't think the article was a wind-up. One should ask why the originator is so insecure in his fandom that he has to rubbish others. Re intellectual and smart, smart has, I think, a certain connotation of intellectual in the U.S. Your own "different standards" for the Prisoner don't make sense. I could make a few pertinent comments about "science too advanced to even attempt explanation", (first rule - don't make the mistake you accuse others of making...) and batty balloons. I did watch and enjoy the Prisoner in spite of some idiotic bits and that awful last ep. Jackie, do you mean Dave Lally sympathised with our anger, or agreed with the RT article? Uac: He seemed to be very angry about the article, and sympathised with us.)
The why don't they get married in fanfic* issue and similar matters have been discussed in some other N/Ls and Henry Jenkins' book. I don't think fanwriters are afraid of offending readers,. I think they are affected (or should I say afflicted?) by the current media trends of being as violent, nauseating and outrageous as possible and preferably never normal. Kam your unmentionables a la Rick Mayall into a camera lens and the media will love you whilst some at least of the ordinary fans will yawn with boredom. There wasn't, incidentally, enough of that kind of elegantly obscene, trendy outrageousness in B7, I wonder what B7 would be like if filmed now? Avon unzipping and making for the camera lens every time he loses his temper with Blake, Cally forced to rip off her bra and wiggle her ... in every second ep. to please some male chauvinist director, Vila alter every drunken bout throwing up in glorious technicolour all over the flight deck followed by the camera dwelling lovingly on the mess (who mops it up?) while you, are eating your tea. Psychopath Dayna carving up victims in graphic detail, etc.
I recall Mascarada being rather boring (the title is better than the story). In Shadowplay it was heartening to discover Avon acting like a relatively normal if rather restrained human being when children were around. The detail of Cally's pregnancy could have been curtailed, yet it was nice to find a fanwriter with the courage to write about it.
I'm supposed to be writing the fourth (last) part of the Possible Futures sequel but haven't even had time to start it yet. In Futures Passing, shortly to be published as Jackie said, Avon is having a very difficult time, but Tarrant is Supreme Commander which I'm sure he'd enjoy a lot, especially with Servalan as President again. Futures End really is the end of the epic, though not of the Federation of course. I didn't put Carnell into this story, but there's another character a bit like him, to mollify me!
I did a skit on Phantom of the Opera for the Avon club comp, with Avon as the Phantom who looks worse when he forgets to put on the makeup (which is usually), Orac as the chandelier, Zen as the gravestone and dreadful sub-operas based on B7 eps, you can imagine.
A sequel to The Measure of Affection is faintly possible -I never intended to write one in spite of the comment at the end, but am being pressed to do it by some people, and of course I'd love every minute of it.
Then there's the Way to Rebellion prequel to B7 which I never finished (the bits about Tarrant, Soolin, Dayna and the rest about Cally, also Zen and Liberator were never written because it was already so l-o-n-g and by the time I got Blake and rest on London I wanted to do something else! The Sarcophagus alien (a fantasy story!). The history of Auron bringing in the Thaarn before he became deformed and Cally or her ancestor who obviously must be the love of his life or something like that (I'd like to show the Thaarn as I did in Nightmare in Orbit 7, he wasn't entirely evil in spite of being pretty Satanic much of the time, and at the end I was sorry for him... That story's a favourite of mine). One of my Carnell stories which involves the Cally clone sister is still waiting to be printed but Yvette Clarke has been ill for so long that I've no idea when it will ever appear. Avon club have an old story of mine awaiting printing in which I decided that Avon would not actually kill Blake on GP, and it progresses from there. I don't know exactly when that will appear. Someone even asked me about a sequel to Cross-Switch which is a possibility, I suppose, I've certainly ideas about how I could do it, set some way in the future after GP. I detailed a Series 5 for a Vilaworld NL involving Avon's hostile daughter joining the crew after GP, and it'd be quite tempting to write. Not to mention 3 plots which have nothing to do with B7! It's so easy to think up plots, of course, but I'll never have time to write them all. Doubtless the answer is to combine them into one mammoth epic!
According to Tanith's interview some years ago for LPF, Myal Lemyal is based on herself. I quote from my own precis of the interview:
- "...KtD. Are the main characters Avon and Vila?"
Parl isn't much like Avon but I think there are extraordinary echoes of Paul. It sounds as though there are copyright problems which are causing her to be very cautions re what she says nowadays. The Americans have read or seen a recent interview of hers, used by Jenkins, which appears to contradict the one she gave to Liberator Popular Front. I had to send a friend in the U.S. a copy of the original to prove my points. You'll recall Silver Sky was written for Paul, not Avon. KtD is an interesting story, although the chapter when the dream dissolves and Parl tells all is disappointing after all that dramatic build-up. Apparently Tanith was a newspaper journalist and I think she uses the wrong technique at times in this story -- she writes a mystery so we have no real opportunity to enter Perl's mind until it's almost too late, thus we lose some of the poignancy. However, the finale with Myal is superlative. Myal is my favourite character in this story. He is beautiful but coincidently not like Vila. The nearest I can compare is a playful, fey, modern version of Legolas.
