Cami, "The End of the Play" (Ta/Anna)
Liz A. Vogel, "Two for the Price of One" (So/A & V)
Rhapsodie, "Hunting Girls" (V/Zee & Barr)
Alicia Ann Fox, "Misdirection" (A/C)
Misha, "Affinities" (J/Ta)
Alara Rogers, "Anna" (A/Anna)
Liz A. Vogel, "Xoanon" (Se/?)
Twisted Sister, "Close" (J/G)
Deneb, "Pilot Games" (J/Ta)
Twisted Sister, "A Challenging Experiment" (A/D)
Catherine, "The Temptation" (B/Se)
Judith Proctor, "Mary Sue Strikes Back" (humor)
Aurora, "Morning Glory" (C/Ta)
Pat Jacquerie, "Negotiating Positions" (A/So)
Riley Cannon, "In This Lonely Place" (B/So)
Liz Sharpe, "Crown of Thorns" (A/Anna)
Judith Proctor, Limericks
Judith Proctor, "Cally" (A/C)
Vanessa Mullen, "Freedom" (f, traditional tune) (B/J)
Susan Bennett, "Absent Friends" (A)
Susan Bennett, "I Need... To Kill Her Myself" (A/Se)
Letters of Comment
S. E. Thompson, "More of the Same" (bibliography)
Karen River cover A/Se
Val Westall p. iii A
p. 50 A/C
p. 62 nude A
pp. 65-68 Art Portfolio
Randym p. 28 illo for "The End of the Play"
p. 57 illo for "Affinities"
A heterosexual adult B7 zine, edited by Pat Jacquerie
"The End of the Play" by Cami. Avon wasn't the only Liberator crewmember to cross paths with Sula Chesku. A certain young Federation pilot could be useful to her, in more than one area. He's young, he won't suspect the truth...will he?
"Two for the Price of One" by Liz Vogel. Being stuck on a backwater planet with a bickering Avon and Vila is not Soolin's idea of a good time, until she challenges them to a competition that all three of them can enjoy.
"Hunting Girls" by Rhapsodie. Before Zee and Barr turn Vila over to harvest his spare parts, they decide they might have a use for a section of him that works better when connected to the rest of his body.
"Misdirection" by Alicia Ann Fox. In an alternate "Ultraworld" scenario, it's Avon and Cally the Ultras want to use to demonstrate the Human Bonding Ceremony. And since Avon's dug in his heels, it's up to Cally to arrange for their freedom...eventually.
"Affinities" by Misha. Apparently the only Scorpio survivor of Gauda Prime, Tarrant finds he has more in common with Liberator's first pilot than simply steering the same ship.
"Anna" by Alara Rogers. Avon's long gone out of Anna Grant's life, except then why is she having these dreams?
"Close" by Twisted Sister. If Blake won't pay attention to Jenna, she finds there's another large, curly-haired man on Liberator who's more willing to oblige a lady.
"Pilot Games" by Deneb. It seems unlikely that the two pilots of Liberator would ever meet, but Space City has a game that supposedly no pilot can conquer, and neither can resist the challenge...or, eventually, each other.
"A Challenging Experiment" by Twisted Sister. Virginity is not to Dayna's taste, and who better to solve her little problem than Liberator's resident scientist?
"The Temptation" by Catherine. In the wake of Star One, Servalan has captured that troublemaker Blake. And while she took him for political reasons, there's no reason she can't use him for more pleasurable purposes, is there?
"Mary Sue Strikes Back" by Judith Proctor. In the sequel to last issue's "Mary Sue Writes Slash," some _very_ strange women make an interesting proposition to the Liberator crw.
"Morning Glory" by Aurora. In a sequel to last issue's "Passionflower," Blake has departed Liberator, leaving a gap in Cally's life that perhaps the new tall, curly-haired crewmate can fill. But young human males have disadvantages for Auron females that Cally hadn't counted on...
"Negotiating Positions" by Pat Jacquerie. When Soolin negotiates with a female Warlord, she doesn't anticipate the kind of duties her "male possession" Avon must perform, but it is nice to discover he can do something besides repair computers and snarl...
"In This Lonely Place" by Riley Cannon. Months after the debacle at GP, Blake and the remainder of the Scorpio crew return to make a heartrending discovery in the remains of Blake's base. Soolin is more comfortable with a gun than with physical comfort, but it's the latter that Blake need.
