Rats Tales

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You may be looking for Rat Tales (a Professionals zine), or RATales (a Krycek mailing list).

Zine
Title: Rats Tales
Publisher:
Editor(s): Jackie Marshall
Date(s): 1986-88
Series?:
Medium: print
Size:
Genre:
Fandom: Blake's 7, Doctor Who & Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Language: English
External Links:
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Rats Tales is a gen Blake's 7, Doctor Who and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy fiction anthology.

This zine series appears to be related to Queen Bat and Space Rat and was published by the same fans as Yrch!.

Issue 1

Rats Tales 1 was published in 1986. The front cover is Glen Hattersley.

The editor was Jackie Marshall.

  • "Early Days" by Ken McBride (B7)
  • "The Sprung Trap" by Audrey Baker (Judge Dredd)
  • "Madame La Baronne" by Philippa Irving (unknown fandom)
  • "One of Those Days" by Carolyn Douglas (Hitchhiker's Guide)
  • "Prelude" by Val Douglas (unknown fandom)
  • "Marvin" by Carol West (poem, Hitchhiker's)
  • "The Priz" (cartoon, uncredited)

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 1

...here are a few comments, for what they're worth, on RATS TALES 1... Okay, the first item in the 'zine was Ken McBride's "Early Days". Now this was excellent with great feeling of authenticity in the creation of the seamier side of Dome life. In a way it reminded me of 'The Stainless Steel Rat', but more serious with the humour a by-product of the situation instead of its raison d'etre. A nice touch was the withholding of the information about the identity of the main character until the very last sentence, though 1 daresay most people guessed much earlier on what with all those characteristic one-liners! Another nice touch was the way the identity of the Alpha grade was implied but never actually stated, a certain charismatic psychopath. The Chaffinch character (what fin appropriate namel) was excellently drawn as well.

I'm afraid I didn't like Audrey Baker's "The Sprung Trap' as much as the other stories in the 'zine. That has nothing to do with the actual story, which was quite well-written, but more to do with my dislike of Judge Dredd the character. There just doesn't seem to be any shade of humanity to him. I just can't sympathize or identify with him, and I'm afraid he just leaves me cold. To me, he just seems like a sub- Dirty Harry stereotvpe dumped into a world which has become the worst nightmare possible. I did like Walter, though, and the mutants were marvellous characters. Their arguments were most amusing, but as a whole, the story didn't 'click'. Sorry.

Next was Philippa Irving's "Madame La Baronne". Actually when I first read this I saw no reason for it being in the 'zine. It was only the final pay-off line that revealed the 'who' connection. Of course , there were subtle hints throughout the story as to the Baronne's identity which were made obvious on a second reading, but this slow-moving but never tedious, actionless but never boring story didn'treally need the connection. In fact, it could easily stand as a piece of fiction in its own right. It was a marvellous character piece, helped by the fact that there were only two main characters. A truely engrossing piece with a fascinating portrayal of the once Countess Scarloni. What's next? Ah yes, it's "One Of Those Days", Carolyn Douglas' amusing little tale, ignoring all rules of logic and commonsense, crushed three fictional universes together and charted the hilarious consequences. It certainly was interesting to see new slants on some familiar characters:- Tegan & Turlough as argumentative drunks; the Doctor, whose vocabulary seemed to be limited to a few phrases; and romantic interest for Vila, Tarrant, Soolin, Tegan & Turlough! Good to see that Arthur Dent managed to get back on board the 'Heart of Gold' with his usual air of brisk efficiency (ha!). The one I feel sorry for is Gag Halfrunt, whoops, there goes another high-paying patient! Still, Servalan would have probably tried to blow him up sometimes so he's well out of it! Unless, of course, she just managed to escape in the coincidental escape capsule. (cynic? Me?!)

You know, somehow I get the funny feeling Val Douglas likes the 'Pirate Planet'. "Prelude" is a fine example of the advantages fan fiction has over the televised stuff, that of being able to concentrate more fully on characterisation than would ever be possible on the 'box'. What I particularly liked about "Prelude" was that all three characters were acting out a part while keeping their true characters concealed. So we had the Captain pretending to be a coarse, foul-mouthed psychopathic brute while secretly planning his revenge on Xanxia and dreaming of his past glories wliile all too aware of his sorry state at the present and determined to die in a semblance of freedom. Then we had Xanxia, outwardly the demure, loyal nurse while inwardly dreaming of a glorious future when her projected form is completed and she can dispose of the Captain who so disgusts her. What is ironic is that the Captain knows what she doesn't - there is not enough power in the Universe to stabilise the projection. Then we have Mr. Fibuli, outwardly the obsequious officer with the irritating mannerisms and 'piggy in the middle' with the Captain and Xanxia. However, inwardly he is tormented with guilt at his own part in the destruction of so many inhabited planets.While he dreads the consequences of being found out too much to use his technical expertise, eg to sabotage machinery, he keeps his position as observer of the power struggle between the Captain and Xanxia. The waiting game he plays, hoping that In the future Zanak will be freed of both of them, is well conveyed.

