Stadler Link

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Zine
Title: Stadler Link
Publisher:
Editor(s): Neil Faulkner
Date(s): 1998
Series?:
Medium: print, zine
Size:
Genre:
Fandom: Blake’s 7
Language: English
External Links:
Stadlerlinkcover.jpeg
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Stadler Link is a gen Blake's 7 62-page anthology published in 1998. It was edited and printed by Neil Faulkner, though seems likely to have been agented by Judith Proctor at least for subsequent reprints. It was the first of Neil's three B7 fanzines.

The title, 'Stadler Link', is explained in the editorial:

Several people have asked me about the title. Why Stadler Link, of all things? And you call yourselves fans ... ? Still, if you really don't know, a Stadler link was a component of the silo door control for Provine's escape rocket in Countdown. Check it in the Sevencyclopaedia if you don't believe me (whaddayamean, you haven't got a copy ...).[1]

The Submission Process

In his editorial, the editor writes:

I knew what kind of material I wanted to put in [my zine]. Gritty, realistic hardtech stories. B7 with a cyberpunk slant.

Hey, a man's allowed to dream, isn't he?

Okay, so it didn't work out that way. I don't mind. I've long held the belief that a good story (film, fanzine, whatever) is not the one that gives you what you want, it's the one that gives you what you didn't know you wanted. That can be said of quite a few of the stories in this zine. Alison Page's most unorthodox (and excellent) 'Young Ladies' Home Companion' comes closest to fulfilling the criteria I drew up for Stadler Link - by ultimately fulfilling none of them, since it isn't actually set in the B7 universe at all. Nickey Barnard's 'Dreamshadow' picks p the hardware of cyberpunk, but only to write a resolutely traditional Blake-Avon angstmobie. Chris Blenkarn's 'The Way Forward?' introduces a hefty dose of social realism, but as satire rather than turgid realistic prose. In fact, there is far more humour in this zine than I'd ever intended, from the satiric to the self-mocking to the just plain silly (Susan Riaz's 'Terminal II'). So, no - Sadler Link didn't turn out the way I wanted, it turned out the way I didn't know I wanted it to.[2]

The zine begins and closes with a pair of comic verses, 'Submission Blues' by Susan Bennett and 'Blue Submissions' by Neil, both of which again refer to the tough guidelines imposed by the editor.

Extract from Submission Blues:

Avon will have to retain all his clothes,

It will be such a terrible bore.

No more lust, no seduction or stripping,

No more leather and studs on the floor.

So I thought, "I'll rely on my staple,

A gentle romance that will sell."

But you'll never believe what the so-and-so's done;

He's gone and banned cliché as well.[3]
Extract from Blue Submissions:

My thanks for your verse. Well, it could have been worse.

At least you weren't sneering or snide.

Aside put your fear, for your meaning is clear,

That your aim is to mock, not deride.

Unless you object, I would gladly accept

The satirical lines what you've sent.

The Submission Blues I can happily choose

To preface my published intent.

I'll freely admit that the guidelines don't fit

Every writer, but still there is leeway

For those who are bold with a tale to be told

On the supercharged fan-writing freeway.[4]

Contents

Back cover by Whitby27, illo for "Last Waltz"
editorial

Fiction:

Poetry:

  • Susan Bennett, "Submission Blues"
  • Neil Faulkner, "Blue Submissions"

Nonfiction:

  • Neil Faulkner, "Editorial"

Art:

  • Neil Faulkner (front cover)
  • Whitby27 (back cover), and one interior illo

Reactions and Reviews

Stadler Link is the name of the first zine edited by Neil Faulkner, and I picked up a copy at Deliverance both because I'm quite a fan of Neil's writing and because I was curious to see how his selection of submissions would differ (if at all) from those of, shall we say, more traditional zine editors.

The zine is A4, photocopied. stapled and 66 pages long. It could probably have done with a stiffer cover, as the corners get creased fairly easily, but I'm not personally too worried about such matters. The internal layout is basic, clean and functional - easy to read except perhaps for some of the smallest fonts used for footnotes and the like.

Susan Bennett kicks off with a poetic lament at the ridiculously restrictive guidelines that Neil laid down for Stadler Link (no erotica, no clich‚s, being faithful to established character, preferably harder edged, perhaps more hard science than the usual etc.). As Neil says in his introduction, in the end he didn't turn down anything as one measure of a good story is that it gives you something you didn't know you wanted in the first place.

