|Editor(s):||Pat Jacquerie (all three issues) and Liz S. (with Pat in first issue)|
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Straight Blake's is an adult het Blake's 7 anthology. The editor's note on the second edition of the first issue describes the zine conception:
Several people deserve thanks for their encouragement and assistance on this project ... Liz Sharp: whose moment of madness with me in a TGI Friday's restaurant back in'87 ("There are a lot of slash zines, but no straight zines. Let's do one.") resulted in Straight Blake's#1.
Straight Blake's 1 was published in 1988, and then again in 1994. It contains over 150 pages.
From Bill Hupe: "Contents [of the second edition] are identical to the first edition, except the entire zine has been remastered on a computer and laserjet." In addition, the author's names were used instead of pseuds.
In an editorial intro to the second edition, the editor (Jacquerie) commented:
The first SB was very much an in-house production between three writers--myself, Liz S., and Susan Matthews -- and focused mostly on Avon, with the exception of one long Vila story that Liz did. A Blake fan has remarked that I should've called it Straight Avon's-- but, nah, it wouldn't had the same ring!
- Renaissance, fiction by Patricia Weeks (Pat Jacquerie) - A/Meegat ("With four hours before Liberator returns to Cephlon, Meegat plans to use the time wisely, persuading "Lord Avon" to participate in an important-and pleasurable-ritual.")
- Sarabande, fiction by Alicia Maria Susanna Fox (Susan R. Matthews) - A/OFC, with A/C (A sequel to her gen novella, "Love & Necessary Discipline." "Avon is called upon to do his duty to the community by helping a woman scarred by sexual abuse. Will her resemblance to Cally help or hurt her cause?")
- Bolero, fiction by Alicia Maria Susanna Fox (Susan R. Matthews) - A/C, B/J, D/T ("What some people will do for their crewmates! When Dayna and Tarrant stumble on the road to consummation, Blake and Jenna and Cally and Avon find they must, er, demonstrate how the path of true love is best to be followed.")
- West Tower-MalJardin, fiction by Alicia Maria Susanna Fox (Susan R. Matthews) - A/OFC?
- Tempo Rubato, fiction by Calypso Romaine (Liz S.) - A/So ("Soolin has just teleported Zeeona back to Tarrant's waiting arms and the atmosphere on Scorpio is tense. Avon could chew Soolin out all the way to Betafarl or they could pursue more interesting activities ...")
- Interstice, fiction by Patricia Weeks (Pat Jacquerie) - A/C ("While Servalan searches for Cally and Avon, the two fugitives find themselves holed up in the luxury suite of a high-stakes casino. Can Avon devise some interesting and innovative activities to help them pass the time?")
- Comic Relief, fiction by Mary O'Merta (Liz S.) - V/OFC ("Vila visits Big Rock to negotiate for needed supplies, only to find that an unscheduled Federation raid has cut him off from Liberator ... and left him in the company of an attractive female smuggler...")
- The Answer to a Question Never Asked, poem by Alicia Maria Susanna Fox (Susan R. Matthews)
- Unspoken Conversation, poem by Jillian Courtenay
- A Reactionary Opinion by Alicia Maria Susanna Fox (Susan R. Matthews) (filk, I Don't Know How to Love Him)
- Epilogue: Tempo Rubato, poem by Patricia Weeks (Pat Jacquerie)
- Everywoman's Lament, poem by Jillian Courtenay (filk, Nights in White Satin)
- The Game by Mary O'Merta (Liz S.) (filk, Laredo)
Reactions and Reviews: Issue 1
See reactions and reviews for Renaissance.
See reactions and reviews for Sarabande.
See reactions and reviews for Bolero.
[zine]: This was first published in nineteen eighty eight. That is pretty early for explicit B7 fic - although I think I think this because slash peeked later than het, and I mostly read slash. It's also more than five years before the second edition of this zine came out, which explains why the second (and third) one is much better. Not that this one doesn't have some good stuff in it.
elviaprose thinks the cover is creepy - but I quite like it. Although I admit... Dayna and Soolin do look a bit like eyeless demons. But only a little. It's by Karen River, who did the cover for 'Avon: A Terrible Aspect', don't you know.
[See aralias' comments about Renaissance]
[See aralias' comments about Sarabande]
[See aralias' comments about Bolero]
Alicia Maria Susanna Fox (Susan Matthews), "West Tower-MalJardin"- A/OFC: I don't know what's going on or who with. Nuff said.
Calypso Romaine (Liz S.), "Tempo Rubato" - A/So: During 'Warlord'. Good beginning into kind of bland Soolin/powerful sexual Avon sex. The argument proposition at the beginning is good, though.
Patricia Weeks (Pat Jacquerie), "Interstice" - A/C: An A/C that I like! Well, Pat Jacquerie can make me like almost anything. The casino setting makes it feel like an A/V, as does the sense of fun, but it's not un-Cally-like either. Plus, let us not ignore the fact that the image of Avon getting wetter and wetter in a silk shirt is really hot. I do prefer the Meegat story, though.
Mary O'Merta (Liz S.), "Comic Relief" - V/OFC: Judith says it's good, so it probably is - but she also claims to like it for serious scifi reasons. That's very much not my bag, nor (though I like him a lot) is Vila fic really - particularly not Vila/someone I don't know. So - I skipped.Some poetry in this zine obviously (when is there not?) - which interestingly includes a filk to the JCSS song 'I don't know how to love him'. Which is about how our straight heroes really don't understand all this slash. Now - I know it's a joke (at least I think it's a joke. Mary Sue Writes Slash is definitely a joke, written by a slash writer), but I also think - you don't find slash writers slagging off Avon/Cally in their zines! Though maybe you do - I don't read the poetry. Also, it occurs to me that there's so much B/A that slags off Jenna... so, maybe we deserve it. Anyway, I love JCSS so this stupid song is now in my head, that's why I mention it. 
