Last Stand at the Edge of the World

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Zine
Title: Last Stand at the Edge of the World
Publisher: Ashton Press
Editor:
Author(s): Ann Wortham and Leah Rosenthal
Cover Artist(s): Leah Rosenthal & Karen River
Illustrator(s):
Date(s): 1987
Series?: yes
Medium: print
Size:
Genre:
Fandom: Blake's 7
Language: English
External Links: Ashton Press' B7 zines
front cover by Leah Rosenthal
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Last Stand at the Edge of the World is a gen Blake's 7 235-page novel written by Ann Wortham and Leah Rosenthal.

It is a Blake's 7 fifth season in five parts. The front cover is by Leah Rosenthal and the back cover is by Karen River. Additional interior art by Deb Walsh, Leah Rosenthal, Dani Lane and Mark Thorner.

It has a sequel, Shadow at the Edge. Winner of the 1988 Zen Award for Best B7 Novel.

Summary

The Federation had scored a major victory against the rebellion on the frontier planet of Gauda Prime, and the government lost no time in using Blake’s death at Kerr Avon’s hands for its propaganda value. In the eyes of the Federation, the rebellion was crushed, its leaders destroyed, captured or scattered, its supplies cut off, and the rabble effectively neutralized by Pylene-50. Commissioner Sleer had also lost no time in capitalizing on the defeat of Blake and his followers and continued her rise to power…with the help of an old acquaintance, who had motivations of his own. But, legends don’t die easy. There was at least one survivor of the massacre on Gauda Prime and although they hid for awhile, it was far from over yet. All the propaganda in the universe could not negate Blake’s legacy of hope or suppress the rebellion he had begun. But legends don't die easy. [1]

Flyer

Additional Art

Reactions and Reviews

1987

What really happened on Gauda Prime? Who WAS responsible? Did the events of the fourth)
season really happen? Will Avon wake up and find someone in his shower and realize he dreamed the
whole thing? These questions plague BLAKE'S 7 fans once they view the final(?) episode "BLAKE". Many writers have penned their own conclusions but none so well in my opinion as the team of Ann Wortham and Leah Rosenthal. In their story. Vila, and a broken, unstable, dour "computer expert" named Merrit (the face is familiar but I can't place the name!), and three other prison escapees join forces with Kerril (City on the Edge of Forever) to fight the Federation. Vila has now become the leader of the rebellion, albeit unwillingly. Besides the Federation, he must fight ghosts from the past, ghosts who keep attacking Merrit sending him closer and closer to the edge of insanity. Merrit it seems, is so far gone that he can no longer protect himself and only wishes for his death as a means of protecting all others from himself. As Vila deals with his new responsibilities, he also unravels the "fourth season" of BLAKE'S 7 and Merrit's past which has partly caused his insanity. This story focuses on the Vila-Avon friendship. It is not a "slash" story although there have been a few short stories extending the relationship along that line. (These are not included in LAST STAND in any way.) Blake, Servalan and Del Tarrant do pop up, but their characters are really secondary ones. The zine displays excellent understanding of the Vila-Avon relationship, and an understanding of what other fans want to see in a story. Careful attention has been paid to the background created in the series, and few if any liberties were taken. Wortham and Rosenthal have not altered the episodes' storylines, merely extended beyond the episodes. After reading LAST STAND, I felt that I understood the show and characters better and was much more satisfied with the ending. LAST STAND ON THE EDGE OF THE WORLD is an extremely well done zine,— well written, well proofed, well printed and spiral bound. The artwork by Leah Rosenthal, Dani Walsh, Karen River, Deb Walsh and Marc Thorner is also well done. In fact, my copy is a well read, re-read and read again. Can you tell that I heartily recommend this zine to all B7 fans? Read and enjoy - several times! [2]

1988

To those of you who have bought and/or read "Afterlife" by Tony Atwood, BURN IT, and read Last Stand instead. This work, by Anne [sic] Wortham and Leah Rosenthal, is far beyond mere fan fiction. It is on a par with the finest episodes of the series.

In fact, many questions left from the series are answered here (and in keeping with the series ideals and character boundaries). While the lead is Vila (and about time!), his old comrades are never far from his thoughts. Vila is now "the last of Blake's Seven." He must stand alone against the evil Federation.

He is joined in his fight by new comrades (whom he led in escape from the Federation's top security detention center)). He has a pilot, a weapons expert, a computer tech called "Merritt," a biologist (with a cure for Pylene 50), and a female pirate/love interest. (Yes, once again Vila sees action, but you're not going to believe who he gets bonded to!)

He also has his share of trouble. Servalan has regained the title of Supreme Commander. Her new Captain and lover is someone we've seen before.

He (sorry, no names please) not only caused Blake's death but is also related to the man who sent Blake to Cygnus Alpha. He does not, however, prevent Vila from capturing Servalan. (Although Vila has Servalan as his prisoner, he has little time for the likes of her, being a leader and a family man.)

