The Last Best Hope

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Zine
Title: The Last Best Hope
Publisher: Kathy Resch, later edition Judith Proctor (Waveney)
Editor:
Author(s): Melody C.
Cover Artist(s): Caren Parnes
Illustrator(s): later edition Whitby27
Date(s): 1988, later edition 1997
Series?: yes
Medium: print
Size:
Genre:
Fandom: Blake's 7
Language: English
External Links: at Hermit Library and AO3
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.
cover by Caren Parnes -- "even after reading this, i still have no idea why there's a hawk and a horse on the cover (i'm guessing blake's the horse... and that he runs free? but it's not clear), but it's over-the-top and brilliant in its own way. the colouring is really nice and beautifully textured and, although i think blake looks a bit young for the series 2 outfit he's depicted in, it's a nice picture. i like the avon less - and his pose is a bit... nothingy, where as blake is obviously being inspired or something. but overall: i like this cover." [1]
flyer printed in Fire and Ice #1

The Last Best Hope is a gen/preslash Blake's 7 100-page novel by Melody C. The cover is by Caren Parnes.

It was originally printed in 1988, and that edition contains no interior illustration. A new edition that featured a revised text and internal illustrations by Whitby27 was printed in 1997 by Judith Proctor.

It has a sequel, The Long Way Back.

The Judith Proctor editions were archived on Hermit Library and later moved to Archive of Our Own.

Summary

It takes place years after Gauda Prime when Blake is president of the Refederation and Avon is his chief advisor. The close friendship between Blake and Avon is central to a story of political skullduggery that has its roots way back in the past, in Avon and Blake's childhood. [2]

Differences in Editions

One fan wrote: "This version of 'The Long Way Back' has been edited and changed quite a bit from the printed 'zine version." [3]

Judith Proctor wrote: "This zine has had the text revised by myself and Melody with some assistance from Vega. It's been an interesting experience as Melody and I have very different writing styles. Melody is very creative with language; I'm far more literal and worry about things like minor plot inconsistencies. Still, I hope you'll think that we've got rid of any plot problems without spoiling the wonderful flow of Melody's writing." [4]

The covers are the same, although the original edition is in quarto and the new edition in A4. The Whitby27 interior illustrations are only present in the new edition.

Example illustrations from the new edition

Author's Comments

'List the five stories you have written that you LOVE the best. Not the best one or the most popular one but the ones that you personally love the best." -- The Last, Best Hope - R - Blake/Avon preslash, Blake's 7, because I wrote it for about ten friends (after I'd started a short story on the topic that just wouldn't condense to a story). I figured it would be fun. The friends liked it so we printed up a bunch of copies and my friend Kathy took them to a con. It was well received enough that we printed up more. Thus was born the mystery of the missing gun and my weird word choice (thanks to spellcheck and my own weird predilections). [5]

Fanworks It Inspired

  • On Wings of Fire by Windfola ("A very young Kerr Avon is sent away to boarding school, but of course nothing is ever as it seems.This story is a prequel and owes its existance to 'The Last Best Hope' by Melody Clark, which I hope everyone will go on to read.")

Reactions and Reviews

The online archived version of The Last Best Hope received the fifth-highest hits at the Hermit Library.

'The Last Best Hope' and 'The Long Way Back' ... are undoubtedly the most complex stories of the 'there was a plot to get Blake and co on the London' type that I have ever read. The Last Best Hope is gen, The Long Way Back is the sequel and is slash. I brought out new editions of both of them recently. I'm not surprised you remember the covers. Caren Parnes art is beautiful. One of my two favourite Blake portraits of all time is on the cover of The Long Way Back (the others Jean Kludge's cover for the Machiavelli Factor). [6]
'The last best hope' is set four years after Gauda Prime, a Gauda Prime which they all survive and overcome to finally defeat the Federation. Blake is now President of a democratic Refederation but his government is in grave difficulties, opposed even from within its own ranks by conservatives who find his liberal policies just too progressive. Not a remarkably novel scenario you might think, read it before, you might think - ah, but you have *not*, not as it is spun from the imagination of Melody C., for within this familiar framework she has set a rare jewel of imaginative story-telling quite unlike any other 'Blakes 7' story I have ever read.

