Rites of Passage (Blake's 7 zine)

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Zine
Title: Rites of Passage
Publisher: Mannanan Press
Editor(s): Pat Fenech
Date(s): 1999
Series?:
Medium: print, zine
Size:
Genre:
Fandom: Blake’s 7
Language: English
External Links:
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Rites of Passage is a gen Blake's 7 116-page anthology, edited by Pat Fenech, with the focus of Avon's journey from Earth to Gauda Prime and beyond. It is illustrated by Whitby27 and won a 2000 FanQ.

Contents

  • Pat Fenech, "Under a Dark Star Sail" (fiction)
  • Ana Morgan, "Lazarus Entombed" (fiction)
  • Pat Fenech, "Remember Me" (fiction)
  • xBryn Lantry, "The Thirteenth Hour" (fiction)
  • [Selections from "The Four Quartets" by T.S. Eliot] (poem)
  • art by Whitby27 (front cover), Pat Fenech

Reactions and Reviews

This is a beautiful zine, both visually and verbally. If you like tensely emotional A-B interaction, eloquently and poetically described, this one's for you. The focus is on Avon, but Blake fans will like it too.

xBryn Lantry has been a highly popular writer of both slash and gen for some time now (check out Judith's reprints of her classic novels Puppeteer [slash, A/B] and Derelicts [gen, A-B], if you haven't already). Pat Fenech is also rapidly acquiring a following among fans who appreciate elegant use of language, and new writer Ana Morgan (I believe she also has a story in the new Chronicles, which I haven't yet seen) is a worthy companion to the other two.

In fact, the stories fit together so well that the zine almost reads like a novel. I was wondering whether perhaps it ought to be considered as a standalone-- a single work with multiple authors-- for award purposes, so I asked the editor; she said that no, it is just fortunate coincidence that they fit so nicely. So it's an anthology zine, but one with an unusually unified theme.

The stories follow Avon's life through the series, pre-Way Back to post-GP. "Under a Dark Star Sail" gives us deep Avon POV-- very difficult, and very well done here. "Lazarus Entombed" is similar in style, with both Avon and Anna fantasizing about ways in which their relationship might have ended differently. "Remember Me" has Blake and Avon contemplating what they mean to each other-- gen, but slash fans will like it for the emotional content. Finally, "The Thirteenth Hour" gives the sadly battered heroes a plausible reconciliation PGP.

In between the stories are quotations from T. S. Eliot's "Four Quartets," wonderfully appropriate in their bleak tone. The zine is richly illustrated with both Val's pen drawings, and photo montages by Pat. The photo montages consist of six to ten telepics arranged against a landscape background; I've never seen anything quite like them, and I like them very much.

Not for those who want fast-moving action-adventure fiction, but very highly recommended for the fan who is willing to take the extra time to read slowly and let the mood build up to the exquisite intensity these authors can evoke. [1]
A lovely, lyrical set of 4 stories focusing on our favourite computer expert, separate but linked by theme (each takes a point at Avon's path through the four seasons and expands on it) and style. This is not a zine for people who like high-action stories, nor is there a lot of humour, but for those of us who enjoy a deep, loving look at the man's mind and emotions, it's wonderful. Blake fans should also love it - he is featured heavily and lovingly in three of the four stories, the central theme of all three being the bond between the two men. And, although there's little of the other characters (except Anna, in the third-season 'Lazarus Entombed') what there is both well-observed and sympathetic.

In order:

UNDER A DARK STAR SAIL (I love this title) by Pat Fenech - pre TWB through to Spacefall, very narrowly focused Avon POV and very well done, with an almost musical use of language and nice flow, intertwining past (memories of Anna, the trial, his work, even knowledge of Blake) with the present (the London, his cautious fascination for Blake, the break-out). The passages expanding on dialogue from Spacefall are especially good.

LAZARUS ENTOMBED by Ana Morgan - My deep, unalterable loathing for Anna Grant makes this one more difficult for me, but I can say that it is beautifully written, and I think fans of the Avon/Anna story will love the alternate viewpoints/fantasies about their relationship and Anna's imaginings of their coming meeting.

REMEMBER ME by Pat Fenech - Elegiac, autumnal in feel; a pause in the 4th season as Blake and Avon both stop long enough to remember and to make their own decisions about their earlier relationship. The importance of the emotional bond to *both* of them is central to this story, so those of us for whom the relationship is central to the *series* will love it. And the passage where Blake remembers the aftermath of 'Voice from the Past' is especially wonderful.

THE THIRTEENTH HOUR by xBryn Lantry - a long, gorgeous story that has immediately gone on my list of absolute favourite PGP stories. A marvellous study of My (badly battered but still wonderful) Heroes and their deeply felt but obliquely worded bond (*all* of the passages of dialogue between Avon and Blake should be read slowly and carefully - they are wonderfully layered). Again, it's written from Avon's POV (different from Pat's but equally well done); it also features more of the other characters, with a splendid Vila, soured, still angry but still loyal, brief but sharp portrayals of the Scorpio crew, and a good, intelligent, sympathetic Deva (I often think he gets short shrift for being the *other* computer expert in Blake's life). And while her complex and intricate style may not be everyone's cup of tea, I find it perfectly suited to this quiet but deep story. I really love this one.

The zine also features some beautiful pictures by Whitby27 (I especially liled the front cover and page 107), and gorgeous black-and-white photo montages, with masses of carefully chosen pictures from the series. Highly recommended, and a must for fans of Avon *and* Blake. [2]
RITES OF PASSAGE, put out by Pat Fenech (Trumpets, please!) is an admirable first zine, which though devoted to Avon, unfortunately in my view, nevertheless makes Blake an extremely important second character. Pat makes no bones about the fact it's an Avon zine so I won't really complain--too much. RITES is four stories put in sequence, two of which are by Pat. One story by Ana Morgan I didn't read because it was Blakeless. (Yes, even 11 pages of no Blake was too much for me.) The 4th story was by xBryn Lantry, one of my all time favorites. Actually Pat, despite being a new writer, is one of my favorites, too.

