Program

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You may also be looking for Program (Blake's 7 story in the Jabberwocky universe), or 5th Season (Blake's 7 zine) or Series 5 (Blake's 7 zine) or Convention Program.

Zine
Title: Program
Publisher:
Editor(s): Judith Seaman
Date(s):
Series?: yes
Medium: print
Size: digest-sized
Genre: gen
Fandom: Blake's 7
External Links:
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Program is a gen Blake's 7 digest-sized zine published in the UK. It has the subtitle: "Blake's Seven: a Fifth Series." The fiction is by Judith Seaman.

It has a prequel called Aquitar. This zine series continues in Ghost.

Issue 1

Program Part One was published in 1986 and is 117 pages long. "This story is dedicated to Paul Darrow whose portrayal of Avon made all the futures possible."

front cover of issue #1
back cover of issue #1

From the inner cover: "Episode 1: Program. An escape has been arranged, but for whom, and why? Episode 2: Sanctuary. Any offer of freedom should be worth considering, but freedom can mean two very different things. Episode 3: Cache. Avon's search for weapons nearly ends in disaster for Dayna and himself. Episode 4: Iota Seven. Old friends and old enemies. Chagatai's final contribution to the rebel cause is less than welcome to Avon and Vila. Episode 5: Skirmish. When Servalan gets tired of waiting Avon has to act, but Elam didn't expect quite this result."

  • Program (An escape has been arranged -- but for whom, and why?) (15 pages) (episode 1; S5; reprinted from Slave #5)
  • Sanctuary (Any offer of freedom should be worth considering, but freedom can mean two very different things.) (24 pages) (episode 2; S5; reprinted from Slave #6)
  • Cache (Avon's search for weapons nearly ends in disaster for Dayna and himself.) (40 pages) (episode 3; S5)
  • Iota Seven (31 pages) (Old friends and old enemies. Chagatai's final contribution to the rebel cause is less than welcome to Avon and Vila.) ( episode 4; S5)
  • Skirmish (When Servalan gets tired of waiting, Avon has to act, but Elam didn't expect quite this result.) (26 pages) (episode 5; S5)

Issue 2

Program Part Two was published in 1986 and is 113 pages long. " Part 2, episode 6 Deadlock, New friends and a choice for Vila mean new enemies for Avon. episode 7 Sacrifice, Total immunity is too much to hope for now, but whoever dies Avon can live, at a price. episode 8 Ambush, Why does Servalan want Avon following her to Byzant? Elam follows his orders to an ironic conclusion and Avon discovers that he has one unexpected gift to give."

cover of issue #2
  • Deadlock (33 pages) (episode 6; S5)
  • Sacrifice (46 pages) (episode 7; S5)
  • Ambush (33 pages) (episode 8; S5)


Issue 3

Program Part Three was published in 1986 and is 122 pages long.

cover of issue #3

"Part 3, episode 9 Loyalty, When the others turn against Avon he is helpless to prevent them abandoning him and Kleng now has direct orders to destroy the ship. episode 10 Saviour, Elam's return to Space Command has unexpected consequences and Avon is powerless to influence anyone's fate. episode 11 Obligation, Both Avon and Elam may feel that they owe Tycho a lot, but neither is free to repay him."

  • Loyalty (When the others turn against Avon, he is helpless to prevent them from abandoning him and Kleng now has direct orders to destroy the ship) (37 pages) (episode 9; S5)
  • Saviour (Elam’s return to Space Command has unexpected consequences and Avon is powerless to influence anyone’s fate) (40 pages) (episode 10; S5)
  • Obligation (Both Avon and Elam may feel that they owe Tycho a lot, but neither is free to repay him) (43 pages) (episode 11; S5)


Issue 4

Program Part Four was published in 1986 and is 117 pages long.

cover of issue #4

"Part 4, episode 12, Harlequin, Avon needs to be invisible if he is to tip the balance of power, but several people are very determined to see him. episode 13, Atonement, Orac at last, but other people are closing in and all the plans go awry. With only five days left Servalan offers Avon one last deal..."

