The Quibell Abduction

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Zine
Title: The Quibell Abduction
Publisher: Liberator Popular Front, then Judith Proctor
Editor:
Author(s): Lillian Shepherd
Cover Artist(s): C.R. Casey (first edition), Mary O'Conner (later edition)
Illustrator(s):
Date(s): July 1980
Medium: print
Size:
Genre:
Fandom: Blake's 7
Language: English
External Links: The story is archived online at the Hermit Library, here as well as here at AO3
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.
cover, dated July 1980, published by the Liberator Popular Front, artist is C.R. Casey
cover by Lillian Shepherd, published by Lillian Shepherd, cover artist is Mary O'Conner

The Quibell Abduction is a gen Blake's 7 65-page novel by Lillian Shepherd.

Summary

The story is set in the second season, after Countdown, when Avon and Cally go undercover to a Federation planet to obtain much-needed parts for the Liberator; but, of course, things do not happen as expected.

Reactions and Reviews

The online archived version had the second highest number of hits at the Hermit Library.

Very high on my list [of favorite authors] is virtually *everything* by Lillian Shepherd. I like her view of the characters (she writes the best Cally I've ever read), her plots are generally interesting, and I really love her ability to create interesting aliens. This lady can *write*; her stories are quality as fiction, not just as fan-fiction. ... Lillian's "The Quibell Abduction" is a lovely 2nd-season story, with Avon and Cally out on an undercover mission together. Again, I really liked the characterization. One of my favorite scenes involves Jenna trying to give Cally slinking lessons (Cally's supposed to pose as Avon's "executive assistant"). [1]
This zine is that rarity, a B7 story that's genuine science fiction. It's also one of the best Cally stories ever written, and if your Cally is the warrior who confronted Blake on Cygnus Alpha, you'll want this zine.

Cally and Avon are undercover on a Federation planet, purchasing manufactured-to-order parts needed for the Liberator, when Avon is kidnapped. Cally has to track him down and rescue him, without breaking their cover. The job's not finished when she retrieves Avon, because it was more than a simple kidnapping. The planet is in terrible danger...

Lillian Shepherd has created a genuinely alien species, plus a picture of a galaxy that holds more than humans. There's also an interesting backstory for the Federation, and two well-drawn Federation officers as sympathetic original characters. It all goes together to make a story that keeps you turning the pages. I know, because I did the scanning of the original 1980 edition to get an electronic file for the second edition, and ended up having to read the story properly before finishing correcting the errors.

Highly recommended. [2]
I recently finished this story, and wanted to pen some words in praise of it and to encourage you, dear reader, to buy it; because I feel that it would be an excellent acquisition for any Blake's 7 fan. The story is a lovely example of the fact that the length of a piece of writing (thirty-seven pages in this case) is no indicator of its great quality.

The story is set in the second season, after Countdown, when Avon and Cally go undercover to a Federation planet to obtain much-needed parts for the Liberator; but, of course, things do not happen as expected. While I won't give away much of what happens, it involves a very novel, convincingly drawn, and terrifying alien species, in addition to a great deal of fighting, in which Cally has the opportunity to demonstrate her prowess as an Auron warrior. I found myself agreeing with Avon that he 'hadn't often seen Cally in battle and now he was beginning to wonder why Blake did not make greater use of her talents'.

From the beginning, the planet where the story is set, Ararat, is present as an exotic, lavish, and often dark backdrop. The opening sentences drop the reader onto the planet's surface, and make him feel its atmosphere, in both the literal and the figurative sense: 'The xeno-gardens spilled their exotic scents into the warm breeze blowing from the dark, rippling lake. The leaves, branches, stalks, plumes, fronds, tendrils and flowers, imported from a score of worlds, rustled together in whispers even softer than the lapping of the water on the shore'.

Also of interest is the fact that two main characters in the story are Federation security personnel. Both are sympathetically and interestingly drawn, making the reader quite forget that they are supposed to be the 'enemy'. One even suffers from unrequited love!

Because of all this, I strongly recommend Ms. Shepherd's story to all fellow Blake's 7 fans, but particularly to fans of Avon and Cally, especially the latter. [3]
Far too few B7 stories bother to take the crew off the Liberator, let alone take advantage of fanfiction's unlimited sfx budget to create a decent planet for them to land on or aliens for them to interact with -- so 'The Quibell Abduction' is a welcome break. With its excellent mix of adventure, sf & character interaction, this is a deserved fandom classic. If you like this, then I'd also recommend Lillian's The Haunting of Haderon, another much-reprinted novella that's newly available online (Espresso Addict)[4]
We're gonna start out old school this month, and turn back time 25 years. Blake's 7 fandom is zine-heavy, and much of its fic remains in hardcopy, although a few of the zines from those heady, lawless, pre-internet days are now turning up online. The Quibell Abduction is one of those; a story from 1980, only recently added to the online archives. It remains one of the most recommended Cally-centric stories. At the heart of the story is an undercover operation that goes badly wrong - not for the usual reasons, but because there is a far more menacing and horrific operation going on underground. On a mission to obtain needed supplies, Avon and Cally start out masquerading their way under the noses of Federation security on a sleepy backwater planet and are rapidly involved in a sitatuion that forces them to work with the local Federation officers to avert a planet-wide catastrophe....What's it got going for it? This is good sci-fi, set a well-drawn world, with social tensions, complex characters, a rich enviroment, and detailed alien species. It's a fast-paced action story in a fandom frankly prone to a bit of navel-gazing, and it gives the alien guerrilla fighter a chance to shine, and use both her fighting skills and her alienness to her - and the plot's - advantage... It's that classic formula for good Blake's 7: good and evil alike drawn in shades of gray, explosive sci-fi action, a hint of horror - and of humor... Oh, that dry, off-beat alien sense of humor, which somehow functions best when in the thick of major soldier-of-fortune action involving imminent explosions. So go on, wipe the cobwebs off the bottle, and pour yourself a nice big glass of some vintage Blake's 7. [5]
I think this story was what started my lifelong love of Cally. I read it back in 1982, when I was ten years old. It was my brother's zine, and I'd worked on him for weeks in order to lay my hands on it. I still remember the thrill of opening the zine and I devoured it in one sitting. [6]

References

  1. Lysator, Mary Alice W, dated September 9, 1994.
  2. a review by Julia Jones from Judith Proctor's Blake's 7 site
  3. a review by Murray Smith at Judith Proctor's Blake's 7 site
  4. Espresso Recommendations: Blake's 7 (accessed 30 October 2012)
  5. from Red Star Robot at Crack Van, posted November 3, 2005, accessed May 21, 2013
  6. from altariel at Crack Van, posted November 4, 2005, accessed May 21, 2013