Onto the final two items now. the cartoon strip "The Doc" is very amusing if a little short and the idea of a Hitch-hikers version of a certain old sixties TV series is a very good one. Some of the dialogue is extremely funny, for instance when the 'Voice' repeatedly tells Zaphod Beeblebrox they want information and Zaphod replies "Have you tried Yellow Pages?" And then there's the "He-avy man! I'm being chased by a bubble of Arcturian mega-gum, this could develop into one hell of a sticky situation!" Any plans for any more? Carol Vfest's "Marvin" poem was very interesting, especially with all the "Blake's 7" titles concealed. It also showed the dark side of Marvin's character and was very intriguing in its implications.

[1]

TALES had a really striking cover, or so I thought, anyway! Contents were, as I expected, of an amazingly high standard, although the high-point was easily "Madame La Baronne": a superb piece of fiction in which the denoument didn't really matter since by that time I'd got so wrapped up in the situation at the Chateau. Hie only thing I'd fault with it at all- and I'm going to be very pendantic & boring! - were the French mistakes. As something of a Francophile, it was pretty distracting to see missed accents on 'ChaVeau' and 'essaye', but most heinous of all was la Baronne's 'je suis la' meaning "I am to it", or assuming the accent on the 'a' was missed 'I am there'. For the latter, "Je suis ici" would have rectified that cock-up; the former, "C'est inoi" would have been more natural, and for more preferable! (MISSED ACCENTS ARE ENTIRELY MY FAULT. THE TYPEWRITER DOESN'T HAVE THE CORRECT KEYS, AND WHILE DID THINK Of INKING THEM IN, ULTIMATELY IT WAS FORGOTTEN UNTIL TOO LATE. LET'S HOPE I REMEMBER THEM ROR VOUR LETTER,.,) Penny-pinching aside, I hope Philippa can be persuaded to write again: it was excellent. 'Zarjaz' as Dredd's editor might say, which brings me neatly to 'The Sprung Trap', which wasn't so good, borrowing heavily from 'Destiny's Arils', the Max Normal stories and others. Another error was the fact that in the Dredd stories citizens are terrified of the Undercity; yet here they are quite unpeturbed by it! I'm sure far better can be done with Dredd. Not that I didn't enjoy it - it just wasn't very ambitious. Lovely, bloodthirsty g violent ending, though!

"Early Days", the sole male contribution, was well-written if a bit long: I'm not much of a B7 devotee, so that's really the reason for my lack of enthusiasm. I'm enough of a devotee to understand 'Marvin' - yes, very clever, and very good! Poetry in 'zines is rarely attempted, apart from Lotta Drivel's perculiar pondei ings in BAT and stuff in DESTINY but it really does deserve more attention.

Penultimately, "Prelude": how does Val do it? It was sickeningly good! And 'One of These Days':silly! Not as brilliantly funny as Allan J. SiVs masterpieces in BAT but hysterical all the same. TALES was fantastic. Here endeth my overlong letter. [2]

Issue 2

Rats Tales 2 was published in 1987. The front and back covers are by Paul Richardson. The interior art is by Sue Graham, Paul Cornell, and David Tulley.

front cover of issue #2
back cover of issue #2
  • Facade of Daemons by Andy Lane and Craig Hinton (5)
  • The Last Enemy by David Bell (7)
  • No Offense Intended by Carol Livingstone (19)
  • song by Lucy Zinckiewicz (25)
  • Epitaph by Carol West (26)
  • Starvation World by Miles Booy (27)
  • "Beneath That Cold Exterior..." by Justin Richards (42)
  • Echoes by Tim Westmacott (44)
  • The Scan by David Tanner (45)
  • The Twins by Nick Cooper (47)
  • song by Lucy Zinckiewicz (50)
  • Zen and Oral by Steve Bowkett (51)
  • Parasite by David Tulley (53)
  • His Last Name at Last Revealed by Ros Williams (Blake's 7) (63)
  • Mammon by Mark Gillespie (70)