[Tempo Rubato]: My all-time favorite. I can't say enough in praise of this story. It's incredibly sexy without being wildly explicit, gives a reasonable explanation of Soolin's actions in "Warlord," and features an Avon so utterly in character from my pov that I'd almost say "Calypso" was reading my mind. 
[Comic Relief]: Although it's technically about Vila having a fling with a lady smuggler (not Jenna), it is also excellent science fiction. It's got interesting thoughts on spaceship design, practical use of depressurisation alerts on an asteroid, gravity fluctuations caused by maneuvering said asteriod with the artifical gravity cut out and lots of other small details such as futuristic ways of loading dice, that are all woven into the story. It's rare to see that degree of futuristic detail in a gen story, let along an adult one, but I happen to enjoy it. 
"Straight Blake's is an adult zine, with a wide variety of stories and poems. There is no slash. So this zine should be a delight to those loving intimate scenes between their favorite characters, but who would like to see less same-sex in their zines.
There is only the cover art, on cardstock, but since it's Karen Rivers' work (a wryly smiling Avon), there exists little need for further art. The contributors have a uniform style and ability -- excellent. And they manage to describe very well-known and repetitive passages with great expression and originality. Excellent writing all, and each story IS a story, in which adult passages are a natural outcome, rather a means in themselves.The entire zine is well-produced, although lacking the standard spiral binding and numbering systems to ensure against unauthorized copying, which keeps the price to a comfortable $11.00.
Straight Blake's 2 was published in 1995 and contains 100 pages.
The art is by Karen River (front cover), Leah Rosenthal, Phoenix, Whitby27, and Leigh Motooka.
It won a 1996 FanQ for best gen zine.
From a submission request in a 1994 post to Lysator:
"Yes, indeed, I want to read B7 hetero erotica so badly that I'll publish it myself. So SB#2 is planned for a MediaWest*Con (May '95) publication date. Obviously, at this point I'm looking for stories, especially since two of the three writers who worked on SB#1 have left B7 fandom. I need new blood! The two major guidelines for SB#2 are that stories be hetero and that they involve B7 characters. In SB#1, we had mostly Avon stories, with one long Vila piece and one story that partially involved Blake. Mind you, being the Avon-obsessive that I am, you'll never catch me complaining about an overabundance of sexy Avon. But I do welcome other B7 folks, male and female, in combination with B7 major/minor characters or created characters. I do edit submissions as necessary, but I'm always gentle, and the last word on any story always belongs to the author. Tentative deadline for SB#2 is February 15, 1995.
The editor writes of this edition:
SB#2 is different [to SB#1], and I like that, too. SB has a variety of writers this time, all providing their own unique takes on the B7 men and women. And while there are plenty of Avon stories--hey, he's a popular guy and your editor is an Avon obsessive, after all--I got a surprising number of Blake stories (after a bit of begging) and the fantastic Vila piece that ends this zine. I am lacking Tarrant this time, except for some artwork and a poem, but I'm hoping to make up for that in #3. This issue has a good cross-section of the B7 women, too, except for Servalan... well, maybe she'll be along next issue, too.
- Orpheus Dreams, fiction by Liz S. (A/C) (won a 1996 FanQ) (5)
- Ultraworld: Tarrant, poem by Pat Jacquerie (orig. pub. in Shadowstar) (14)
- Passionflower, fiction by Aurora (B/C) (15)
- Mary Sue Writes Slash, fiction by Judith Proctor (25)
- Taken In, fiction by Ann Wortham & Leah Rosenthal (A/J) (straight) (revised and reprinted in Southern Comfort #11.5 with the name Catocala) (27)
- Moments in a War, fiction by Michelle Moyer (A/J) (35)
- Aftermath by Judith Proctor (filk, Greensleeves) (44)
- Out of the Tomb, fiction by Alicia Ann Fox (A/C) (45)
- Impeccable Taste, fiction by Irish (A/So) (53)
- It's Lonely When you Never See the Sky by Judith Proctor (filk, Athenry) (62)
- A Different Duel, fiction by Catherine S. (B/Sinofar) (63)
- Design Specifications, fiction by Liz A. Vogel (J/Z) (68)
- Sparring Partners, fiction by Twisted Sister (A/J) (69)
- Dark Mirror, poem by Pat Jacquerie (orig. pub. in B7 Complex) (72)
- Jenna, fiction by Vanessa Mullen(B/J, with some A/J) (73)
- Tarrant Paper Doll by Leigh Motooka (81)
- Hearts of Glass, fiction by Rhapsodie (V/D) (85)
- Avon Portrait by Karen River (100)
Reactions and Reviews: Issue 2
See reactions and reviews for Mary Sue Writes Slash.
See reactions and reviews for Hearts of Glass.
[Jenna]: Definitely more could be done with Jenna than has been! I noticed that Straight Blake's 2 had several Jenna stories, including one from Blake's POV that I thought was especially good ("Jenna," by Vanessa Mullen). 
[zine]: Generally much stronger than SB1, but not as good as SB3 - which is probably how you want your zine progression to go, really! Lots of good art this edition (although I don't include the Karen River A/Anna cover, which is sort of awful... and doesn't match the zine, which has 0 Annas). My favourite is the dress-up Tarrant doll, which is brilliant, but there's also a really lovely Phoenix Avon/Cally - yes! A lovely Avon/Cally, I said it. Phoenix also did a A/J for this zine, but elviaprose's boyfriend apparently commented that it looks like they whited out Vila's face and put Jenna's in and I'm afraid I now can't un-see it.
Liz S., "Orpheus Dreams" A/C (won a 1996 FanQ): Series 4, Cally's dead - but comes back as a ghost and she and Avon finally admit their feelings for each other. This is a proper, serious A/C, and so I just can't get into it.
Aurora, "Passionflower" B/C: This is very good - much better than the C/T sequel in SB3. Blake is overwhelmed by Cally's alien... whatever, pheromones, and I like that he sort of wants that/is the kind of man who wants that whereas Avon doesn't (do I read some hints of A/B in this? I think I do), but Blake is also still fighting it and actively contributing to it - and good with his tongue. Very good Blake - and a nice hard and determined Cally.
