Trust, Like the Soul
|Title:||Trust, Like the Soul|
|Cover Artist(s):||Suzan Lovett|
|Date(s):||first printing March 1988, second printing September 1988|
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"Trust, like the soul, never returns once it's gone." -- Publilious Syrus.
Summary from a flyer: "Tarrant does reverse the memory tubes on Ultraworld, and Avon and Cally wake up in one another's bodies. The only means Orac can discover to sort them out is a psychosexual technique from the legends of both Earth and Auron, and the technique will work only if the participants have total trust in one another. Meanwhile, Servalan sets a trap with which she plans to seduce Avon; and Vila, with Avon in female form, finds himself drawn in a new way to 'the closest thing to a friend' he's ever had."
From the Editorial: Regarding Blake's 7 Fandom
I have been a Blake's 7 fan for less than a year as I write this, but being introduced to the tragic British sf series has affected me profoundly. Each time I watch the episodes I find something new. Inevitably, the charac ters involve themselves in my fantasies, and spark ideas for fiction. Oh, yes, I am afraid Blake's 7 has grabbed me so hard that I can't help writing my own B7 stories! In the last twenty-one years only two other fic tional universes have had such an intense effect on me that, whether I wanted to or not, I found myself writing in them: Star Trek, and Jacqueline Lichtenberg's Sime/Gen universe. Since I write to share, when I couldn't help writing a B7 novel it meant there was no choice but to make it into a fanzine for fellow fans to read. I hope you enjoy it. Like all fan writing, it is purely a labor of love.
From the Editorial: About this Zine
Perhaps the most blatant invitation for fan fiction in B7 occurs at the end of "Ultraworld," when Dayna questions Tarrant as to whether he could have switched Avon's and Cally's memory tubes. In the aired series, he didn't. But "What if—?" is one of the prime questions of sf, and I just could not resist it. Up to that point, I assume everything occurred exactly as we saw it; is is a parallel universe, branching off from the main B7 universe about five min utes from the end of "Ultraworld." I'm told there are other stories out there in B7 fandom based on this premise. If so, they are certainly not common! I have been able to locate only two, "Cross-Switch" by British fan Ros Williams, and "Split Infinitive" by Deborah M. Walsh. However, I couldn't get my hands on either until after I had finished the first draft of TRUST. They could not be more different from (or "to"—British fans see below) mine if those authors and I had made a pact never to let our plot lines cross'. That, of course, is the grand delight of fan writing: many different interpretations of the same facts. Besides, along with the fun of Avon and Cally trying to cope with being reversed, you will find that I have woven in many other ideas to flesh out a complete story: the relationship between Avon and Vila, the background of Avon's betrayal by Anna Grant, the unresolved puzzle of what has happened to Blake. So if you have run across other stories based on the idea that Tarrant reversed the memory tubes, please don't assume without reading it that mine repeats them. And do me the favor of letting me know where I can find them! I would like to see what other fans have done with the same premise. This novel concerns third series Avon and Cally. Cally, of course, ac cepts Avon's leadership, sometimes grudgingly, but she also sometimes lets him dominate her common sense, as when she follows him off the flight deck in "Harvest of Kairos," when the Liberator is in imminent danger of attack! That incident obviously tells her something about her feelings, and for a time she fights them, all through "City at the Edge of the World," "Children of Auron," and the opening of "Rumours of Death." But it is clear that Cally is attracted to Avon, and in TRUST, LIKE THE SOUL I suggest why and how. Avon is the hardest character to capture in fan fiction, because he changes so. (That, of course, is why Blake's 7 works perfectly well without Blake: Avon, not Blake, is the evolving character, the true protagonist.) Third series betrayed, bothered, and bewildered Avon is far more elusive than acid, defensive first and second series Avon, or brittle, driven fourth series Avon. This novel features the Avon of the lost, sad eyes, the haunted look which originally appears in second series in "Horizon." ... [much, much snipped] .... For purposes of characterization, I have given Avon and Vila a history before "Spacefall." That his story explains a number of things about both men that are left unexplained in the series. I have no objection to other writers explaining them in different ways; I simply try to be consistent with aired fact in my own interpretation.