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 2

"A bloody big read" is.probably the easiest way of describing RT2, and thankfully very few pages were wasted and there was much to read that was up to the standard of "Madame la Baronne" from the first issue. Basically, the sillies were silly -"Mammon" by Hark Gillespie was sufficiently over-the-top to get away with a corny idea (hmm, a bit ideologically unsound of the Doctor to bank with Barclays...?), Lucy Zinkiewicz's poems were almost daft enough to appeal to my sense of humour (at least, i think I've got one), Ros Williams' story was at times hilarious, but was in general too long, and Paul's OH story was terrific (couldn't fail as it had the Clangers in, though, could it? I quite like the Wombles as well.) Thumbs up there. The 'serious' poems were pretty serious - Steve Bowkett seemed a little unsure of himself with the first line to Zen but then really pulled a beautiful rabbit out of the hat, and 'Orac' was fine throughout. Carol West's 'Epitaph' was totally beyond me - I didn't know what the hell it referred to - but if I say that at times it didn't matter, that's a huge compliment, 'understanding' poetry is the lowest form of appreciation. And the fiction was...well, very good (damn, blew that piece of continuity). Miles Booy - undeservedly ignored as a brilliant fiction writer -crafted a couple of gems for RT2. I really enjoyed "Starvation World". Certainly in the running for best story that issue, I was only a little concerned by the need for the final three paragraphs - the Doctor's closing comment would have been more satisfying, without the need to bring in the future of Adric, or the mysterious presence of the TAROIS. Very minon quibble. "Media Types..." was quite enjoyable -the plot was a bit odd and I'm not quite sure what Miles was trying to say about CND or whatever, but all in all it was a plausible future for UNIT and only made me wish he'd write more stories. We need people like him. Andy Lane's and Craig Hinton's "Facade of Demons" was unnerving and stylish; ditto David Tanner's "The Scan", though this was perhaps unnerving for all the wrong reasons. I'm not a B7 fan really but I enjoyed 'The Last Enemy' by David Bell which carried you along with its ferocious I enjoyed 'The Last Enemy' by David Bell which carried you along with its ferocious speed of events, and Dave Tulley's 'Parasite' reminded me of some stories I once read in the only B7 annual I ever bought - only a million times better. The ending was a teensy bit obvious but I really am struggling to say anything critical about the whole issue. Justin Richards" "Beneath that Cold Exterior" was tremendously moving (!?) and Tim Hestmacott's "Echoes" was good, although perhaps a touch longer might have got it closer to perfection. Finally the Oredd story by Nick Cooper was so intriguing at the start it almost seemed a shame to link it to any already established "world" (another strange way of saying I liked it) and Carol Livingstone's ST story again was sufficiently good to allow me to forget that I actually hate Star Trek! As you can see, the only complaints I can think of are piddling little ones. It was that sort of issue. More, please, and you'll be keeping me happy at least. [3]

Issue 3

Rats Tales 3 was published in 1988 and contains 71 pages. It has a front cover by Amanda Kear. The back cover by Ian Colledge. The inside back cover is by Roz Barnes.

front cover of issue #3, Amanda Kear
back cover of issue #3, Ian Colledge

The editor apologizes for its late publication, see image below.

from issue #3
  • Tail Ends (2)
  • Christmas on Moonbase Alpha by Paul A. Pearson (4)
  • a/w by Dan Bowden (5)
  • Requiem by Jan Harley (6)
  • Love, Peace & Bells by Jackie Marshall (20)
  • a'w by Sue Graham (29)
  • Murder at Stony Flats by Audrey Baker (30)
  • Do Mutants Dream of Illegal Sheep? by Alan J. Sim (37)
  • a/w by Amanda Kear (40)
  • poem by Lucy Zinkiewicz (43)
  • Gibby the Globule by Dan Bowden (44)
  • Down the Time Lines, Like the Wind by Miles Booy (45)
  • poem by Lucy Zinkiewicz (49)
  • Traveller by David Tulley (50)
  • And All Because... by Douggie (59)
  • Men, Moths, and Mi'Cronnions by Carol Livingstone (60)
  • poem by Lucy Zinkiewicz (65)
  • The Queen Bat Superteams Contest by Paul Cornell (66)
  • Solitary Reflections by Sue Bursztynski (68)
  • Outsider by Tim Westmacott (69)
  • Bits ov Various Films and Sometimes Lives by David Tulley (70)
  • a/w by Roz Barnes (71)
  • Star Trawler by Iaian College (72)

References

  1. ^ from an LoC in "Rats Tales #2"
  2. ^ from an LoC in "Rats Tales #2"
  3. ^ from an LoC in "Rats Tales 3"