[See aralias' comments about Mary Sue Writes Slash]
Ann Wortham & Leah Rosenthal, "Taken In" A/J: I've definitely read the original version of this story, but I can't remember much about it except that there seemed to be no reason for Vila to be under the bed. This is (I think) a much better version where Vila has a lot more to do - and I like the cleaning robot joke. That said, there needs to be an ending still. This is the first of numerous 'Jenna wants Blake but settles for sexy sexy Avon' stories in this zine. It is OK.
Michelle Moyer, "Moments in a War" A/J: OK, here's another. It's basically the same - although with a shooting gallery and some mentions of Anna.
Alicia Ann Fox, "Out of the Tomb" A/C: Post Sarcophagus, and Terminal-averting AU. I largely skimmed it, but it seems OK.
Irish, "Impeccable Taste" A/So: This could have been split into two stories - one A/So in an established relationship have sex on the way back from Betafarl, two A/So get together after he rescues her from a stupid fall. Both parts are good, and I like their affectionate name-calling and wryness around each other particularly. Not sure what the revelation at the end is supposed to do (make GP sadder?) but it doesn't not-work.
Catherine S., "A Different Duel" B/Sinofar: This is fine - although I think it's a bit of a shame to humanise Sinofar, who is so kind and wise.
Liz A. Vogel, "Design Specifications" J/Z: One page - nice idea.
Twisted Sister, "Sparring Partners" A/J: This is my favourite A/J in the zine - I like the ways in which they like each other and they ways they don't connect. Plus fighting->sex is one of my favourite tropes, as is Jenna being awesome and kicking Avon's arse (even if the narrative bothers to tell me that he's usually much better at fighting).
Vanessa Mullen, "Jenna" B/J, with some A/J: Very good. GP!Blake is full of self-pity after Jenna's death, and thinks back on how they got together and were together. I could have done without the weird A/J manipulate Blake into Jenna's bed bit, but the other scenes are all really good - and show why Jenna is important to Blake as a character and vice versa. Plus - an interesting and disturbing end driven by the worst of Blake's character.
[See aralias' comments about Hearts of Glass]As I said, it's excellent. Great dialogue, good friendly sex writing (the stuff about Dayna's clothes being dangerous is very funny), lovely lyrical but not overworked descriptions (that acknowledge Vila is an average looking man, but also make him beautiful at the same time). What really makes it, though, is the emotional not-quite-connecting/failing at love and life/about to go-over-the-top stuff. The fic also completely sells the relationship between these characters who hardly talk in-show. Highly recommended. 
[zine]: This is a zine of exceptionally high quality both in content and production. The artwork is good overall and it has two outstanding portraits by Karen River, a head and shoulders of Avon and Cally on page 4, and a full face sombre Avon on the back cover. All the written contributions are well worth reading, and some are outstanding. Jenna is particularly strongly featured, and Avon keeps busy, but Tarrant and Gan do not put in an appearance.
The last story in the zine is the stunning "Hearts of Glass". It features Vila and Dayna, and takes place the night before the crew leaves Xenon. This has to be one of the best Blakes 7 stories in print, poignant, chilling, utterly convincing and beautifully written. Dayna and Vila are completely in character and their encounter mirrors the lack of hope and the anguish of lives spent constantly on the run. A haunting story, told with outstanding skill.
"Orpheus Dreams" is a sensitively written story in which Cally's (necessarily solid) ghost returns to comfort Avon on Xenon in answer to his unwitting call to her. Much of the story consists of an intimate and revealing conversations about their relationship, but the tender ambience does not tip over into undue sentimentality and both characters retain their sharper characteristics. There is also a short epilogue with Vila that is typical Avon. Very believable, very enjoyable.
"Out of the Tomb" shows Avon coming to Cally after the alien takeover.
"Passionflower" is a Blake Cally story that for once shows that intercourse with an Auron IS different. An intriguing tale, gentle and told with some humour; no wonder Blake's a bit disconcerted.
"Mary Sue Writes Slash", accompanied appropriately by a Leah Rosenthal cartoon, has a good-humoured giggle at slash cliches.
"Design Specifications is a one-pager where Jenna experiences one of Zen's more intriguing programmes
"Sparring Partners" is a brief Jenna/Avon story which starts with a bad back and ends where you would expect.
"Jenna" is told largely in flashback from Blake's point of view. It briefly covers their relationship on Liberator and goes on to focus on what happened to them afterwards.
"Taken In" has a predatory Avon in hot pursuit of Jenna, with Vila as unwilling eavesdropper. Straightforward story with comic overtones; the authors state that a very different version previously appeared in "B7: The Other Side".
In "Moments in a War" Jenna unsuccessfully attempts to comfort Blake after Gan's death and Jenna ends up with Avon for a brief cessation of hostilities. Their temporary rapport is soon over.
"Impeccable Taste" features Avon and Soolin in what is on the surface a harsh story, told partly in flashback. It rings true and has an interesting twist at the end."A Different Duel" is a short story in which Sinofar furthers her acquaintance with Blake. 
[zine]: Bottom line: this is a superior zine. It's aimed at those who favor character interaction over SF or action/adventure plotting, but if that describes you, you'll find it well worth your money.
Physically the zine is very well produced: the printing is nice and dark; the format is two-column justified; the text font is an unobtrusive serif in a slightly larger than usual size, very easy on the eyes. My only complaint is that the spiral comb binding is one size too small, meaning the pages catch and pull on each other as you turn them. (This is one of my pet peeves -- if I gripe about it often and widely enough, maybe the publishers will correct their evil ways.)
There is a generous amount of art, ranging from very nice to *gorgeous*, mostly portraits but some lovely, ah, "action" scenes by Phoenix. The covers by Karen Rivers are especially good. The front is full color, Avon with the dying Cally. The back, though, a black and white portrait of Avon, is an absolute stunner: he's caught half in shadow, utterly ambiguous (can that be the barest beginnings of one of his ironic smiles?) except for an overwhelming impression that this is a man of iron will.