It is a story developed very much from what we saw in the series but even more from what we did not see; from what might have been implied by some of the largely unexplained oddities. It is a story which, as far as I noticed, while never departing from the 'canon' transforms it by admirably applied imaginative ingenuity into something quite wonderfully different, revealed piece by intricate piece, as Blake fights to save all he has achieved from ruin.

It is awfully tempting to enthuse, at length, about how such seemingly unconnected elements of the 'canon' as The System and Vila's observations about Avon being more like a computer than a human being become integral parts of this new telling of the story of 'Blakes 7'; to marvel at the imaginative way they and so much else we saw and heard have been woven into the design, but it is a temptation I will resist for to say anything more would be to spoil the surprises in store for those who read this story. They are surprises which will delight, amaze, charm, entertain and move you but should be savoured one by one as they are revealed to further the story which emerges so interestingly from the reassembling of the elements Melody has chosen as her framework.

Instead I will enthuse about the writing which is *very* special. It is everywhere admirable. One moment it is charming the imagination with the enchanting image of white unicorns flying from the gates of a castle conjured from rainbow light, the next engaging the intellect with a discussion of the effects of certain types of directed education, while weaving both elements integrally into the unfolding pattern of the story. It is writing which creates and recreates characters with such depth and presence that they step off the page and into your mind (well, into mine anyway) vitally real and completely memorable.

[much, much clipped]

And another aspect I especially like is that Melody's ideas are so endlessly interesting. They remain after you have read it to mull over often. For throughout the course of the story she touches upon some of the most integral aspects of 'Blakes 7' which though integral are rarely given much thought. Aspects such as the philosophical complexities of the whole idea of rebellion; the cost of rebellion to those who take up its banner intellectually and personally and the choices faced and made in rebellion's name which involve a weighing up between the abstraction of pursuing the greater good and the singular and personal cost this may have on individuals, as well as the question of whether the good of the known individual can ever be more important than the good of the unknown many. It looks so very sympathetically at the mistakes good, well-intentioned idealists make in pressing what they believe is the higher good too single-mindedly and the cost to them when they discover their mistake. It looks at the wonderful nobility of some human spirits and reminds us that the best of humanity is always worthy of notice and admiration. All the way from the abstract to the very particular the writing continues to engage mind and emotion, as in the lovely particular of Avon's striking face, ' ... Those dark eyes, both impervious and bottomless that held his gaze in such fascinated bondage ... now he was far more than simply beautiful: this face contrasted that concept and made beauty a poor cousin to the truth.' a lovely description, but when you read it in context it conveys just as much about the character who thinks it as it does about Avon and such examples can be found in every paragraph.

I cannot say I liked 'The last best hope', like is much too colourless and drab a word to describe my reactions to this wonderful story. I love it; love the wonderfully positive portrayal of Blake and Avon; love the beauty and power of the writing; love the way it engages my heart and my mind and I just love it more each time I have read it since. It is so rich and dense that there are always new delights to discover no matter how many times I do reread it. But nothing will ever be as wonderful as the first time when I eagerly turned page after fascinating page discovering the new story of 'Blakes 7' that Melody C. has imagined. It may not be as some would imagine the story but it is as I would have liked to. [7]
the relationship between blake and avon is actually really really nice in this book, although it does begin with one of my top ten least favourite tropes of B/A fic: explaining away avon shooting blake. in this case, the federation put a thing in his brain in 'terminal' that made him go all crazy, which is vaguely plausible, i suppose, but means that essentially we can write off everything that avon does in series 4 as not happening, which makes it all a bit pointless. plus, canon gives us an explanation for why avon shot blake - it's called 'rumours of death' and blake being a f--king idiot. [snip]

the blake/avon is really good this book. it feels slow and awkward, but also very much based in them really liking each other.

also - blake is the president! a trope that i love, i'm afraid, because i am a terrible loser. but there we are. and he is quite a good president as we see from his actions as described in the book. he's also totally at ease with his power and throws it around all over the place, as we knew he would do. i like it - it seems like a good place for blake's characterisation to go. plus, i just like really powerful people. some would say this is in the same category as 'magical destinies', but i say no. one takes away your free will, the other gives you higher stakes to make decisions about.

so there.