The first story proper is Neil's 'A Casting of Swords', starring a very different Olag Gan before the start of the series and before his limiter implant. This is as close to Gibsonesque cyberpunk as B7 gets. The ruined Earth outside the domes, half brutalised/half ignored by its wealthy Federation overlords comes over as a place that makes Gauda Prime look like a holiday camp, though Neil does get a bit adjective happy when he's describing the terrain. Aside from Gan there is only one other character of any significance, and the bulk of the 6 pages is taken up with the interaction between Doctor Do-Right and Gan. The Doctor is a much modified human a Jamaican accented data bandit in true cyberpunk style. He has something that Gan wants, and the dialogue between the two is extremely clever, often amusing and almost completely unlike anything we saw in the series. For me this wasn't a problem. I'm happy to read a pastiche of Gibson's style any day if it's as good as this, but I can see that it won't appeal to everyone. Well worth persevering with though, just for the new slant it gives on the generally slighted Gan.

Next is 'Blake's Seven: The Way Forward?' by Chris Blenkarn. This is a comedy story told by means of excerpts from the diaries of the various 1st season crew, as well as fragments from other documents. Essentially it is a parody of modern management consultancy and their style of training courses. Blake is swept up by enthusiasm for a course in honing his management skills, and tries to put them into practice despite the lack of enthusiasm from the rest. It's funnier than anything in the issue of Bizarro I bought, and I can't say fairer than that.

'Mary Sue Meets the Language Barrier', by Marian Mendez, is a short (3 pages) humour piece on the problems faced by an American Mary Sue on the English-speaking Liberator. There's a glossary at the end to explain any of the meanings that might have escaped the culturally-insular among us, and overall the comedy works pretty well. Just the right length to avoid flogging a dead horse (which is just the sort of phrase likely to cause confusion in the story.)

'Give the People What They Want' is another light hearted story, this time by Neil again. I was getting a bit worried that the entire zine was going to turn out to be comedy - not my favourite fanfic genre by any means - but in fact it's just unfortunate that the three humour stories are all together. I asked Neil, and he said he'd printed the stories in chronological order. I can understand that, but still would have preferred a different ordering. 'Give the People...' details what happens when a pushy, attractive and completely unscrupulous journalist is allowed on board the Liberator to help publicise the cause. Needless to say, the final article is not quite what Blake expected, and there are a few good laughs in the three pages.

The next story is the standout piece, and will, I think, already be familiar to most of the readers of Space City. It's Alison Page's 'The Young Ladies Home Companion'. It's a tale of how an abused young girl finds a way to escape her grim situation and find comfort in an artificial world based around an elderly SF series. It's about familiar characters discovering they are fictional creations and how they deal with it. It's bloody well written and it brought a lump to my throat more than once while I was reading it. Magnificent stuff that defies categorisation. If any of the authors can be said to have taken Neil's instructions to try something new to heart it has to be Alison.

'Terminal II' by Susan Riaz and DC Morris is a short and funny alternate look at some of the implausibilitys in the eponymous episode, as well as some in- jokes and post-modern metatextualisation of the source material in a way that both shatters and yet somehow reinforces the notion that... hang on. Sorry, slipped into Neil's style for a moment. Er... it's short and funny. Nuff said.

'Cycles', by Brad Black, is one of the few stories I've read that uses time travel in B7 in a convincing way. The story is set around Blake's base before the final events of the series, and his investigation of strange happenings that have Klyn and Deva very disturbed. There's a wonderful moment when everything suddenly becomes clear, and you want to hold your head in your hands and scream 'No!' Very clever and quite moving.

Nicky Barnard's 'Dreamshadow' is my second favourite story. In nine densely written pages she manages to encapsulate the complete progress of the fourth season from the POV of Avon's continued interactions with the artificial construct of Blake from Terminal. The characterisations are spot on, the concept of the 'unreal' Blake acting as Avon's secret confidant as everything starts to fall to pieces is brilliantly realised, and Soolin also gets to strut her emotional stuff in some compelling scenes with Avon. For me it ended too soon. I would have been quite happy for this story to have been expanded to twice the size.

Brad Black's 'Transmogrification' is plain weird. I get the feeling it's a crossover story with a series that I know nothing about, but I can't say much more without giving away the plotline. It deals with a sub-genre that's not one of my favourites, and all I can say is that it's well written, but didn't strike any chord with me. It's set PGP and deals with Avon's continued survival. That's about all I can say without spoiling it for prospective readers.

The final story is Neil's 'The Last Waltz'. It also deals with Avon's continued survival PGP, but in a bleaker way. Servalan has taken a moment from her busy schedule to visit him in hospital, where he lies on the brink of death. Their conversation covers politics, history, unseen events in 'Rumours...' and certain possibilities. Chilling in its d‚nouement, and quite satisfying despite its downbeat nature.