There are just three poems and (surprise!) they actually have rhyme and rhythm and all those other things that make poems something more than weirdly laid out emotional ramblings. (If you don't know why I find that noteworthy, you haven't read very many zines.)
My favorite was "Dark Mirror" by Pat Nussman (although I may be a little biased, since I also loved it when I first came across it as a filk), a shivery little rumination by Servalan on Avon....
Turning to the stories: 1) Orpheus Dreams, by Liz S. An evocative mood piece, detailing a visit by Cally's spirit to Xenon base, permitting Avon to come to terms with their relationship. Emotionally rather than sexually explicit -- one of my favorite pieces in the zine.
2) Passionflower, by Aurora. An extremely amusing story in which Cally and Blake run into difficulties when they learn that Aurons and humans have certain significant, ah, physical differences -- and work out a way to surmount them to both their satisfaction. I especially like this writer's take on Cally: more alien, returned to the assertive warrior we first met instead of the self-effacing nurturer she got turned into later.
3) Mary Sue Writes Slash, by Judith Proctor. Or rather, Mary Sue *tries* to write slash, but the characters are aware they are being manipulated yet again by those awful fanwriters, and fight back to amusing effect.
4) Taken In, by Ann Wortham and Leah Rosenthal. Avon seizes an opportunity to step in when Jenna is irritated by the continuing failure of her pursuit of Blake. I found this to be one of the less satisfying stories. The sex was lovely ;-) but somehow both Jenna and Avon came across as rather, well, more like generic "sparring" romance novel types instead of the particular individuals we met in the series. I also found the cutaways to the p.o.v. of a trapped-into-eaves-dropping Vila distracting.
5) Moments in a War, by Michelle Moyer. This is another Avon/Jenna story, but it makes much better use of the characters and the existing tensions between them. I especially like its acknowledgement (another rarity in fanlit) that people won't be fundamentally changed and all conflict between their natures magically wiped away by even the most marvelous of sexual encounters.
6) Out of the Tomb, by Alicia Ann Fox. Avon comforts Cally in the immediate aftermath of "Sarcophagus." I had pretty much the same reaction to this as to "Taken In." The story is well enough written, but the characters were different from my image of them: Cally was too much the damsel in (emotional) distress, Avon too much the supportive, sensitive, New Age guy. I think this impression comes mainly from the fact that they did a lot of *talking* about their feelings, openly and willingly. I rather feel Avon would have to be tortured into expressing such "softer" emotions aloud. ;-)
7) Impeccable Taste, by Irish. A Soolin/Avon story, covering the course of their developing relationship in several vignettes. I liked her making Soolin aggressive, but once again Avon was too nice.
8) A Different Duel, by Catherine. Sinofar decides she admires Blake for more than his moral high-mindedness, and decides to teach him a lesson in life after the lesson in death. (And then proceeds to wipe the memory of it from Blake's mind -- like the poor guy really needs to have his mind mucked about with some more.)
9) Design Specifications, by Liz A. Vogel. Jenna discovers just *how* well attuned to her Zen is. :-) :-)
10) Sparring Partners, by Kathy Moran. Jenna/Avon. Let's see: a martial arts practice bout leads to a back massage leads to sex. Not exactly the most underused "plot" in fan fiction. Yet again I found Avon too conventionally Romance-novel-heroish. I dunno, maybe it's just me? How about a show of hands, how many people can picture Avon saying, "I can't believe you are running to HIM right from my arms. What would have happened if he called while you were still writhing under me? Or were you imagining that I was him?"
11) Jenna, by Vanessa Mullen. A very believable history for the relationship between Blake and Jenna, and how they joined back up after "Star One" -- and how Blake came to be a bounty hunter. I really liked this one.12) Hearts of Glass, by Rhapsodie. The last story, and absolutely wonderful. It's the night before they abandon Xenon base, and Dayna and Vila come together, both feeling very much like minor players in a game which is inexorably drawing to a dangerous climax. Both are dead perfect in character, the imagery is *lovely* -- and the entire thing is utterly heartwrenching. 
Straight Blake's 3 was published in 1996, has 136 pages and was edited by Pat Jacquerie.
- Cami, "The End of the Play" (Avon wasn't the only Liberator crewmember to cross paths with Sula Chesku.)
- Liz A. Vogel, "Two for the Price of One" (Being stuck on a backwater planet with a bickering Avon and Vila is not Soolin's idea of a good time, until she challenges them to a competition that all three of them can enjoy.)
- Rhapsodie, "Hunting Girls" (Before Zee and Barr turn Vila over to harvest his spare parts, they decide they might have a use for a section of him that works better when connected to the rest of his body.)
- Alicia Ann Fox, "Misdirection" (In an alternate "Ultraworld" scenario, it's Avon and Cally the Ultras want to use to demonstrate the Human Bonding Ceremony. And since Avon's dug in his heels, it's up to Cally to arrange for their freedom...eventually.)
- Misha, "Affinities" (Apparently the only Scorpio survivor of Gauda Prime, Tarrant finds he has more in common with Liberator's first pilot than simply steering the same ship.)
- Alara Rogers, "Anna" (Avon's long gone out of Anna Grant's life, except then why is she having these dreams?)
- Liz A. Vogel, "Xoanon"
- Twisted Sister, "Close" (If Blake won't pay attention to Jenna, she finds there's another large, curly-haired man on Liberator who's more willing to oblige a lady.)
- Deneb, "Pilot Games" (It seems unlikely that the two pilots of Liberator would ever meet, but Space City has a game that supposedly no pilot can conquer, and neither can resist the challenge...or, eventually, each other.)
- Twisted Sister, "A Challenging Experiment" (Virginity is not to Dayna's taste, and who better to solve her little problem than Liberator's resident scientist?)