From the Editorial: About the Language
To British fans: this novel is written by an American. It would be hopeless for me to attempt British spelling and punctuation. However, whatever the rationale, the characters in Blake's 7 speak British, not American, English. Thus they would think in British, not American, English. We've all become accustomed to "flight deck" rather than "bridge," "rest room" rather than rec room," and do a deal" rather than "make a deal." But for the rest, I'm sure that despite my best efforts some vocabulary and phraseology will strike you as too American, simply because I am not aware of a dialectical difference in a particular expression. Every time I visit the British Isles, I inevitably say some things that have my British friends staring at me oddly until I translate them out of American—for I didn't know until that moment that they were not common to both dialects! So I hope British readers will accept my intentions, and forgive me, as we Americans forgive you when we stumble over Briticisms in your Star Trek stories.
flyer from the back of Avon the Terrible click to read
Reactions and Reviews
Most Star Trek fans probably assume Jean Lorrah lives on Vulcan, when she isn't at her faculty post at Murray State, Kentucky. Say "Jean Lorrah", and one used to think of "Night of the Twin Moons", a popular fanzine centered on Spock's father. Sarek. In more recent years, her name has conjured up the book racks at our favorite local store where one can find either "Vulcan Academy Murders" or "IDIC Epidemic". Imagine-- a fan writer gone pro! And what, you may ask. is Jean doing now? Would you believe she writes Blake's 7 novels? Most Star Trek fans probably assume Jean Lorrah lives on Vulcan, when she isn't at her "Trust, Like a Soul" takes a moment from the Ultraworld episode and says, "what if". What if Warrant did get the memory tubes reversed for Cally and Avon? What if the only way back for the two of them was to find their way to absolute trust? Avon? Obviously, Jean has set herself a hard problem. Trust is not the issue of this novel. To write a woman in a man's body and visa versa, requires the author to delve deeply into the essence of what exactly it is that makes us either male or female. Jean takes the reader slowly through the adjustments that both Avon and Cally have to make. Her strength is in the multitude of details which lends verisimilitude to the story she creates. Not every reader will agree with the male/female characterizations which Jean has defined, but, then, that's part of what makes the story interesting. Like any difficult topic, it lends itself to spirited discussion. The main thread of the story runs simply from beginning to end. Jean takes that thread and then weaves it into a complex pattern of flashbacks and asides that gather together all the little details that have been plaguing us ever since we first watched the series. The author has a wonderful eye for detail and an imaginative way of bringing the oddest things together into logical explanations. For example, did you ever wonder why Avon had to let Vila open the door in "Time Squad". but was equipped with a pick in his shoes and skill in his fingertips in Bounty? If you did, this is the book for you. The interior illustrations for this novel are by Gayle F, one of the foremost Star Trek artists. Gayle's work is immediately recognized by its unique stylized approach. The closest artist I can use for comparison is Beardsley. The Cally/Avon iIIo should keep you warm on a cold night. The Servalan/Avon illo takes off from there. In summary, this is a book that will appeal to the readers on various levels. For the romantics, it brings Cally and Avon together. For the philosophers, it deals with topics that will probably generate a lot of late night arguments. And for the compulsives, it provides inventive solutions to inconsistencies and fills in the holes that an hour show can't help leaving behind. A little something for everyone. 
"The long-time fan will need no introduction to Jean Lorrah, whose Star Trek fiction has enlivened both the fannish and professional markets for some years. Her writing is consistently good in presenting structured stories and emotionally satisfying in the fannish sense of exploring characters' minds and motivations, as well as their actions during a given crisis. When a writer of this caliber tackles one of the most intriguing 'what if' situations in B7, one expects a lot. Lorrah is a writer who deals with people and their emotions and B7's emotional atmosphere is quite different from Trek's And 'what if' is a staple of much fannish writing; Lorrah has started with a premise that must have occurred to half of the show's viewers, especially fiction-writing (and -reading) fans. The question is not whether she has chosen a good story to tell, but how well she tells it, in this novel-length treatment..... The emotional center of the book, the replacing of Avon's and Cally's minds back into their own bodies, eventually shows the depth Lorrah has assimilated the Blake's 7 universe. Although the two of them succeed in the re-exchange, it is a victory and a positive outcome only in the narrow sense of solving the original problem. The perfect trust and sharing they have developed cannot continue, once they are in their own bodies. This resolution echoes the tone of B7 overall; personal feelings such as love may be ideal, but any real use of feelings will destroy the conditions that made them possible. Avon and Cally , at least, end by acknowledging that even imperfect love is better than none, although the B7 universe is not likely to let them think so for long.