The rest of the plot is just as superb, so I'll let you find out:

1) Why Avon shot Blake.
2) Who betrayed whom.
3) Who's alive and who's not.
4) Where ORAC is.
5) Who Vila is.
6) Why Avon?
7) Who is the man in black who protects Vila's Good Name?
8) Will Vila win at last?
9) Who dies in this who shouldn't have?

The artwork and song lyric excerpts in the Last Stand are as outstanding and appropriate as the rest of the story.

The reason I gave very little of the plot is so that you will enjoy it as much as I did. Order this zine, and when it arrives, get comfortable. If your lights should fail, burn Afterlife and continue reading by firelight. [3]

This is my first column as a zine reviewer, and while I hope to review impartially and accurately, it must be remembered that all criticisms are pure opinion, and as such should not be taken as gospel. As Vincent Price once said of his esteem as an art critic, "I only know what I like."

First, let it be noted that the fanzine. Last Stand at the Edge of the World, is not actually a zine but a fan novel, it is also a fifth season story. For me, and probably for most of you, it is true when I comment that a series like Blake's 7 inspires much writing and the last episode, "Blake," can he viewed as the ultimate ending or the greatest cliffhanger. It all hinges on how you perceived the gun settings. As such, after viewing "Blake" most fans, I believe, quickly form their own ideas as to how a fifth season would progress. If you're like this, your ideas will be dissimilar, if only slightly, to everyone else's. Therefore, it usually falls that any fifth season story will have its disappointments, for this reason alone. But on the other hand, it can also prompt further conjectures on your own ideas.

The zine itself is beautifully illustrated and very well put together, from the spiral ring binder to the color cover. The illos are spaced nicely to break up the prose and are done by a couple of very talented fan artists. The print is nicely set and easy on the eyes. The story itself has a well-planned build- up, albeit a fast finish. Many of her new characters are quite well-developed and seem to come alive in some instances.

From the cover, one can easily deduce that this is, indeed, a Vila story so Keating fans will enjoy the zine in particular Vila is presented as a stronger and braver character than usual, and this is not out of line, especially if compared to the very first episode I have always suspected that Vila's "weak" personality was more a result of the displacement of his character from his home territory than from sheer spineless cowardice. For fans who can't see Vila as "strong," I recommend you review Vila's and Blake's first encounter.

As to Avon, I completely disagreed with his characterization Avon, the man who killed the only woman he ever loved after learning that, in fact, she betrayed him, is not the sort of man to wimp-out and "curl up and die" after shooting Blake. Rather, I imagine Avon to be the type who'd say, "Fool . . he never did learn to listen . . .". Or perhaps one day. he'd say to Tarrant (supposing he survived), "I've killed the only woman I've ever loved and my only friend What makes you so sure you aren't next?!"

The story takes off in many directions, enough to keep the pacing fairly even and interesting. Although there .ire many twists to the plot, most arc not unexpected. A little less build up and less foreshadowing would have left a few surprises for the reader, but. even so, the story is good reading. If you accept her basic character assumptions, the plot follows through well enough although it does grow more fantastic towards the conclusion. Well, this story has a common tie with other fifth season stories I have read so far: Avon and Vila naturally survive, Tarrant turns up alive later on and the girls really did bite the dust. Come on y'all - give the girls a break!

So while this zine has its many good points, it also has its share of bad ones. I'd call that balanced. It is a good zine to add to a collection, as it is very professionally done and the illos are most enjoyable to view. If nothing else, it's different, and that can be an entertaining change even when you don't agree with all of the plot development, and find some of the characters totally out of alignment.

To recap; Vila's character is stronger, a nice change and certainly acceptable within the frame of the original. Avon is afraid of guns and needs a Nanny - totally unacceptable and unrealistic, not at all within definition of his character. While I don't want to spoil Tarrant or the plot for you, I did disagree with his characterization to a certain degree. His character was well-written, but I found his premise to be contradictory, although his last scene was appropriate for him even if the situation was fantastic overall.

To close, I've read better and I've read worse I've written worse!, but that could be said of any work. Do I think this is how a fifth season of Blake's 7 could have gone? Not a chance, but then it doesn't have to be ... it is, after all, a piece of fantasy writing.

So . . . decide for yourself - it's time
 for YOUR opinion. Until next
issue - good reading, good writing,
 good drawing, good karma, 
good bye. [4]

1993

The novel is *almost* a tease, since the 3 some (Avon, Kerrill and Vila) don't actually become sexual until after the end of the novel, in some short stories in the Southern .5's and .75's. But together, it is one of my fav A/v stories. Perhaps partially because the authors went to some work to change the aired relationship before the novel starts. It is not your standard delta/alpha relationship. Avon is brain burned at Gauda Prime, and Vila puts him slowly (and not always willingly) back together. If anything, Vila is the dominant partner, especially when he becomes attached to the rebel base commander, giving him political as well as personal authority. Good stuff. [5]

