The Quibell Abduction

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Title: The Quibell Abduction
Publisher: Liberator Popular Front, then Judith Proctor
Author(s): Lillian Shepherd
Cover Artist(s): C.R. Casey (first edition), Mary O'Conner (later edition sometime after 1992)
Date(s): July 1980
Medium: print
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 as a "Liberator Special." The artist for this first edition was C.R. Casey
inside page from the July 1980 edition
cover by Lillian Shepherd, second edition 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. It was first published in July 1980, and reprinted with permission sometime after 1991.

"Quibell" is pronounced "kwai-bell."


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.


In December 1991, P.N. Elrod stated that she was going to print this story as part of a fourth issue of Avon: On-Line, a project that did not make it off the ground, mainly due to the fall-out of The Marion Zimmer Bradley Fanfiction Controversy and Elrod's altered views on fanworks.

Negotiations between myself and Lillian Shepherd came to a successful conclusion and for the first time in a decade, her terrific story, The Quibell Abduction, will have an authorized reprinting. I also have a tense story from Roxanne Longstreet called "Past Whispers" which sheds a new and chilling light on Cally's death. Tarrant fans take note: long, lean, and curly has a pivotal role in unraveling the mystery here and we also get to see a rather surprising aspect of Vila's personality. Publication will be sometime in the first quarter of 1992. Art (xerox samples are OK) and story submissions are open for future issues. SASE for editorial criteria. [1]

It appears the story was later published as a standalone sometime after 1992 by Judith Proctor.

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"). [2]

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. [3]

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. [4]

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)[5]

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. [6]

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. [7]

This is my favourite Cally story and was happily surprised to see that you’ve reposted it here at AO3. The characterization of Cally is wonderful and reminds me why I like this alien warrior in the first place. I also love the world-building. The aliens you created are genuinely disturbing and the Federation officials are well realized OCs that parallel the characters. While I especially appreciate Katrin, Drew is an interesting outside POV. [8]

really enjoyed reading this, as i have all your other b7 fiction. very involving right from the beginning, great dialogue and action (it's very difficult for fanfiction writers to do action, often, but you make it seem natural). the stuff where avon is crawling around in teh tunnels and thinks he's going to die is particularly effective and chilling (even though we know we wont - it's very interesting to see that character afraid), though obviously cally is the star, and excellently done. i like that you write her sly sense of humour as well as making sure that she's established as a warrior - how irritated she is at the pretence and relatedly with letting avon get captured is great too. like blake, we are definitely shown she has this strong self disgust with failure in the show - but you rarely see it written. [9]

I always meant to buy this zine after enjoying "The Machiavelli Factor", but never quite got round to it - I'm glad to see the story here now!

There's a similar degree of attention to alien species and civilisations in this one -- I liked the role reversal where Cally has been dealing for several scenes with brown herder beasts and then Avon casually reveals that they're actually called 'dogs'! -- and I have to say that I didn't spot even one of the various twists coming, from Lenore's identity to Katrin's revelation at the end. (I really should have got 'Lenore' after having read "The Machiavelli Factor"...)

It's interesting to see the Federation military from the inside, as well, and pleasant and unexpected to have Cally insist on rescuing these enemies who have got themselves into danger trying to rescue herself and Avon... of course, having them effectively limited here to a detective role on a thoroughly pacified planet makes it easier to depict them as the good guys, but there's that telling little moment at the end where the story reveals that the Federation characters take it for granted that the only sensible course of action is to sterilise the entire planet for the benefit of the rest of the galaxy (I note that Avon is quite happy to go along with this!) Cally's history on Saurian Major makes it credible that she is prepared to risk almost anything to stop this happening; it's not just blind altruism on her part...

There are some really chilling moments in the course of the story, but I think the nastiest revelation is the source of the rock-wall illusions. No wonder Cally panics about what may be happening to Avon after that.

(I did wonder if we were supposed to put two and two together and work out what was going on at the same time as the characters do, but in fact it turns out that it's a piece of knowledge that is ancient history in their world but unknown to us, so I can be excused in that case for totally failing to guess it!)


I certainly wouldn't see Katrin as a Mary Sue; her part isn't large enough, for one thing, and we see her mainly through Drew's eyes, as a stubborn -- but occasionally right -- commanding officer who disapproves of his love-life. But that final twist is very effective.

Cally on the other hand... well, yes, she does strike as a bit of a superwoman in this. The story is rather obviously written to showcase Cally -- though I liked Blake's logic for the teaming; Avon and Jenna would probvably end up killing each other! -- and with a certain crusading edge. (There was just one point where it really jarred, where Avon is somewhat too obviously being used as a mouthpiece for the author's own views on how Blake ought to be deploying her in combat more often.) [10]

I finally finished The Quibell Abduction:

1) The rescue part’s pace was a bit slow

2) Author borrowed a little from Starship Troopers, I guess?

3) B7 characters are good though, but the OCs are appealing and one of them hinted on Cally, I suspect the other hinted on Avon (that young man winked at him, jesus)

Small problem:

Ok I like the OC commander very much, but if I were her, how could I fall in love with an idiot with a conservative mind? (it’s just me) [11]


  1. ^ comments by Elrod in The Neutral Arbiter #3 (December 1991)
  2. ^ Lysator, Mary Alice W, dated September 9, 1994.
  3. ^ a review by Julia Jones from Judith Proctor's Blake's 7 site
  4. ^ a review by Murray Smith at Judith Proctor's Blake's 7 site
  5. ^ Espresso Recommendations: Blake's 7 (accessed 30 October 2012)
  6. ^ from Red Star Robot at Crack Van, posted November 3, 2005, accessed May 21, 2013
  7. ^ from altariel at Crack Van, posted November 4, 2005, accessed May 21, 2013
  8. ^ Comment by kronos999 on AO3, 01 October 2012
  9. ^ Comment by Aralias on AO3, 11 June 2016
  10. ^ Two comments by Igenlode Wordsmith on AO3, 24 January 2018 and 02 February 2018
  11. ^ Reviewed by hadescavedish on Tumblr, 18 April 2020