Songs of Innocence

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You may be looking for Songs of Innocence, Songs of Experience, a Star Wars zine.

Zine
Title: Songs of Innocence
Publisher: Uzi Press
Editor(s): Emily Ross
Date(s): May 1993
Series?:
Medium: print, zine
Size:
Genre:
Fandom: Blake's 7
Language: English
External Links:
cover by Suzan Lovett
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Songs of Innocence is a gen and mostly slash Blake's 7 anthology. It has a sister zine called Songs of Experience. The title is a reference to a collection of poems by Romantic poet William Blake.

The Second Volume That Wasn't

A second volume was planned but not published. "Delayed until Media*West 95. Need more submissions! Stories, poetry, artwork - straight or slash, long or short, serious or funny. The only requirement is that Blake must be featured. I like very much what I've gotten so far, but must have more to make a zine- don't want to have to abandon this project and strand all the good stuff I've received! Send submissions to UZI Press." [1]

Contents

Fiction:

Poetry:

  • Melissa Mastoris, "Fragments" (gen)
  • Jane Mailander, "Blake" (f, based on "Belle" from WD B & B; gen)
  • Emily Ross, "Mindfire" ("A Tribute to EPT's Delightful Novel;" A/B)
  • Melissa Mastoris, "Refusal" and "'I Have Always Trusted You'" (gen)

Art:

  • Suzan Lovett front cover nude B & unicorn
  • Randym
  • Jane Mailander back cover cartoon
  • plus assorted clip art of William Blake paintings

Reactions and Reviews

See reactions and reviews for Panacaea.
See reactions and reviews for Slings and Eros.
See reactions and reviews for Sweeping the Ashes.
See reactions and reviews for Blood Rose.
See reactions and reviews for Tying Up Loose Ends.
See reactions and reviews for Mender of Bad Souls.
See reactions and reviews for Nor Iron Bars a Cage.
[zine]: These two, companion pieces featuring stories centring on Blake (or at least Blake *and* someone, usually - surprise! - Avon) are very similar in look and to a great extent in feel. Both have *gorgeous* Suzann Lovett covers, Innocence with Blake sleeping with a unicorn, Experience with him fighting some sort of serpent (with the Liberator in the background). She does draw Blake wonderfully, and these are two of the best covers I've seen. Inside there are a few pictures by Randym (not to my taste) and a lot of William Blake woodcuts (very much *to* my taste).

The stories are a mixed bag. Songs of Innocence is generally overall, but it does have one jewel in 'Mender of Bad Souls' by xBryn Lantry. This is my second-favourite Blake story of all (the absolute favourite being the sequel from Fire & Ice II) - PGP, badly damaged, dangerous, despairing - and bloody wonderful...Avon is also battered, ambiguous and quite breathtaking. Be warned, though - it's for B/A fans, no other character else gets a more than a glance. And her writing is fairly stylised, and probably not to everyone's taste.

'Slings and Eros' meanders over 22 pages, with Our Heroes captured by Travis, escaping, then finding themselves in a lost underground civilisation, and ends up in the air with an obvious sequel planned (whether written, I don't know). The relationship between Blake and Avon is rudimentary to say the least, and I couldn't get into the plot, so I had a hard time with it. 'Panacea' was fairly good *if* you can swallow the premise that Blake (thanks to the ever-convenient midwipe) is a total sexual innocent; 'Tying Up Loose Ends' struck me as rather pointless; 'Nor Iron Bars a Cage' tries a little too hard to be ambiguous (a PGP with Avon either insane and imagining Blake has come back for him, or maybe not...).

Not all of the stories are B/A. 'Blood Rose' is (I think?) something of a Professionals cross-over, which holds no interest for me, but has some good writing. 'Sweeping the Ashes' is a Blake-only story - nothing wrong with that and the idea is good, but the original characters are rather dull.

[See this fan's comments about Songs of Experience.] [2]
[zine]: Well, I have it; it was cheap, thank goodness. I was in a crabby mood when I read it, and had just finished Heat Trace, which I liked a lot, and kept comparing S of I to, to the great disadvantage of S of I.

There is a fair amount of poetry in S of I, of the usual bad fannish standards. There are some odds and ends of illos, most by William Blake. There is a drawing of Rocky and Bullwinkle on the back cover; I don't know why. The cover has a Suzan L. pencil drawing of Blake and a young unicorn. The type is a decent size, copying a little messy.