1994

I was so glad to find Last Stand at the Edge of the World, I can't tell you. Now there is a novel worth reading and rereading. I eagerly await the sequel. Hellhound is also marvellous. Double Edge Sword has lots of good moments. (All novels, all have Avon going mad, or deeply questioning what he sees as real.) [6]
I just finished reading "LAST STAND AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD" yesterday. I agree with Nichole - this zine is brilliant. It has actually overtaken "Program" as my favourite PGP. Last Stand is a very long zine, full of text and pictures. Written by Ann Wortham and Leah Rosenthal. The art is mostly by Dani Lane and Leah Rosenthl. The pictures range fom the good to the extremely good. Thy are always relevant to the text and well positioned. There's one of Avon in profile that is absolutely spot on. This is a genzine, so no bedroom scenes for anyone to worry about. The story concerns Vila mainly. It's set some time after Gauda Prime. He succeeded in escaping with a couple of cellmates, and insisted in bringing along an almost catatonic Avon. Vila, much to his surprise, finds that as one of "Blake's 7", he is automatically expected by everyone else to take charge. What makes this story work so well, is that we see a Vila who is taking charge of things and organising a rebellion, but he STILL feels like the Vila we know and love. The other main character in the zine is Kerril, whom he meets up with when contacting another group of rebels. I won't tell you what happens beyond that point, but it makes very entertaining reading. There's a couple of interesting twists, I particularly like the explanation for Avon's fourth season behaviour. I've got a mental bet as to who's going to show up in the sequel, so I'm eagerly awaiting it too. [7]
I, too, loathed Last Stand and the Matthews trilogy (I haven't read Trust, Like the Soul), so it is possible to be a fan and not "dote upon" that stuff. [8]

2016

“Last Stand” is just wonderful - V/Kerril/A, non-explicit on the V/A in the sense that there it just skirts the line to romantic and avoids the sexual (which, y’know, is completely fine by me!), but Kerril refuses to bond with Vila unless Avon is included too. :) I don’t 100% agree with their characterisation of Avon... but it does read beautifully. [9]

Unknown Date

Like Cathy Knowles' 1979 "The Epic", this zine is a legend in its own lifetime. It's been appearing on 'highly-recommended' lists since not only long before I ever encountered fandom, but long before I encountered 'Blake's 7' itself. I rationed myself on it greedily, breaking off after only a few pages every day to make it last, savouring the memory of each fragment between indulgences -- the highest tribute I know how to give to any zine! It wasn't difficult. Despite its length, this zine wastes few words. Each short scene carries its own emotional punch, and very few of them ring false... even when rewriting the past.

The is a post-Gauda-Prime zine featuring Vila and Avon. It's difficult to say much more than that about the plot without damaging its carefully-crafted revelations: even mentioning Avon's name is, technically speaking, a spoiler for the first scene, although the identity of the wreck of a man known as 'Merrit' is fairly rapidly made clear. The zine comprises five linked stories, each raising the stakes -- and the potential for disaster -- a little higher, until the climax rivals the tensions of 'Star One'. In the process, it also sheds new light on history we thought we knew.

Some elements of this work better than others. The revelation of Tarrant's role in Avon's madness, for example, is bitingly effective, while the dying confession we get at the bottom of page 106 really is enough of a shock to serve as the ending to that story on its own -- the trailing half-page of continuation tells us nothing we can't already deduce or know. I felt that the contradiction of accepted wisdom about Vila's past was less successful; we know he's an untrustworthy source of information, but a deception on that scale requires an unconvincing change of personality, and rather undermines one of the major themes of the first few stories, that of Vila's self- transformation in the face of necessity.

The zine manages to keep up a high level of emotional tension almost throughout while rarely appearing either maudlin or impossible to credit (there is, however, one case of a medical condition that is cured a little too conveniently). By and large, it manages to put its characters through one struggle after another towards understanding and personal stability without resorting to open sentimentality of the sort that can be wincingly hard to read. It manages to bring back past characters from the series without making it seem gratuitous, and creates vivid original characters in Ferran, Jaana and Nolasco. (I have to say that I felt Varlo to be a failure in that respect: after a promising introduction he dwindles back into little more than a cipher.)

Like "The Epic", this zine manages to be both a thrilling adventure and an enthralling exploration of its protagonists. Occasionally, the plot-levers are a little too obvious (the abrupt introduction of the limiter into the last story comes across as a /deus ex machina/) and some of the amateur psycho-analysis left me sceptical; but it thoroughly lives up to its reputation, and more than justifies its length. The legend lives! :-) [10]

References

  1. from the flyer, see image on this page for complete text
  2. from Communications Console #1
  3. from Tarriel Cell #1 (January 1988)
  4. from Tarriel Cell #2 (March 1988)
  5. Sandy Herrold's review posted to the Virgule-L mailing list in April 1993, quoted with permission.
  6. Lysator, Nicole, dated July 4, 1994.
  7. Lysator, Judith P, dated July 6, 1994.
  8. from Rallying Call #11
  9. bruinhilda.tumblr, November 16, 2016
  10. from Judith Proctor's Blake's 7 site