... I have read Trust, Like the Soul and had a mixed reaction to it. I was expecting excellence, having read Jean's Sime/Gen novels and liked them very much. And, on one level, she fulfilled my expectations. Her characterisation is full. The story is intriguingly full of might-have-beens...and the last line spells the hand of doom. But on another level...I can't say I'm disappointed, or that I expected better, because I don't think it is something that Jean would ever consider changing - it was rather integral to the plot! Yes, folks, the sex. Don't lend this book to the kiddies. There is a clashing with my principles here, which Jean may happily consider as a mere matter of taste - I don't expect her to share my beliefs, or to change hers about what she considers decent. But the way it was treated prevented my enjoyment of the story from being whole-hearted. It could have been done differently, but then I guess it wouldn't be the same story, and Jean wouldn't have written it. Enough said. (No, I don't read 'R' or slash zines either!) 
People expecting classic Lorrah will not be disappointed in this novel. Purists looking for classic Blake's ? will be surprised by an original viewpoint on the series, but one which is not inconsistent with the program. The premise of the story is that Avon and Cally have their minds switched on Ultraworld when Tarrant tries to rechannel the memory tubes into the right bodies. In the original episode he got it right, so this is a fascinating "what if" situation. Putting them back using the Ultraworld machinery is impossible, since Ultraworld, true to the original episode, explodes; but a legendary psychosexual Auron technique may have the power to restore them. Proper execution requires that the partners have total trust in each other. So for the most part of the novel we have lots of soul-baring interspersed with Very Meaning Sex, two areas at which the author excels.
The sex is, frankly, great — not quite as steamy as Full Moon Rising — but of course the circumstances are different. The soul-baring is frequently brilliant. We learn an enormous amount about Avon and Cally. Lorrah has a real genius for blending her interpolations with what we know from the series into a seamless whole. Her account of how Avon and Vila met, and what exactly was done to Avon under Federation interrogation before he met Blake, is both harrowing and ultimately convincing, as she brings in numerous details from early episodes to support her theory. Her account of Cally's history is another beautiful piece of work—it is hard to tell where the clues gleaned from episodes like "The Web" and "Children of Auron" leave off and Lorrah's additions begin. Similarly, we finally hear the Anna Grant story told from start to tragic finish in convincing consistency and detail. She even works in the message from Blake mentioned in "Terminal" to particularly chilling effect. (Note: you need to have seen "The Keeper" to make sense of the final message.)
The subplot involving Servalan is believable, and Servalan is right in character; its chief purpose, however, seems to be to maneuver our heroes into positions where revelations can be made. It also serves to keep Tarrant and Dayna comfortably out of the way. The focus of the novel is set so firmly on Avon, Cally and Vila that the others appear to be a little blurred. There is a beautiful scene with Dayna near the end, however, that almost makes up for this.
Characterizations of the main persons of the drama vary. Cally, to my mind, is spot-on. Lorrah has captured the peculiar combination of naivete and wisdom, delicacy and strength, that makes Cally what she is. Her Avon is sympathetic, but realistic; we learn enough about his life to understand that he is an unhappy person but fundamentally a good one. Vila, who has a large role in the novel (as confidant, protector and more) is drawn in a very flattering light. In her introduction she defends this view, quoting extensively from televised incidents where Vila acts with courage, loyalty, and intelligence. I find her Vila perhaps a little too insightful, a little too competent! tut he has his own confessions to make, and they serve to bolster her interpretation without betraying the series.
Although he never appears in the novel, Blake is a central figure. Her portrait of Blake is one I have seen presented in fandom; it is debatable, but not wholly inconsistent with the series. On this view, he is a well-intentioned megalomaniac, whose ruthless streak and dangerous obsession become gradually more apparent throughout the first and second season. To some extent, this characterization is necessary to her story. If Blake is generally right, then Avon's constant challenges were at best annoying, at worst mutinous. But if Blake is wrong—if his obsession has led him to believe that the end justifies any means—then Avon becomes his Socratic gadfly, becomes, in fact, Blake's conscience. Thus, the unflattering portrayal of Blake redeems Avon. But as always, while I don't agree with her characterisation of Blake, I admit that it works well within the framework of her story, and proves compatible with—if not necessary to—the original series.All in all, TRUST, LIKE THE SOUL, is an enjoyable read. Even if you don't agree with her characterizations, or have your own theories about "what really happened" in Avon's past (or Cally's or Vila's), you will find that her theories work beautifully in context. And it is a nice, romantic story of Avon and Cally, with an unexpected poignant twist at the end. 