So what's my final opinion? Buy it. It's worth œ3.90 for 'The Young Ladies' Home Companion' and for 'Dreamshadow' alone. My only personal reservation is the proportion devoted to humorous stories. I like 'em, but only in small quantities and four in one zine was a bit too much for me. YMMV. [5]
Alison's "Home Companion" is utterly wonderful, though almost impossible to describe. Raving A/B smut hounds who also like angsty A-B gen stories will enjoy "Cycles" and especially "Dreamshadow." Neil's two serious stories are both very well written. "The Last Waltz" uses a plot device that I've seen in several other stories; but "A Casting of Swords" is a unique take on Gan, definitely a must for Gan fans. And anyone who has had any dealings with the pronouncements of management consultants will ROFL at "The Way Forward." [6]
'Stadler Link' and 'Pressure Point' each contain unforgettable, stand-out pieces of fiction -- I'm referring, of course, to Alison Page's 'The Young Ladies Home Companion' and Nickey Barnard's 'Haunted' -- which make one look differently at the series afterwards. (Tavia)[7]

Susan Bennett, "Submission Blues" -- Neil Faulkner, "Blue Submissions" I really like both of these poems - not only are they amusing in general, but I am hungry for 'making of' details. Neil writes very good editorials too (as does Judith, of course), and having read all three of his zines I think he does a really good job of ... shall we say, preselecting material with his submission criteria as apparently he accepted everything that was sent to him, but everything is at least competent and at best good. And it mostly feels of a kind.

Neil Faulkner, "A Casting of Swords" Densely written cyberpunky stuff about Gan PWB - I find the writing both interesting and quite difficult to get through (I think the style is a pastiche of someone whose work I'm not familiar with). The Gan here is also almost unrecognisable (on purpose), which is another reason why I find it hard to engage with this properly.

Chris Blenkarn (with the assistance of Alison Glover), "Blake's Seven: The Way Forward?" Perhaps slightly too long, but the idea (of Blake trying to use traditional management techniques to inspire his crew) is pretty hilarious and results in many amusing moments. Alas, the story starts with Avalon kicking him out of the rebellion, so what he's trying to manage is setting up a retreat camp on the Liberator - whereas it would be funnier, surely, to be hitting Star One. Also - nothing that Blake says or writes sounds unconvincing to someone who has worked in the civil service for 2.5 years. We do all talk like that.

Marian Mendez, "Mary Sue Meets the Language Barrier" This is fine. Let's not even say 'Dupe' is better, but it is ;)

Neil Faulkner, "Give the People What They Want" I like this one a lot - a journalist wants an interview with Blake, and he agrees (because he wants to use the cash for the revolution). It was genuinely amusing.

Alison Page, "The Young Ladies' Home Companion" Definitely very interesting fic that posits that B7 has been turned into an interactive computer game. I found the ending (which suggests another level of fictionality) a bit too much and would have preferred just exploring the first, but it's well done. Avon is believably clever.

Susan Riaz and D. C. Morris, "Terminal II" Larky Terminal based comedy - it's OK.

Brad Black, "Cycles" I liked this time-travel fic a lot. Good crazy Avon, and good Blake ignoring Deva's very sensible advice. It's nicely done and very evocative.

Nicky Barnard, "Dreamshadow" This one I thought I would like a lot more since basically it's Avon hanging out with the computer Blake from Terminal throughout series 4 - but I feel it goes on for far too long,a nd the problem with any fic that takes its plot from following the plot, episode by episode, of the series is that it can feel like raking over old ground. There's some interesting stuff here about Avon going far too far into crazy land, and some good stuff about Blake and freedom. In the background Avon is sleeping with Soolin, and thinking sadly about Cally.

Brad Black, "Transmogrification" Very weird vampire fic - for some reason Del Grant is the old, experienced vampire, and once you're a vampire you take on a new name, which seems OK except that Avon's vampire name is Chevron (clearly a psued based on his real name) whereas Blake is called Shivan... who was someone else entirely! (Voice from the Past is such a pile of crack, though. I wouldn't be surprised if Shivan was originally a vampire)

Neil Faulkner, "The Last Waltz" Relatively short, nicely written and clever Avon dying PGP, trying to out-maneuver Servalan for the last time. [8]

Reference

  1. Editorial by Neil Faulkner
  2. Editorial by Neil Faulkner
  3. Submission Blues by Susan Bennett
  4. Blue Submissions by Neil Faulkner
  5. from Russ Massey at Judith Proctor's Blake's 7 site/WebCite
  6. by Sarah Thompson at Judith Proctor's Blake's 7 site/WebCite
  7. Hermit: T.O.F.P.A. (accessed 14 February 2012)
  8. Zines - smarm mainly, and Stadler Link - Procrastination Central, Archived version, post by Aralias, 2016