- Catherine S., "The Temptation" (In the wake of Star One, Servalan has captured that troublemaker Blake. And while she took him for political reasons, there's no reason she can't use him for more pleasurable purposes, is there?)
- Judith Proctor, "Mary Sue Strikes Back" (In the sequel to last issue's "Mary Sue Writes Slash," some very strange women make an interesting proposition to the Liberator crew.)
- Aurora, "Morning Glory" (In a sequel to last issue's "Passionflower," Blake has departed Liberator, leaving a gap in Cally's life that perhaps the new tall, curly-haired crewmate can fill. But young human males have disadvantages that Cally hadn't counted on...)
- Pat Jacquerie, "Negotiating Positions" (When Soolin negotiates with a female Warlord, she doesn't anticipate the kind of duties her "male possession" Avon must perform, but it is nice to discover he can do something besides repair computers and snarl... )
- Riley Cannon, "In This Lonely Place" (Months after the debacle at GP, Blake and the remainder of the Scorpio crew return to make a heartrending discovery in the remains of Blake's base. Soolin is more comfortable with a gun than with physical comfort, but it's the latter that Blake needs.)
- Liz S., "Crown of Thorns"
- Judith Proctor, Limericks
- Judith Proctor, "Cally"
- Vanessa Mullen, "Freedom" (filk, traditional tune)
- Susan Bennett, "Absent Friends"
- Susan Bennett, "I Need... To Kill Her Myself"
- Letters of Comment
- S.E. Thompson, "More of the Same" (bibliography)
- Karen River (front cover)
Reactions and Reviews: Issue 3
[Affinities]: 4 - My first explicit het story paired my two least-favorite characters.TRUE. It was "Affinities," Blake's 7 Jenna/Tarrant. At the time they were my least favorite characters. By the time I finished it, though, I was quite fond of them, and wrote them a lot. 
[In This Lonely Place]: It's a PGP story -- I love PGP stories. It's a sad, bittersweet story -- I love sad bittersweet stories. It's a story about a dead man who's been loved and didn't know. It's about a grieving survivor who can't overcome the loss (but found a new crew). AND it's a hopeful story, which is GOOD. It's well-written, heart-breaking but the last ten lines of the epilogue will make you smile with relief. 
This will not exactly be a coherent review, but more just comments in bits and pieces.
Overall, I recommend the zine strongly. There are 15 stories ranging, in my estimation, from good to excellent, and several nice pieces of poetry. The art in this issue is not quite so spectacular as in #2, but there are some very nice things: the cover (Avon/Servalan, by Karen River); two story illos by Randym, one sweet pair of portraits and one explicit sizzler; and a portfolio of nude Avons by Whitby27. But I was hoping for another paper doll to go with the Tarrant in #2! Oh well, maybe next issue.
Several of the stories will be familiar to Space City members. I for one am thrilled to have them in a more permanent form. These include Alara Roger's lovely Avon/Anna, "Anna;" "Pilot Games" (Jenna/Tarrant) by Deneb; and "A Challenging Experiment" (Avon/Dayna) by Twisted Sister. And as I recall, Pat Jacquerie's "Negotiating Positions" (possibly my favorite story in this issue, although it's hard to decide), although written for a round robin elsewhere, was also previewed there before it went into the zine.
"Close" - On the rebound from rejection by Blake, Jenna is comforted by Gan. In this story the limiter also makes its victim impotent. But Gan is willing to oblige in other ways, and furthermore, Jenna turns out to be knowledgeable about Tantric techniques that can provide pleasure for both of them even under the circumstances. The two of them comfort each other at length. I liked this story very much, which surprised me as it's a very sweet story, and I tend to go for darker things. But the sweetness is balanced by the underlying sense of tragedy, since both of these characters are badly hurt, and there is a feeling (at least for me) that they are just managing to snatch a little comfort before they come to sad ends.
It occurred to me that there was an interesting contrast between "Close" and Aurora's "Morning Glory," a sequel to "Passionflower" in #2. This story continues the adventures of a very alien Cally as she explores the problems of human/Auron sex with various crewmates. In "Passionflower," she decided that Blake was best suited to her needs, and after some initial confusion they were indeed able to work out a satisfactory arrangement. In "Morning Glory" she finds herself missing Blake and drawn to the handsome, young, new crewmember with the bright blue eyes. Little does she realize that his age will be a serious problem. Both "Close" and "Morning Glory" show a woman trying to cope with some form of sexual dysfunction in a male partner. Gan can't get it up; Tarrant can't get it down, at least not long enough for Cally to enjoy him in proper Auron fashion. The results are hot and hilarious. I did find myself thinking, "If only this Cally could meet that Gan!" The story ends with Vila asking Orac for information on Auron sex, perhaps a hint of things to come? I'm really looking forward to more stories in this series; I've loved both of them so far.
"A Challenging Experiment," which previewed here as a WW segment set in Hotel Smut, was easily transformed into an encounter between Avon and Dayna in a luxury hotel on a planetary shoreleave. A nice, hot, PWP.
"Deneb" had a trickier time converting "Pilot Games" into a zine story, since by the time Tarrant and Jenna met each other in that fabulous planetarium room in Hotel Smut, she was already dead. But the story now has a wonderfully clever opening. The interlude takes place on Space City. Tarrant wants to try to beat the new flight simulation game offered there. But when he illicitly sneaks off to try it, he discovers that it's already been beaten-- by Jenna. Moreover, the Terra Nostra has warned her that if she does it again, she'll be out the airlock without a spacesuit (the local equivalent of concrete overshoes, one gathers). They challenge each other to another sort of game instead. Very satisfying! My favorite line from the original, in which the floating-in-space illusion gives poor Jenna the creeps because it reminds her that she's dead, now reminds her instead of the Terra Nostra's nasty threat. Well done, Deneb! I have one question: what was Dayna going to show Tarrant, to prove that her upbringing had been less sheltered than he thinks?? Might that be the subject of another story?