that said, the characterisation of blake isn't exactly in accord with my own head canon. blake cries several times in the fic (at least twice anyway). i ain't never seen roj blake cry, which is not to say that i don't think he does (perhaps quietly alone in his room after gan is dead). but i don't think he cries because he feels he's been betrayed and life is unfair while other people are watching. i think, like avon, he closes down. i think this based on what happens in 'pressure point'.

also - his dialogue doesn't always feel blakeian to me. but mostly it does. avon's is almost always pretty good, as are the others except soolin, who is swearing almost every line and referring to avon as 'the little shit' (while fancying him because of his incredible beauty o_o ). it is utterly bizarre. her behaviour is all fine, though, and she has lots of fun scenes with tyce, who fancies blake (which i like, because it's canon and the awkwardness of her crush is played for lols, not angst or weirdness). speaking of tyce - she's supposed to be head of security, but all her locks are some bullshit. somebody ask vila to be head of security already.

tarrant is basically portrayed as a dick whom everyone tolerates but basically dislikes, but i think that's probably fair enough (although i prefer everyone platonically loving everyone!)(no surprises there). the only person who acts weird all the way through is dayna, who is apparently devoted to avon. as with soolin's swearing, i wonder how i missed this in the show...

anyway - the plot is kiiind of about blake and avon discovering they knew each other in the past and they have magical destinies, but mostly it's about whether avon is paranoid or whether there is a massive conspiracy to overthrow blake's government (answer: it's both). by the time you get to the end of the fic, you still don't know what the magic destinies are, which is both annoying and somewhat of a relief, because the point of the fic (it seems) is not the magical destiny in question, it's that blake and avon and avon's 7 are friends, and will (when the chips are down) band together against evil and bureaucracy (dayna makes the council chamber explode - it's good). the magical destiny stuff is more a means to that end, than the end in and of itself.

which makes it bearable. particularly since blake and avon are already gradually working out their differences before they find out that they used to know each other as boys.

also - the writing is (generally) brisk and dialogue-heavy, which just adds to the feel of this one being fun.

[More info and many photographs in the original review as posted] [8]
I bought both the Melody C. zines on a friend rec and couldn't even get a quarter through the first one: aaaugh, the purple prose, the overblown descriptions....They were recced by a friend who liked B/A and she thought I might enjoy them because of the (in her opinion) quality writing. [9]
The Last Best Hope... I have that, haven't reread it for some years. I know I loved it when I first got it, not quite as much as my tastes changed but I still liked it, and her world-building. [10]
Blake's 7 was a British Sci-Fi show created by Terry Nation (creator of the Daleks). It originally aired in Britain between 1978 and 1981....

This fic is a good one for people that haven't ever seen the show. It's AU, so it can be read as an original Science Fiction story without needing the back-story of the show.

What I like most about this story is that it's a completely original story idea, I've never read one like it. So many fics use the same basic premise over and over, and while we love them, every once in awhile it's nice to read something completely different. [11]
A Blake is President romp. Avon detects a major conspiracy (he is paranoid and they are out to get him) and he and Blake go on a quest for the truth and end up fighting their own government and denying they might be romantically involved with each other. Lots of fun, although neither of us recommends the sequel, and Molly recommends this one less heartily than Katy does. [12]

References

  1. aralias reviewed this zine in June 2013 on Dreamwidth; reference link to Dreamwidth; on Live Journal.
  2. from the Judith Proctor's Blake's 7 site
  3. from Epic Recs
  4. from Judith Proctor's Blake's 7 site
  5. a dumb thing, a fun thing and a dangerous thing; archive link, December 27, 2008
  6. [ftp://ftp.lysator.liu.se/pub/blake7/digests/volume98/13 Judith P, January 1998
  7. from a review by Pat Fenech, read it in its entirety at Judith Proctor's Blake's 7 site/reference link
  8. aralias reviewed this zine in June 2013 on Dreamwidth; reference link to Dreamwidth; on Live Journal.
  9. from a comment by vilikins, June 3, 2013 at aralias' Live Journal
  10. from a comment by sallymn, June 2, 2013 at aralias' Live Journal
  11. from Epic Recs, posted March 20, 2012
  12. from Katy and Molly's 77+ Favourite A/B and A-B Stories; WebCite, August 5, 2013