Straight Blake's 3 also includes poetry by Judith Proctor, Liz Sharpe, and Susan Bennett, plus an article on other sources of B7 het smut by Sarah Thompson, and art by Karen River, Val Westall, and Randym.
Overall, I recommend the zine strongly. There are 15 stories ranging, in my estimation, from good to excellent, and several nice pieces of poetry. The art in this issue is not quite so spectacular as in #2, but there are some very nice things: the cover (Avon/Servalan, by Karen River); two story illos by Randym, one sweet pair of portraits and one explicit sizzler; and a portfolio of nude Avons by Val Westall. But I was hoping for another paper doll to go with the Tarrant in #2! Oh well, maybe next issue.
Several of the stories will be familiar to Space City members. I for one am thrilled to have them in a more permanent form. These include Alara Roger's lovely Avon/Anna, "Anna;" "Pilot Games" (Jenna/Tarrant) by Deneb; and "A Challenging Experiment" (Avon/Dayna) by Twisted Sister. And as I recall, Pat Jacquerie's "Negotiating Positions" (possibly my favorite story in this issue, although it's hard to decide), although written for a round robin elsewhere, was also previewed there before it went into the zine.
"Close" - On the rebound from rejection by Blake, Jenna is comforted by Gan. In this story the limiter also makes its victim impotent. But Gan is willing to oblige in other ways, and furthermore, Jenna turns out to be knowledgeable about Tantric techniques that can provide pleasure for both of them even under the circumstances. The two of them comfort each other at length. I liked this story very much, which surprised me as it's a very sweet story, and I tend to go for darker things. But the sweetness is balanced by the underlying sense of tragedy, since both of these characters are badly hurt, and there is a feeling (at least for me) that they are just managing to snatch a little comfort before they come to sad ends.
It occurred to me that there was an interesting contrast between "Close" and Aurora's "Morning Glory," a sequel to "Passionflower" in #2. This story continues the adventures of a very alien Cally as she explores the problems of human/Auron sex with various crewmates. In "Passionflower," she decided that Blake was best suited to her needs, and after some initial confusion they were indeed able to work out a satisfactory arrangement. In "Morning Glory" she finds herself missing Blake and drawn to the handsome, young, new crewmember with the bright blue eyes. Little does she realize that his age will be a serious problem. Both "Close" and "Morning Glory" show a woman trying to cope with some form of sexual dysfunction in a male partner. Gan can't get it up; Tarrant can't get it down, at least not long enough for Cally to enjoy him in proper Auron fashion. The results are hot and hilarious. I did find myself thinking, "If only this Cally could meet that Gan!" The story ends with Vila asking Orac for information on Auron sex, perhaps a hint of things to come? I'm really looking forward to more stories in this series; I've loved both of them so far.
"A Challenging Experiment," which previewed here as a WW segment set in Hotel Smut, was easily transformed into an encounter between Avon and Dayna in a luxury hotel on a planetary shoreleave. A nice, hot, PWP.
"Deneb" had a trickier time converting "Pilot Games" into a zine story, since by the time Tarrant and Jenna met each other in that fabulous planetarium room in Hotel Smut, she was already dead. But the story now has a wonderfully clever opening. The interlude takes place on Space City. Tarrant wants to try to beat the new flight simulation game offered there. But when he illicitly sneaks off to try it, he discovers that it's already been beaten-- by Jenna. Moreover, the Terra Nostra has warned her that if she does it again, she'll be out the airlock without a spacesuit (the local equivalent of concrete overshoes, one gathers). They challenge each other to another sort of game instead. Very satisfying! My favorite line from the original, in which the floating-in-space illusion gives poor Jenna the creeps because it reminds her that she's dead, now reminds her instead of the Terra Nostra's nasty threat. Well done, Deneb! I have one question: what was Dayna going to show Tarrant, to prove that her upbringing had been less sheltered than he thinks?? Might that be the subject of another story?