Amazingly, there's a second Tarrant/Jenna story in the same zine: Misha's "Affinities." This is one of several stories in the zine that have somewhat complex plots and/or are part of longer series. "Affinities" is, I understand, from a series of linked PGP stories that are at least slightly AU; that is, events on GP seem to have gone a little differently than what we saw on-screen, although that isn't really relevant here since this particular story could have started with the canon version just as easily. PGP, a badly injured Tarrant, alone of all the Scorpio crew, awakens on a ship. As he slowly recovers, he becomes acquainted with its pilot, Jenna. The two are gradually drawn to each other, and Tarrant discovers that some surprising things were going on on Liberator. I really want to see a sequel to this one! I found the sex scenes just a little awkward, possibly because they are from Tarrant's POV. But I really liked the hc element, with Tarrant struggling to recover from his injuries, and the one-upping dialogue between the two hotshot pilots is terrific. A sample: "Did you really think you could bring Scorpio down in one piece?"
There are a total of four Tarrant stories in #3, more than compensating for the fact that there were none in #s 1 and 2. Vila, Gan, and Blake are also represented, and the editor remarks in her introduction that she may even have to beg for more Avon stories next time!
The first story in the zine, Cami's "The End of the Play," is a lovely long complex tale of how and why Ambassador Chesku's wife seduces the innocent young Space Command officer assigned to be her bodyguard. She has an ulterior motive, of course, and Lieutenant Tarrant eventually learns that he was a pawn in a scheme to make Chesku a High Councillor. But he'll never forget her. There's a beautiful double portrait of the unlikely couple, by Randym (who also did a hot explicit illo for "Affinities").
This rather serious story is followed by two hot PWPs, both featuring threesomes. In Liz Vogel's "Two for the Price of One," Soolin, Avon, and Vila are holed up in a motel waiting to make their escape. Soolin dares the two men to prove themselves to her sexually, and takes them both on at once. This is a fantasy scenario that I've always enjoyed (though I don't really think I'd care to try it in real life), and it was very well written.
Rhapsodie's story "Hunting Girls" is very funny, albeit with some grim undertones. On Chenga, Zee and Barr decide to have their way with Vila before they turn him in for spare parts. They discover that the men of Earth have some remarkable attributes-- or at least this one does! Even though seemingly unconscious (at his best?), he manages to wear out both of them completely.
"Misdirection" by Alicia Ann Fox is a short, hot, funny PWP in which it's Avon and Cally, rather than Tarrant and Dayna, who are asked for the demonstration of the Human Bonding Ceremony. I particularly liked Avon's (unsuccessful) attempt to stave off orgasm with mathematical calculations. (Come to think of it, Tarrant tried something similar with shipping information in "Morning Glory," until Cally literally knocked it out of him.) There's a cute Whitby27 illo of Avon with a rather predatory- looking Cally.
I don't know whether the placement was deliberate or not, but Alara Rogers's "Anna" is followed by the portfolio of Whitby27's nude Avons, almost as if we were seeing some of Anna's memories in the story.
There's a second story by Liz Vogel, also a very well-written PWP, but this one has a savage twist. PGP, Servalan rapes the last survivor, but we don't find out until the end who it is. From the first paragraph: "He approached at her beckoning; experience had proven that resistance would only earn him a beating, and then she'd have him anyway. Better to suffer her attentions without bruises." Needless to say, I loved this!
Servalan has her way with another male victim in "The Temptation," by Catherine. This time it's Blake, captured by her after Star One. On the advice of a puppeteer, Servalan first drugs him for the seduction of his body and then sets out to seduce him emotionally as well, by letting him give her advice. She has, after all, no committment to evil per se, but only to power; if she can achieve it by benevolent means, with Blake's help, so much the better. In the long run the scheme is unsuccessful. Servalan reluctantly plans to terminate Blake, but he foils her and escapes, even though the drugs she has used on him mean that he is addicted to her forever.
I wish this one had been longer! The problem with a Servalan/Blake scenario is that, unlike the case of Servalan/Avon, there's no canonical evidence for it. And since the pairing isn't written very often, there's not much af a fan canon either. I would have liked to see more buildup and exploration of why Servalan is interested in Blake sexually. In a way, it's like the problem of writing slash for characters who were explicitly presented in the canon as interested in the other sex. It can be done, but it takes a little extra effort. I'd also be curious as to what happens to poor Servalan- addicted Blake after this. Well, maybe the author will write a sequel.
"Mary Sue Strikes Back," by Judith Proctor, is a very funny one-pager, similar in feel to her "Mary Sue Writes Slash" in #2.
In "Negotiating Positions," author/editor Pat Jacquerie decided not to alter the story but to present it in its original form, from a never-to-be- finished round robin. I'm glad that she decided to do it that way, because the side comments are wonderful. As most of you will recall, the PGP frame story has Our Heroes captured and treated with an interrogation drug that makes them talk-- about everything, mostly sex. Soolin tells the tale of her visit with Avon to a planet dominated by women, to the amazement of Vila, Tarrant, and Dayna, who all have amusing things to say. "Avon's face was a study in mixed emotions, teetering precariously between annoyance at the destruction of his privacy and the satisfaction of a male ego fed to the bursting point. He looked like a tomcat undecided whether to spit or to purr." I love this story.
The final story in the zine is Riley Cannon's "In This Lonely Place," a sweet, sad PGP in which Blake and Soolin console each other over the apparent death of Avon. Like "Orpheus Dreams" in #2, this story is not explicit, but it seems to me to belong here anyway, since the sexual union of the two main characters is the central event of the story. Beautifully written, with a wistful mood that makes it a nice end piece-- and with a little reprieve for Avon fans, I'm happy to say.
On the whole the zine is very nicely laid out, compact but easy to read; but I have some small complaints. For two stories, "The End of the Play" and "Misdirection," an illo for the story appears on the very last page, so that it's actually facing the next thing rather than the story it goes with. I would prefer to have the illo somewhere within the story, as was indeed done in "Affinities." For "Anna," one of the more haunting of Val's sexy Avon pictures was used as a frontispiece, and that was a nice effect too.
