The standout in this issue is Alicia Ann Fox's "Xenogamy," one of the hottest het stories ever written. A rough draft appeared on SC and was perhaps the most popular story ever serialized here. This is the final, polished version, and it's even hotter now. I'd recommend that slash fans who think they don't like het give this one a try. There's lots of other good stuff besides the sex, as a deeply suspicious Avon, rescued by the Voyager crew after he escapes from torture by =his= Federation, learns his way around the Trek universe. And the hot tub scene is-- well, you'll just have to read it and see for yourself.
The other long story, this one novella-length, is Misha's surreal dream story, which rather reminds me of New Wave SF-- as if J. G. Ballard or some such author were writing B7 fan erotica! This one is very complicated but repays careful reading. It opens with Cally, captured on Centero, being raped and tortured by Travis --who has, however, made her believe she is having sex with her beloved sister-- in the hope of getting her to talk. But Cally is already suffering severe mental illness as a result of her experience on Saurian Major, and is broadcasting strange and disturbing dreams to everyone within reach. The Federation must get rid of her but dare not kill her ("The death-scream of an Auron is incredibly powerful"), so they send her back to neutral Auron in the care of Senator Tyce Sarkoff of Lindor and none other than Olag Gan, now also a Lindorean diplomat after he decided not to join Blake back on Cygnus Alpha. Gan, of course, has problems of his own due to the limiter, but with the assistance of Tyce, Docholli, and later Zelda, he and Cally are able to help each other. Dream sequences are interwoven with real events in a complex plot that also involves evil Federation experiments and Lindorean mythology. I predict that this will be a "love it or hate it" story. Some will find it too confusing and too far from the aired series, while others will find it fascinating. I guess it's obvious which category I'm in!
A/B fans will be delighted to find two excellent A/B stories in this issue. "With This Ring" by Julia Stamford explores the erotic ramifications of genital piercing and Liberator healing pads, as well as the emotional ramifications of the relationship between Blake and Avon. The illustration by Val Westall is very beautiful and very explicit, stunning in every sense. My jaw dropped when I saw it. And the story itself is both hot and unusual.
Nova is a new author to watch out for; her A/B story in the multimedia zine =Dark Roses= is also noteworthy. Here, "Delinquent" provides an unusual but plausible background for Avon and explains why both he and Vila hate psychiatrists. Avon's cynicism is revealed as thwarted early idealism-- and Blake realizes that Avon is in fact the very person he has idolized for much of his life. And then things really begin to sizzle!
Federation mind-meddling also figures in the plot of "The Turning of the Worm." This story grew out of discussions in the Tarrant apa, in which Tarrant fans complained about all the old stories in which mean bully Tarrant rapes the poor widdle Delta until Avon makes him stop, and said they'd like to see a story in which Vila rapes Tarrant instead. Well, here it is at last! Poor Tarrant is blackmailed into serving as the helpless sex slave of Vila's evil alternate personality, which was generated by all the shrinking of Vila's head. Avon resolves the problem by making love to Vila himself, and they all settle into a happy threesome, joined by Cally and Dayna in the sequel.
Young Tarrant has encounters with m/m sex both tender and brutal in "Embarkation" (originally called "Initiation"?) and "Flight Path." The first story opens with the bizarre image suggested by Penny, of Tarrant in one of Servalan's gowns. It's an initiation prank at the FSA. Tarrant is rescued by Major Travis, who turns out to have his own agenda.
In the second story, Tarrant seeks out Travis once again. Travis is now changed physically, after what Blake did to him, and he appears to be changed emotionally as well. Or was he really that way all along? Tarrant learns a lesson, though not, as he thinks to himself at the end, the one that Travis intended. It's an interestingly eroticized twist on the question of why Tarrant decided to leave Space Command when he had been so sucessful there.
More het content is provided by the reprinted A/J story "Taken In." I haven't actually compared it with the original version, but this version is distinctly hotter than I remember, so I think it has been skilfully spiced up. Very nice.
I suppose "Pet Project" would have to be called het too, or at least partly so, since Cally's moon disc and Avon's Sopron manage to reproduce! This event coincides with Tarrant's unsuccessful attempt to seduce Avon. The same story is also presented in the form of a Mad-lib game-- a list of words to be supplied at random by the game player, which are then plugged into blank spaces in a story, with hilarious results.
"Fun with Dick and Jenna" presents the entire aired canon in the form of a Dick and Jane reader, but very definitely for adults. A sample, which explains the title: "See Jenna see Blake in the showers. Blake is not small. See Jenna smile. Jenna says, 'Hello, Dick.' "Blake says, 'My name is not Dick. I am Roj Blake.' "Jenna smiles."
Other humorous items are the "Application to Pilot the Liberator," which could almost have gone in a genzine except for the question about the Prince Albert (a foreshadowing of the "Ring" story later in the zine!); and Predatrix's B7 version of a slash drinking game, in which the player must take a sip for every cliche encountered. (The "Dick and Jenna" passage quoted above coresponds to item 2.3, "Are you pointing that thing at me?," worth a half sip.)
A stellar lineup of authors, and none of them disappoint. Again, highly recommended.
Willa Shakespeare, "The Turning of the Worm" (S3; Ta/V, A/Ta/V)
Willa Shakespeare, "The Worm Continues to Turn" (S3; A/C/D/Ta/V orgy)
Catocala, "Taken In" (S1; A/J, with V as voyeur; revised and reprinted from BLAKE'S SEVEN: THE OTHER SIDE #3 [AU, 1987.3] and STRAIGHT BLAKE'S #2 [US, 1995])
Alicia Ann Fox, "Xenogamy" (S2; ST Voyager crossover; A/B'Elanna)
Willa Shakespeare, "Fun with Dick and Jenna" (S1-2-3-4; Fun with Dick and Jane parody; B/J, uc A/J, past Ta/Jarvik, past Ta/Travis; humor)
Tessa Nolan and Cami O'Tool, "Embarkation" (S0; Ta/Tr)
Tessa Nolan and Cami O'Tool, "Flight Path" (sequel to "Embarkation;" S2; Ta/Tr, past Ta/Jarvik)
Misha, "If There Were Dreams to Sell, What Would You Buy?" (alt-S1; C/Tr, C/Zelda, C/G, dream C/Tyce, dream A/G, past G/ocf, uc G/Tyce)
Julia Stamford, "With This Ring" (S1; A/B)
Willa Shakespeare, "Pet Project" (S3; uc A/Ta, moon disc/sopron)
Nova, "Delinquent" (S1; A/B)
Predatrix, "The Ultimate Slash Cliche Drinking Game" (humor)
Willa Shakespeare, "Application to Pilot the Liberator" ("Liberally modified from an anonymous Permission to Date My Daughter form;" humor)
Willa Shakespeare, "This Is a Mad Blakelib" (game based on story "Pet Project;" humor)
Leah Rosenthal cover A/Anna fantasy, color
p. 45 "Malodaar Melodies" cartoon
Val Westall p. 23 nude A
p. 112 nude A; illo for "With"
p. 121 nude A
Sarah S. p. 129 A/V
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