Stories

  • Panacea, by Anya Kalashnikov. Avon deals with Blake's sexual dysfunciton and cures him with one encounter. Blake is dumb and naive, and Avon makes Blake give himself an enema before they begin. The sex is short and cliched, no angst to speak of . Grade: D
  • Slings and Eros, by Riley Cannon. Blake and Avon are trapped on a post-nuclear world. They have an easy, already established relationship - no sex details given. Plot is cliched, too many things are tried out and then dropped or not fully developed. Grade C-
  • Sweeping the Ashes, by Vickie McManus. Short, only 4 pages. Odd, no slash. Grade: B, for imagination, at least.
  • Blood Rose, by Nina Boal. This is the Roj/Ray story Sandy heard about. Ray is a prostitute, with no character whatsoever. Roj is certainly not Blake; clone, maybe? Simplistic, overwrought. Grade: D-
  • Tying Up Loose Ends, by Philippa Kaye Walther. This is a sequel to The World Turned Upside Down, a two, volume, very long B7 novel that I did not like much. You can comprehend this story without reading the novel, but why bother? Grade: D
  • Mender of Bad Souls, by Bryn Lantry. This has Ursa Major 1 at the top, so it may be the first of a series. It's not topnotch Bryn L. It's a PGP, but AU. Avon did not shoot Blake becasue Vila knocked him off his aim. B and A spar over resuming their sexual relationship. Grade C+
  • Nor Iron Bars a Cage, by Emily Ross. This is cliched, but a mercy after most of the zine. Avon is captured, and sees the ghost of the dead Blake, or is it? Grade C+
There is an appeal for material for S of I 2, with a snake theme; perhaps the picture Agnes bought will appear as the cover. [3]
[zine]: General comments: 1) This is a zine "with the emphasis on Blake." But most of the stories seem to be more about Avon, IMO. 2) The illustrations by William Blake were a great touch. 3) The editor is seeking submissions for Songs of Innocence 2. [See Sue C's comments about the individual stories in "Songs of Innocence" on their separate Fanlore pages.] [4]
[zine]: Ok, so maybe my expectations were set really low before 'Songs of Innocence and Experience' (by things like the reviews on Fanlore, and my own friend elviaprose who told me Panacea was the only one worth reading) but I actually enjoyed the experience of reading both zines. None of the fics rocked my world, none of them are making The List, but with only one notable exception (Pros crossover) the contents of these zines were relentlessly 'not bad' or 'quite nice'. Which I appreciated. If you too are 'semi-exhausted after a hard day of sedentary pursuits and fed up with stories about how Blake is a rapist or stories that don't bother to say they love each other, only that they're attracted to each other' then these zines could be for you!

The almost overwhelming, repeated problem of all these stories is 'that was too easy' - indeed there's even a bit in one of the PGP fics in which faithful Deva (having been told that Blake and Avon - only recently released from Blake's prison - are now lovers) says something like 'that was quick!' He's right - as usual. But it's the sort of problem that, if I have to forgive a problem, I'm OK with.

Which is not to say I'd pay $30 for one of them - there's a copy of 'Songs of Experience' on eBay at the moment for about that price. I think I'd feel annoyed if I'd paid that. But I paid nothing - I think I might also feel all right aoout paying $8 a copy, which was apparently the original price (there's an advert at the back). That seems reasonable.

Presentation wise - those are some excellent Suzan Lovett images (how amazing is that snake-wrestling one? I love it), but they're just printed onto beige card, and then stapled together. It's a bit of a shame. I know that's why they only cost $8 new (which is ideal - well done, publishers), but it would also have been nice if they'd have looked more... special. I know have cake/eat cake, but it's worth pointing out. I'm not usually disappointed when I look at a zine.

Inside the font is a readable size, but there's too many clip-art borders to be taken seriously in 2014. And the William Blake images haven't translated well to black-and-white photocopies. The other thing to say about the presentation of both zines is that you don't get a lot of fic on the page in either, although SoE corrects the double-spacing of SoI.

One more whingey point before we get onto the part that, as I say, I quite like - I would have liked the themes to have been more strongly played, particularly in the first one. You can sort of imply that any fic about Blake is a song of experience, but I have difficulty identifying much that's innocent about the first set. I guess Blake is a virgin in the first one, and maybe the pre-industrial civilisation are innocent... but why is that prostitute story in there?

Actually, wait - there's time for another thing I do like! I like that someone wanted to publish a whole zine full of Blake-centric fic. I support that. It's interesting that almost all of it is B/A, even the gen. Even though I understand objectively that that's easily the most popular pairing, I would have thought some B/J or something might have snuck in. As I said - interesting. Just because of fandom-mentality (Blake fans recognise that he's most interesting with Avon. Or just that Blake fans also really like Avon, or Avon fans wanted to get in on this zine ;) ). Let's face it - I would probably have written a B/A for this zine.

[See Aralias' comments about the individual stories in "Songs of Innocence" on their separate Fanlore pages.] [5]

References

  1. from GAZ v.8 n.1
  2. by Sally Manton at Judith Proctor's Blake's 7 site; WebCite
  3. Review posted to the Virgule-L mailing list on May 24, 1993 (quoted anonymously with permission).
  4. Subject: Zine review: Songs of Innocence by Sue C. on Lysator dated August 4, 1993.
  5. June 18, 2014 review by Aralias at her journal; WebCite