There are three serious poems, "Crown of Thorns" by [Liz S.] and "Absent Friends" and "I Need to Kill Her Myself" by Susan Bennett. I liked all three of these very much and would have liked it if they had been given greater prominence-- perhaps on a separate page, maybe even with an illustration if possible, rather than just filling in the end of a page after a story. This is fine for the limericks, which work nicely as a little counter-balance to the stories; but I think it detracts from the longer poems, which I'd prefer to see given more prominence. "Freedom," the Blake/Jenna filk by Vanessa Mullen, was also nice; I would have liked to see an indication of what the tune is.
I really liked the little male and female symbols that were used instead of asterisks or other devices for dividing sections of stories. What a clever idea!
Nonfiction items include Letters of Comment and an article by me, "More of the Same," listing het stories in other zines.Once again, a really excellent zine.
I liked the Karen River cover because of Avon and Servalan's expression; he looks apprehensive to me, while she seems expectant, prepared to enjoy herself no matter what his reaction is.
"The End of the Play" by Cami: (Tarrant/Anna Grant) I never would have thought of a Tarrant/Anna pairing. And what a plot! Tarrant was very like himself, I thought, nicely extrapolated. My favorite lines were "...[Tarrant] was operating on sheer nerve and a touch of the kamikaze," (p. 16) and Anna describing Tarrant's smile as "positively lethal," (p. 21).
"Hunting Girls" by Rhapsodie: (Vila/Zee/Barr) What a blast, right down to the throwaway when Cally senses Vila's orgasm several light years away. The Meegat sequence was delightful--"My Lord, I regret I do not know how to release your shining lightning bolt from its housing," (p. 38). I loved all of the hilarious metaphors. Zee and Barr were a riot, and perfectly in character. My other favorite line is "Vila didn't have many morals, but the occasional one would sometimes rise up and niggle at him..." (p. 41).
"Affinities" by Misha: (Jenna/Tarrant) It's rare to find a story that delves into Jenna so deeply and so well. Does the little shock Tarrant feels when he touches Jenna have something to do with Zen, or was it purely physical? I really liked the way Jenna spoke about Blake and Avon. This story also had a lovely illo on page 57, by Randym, a nice conglomeration of curves and angles.
"Morning Glory" by Aurora: (Cally/Tarrant) All characters were written masterfully, with extraordinary dialogue. The little snatch of Vila's pov at the beginning was so good I wanted to whimper. I also loved him spinning tales to Tarrant. And when Vila is analyzing Avon's behavior: "Vila recognized Avon's mood with increased misgivings. Avon was feeling cheerful," (p. 117)...snicker. As far as the actual relationship in the story goes, I liked, "It was strange but rather sweet, [Tarrant's] idea that [Cally] might need his deliberate assistance," (p. 113). Poor Cally's frustration with Tarrant's endurance is just so cute. And it's really nice when Tarrant is such a gentleman at the end: "Look me up in about 10 years, will you?" (p. 118)."Negotiating Position" by Pat Jacquerie: (Soolin/Avon) So far, this is the one I've read more than once. The frame story had me cackling, particularly Dayna's reactions to Soolin's having kept a secret, and the part when Avon is resembling a tomcat. The comparison of Avon's skills at sex, "scientific exactitude," (p. 127), to his skills with machines struck me as very erotic, but I'm not sure why. He's most amusing when he's initially unwilling, and then...vavoom. Simple fun. Soolin was the perfect choice for this, I can see Avon trusting her to see him like that. 
A zine that might as well be titled 'none of your OTP here, Katy' (although actually - there is some. But of this more later)....I went for this zine because it is almost exclusively made up of very unusual ships. This interested me, and suggested that the fics in question might work to make me believe the pairings rather than assuming I agreed (which is what happens with all the mega ships, including B/A of course), which can be quite tiresome if you don't.
Anyway - I am in the slightly odd position of almost fully agreeing with both reviews on Fanlore. Which makes my review a little pointless. I'm going to write one, anyway, though, because... that's what I do.
Cami, "The End of the Play" Really good Tarrant/Anna Grant fic, set back at the academy. Anna is a very well-drawn character, who effectively uses Tarrant (by, at one point, revealing how she was intending to deceive him - which is a nice moment). Tarrant is taken in, but not because he is stupid. He is still fairly bright, he is just young and naive and had no idea what he was dealing with. Vv good.
Liz A. Vogel, "Two for the Price of One" Soolin is bored and annoyed and so challenges Avon and Vila to a threesome. Very funny (Avon really doesn't like the idea of Vila being there), very sexy and I love Soolin being in control.
Rhapsodie, "Hunting Girls" This fic (which is a Vila/Zee/Barr fic, with some Vila/Meegat) works really well because Zee and Barr are really creepy and touchy feely... and sexy. So - it makes perfect sense! Some slight dubcon in this fic, before it becomes explicit consent. The Meegat stuff (which is an initial dream/fantasy sequence where Vila dreams he is in Avon's place in the porn version of 'Deliverance') is great, the Zee and Barr stuff is great. And it is VERY funny. I love the ending. Also- I do like that Vila feels weird about taking advantage of people, even in his fantasies. That is some nice characterisation.
Alicia Ann Fox, "Misdirection" A/C is not my thing, although Ultraworld re-casts are. This fic has a strangely/unusually aggressive Cally, which in and of itself isn't out of character... but I feel like this Cally is out of character.
Misha, "Affinities" The first of two (count them, TWO) Tarrant/Jenna fics in this zine. This is a rather strange one where Jenna is basically in love with Zen and can still hear his voice in her head sometimes, particularly when she's with Tarrant. I could live without this story, but it's fine. Although I don't like how Jenna's legs are described as having 'both muscel and fat to to them, unlike Dayna's, which seemed to be nothing but muscle'. That image has stayed with me. Unpleasantly, though I understand what it's saying is 'Jenna was curvy and foxy'.