  • Harlequin (55 pages) (episode 12; S5)
  • Atonement (63 pages) (episode 13; S5)


Reactions and Reviews

Unknown Date

Only for the Avon fans. A PGP serial where Avon is the suffering hero, with new characters and twists. [1]

1988

In the absence of a 'real' fifth series, I have adopted Borrowed Time, for whilst continuations such as Program and Ghost by Judith Seaman describe the adventures of familiar characters, they are vitally different from B7 as I see it. Program, enjoyable though it is, concerns a series better re-named "Avon's Clones." To me, however, reading Borrowed Time was like finding a long-lost friend. [2]
"The first volume of PROGRAM sets the stage for this well-thought-out, tightly written, and believable 5th season epic. In the wake of Gauda Prime, Sleer/ Servalan has collected all the prizes: Our Heroes (somewhat dented), minus Blake (R.I.P), plus ORAC (deliberately sabotaged beyond Federation repair by Avon). Despite the relatively diminished political status of her Sleer persona, Servalan manages to maintain possession of ORAC and control over the immediate destiny of Avon and his crew. However, to truly capitalize over her rather shopworn spoils, she requires a functional ORAC--which in turn requires not only a functional, but a cooperative, Avon. Blake could have told her it wouldn't be easy. Sleer, however, has both the resources and the utter lack of scruples to bear on Avon that Blake never managed. The contest is bitter, shrewd and fascinating; it rages across several star systems; involving conflicting governments at many levels; and sweeps up a number of strong and interesting original characters in its wake.[3]

1993

I have just finished reading my FIRST zine and I thought that I would just share a few thoughts on it.

It is 'PROGRAM', a fifth series zine by Judith Seaman, 13 episodes in 5 parts. I have just finished reading Part 1. Has anyone else read it?

It was quite interesting with very good characterisations. The plot is quite complex (involving clones etc) so no-one is really sure who is who. So Blake is dead and the others escape from a federation medical space station in a ricketty little ship. But where is Orac? And why does it appear as if their escape was too easy? Why does the Federation not destroy them? What is Servalan's plan?

It is quite a gripping story. Yet there are a few interesting recurring features. The action seems to revolve around Avon completely, with the other characters present somewhat only to give Avon a stage. However although the action is Avon-centred, the thoughts of the characters are 'Blake'-centred. There are numerous references to Blake and Avon killing Blake. There was even this fascination with Blake present in Tarrant, Dayna and Soolin, none of which had ever known Blake. So although Blake is dead, his idealism, the 'ethos' of Blake, if you want to call it that, serves to provide a framework of reference for the drama and characters. [4]
I had occasion to correspond with the author a few years ago and was astonished to learn that she considers Blake "the worst thing that ever happened to Avon." I'd never have dreamt that in a million years, based on what she actually wrote. Which just goes to show that what a competent writer puts into a story is not always what a reader takes out of it.[5]
"I stayed up till 12.30 last night (far too late for me) reading Program by Judith Seaman. This is a four volume fifth season story in which Avon escapes from imprisonment with the Scorpio crew, but we gradually discover that some of them aren't the real people but clones programmed to betray him at a critical moment. the question is, which ones are the clones... Score four out of five. [6]

1995

[Program] and [Ghost]: I didn't want to like these novels, but I found myself caught up in Judith Seaman's 'Program: a fifth series' and 'Ghost: a sixth series' far beyond my expectations. I picked up 'Ghost' in a used zine sale, and borrowed 'Program', and do not know about their current availability. And I find that 'Ghost' is four, no five chapters short! According to the list at the back of 'Program', I'm missing Journey, Vision, Slave, The Coming, and Master. So were they written? and if so, does someone here have them and could I borrow them?

These are finely detailed post Gauda Prime sequential novels - really just one very long story. Quite a few new people are introduced, both evil and ambiguous, several of whom I found myself caring about. The details about the operations of the Federation and the Outer Worlds are well developed, coherent and believable. The story is told the way I like 'em, in dialog more than exposition. And if you like plot, you'll like these.

PGP...Servalan needs Orac, and only Avon can fix it. So she cooks up a complex scheme to get Avon to agree to do it - by letting him escape from the Medical Station where he has been held prisoner for three months, along with Vila, Soolin, Tarrant and Dayna. Except that Avon knows that she had clones created from all of them, and that any or all of his companions are copies, and undoubtably conditioned to kill him at a certain time. But they each believe themselves to be the 'real' one.

The major themes: choice, trust and betrayal. And how can you tell what is real? These are all prime B7 themes. None of the Scorpio crew has choice, because Servalan has removed it; Avon tries very hard to create choices for the others, while knowing himself trapped. No one trusts anyone else; how can you trust a clone? And everyone, new character and old, either betrays or is betrayed...except Servalan, who is in control.