- It would be foolish for a pro writer to use a copyright character in a novel. Parl is based to a point on Paul Darrow. I have a habit of using personalities in this way -- as images, a sort of hologram, not the actual people. Myal is not based on Vila or Michael Keating but on myself as a male projection in a talented, accident-prone mood (note the name - My Al, Le My Al...) The confusion over this arose as I can identify with Vila and have occasionally said so..."
Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin. Once Upon a Time there was a B7 fan. She was very sad when the programme ended and many, many years later was delighted to discover that Horizon existed. When she joined Horizon it was as though a whole new adventurers' world lay before her feet. Best of all was not the chance to see Blake again, though that was very nice. It wasn't the opportunity to admire Jenna and empathise with Cally, it wasn't even that Tarrant has grown younger and Dayna even sillier, No none of these things, children. It was he chance to get to "know that the world was full of B7 nutters. Yes real people (at least - some of them were real) who also liked B7! Some of them were very serious, some were very frivolous, some were both at once! These B7 fans and nutters were known as fanters, and the important thing about fanters was that they were all very kind and friendly and our B7 fan was happy. Only one thing was needed to make her life perfect and she found it. Yes, Bv stories! Would you believe it, children, some of the fanters were wonderful story writers. They wrote about the B7 characters in serious situations, impossible situations, scary and dangerous situations. They wrote stories that were very funny or very sad, or very, very grown up! Through all their stories long or short, our B7 fan could feel their love and enthusiasm and belonging (pause for those with weak stomachs to throw up here... ok?... let's continue). Our B7 fan was as happy as could be. She bought zines from all over Britain and America and made new friends in California, Illinois and Michigan. But then. DISASTER. The B7 fan tried to buy zines from Florida and thereby incurred the wrath of a Bad Nasty Floridian (known in the states as a BNF). The BNF sent our fan a paper to say that she had lovely, big, fat, juicy zines to sell, but when our fanter sent her money, it just vanished! Neither it, nor the zines were ever seen again... sigh. Our fanter was very sad and she cried and cried and cried and everyone felt very sorry for her. They patted her on the head and said, "Never mind, you have learned a valuable lesson about the world and how it is full of BNFs." But our fanter was still very sad. She couldn't stop thinking about all those lovely stories that were just sitting there waiting to be read. She could feel all those poor little trapped words reaching out to her and calling "Save us". She was very close to despair when, suddenly, she had a phone call. It was the Supreme Commander of all Horizon! "Your plight has moved me to copious tears," cried the Supreme Commander, wringing out her soggy trainers and trying to find a dry spot to stand in. "Fear not, I will help you," and she whipped out her shiny lance, donned her polished armour and leaping on to her white charger she screamed the Horizon motto defiantly to the rosy skies. The setting sun bathed her in a blood-like glow as she vanished over the distant Horizon. Our fanter stared in amazement, her face reflecting the last glitter of the dying sun. "Bloody Hell," she muttered, "whatever next?" And what happened next, children, was that... oh, I see you're all asleep... well all right... never did pretend to be Judith Seaman.
Have your zines arrived yet? It must be about 53 weeks at this stage. You could go for the all time record. I once waited a year or so for Enarrare, but at least the editors dropped me a line every couple of months saying "It's coming, it's coming!" What can you do about it? Well, you seem to have covered all the letter options. Does she have a telephone? OK, it's expensive, but at least you'd get some kind of response from her. You could always ring in the middle of the night and plead you got the time 2ones confused... Alternatively, you could let us know who she is and we could all write to her. Mind you, I couldn't guarantee she'd ever want to have anything to do with you again, and it could quite possibly put her right off her stories. I'd go with the phone call.
Missing zlnes - whether you want to be nice to the editor or not, you have a duty to name names to stop other people losing money the same way. Mind you, If it Is who I think it is, then you may actually get your zlnes as I'm told several batches of very old orders have been sent out.
Re the shots fired at the end of Blake. Just to further complicate matters, I saw a Panel with Paul Darrow at Confederation (on video - alas!) and he said that when Avon raised the gun at the end it was empty, which would mean that none of the shots were fired by him and that raising the thing in the first place was a remarkably suicidal thing to do. The plot thickens.
Someone in rolegaming fandom once said that a good fanzine was the written equivalent of a night down the pub. I agree. Trouble is, it's getting a bit crowded and noisy round the bar these days (mine's a Kronenbourg, by the way) and there's only so much drinking/passive smoking to be done in an evening. A pity to waste it when it comes. At which point I take a swallow, light up, and revert to normal mode.
A MINI REVIEW OF THE VISIONS '93 CON
The highlight of the convention was the appearance of Jan Chappel and Jacqueline Pearce. They kept up a thin pretence of Cally/Servalan hostility that was very entertaining. The Horizon booth was quite busy. Sue Cowley (I'll apologise now in case I've mis-spelled her name) did a great job. I bought many photos, a teleport bracelet (I wanted the handgun, but couldn't afford it), I bought the fan club T-shirt for myself, and I bought Paula the "Have You Ever Had One of Those Days" T-shirt she had designed, since she still hasn't received her free one for winning the contest (must be shipping from Florida).