It is terribly sloppy by my standards (romance - lovely, slop - urgh, but so difficult to define the difference) and has no plot other than the standard fan sex story sort in Avon's or Cally's bunk. It consists mostly of many lengthy sex-and-empathy scenes, also relies heavily on the physical embarrassments of the 'switch', Most of my own correspondents were also disappointed by this story, but I know there are others who love it - no need to tell me that furiously in the next nl (each to their own!). For me a sex wallow has to have more grist to it than just bed scenes and intimate discussions about, for example, the monthly curse, how Cally explains to Avon what to do and how Avon copes with it (how voyeuristic can you get?). There is a lot of that kind of thing to wade through. Avon in particular is too sweet. That may appeal to some Americans? Finally, though it really comes first, I was thoroughly put off, even before I started on the STORY, by the very lengthy self-advertisement the writer put in at the start in which she rhapsodised about her own brilliance and her stories for some other fandom I didn't want to hear about. 
Thanks for posting a review, Lynn! This is one I started to read and then put away. I especially liked your comparison to ST fan fiction and the use of telepathy. I've found ST fiction to be too nice after B7 -- characters who open like and trust each other... it makes me shudder. It might be interesting to do a more in-depth comparison between ST and B7 fan fiction to see whether it's possible to detect ST influence -- did B7 fan fiction change after more US fans found it, and if it did can any of those changes be traced to an ST-influenced outlook (e.g. are telepathy as sex; a kinder, gentler crew, etc inspired by ST fan fiction). 
Yes, there's a subtle difference between writing sincerely about why and how you wrote a story and seeming blatantly conceited about it. Trust Like the Soul's writer announced her story's availability loudly in a brash letter to Horizon as though we'd all been waiting just for this B7 offering from a busy, successful ST writer! A friend of mine who'd read some of her ST novelette's said "Usually she's quite a competent writer, but Trust is a failure, she hasn't comprehended the characters nor the atmosphere." I had the feeling Trust's writer felt she was doing B7 fans a favour by writing something for us, and presumably, to those many Avon fans who love the story, she was. 
I haven't read Last Stand at the Edge of the World but Trust Like the Soul was utter drivel and an insult to Avon and Cally plus the Intro was crass, stupid conceit - I hope the writer has returned to Star Trek and stays there. So far as I know, none of my correspondents liked Trust, some where scathing. I enjoyed the Matthews trilogy and don't recall it was unduly hard on Blake, but of course it was a total Avon wallow. Right, Avon says a lot of things he doesn't do and in series 3 and Blake-less he is pretty aimless. Only in series 4 does he seem, at last, to have a purpose in life. And yes, Arlen must walk even if wounded, she would, being a trained soldier (I assume), know that. Blake was never a wimp and he expects other people to be strong too. Avon always gets forgiven for everything and one good theory is that it's because he's the person everyone else insults (not always fairly and not always with any clear reason) so he becomes the underdog and gets our sympathy. Avon doesn't usually complain in return, he only complains he thinks someone else is being stupid or careless. I think Avon gets away with ruthlessness because many of us do feel (rightly or wrongly, sometimes our reaction is too subjective) that he is doing the sensible thing and he has a lot of courage. We are no! so convinced Tarrant is "always right" Tarrant isn't so good as Avon at convincing the fans. I have to say that this comes down to acting skill as much as anything else. Paul is very, very good at being convincing. Steven was at the time less skilled, I think, that also his relative dislike of Tarrant probably induced him to allow Tarrant to appear intolerable. 
cally is a bit of a nonentity in this fic. avon's the one with all the issues to get over. cally is just to receive and forgive him. she offers her own flight from auron as something she'd done that's just as bad as the things he's done... but, er, it isn't.
now, i'm not saying that this relationship isn't a healthy one. it probably is a very good idea for avon to go out with someone like cally (and he does seem to respond to her wisdom, learning from it etc etc), but it would also probably be a good idea for him to go to a therapist.
i like all the bodyswap bullshit, cally starting avon on the blowdrying that would characterise his hair for the latter half of the show, the stuff about learning to fight as each other, cally putting her arm around his waist, avon realising that the teleport bracelet often falls off cally's tiny wrists- it is cute and fun.
the avon and vila stuff is really cute! now some would say 'what is this avon/vila doing in my avon/cally?' i'm not sure, reader, but it is there.[Much more info and many photographs in the original review as posted] 
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