Shadowplay (Blake's 7 zine)

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Title: Shadowplay
Publisher: P.I. Press
Editor: Jude Wilson
Author(s): Susan R. Matthews
Cover Artist(s): Karen River
Illustrator(s): Karen River
Date(s): January 1988 (separately), 1989 as series single volume
Series?: yes
Medium: print zine, fanfic
Fandom: Blake’s 7
Language: English
External Links:
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The front 1988 cover by Karen River: "... well worth it either for the stories alone, or for the art alone (especially if you are lucky enough to score a copy of "Shadowplay" with the Karen River color cover of the painting nicknamed "To Die For" by those who saw it in reality). [1]. This art was also used/was originally used for Paul Darrow's novel Avon: A Terrible Aspect.
titlepage, also by Karen River

Shadowplay is a 122-page gen Blake's 7 novel by Susan R. Matthews.

It was edited by Jude Wilson. Regina Gottesman edited the first two installments in the series.

The art, including front cover, is by Karen River. The back cover is blank.


It is part of a series that was published separately, and then in 1989, as a single volume:

Sample Interior Gallery

Reactions and Reviews of the Trilogy

A very very good AU story built around the relationship between Avon and Blake - with one enormous flaw.

Any fan of Avon-torture must enjoy this one. The whole premise of the story is built on his suffering the most appalling agony at Servalan's hands - to put it as non-spoilingly as possible, the torture is almost entirely mental and emotional, and tied very tightly to the close relationship - the love - between him and Blake, which is turned against them both. And the story follows the results of that torture.

Both men are well-written (though I would have preferred a little more reserve in Blake, who was a *touch* too sentimental over Avon for my tastes) and the fierce bond between them very believable. The other characters are quite well-done, especially (in my opinion) Tarrant, who comes over as brash and irritating, but also quite likeable and sympathetic, not an easy mixture to achieve. Vila is a little duller than I like him, somewhat humourless, but not too bad. Servalan is even nastier than in the series, a mixture of sadism, slightly decayed sweetness and steely calculation, and she and her subordinate, who supervised the torture, share some rather enjoyable if psychologically ugly scenes.

Now. The flaw. For the first time, I found myself thinking 'this would have been better as slash.' Cally - one of the three major characters, as central as Avon and Blake - is in my opinion *dreadfully* written (and in a good story, a flaw like this stands out all the more). She starts off by being sullenly dull, and half-way through turns placidly dull - positively bovine. And so the Avon/Cally relationship falls as flat as a three-week-old pancake; even he is duller in their scenes together. There is so much more real emotion in the Blake-Avon scenes that it makes the 'romance' slightly ludicrous to me.

A lesser fault of the story is its slightly humourless quality. The blend of angst and humour that helped make the series so fascinating is admittedly very hard for writers to achieve - especially with an angst level as high as in *this* story - but I did miss the humour that the TV Avon and Vila, especially, could inject into the most grim of storylines. There were odd attempts at humour - especially the end - but they didn't work as well as the drama.

Nevertheless, if you like to see both Avon and Blake put through the wringer, physically and emotionally, as thoroughly as possible - lots and *lots* of hurt and some comfort to sweeten it at the end - this is definitely worth reading and re-reading.

There are two sequels to "The Mind of Man" and both have some good points, but are inferior to the first. Mascarada has a quite well-done Jenna, a nicely twisted Dorian, and a mildly dull plot. And the third one Shadowplay has some of the best ideas of the three (a dangerously desperate faux-Scorpio crew, and Avon being forced to relive the worst moment of the torture from the first - this *should* have been explosive) but the whole work is so diffuse, the characters so bland (even Blake and Avon are almost placid this time around, and Cally - tranquil to the point of stupefaction and hugely pregnant in the bargain - has nothing in common with the TV character but the name) that these threads can't have the impact they should have. It also introduces Avon's small son. There ought to be a rule banning this - I have yet to see a story where giving Avon children wasn't a mistake. [2]


  1. from Sarah Thompson at Judith Proctor's Blake's 7 site
  2. by Sally Manton at Judith Proctor's Blake's 7 site