Alara Rogers, "Anna" Two pages, first person, Anna dreaming of what is basically an alternate 'Rumours of Death'. There's nothing wrong with this, but it doesn't do much for me as I need more from Anna to care about her.
Liz A. Vogel, "Xoanon" Another short one. PGP, Servalan/?? It's OK if you like the PGP Servalan-as-rapist genre, and obviously it has a bit of a spring in its step due to that ?? so there's a pretty good reveal there.
Twisted Sister, "Close" Hooray! I'm so pleased this one exists. I actually prompted this on the meme, a while ago. It is Jenna/Gan, which Nova convinced me in a few words in 'To Tell the Truth', was a great pairing. Anyway, she fails with Blake and goes to see Gan, who is impotent but willing and able to please her (Gan - please send notes to the Blake of 'Jabberwocky' and indeed to other Blakes throughout the B/A canon who seem to think you need an erection)(it does make sense that Gan is practical and Blake is high strung and sulky, though. I give you that). The sex is very nice, and very nice. And unusual. V good.
Deneb, "Pilot Games" Tarrant/Jenna take 2! I really like the set up for this, which is that they go to Space City and Avon says 'STAY ON THE SHIP' and Tarrant ignores him and goes down to try and beat a piloting programme. I like all this stuff a lot better than the sex, which isn't bad - it just isn't as good as the set-up and ending stuff, which I understand was written later. Which is interesting.
Twisted Sister, "A Challenging Experiment" I like this one too (it's Avon/Dayna). It feels quite wrong because Dayna is very young and inexperienced, but the fic flags that up in a big way (good! interesting!). And I like that Dayna gets off on the danger. And that both she and Avon are scientists. Also - the set up for the sex is really hot and nicely described.
Catherine S., "The Temptation" Blake/Servalan - one of my secret nonsensical weakness pairings (like Jenna/Gan, I am v into B/Se in theory). I generally don't read this author's B/A, but I could not pass up a B/Se - and... it's quite interesting. Actually, it reminds me a lot of Doctor/Master fics I've read, although the idea of Blake helping the Federation because, from the inside, he sees that it can be the lesser of two evils/can do some good if put to the right use is more successfully worked out here than in many a D/M. Though then Servalan bungles it in a way that doesn't show her or Blake being particularly clever. Nice, though. If you like... Servalan as rapist.
Judith Proctor, "Mary Sue Strikes Back" One page. Tis fine.
Aurora, "Morning Glory" Sequel to an alien-sex-organs!Cally/Blake fic I haven't read, this time with Tarrant. It's quite interesting, and amusing, although I could live without it.
Pat Jacquerie, "Negotiating Positions" This one is, as the other two reviews point out, top-notch A+ stuff. There's a framing narrative from a round robin I haven't read, involving Servalan capturing everyone and drugging them into telling the truth... which turns out to be about sex. This leads to many, many hilarious (and slightly metatextual) moments. I laughed out loud at one point thanks to an amusing cut between scenes. This is a true story.
Meanwhile in the fic proper - a classic trope is put to very good use. Avon and Soolin have to negotiate with a society that considers men possessions, so Avon has to pretend to be a sex-slave. I am a terrible person and thus adore this trope/Avon having to pretend to be something he feels demeans him. It works better here than in a lot of B/A stuff because Avon is (as the fic interestingly points out) Soolin's employer, and she's used to him bossing her around. I must admit, it makes me want fics where Blake has to be Avon's slave for some thinly concocted reason.
But back to the fic in question. I like how unemotional A/So is, and yet that they do fancy and respect each other, they just don't burn with passion and wouldn't have done anything about the fact they fancied each other, but for this situation. And won't afterwards.
It's very well done, both taking the piss out of Avon relentlessly and makeing it clear that he is a sex god. Soolin is again very strong and v cool. This fic is worth the price of admission alone.
Riley Cannon, "In This Lonely Place" I like this one very much too, and it's a really nice wistful/hopeful end to the zine. Soolin comes to see Blake after they discover Avon's body on GP post-series (Avon died on GP when no one else did, in a story we don't hear much about - is this fic a sequel to something? I don't know). 'In This Lonely Place' is the one I referred to earlier, btw, when I said my OTP was astonishingly not not-present in this zine, as Soolin asks Blake whether he and Avon were lovers. He says they weren't, but could have been, and as a scene it is very lovely and bleeds into (in a very well-handled way) a Blake/Soolin kiss. I actually find the postscript (which says Avon is still alive!) unnecessary and unsettling, but otherwise it is a lovely fic.
Result: What do you think?? I not only want to keep this, I am also v anxious to get ahold of 'Straight Blakes' 2. V impressed. Some of the best fics I've read in ages.Additionally, there is lots of nice art, there are long letters of comment about the previous issue, the presentation is nice, and there's a 5-ish page section where Sarah Thompson tells you about where you can find more het fic. 
- ^ Editor's Note in Straight Blake's 1
- ^ Editorial in Straight Blake's 2
- ^ aralias' journal, March 13, 2015
- ^ Lysator, Pat Nussman, August 31, 1994.
- ^ Lysator, Judith P, 1998
- ^ Pressure Point no.4
- ^ Editorial in Straight Blake's 2
- ^ From a fan in Rallying Call #14
- ^ aralias' journal, March 13, 2015
- ^ by CB at Judith Proctor's Blake's 7 site
- ^ Lysator, Susan B. S, dated June, 1995.
- ^ Comment by the author in the post Four Fannish Truths and a Lie, 16 October 2003
- ^ Recced by alinewrites at Crack Van, December 26, 2005
- ^ from Sarah Thompson at Judith Proctor's Blake's 7 site
- ^ from Alicia Ann Fox at Judith Proctor's Blake's 7 site
- ^ from Aralias at her journal, Archived version, posted October 18, 2014