USHTON CORNERED: Hold on to your hats, as Paula has solved the great watch mystery. John Abineri was at the con. We approached humbly and explained the situation to him. He was aghast to learn that the watch appeared in the scene and admitted that it WAS Hlf OWN, WHICH HE HAD FORGOTTEN TO REMOVE! We thanked him for his time (pun intended) and assured him that the mistake had given us many hours of deep and meaningful conversation, changed our lives, and would assure him immortality within certain circles. He is a aelightful man. Photos of this historic occasion will be forwarded to the Newsletter, once they're back from the chemist.
There were many (too many) actors present from Dr Who. I will not go into detail in a B7 zine, except to say that Anthony Ainley is the most charming man I have ever met, Sophie Aldred is a total babe (hope that doesn't sound sexist) and like myself, Peter Davison owns an Atari ST computer, and whatever is good enough for a Time Lord is good enough for me!
Horizon Letterzine 9 was edited by Jackie Ophir.
Horizon Letterzine 10 was edited by Jackie Ophir.
Horizon Letterzine 11 was edited by Jackie Ophir.
Horizon Letterzine 12 was edited by Jackie Ophir.
Horizon Letterzine 13 was edited by Neil Faulkner.
This issue is when slightly stiffer card covers are introduced.
Horizon Letterzine 14 was edited by Neil Faulkner.
Horizon Letterzine 21 was edited by Lucy Collin & Dennis Collin. A fan in December 1997 gave a passive aggressive poke regarding its lateness: "Now that Neil has completed AltaZine #6, what about Horizon Letterzine #21? Has anyone in the UK seen it yet? If not, has anyone spoken to Debbie Marshall about when she expects to have it ready?" 
Horizon Letterzine 22 was to have originally been published in roughly July or August 1998.In September 1998, several fans on Lysator asked where the final issue was -- one waiting a month before her query:
There was talk of continuing it under new management.I was wondering if anyone out there (particularly anyone in the UK) knows when the next -- and final -- issue of the Horizon Letterzine will be coming out. It was supposed to be sometime last month, so I figure a decent enough interval has gone by to allow me to ask the > question :-) 
I gather Diane has already been told that Sondra was enquiring about the LZ so contacted her direct with the answer... which (for anyone else's info) was that Debbie's computer had died, and it was either just photo copy everyone's handwriting or send it all off to a typist. This is what Diane did but alas the typist then had some major problems too, but it's now finished and was posted to Debbie for mailing out a couple of days ago. Hopefully Debbie will have it out early next week. However, it MAY not be the last LZ after all, because Carol, the lady who typed it up, has volunteered to be the new editor if there's sufficient interest. Accordingly, anyone who is currently a subscriber should let Diane or Debbie know they want to continue, and anyone interested in joining should email email@example.com to let her know. If it is to be resurrected, it will start in January 1999 (so that the possible resurrection can be advertised in Horizon NL 39 - hopefully out in November). However, it MAY not be the last LZ after all, because Carol, the lady who typed it up, has volunteered to be the new editor if there's sufficient interest. Accordingly, anyone who is currently a subscriber should let Diane or Debbie know they want to continue, and anyone interested in joining should email firstname.lastname@example.org to let her know. If it is to be resurrected, it will start in January 1999 (so that the possible resurrection can be advertised in Horizon NL 39 - hopefully out in November). 
Other Letterzines/Apas With Much Blake's 7 Content
- Pressure Point (1987-1989)
- The Terra Nostra Underground (apa, 1989-1993)
- Liberation Letters (1991-?)
- The Neutral Arbiter (1991-1993, with a single 1994 outlier)
- Rallying Call (apa, early 1991 to at least 1998)
- Horizon Letterzine (1992-1998)
- Dandruff Droppings (apa, 1992-?)
- Strange Bedfellows (apa, May 1993-November 1997)
- The Way Forward (apa, 1995-ongoing)
- AltaZine (1996-1997)
Also see: List of Letterzines.
- Subject: digest format, a post to the Lysator mailing list on Nov 18, 1992 by chevron (Lysator mailing list files are publicly accessible).
- Subject: Re: [B7L] Horizon 2.0/*Wild* accusations! post by Neil F. dated March 29, 2000.
- Most fans would have preferred he didn't. See Avon: A Terrible Aspect.
- The reference to "The Edge of Infinity" is likely a mistake by this fan, and they are referring to the J. Kel's "Pattern of Infinity" series in Input and Dark Between the Stars.
- Boris the Gnome is openly revealed by another fan to be Neil Faulkner in the next issue, and appears to be an open secret.
- Does anyone recall what newsletter this fan is referring to?
- This fan is referring to Ashton Press' difficulties at this time, and its inability to fulfill paid orders in the mail.
- A comment by a fan in Lysator on May 7, 1997 stated that the letterzine "had recently switched editors."
- Sondra Sweigman at Lysator (December 13, 1997)
- Lysator , September 1998
- [Lysator, October 1998