The zine, approximately 87 pages of actual story text (big pages), is available from Pat Fenech and Judith Proctor. It's filled with lots of Whitby27 art and, also, lots of computer scanned photos. I like the photo arrangements better because they have far more Blake than the [Whitby27] art does.

Each story/section starts with some T.S. Eliot poetry and deals with a main time/event in Avon's life, but with memories/flashbacks to other events. Pat's story "Under a Dark Star Sail" is set on the London. The second story, Ana Morgan's story "Lazarus Entombed," deals with Anna. Pat's story "Remember Me", the third story, is before the meeting on Gauda Prime with a significant flashback to the "Voice from the Past" time. And finally, xBryn Lantry has a post GP story called "The Thirteenth Hour." These four stories blend very well together, making this almost a novel.

"Under a Dark Star Sail" is a highly poetical story DEMANDING reader involvement--and perhaps best read while sipping wine. You have to sink into this story and live it. Actually none of RITES is easy reading. If you want a fast page turner, this is not for you. Pat's basic style is always heavy on feelings and very poetical in nature, as opposed to straight noun-verb-direct object type of action writing. She slowly paints moods and emotions with her writing. Pat, also, plays with words and repetition, and the way she presents her story is extremely vital. Like a poem, it can't be paraphrased effectively. The way she tells her story is as important as the story itself.

This story, about 1/3 of the zine, involves Avon's despair as well as his ambivalent feelings toward Blake (admiration and revulsion). Somehow he knows he's as lost to Blake's influence as Jenna is, and he resents both Blake and himself for this.

Pat's Blake is not a saint, but he's definitely admirable and you'll not find any Blake bashing in her zine. She likes both Bake and Avon and tries to present both of them as fully developed and as real as she can. This passage is Avon's memories of their Aquatar experience. I'll put in some explanation since you're reading this out of context--but this does detract from the flow.

Experience suggested that there were no honest men and he believed it for a truth. But--Blake was the exception.

Blake was honest.

Patently.

Stupidly.

But unquestionably, honest.

Even his belief in the impossibility of it could not persuade otherwise.

He tried.

But could not imagine a single self-motivated reason to explain what Blake had done. Controlled his [Blake's] mind was, no doubt, but in spite of it, he [Blake] had seen one of the problems plaguing the Project clearly, pointed to a solution Avon knew to be tenable, with remarkable directness and a courageous, if stupid, disregard for the consequences of speaking the truth, against the perceived interests of his [Blake's] division.

It [Blake's suggestion] was not done.

It was never done.

He [Blake] had done it [spoke the truth]. His innate honesty more powerful apparently than their power to control him.

"Lazarus Entombed" by Ana Morgan I skipped, though what I did see of it, reminded me very much of Pat's style, so it fits well. Sorry, folks, but I just don't give a hoot over Avon's anguish about Anna.

The third story, "Remember Me," by Pat is one of my favorites of hers, and I've frankly forgotten how it is I already knew this story. Even though I love Lantry, this is my favorite story of RITES. This concerns both Avon's and Blake's thoughts before they meet on Gauda Prime. And the main flashback is an extremely moving one where Blake, being upset he was Servalan's pawn in "Voice from the Past," decides to commit suicide. (Sorry to give that part of the plot away.) Pat writes so well that you actually believe him capable of doing it. The sequence between Avon and him is exquisitely detailed. "Remember Me" is on my personal list of favorite B7 stories.

"The Thirteenth Hour" by xBryn Lantry is in her usual UNUSUAL entertaining style. I love her complex and odd way of writing. Nobody twists the English language and dialogue around the way xBryn does. I suspect you either love her writing or hate it. These are just two random samples (fairly close together) which don't begin to show her well.

For the sake of my anatomical integrity, I had learned more about the inside of Blake's breast than his closest companions had guessed or gossiped to. But I didn't know what to say. I used to think him ungenerous to Jenna. If he did too, I thought I'd leave his shoes for him to wear. I wore my own wretchedly enough.

...

My eyes had faced the universe again, starting with his shirt. The weighing of the scales of my life or death had wearied me, and when I descried a chair, I went for it. The chair young Tarrant sat in for tea. Last aeon.

This post GP story is not your usual one either. Blake survives, but only because it's science fiction. But since we already believe in ships that are part organic, cloning of people even when you don't have an actual piece of the person to start with, and computers that are almost people, it's not a stretch to believe in reanimation of the dead--but only though, if the corpse's loved ones can afford the hefty price. (Some things, like greed, never change.) Blake forgives Avon for shooting him. This story concentrates on reconciliation and the rebirth of the Blake and Avon alliance. Blake and Avon acknowledge their need of each other and their love (brotherly) of each other. This doesn't rank as my favorite Lantry story, simply because I like her slash ones better. But for a gen story, it's good.

So even though RITES OF PASSAGE is an Avon zine, I recommend it for Blake people. Of course, if you're one of the many who like BOTH men, then you have no problem at all. Me--I'm going to take page 34 and make it my front cover, and either page 77 or 113 and make it the back cover. I really get so tired of looking at Avon only illos that I have added quite a few "fake" covers to my zines. [3]

References

  1. review by Sarah Thompson at Judith Proctor's Blake's 7 site
  2. review by Sally Manton at Judith Proctor's Blake's 7 site
  3. review by Joyce Bowen at Judith Proctor's Blake's 7 site