Love and Necessary Discipline

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Title: Love and Necessary Discipline
Author(s): Susan R. Matthews
Date(s): 1986, 1993
Fandom: Blake's 7
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art for this story by Randym; it was printed in the fourth issue of On the Wing, an apa in which this story was discussed in 1991.

Love and Necessary Discipline is a gen Avon/Tarrant Blake's 7 story by Susan R. Matthews.

It was published in Southern Seven (1986) and then again in The Other Side (1993).

The story has an adult sequel in Straight Blake's #1 called "Sarabande."

Reactions and Reviews

This issue [of Southern Seven] also has the infamous "Love and Necessary Discipline," IMO the most controversial gen story in B7 fandom (I think "Nearly Beloved/Rogue" is probably the most controversial smut story). This is the one in which a crazed PGP Avon commits domestic abuse upon Tarrant. I think it's an extremely well-written story, but I really dislike this version of Avon. (In my ideal A/T universe, Avon should be the one comforting Tarrant after some Evil Villain has done Vile Things to the dear boy. I don't want Avon himself to be the Evil Villain!) Bodie & Doyle (The Professionals) appear as "original" characters in this universe. The story has an adult sequel in Straight Blake's #1, in which a reformed Avon makes love very tenderly to a woman who reminds him of Cally. [1]
I read 'Love and Necessary Discipline' in 'Southern Seven' ages ago (and didn't particularly like it). [2]
LOVE AND NECESSARY DISCIPLINE by Susan R. Matthews. Avon killed Blake and is slowly killing Tarrant, abusing him day after day because he can't handle what happened. Tarrant lets him because...well, read it for yourself. It's sort of the psychology of a batterer. [3]

First of all, I'm sorry if I gave the impression last time that I dislike Susan Matthews' story, 'Love & Necessary Discipline.' That is not the case. If I seemed critical, it's only because I'm the analytical type; I dissect everything, whether I love it or hate it. Anyway, I admire the story very much; it's an all-too-authentic depiction of an abusive relationship. While some aspects of the story disturbed me, it's entirely possible that Susan intended that effect. Much has been made of fans' tendency to inflict pain and suffering on their heroes. At first glance, the wallow/hurt-comfort/angst genre may seem frighteningly sadistic. But I don't think those of us who read and write such stories are abnormal or disturbed, because the intent of this violence is not is the least sadistic. The idea is not to degrade the hero, but to ennoble him. Also, suffering, like sex, is used to intensify intimacy between characters. It's a way to get the characters to let down their guards. (The B7 characters have unusually thick emotional barriers; therefore, it takes a lot of pain to get past them!)


Re: 'Love & Necessary Discipline': your comment about people being unable to face a plot in which Avon abuses a child or a woman hit the nail on the head. Given the story Susan wanted to tell, it had to be Del. Many readers were extremely upset to see Avon callously beating up Tarrant. But can you imagine how they would have reacted if it had been, say, Dayna, instead? That would have been completely unpalatable -- far too realistic for comfort. I suspect that writing about male characters, rather than female ones, allows the mostly female fans the emotional distance necessary to deal with subjects that would be just too painful to tolerate otherwise. This is true for gen as well as slash stories. [4]
The third story [in The Other Side #9 ] is a long one, 'Love and Necessary Discipline', by Susan R. Matthews. Matthews is a frustrating writer for me to read, because I think she does some of the most effective 'hurt' writing around, but falls down on resolution, and absolute avoidance of slash. In this one, a PGP, the Scorpio crew meets up with the rebels on GP, who go underground during the long, hellish winter and invite the strangers to winter with them. Avon has been mindlessly beating Tarrant, who is nearly dead when they stumble into the rebel hideaway. (Two of the rebels are familiar eyes and temper, blue eyes and twitchy.) Now while Matthews writes out the dysfunctional dynamics of the group (Tarrant does not defend himself, no one moves to stop Avon; his interaction with Tarrant is ignored by Vila, Dayna and Soolin, altho they know Tarrant is dying) thru the eyes of the two GPers, then the POV of the crew, then Tarrant and finally Avon, the story is effective and horrific. But when she at last allows Tarrant to recieve medical help, the story turns nice, Avon sees the error of his ways and is contrite, they start working together again, and no one desires anyone carnally, even while the final nice scene plays itself out in a steambath. [5]

{{Quotation| I'm glad, actually, that your debate over dark fanfic has
 continued, because I think I'm finally starting to comprehend your position. I
 also don't like stories that seem to me to be saying something bad about the
 characters I like best. Since I'm basically an Avon fan, the prime example of
 that for me is "Love and Necessary Discipline." I read it early on, and it
really put me off my enjoyment of B7 for a little while. I would hate to think
that my favorite character would behave like that, and I wouldn't like him if I
 thought it were plausible. (I know some people see his behavior in such aired
 episodes as "Sarcophagus" and "Power" to be reprehensible, but I interpret it 
differently.) [6]}]


  1. from Sarah Thompson at Judith Proctor's Blake's 7 site
  2. review by aralias at zines: the other side 8 and 9, avon calling 2; archive link, , January 27, 2016
  3. Subject: Zine review: The Other Side 9 by Sue C. on Lysator dated August 4, 1993.
  4. from Randym's comments in On the Wing #4
  5. In 1993, Nicole V. posted this review to the Virgule-L mailing list. It is reposted here with permission.
  6. from Rallying Call #18