The character's voices are, for the most part, caught very well. My main problem is repetitive dialog and adverbs. Avon is consistently either bleak, despairing, or dry. He almost always answers a question with a question ( which he did do in the series, but not inevitably!). The Scorpio crew is constantly harping on the trust issue. My second problem is the revisionist history, that Blake really was selling them for money. But it is only touched on slightly, a couple of times. Over all, everyone is hopelessly caught, pushed invariably from event to event, to a horrific conclusion in 'Program', which is not relieved by the following chapters of 'Ghost'.

I was trepidatious about Seaman, because of her reputation for Blake bashing. Her 3rd, 4th or PGP stories that I have read have been a cut above most fanfic, because I like the writing; maybe I've been lucky and not run into the 1st-2nd series stories she's done (or forgotten them!). But the Avon of these novels is very well drawn and believable and he suffers abominably. And it's not pretty. He attempts suicide more than once, and is not *allowed* to complete it. He suffers hypothermia, blood loss, drug addiction, heinous torture, starvation, and more. Always he is revived, through no desire of his own. He dreams terrible nightmares that wake the others - of Blake, of chasing Blake, of killing Blake, or Anna, of watching the others, the real ones, go down at GP. Even thru the repetitions, I think she has caught an Avon that is basically believable, and for whom I developed a great deal of sympathy. [7]

... I found and have been reading Judith Seaman's PGP novels Program and Ghost. These are long, complex novels, in which Blake is truly dead, but everyone else lives several times: Servalan has the survivors of GP cloned, some more than once, and creates an intricate scenario to keep Avon unbalanced until he agrees to fix Orac. He doesn't know for sure who is a clone, and therefore either conditioned to keep him alive or kill him at the correct release word, and who is real (but perhaps conditioned as well). Seaman also postulates that Blake really did betray Avon, for money. When I got to that part, near the end of Program, I discovered that I was reading the novel like it was an interesting piece of alien culture, or rather, like an Arrian reading Athanasius's heresy. Her premise is not part of my fundamental understanding of Blake's universe. But it is interesting, in an intellectual way.

I didn't want to like this set of novels; Seaman has a reputation for 'hating Blake'. There are annoying parts, like the repetitious dialog between Avon and his 'crew'. Avon is always bleak, dry, or despairing. Every exchange is Avon answering a question with a question (which he did do on occasion, but it makes very boring reading!), and includes the word 'trust' (as in 'Do you trust me?' Should I?' Some of the sub-plots and descriptions of how the Federation operates are engagingly presented and thought out, and several of the new characters are well developed and captivating. But she's certainly not very kind to anyone at all. Avon suffers extraordinarily - suicide attempts that fail, bleeding to near death, hypothermia, nightmares, insecurity and doubt, extreme physical torture, pain, drug addiction, starvation - and the most cruel of all, removal of choice. He is always right, though, and knows the answers to the unasked questions.

Be forewarned, if you stumble into this set of fanfic. [8]

1996

I ought to hate this for the way it treats Blake, but luckily he is safely dead and the story is so well written and Avon suffers so terribly that I still love it. [9]

2014

I can cautiously recommend them. Both Program & Ghost series... have their really strong really pleasing points. And both have disappointing weaknesses too. But to me they were worth reading at least a few times; in fact were worth OCR'ing all the zines to keep the text in lightweight digital format.

If I recall correctly, it's a Post-Gauda Prime adventure about Avon and a new team of outlaws, right?

Not really - Avon, Vila, Soolin, Dayna, Tarrant, Orac... not really a new team. The problem is, one - or several, or all - of them may be programmed clones. Yes, they do meet up with some new allies - who do not "die at the end of the episode"! (How un-canon!)

Those new allies (and enemies!) are good solid well-developed characters for the most part IMHO.

Strengths: Plot inventiveness, excellent sci-fi world-building (possibly culture too), good sci-fi tech! Apt B7 & original characterisation overall.

Weaknesses: weak writing in spots (repeated adjectives over & over - very jarring), some weak plots spots (ho-hum another primitive culture...) [10]

References

  1. from Katspace, Kathryn Andersen.
  2. from Horizon Newsletter #21 (December 1988)
  3. Pressure Point no.6
  4. Subject: Program Zine post to Lysator on April 20, 1993.
  5. Subject: Program Zine post to Lysator on April 21, 1993.
  6. Subject: Zines and tapes by Judith P. on Lysator dated Sept 24, 1993.
  7. Lysator, Nichole, March, 1995.
  8. from [N V] in Rallying Call #13, same reviewer as Nichole in Lysator
  9. Lysator, 1996
  10. comment by Winnie-l at Horizon, October 6, 2014