Amazingly, there's a second Tarrant/Jenna story in the same zine: Misha's "Affinities." This is one of several stories in the zine that have somewhat complex plots and/or are part of longer series. "Affinities" is, I understand, from a series of linked PGP stories that are at least slightly AU; that is, events on GP seem to have gone a little differently than what we saw on-screen, although that isn't really relevant here since this particular story could have started with the canon version just as easily. PGP, a badly injured Tarrant, alone of all the Scorpio crew, awakens on a ship. As he slowly recovers, he becomes acquainted with its pilot, Jenna. The two are gradually drawn to each other, and Tarrant discovers that some surprising things were going on on Liberator. I really want to see a sequel to this one! I found the sex scenes just a little awkward, possibly because they are from Tarrant's POV. But I really liked the hc element, with Tarrant struggling to recover from his injuries, and the one-upping dialogue between the two hotshot pilots is terrific. A sample: "Did you really think you could bring Scorpio down in one piece?"
There are a total of four Tarrant stories in #3, more than compensating for the fact that there were none in #s 1 and 2. Vila, Gan, and Blake are also represented, and the editor remarks in her introduction that she may even have to beg for more Avon stories next time!
The first story in the zine, Cami's "The End of the Play," is a lovely long complex tale of how and why Ambassador Chesku's wife seduces the innocent young Space Command officer assigned to be her bodyguard. She has an ulterior motive, of course, and Lieutenant Tarrant eventually learns that he was a pawn in a scheme to make Chesku a High Councillor. But he'll never forget her. There's a beautiful double portrait of the unlikely couple, by Randym (who also did a hot explicit illo for "Affinities").
This rather serious story is followed by two hot PWPs, both featuring threesomes. In Liz Vogel's "Two for the Price of One," Soolin, Avon, and Vila are holed up in a motel waiting to make their escape. Soolin dares the two men to prove themselves to her sexually, and takes them both on at once. This is a fantasy scenario that I've always enjoyed (though I don't really think I'd care to try it in real life), and it was very well written.
Rhapsodie's story "Hunting Girls" is very funny, albeit with some grim undertones. On Chenga, Zee and Barr decide to have their way with Vila before they turn him in for spare parts. They discover that the men of Earth have some remarkable attributes-- or at least this one does! Even though seemingly unconscious (at his best?), he manages to wear out both of them completely.
"Misdirection" by Alicia Ann Fox is a short, hot, funny PWP in which it's Avon and Cally, rather than Tarrant and Dayna, who are asked for the demonstration of the Human Bonding Ceremony. I particularly liked Avon's (unsuccessful) attempt to stave off orgasm with mathematical calculations. (Come to think of it, Tarrant tried something similar with shipping information in "Morning Glory," until Cally literally knocked it out of him.) There's a cute Val Westall illo of Avon with a rather predatory- looking Cally.
I don't know whether the placement was deliberate or not, but Alara Rogers's "Anna" is followed by the portfolio of Val Westall's nude Avons, almost as if we were seeing some of Anna's memories in the story.
There's a second story by Liz Vogel, also a very well-written PWP, but this one has a savage twist. PGP, Servalan rapes the last survivor, but we don't find out until the end who it is. From the first paragraph: "He approached at her beckoning; experience had proven that resistance would only earn him a beating, and then she'd have him anyway. Better to suffer her attentions without bruises." Needless to say, I loved this!
Servalan has her way with another male victim in "The Temptation," by Catherine. This time it's Blake, captured by her after Star One. On the advice of a puppeteer, Servalan first drugs him for the seduction of his body and then sets out to seduce him emotionally as well, by letting him give her advice. She has, after all, no committment to evil per se, but only to power; if she can achieve it by benevolent means, with Blake's help, so much the better. In the long run the scheme is unsuccessful. Servalan reluctantly plans to terminate Blake, but he foils her and escapes, even though the drugs she has used on him mean that he is addicted to her forever.
I wish this one had been longer! The problem with a Servalan/Blake scenario is that, unlike the case of Servalan/Avon, there's no canonical evidence for it. And since the pairing isn't written very often, there's not much af a fan canon either. I would have liked to see more buildup and exploration of why Servalan is interested in Blake sexually. In a way, it's like the problem of writing slash for characters who were explicitly presented in the canon as interested in the other sex. It can be done, but it takes a little extra effort. I'd also be curious as to what happens to poor Servalan- addicted Blake after this. Well, maybe the author will write a sequel.
"Mary Sue Strikes Back," by Judith Proctor, is a very funny one-pager, similar in feel to her "Mary Sue Writes Slash" in #2.
In "Negotiating Positions," author/editor Pat Jacquerie decided not to alter the story but to present it in its original form, from a never-to-be- finished round robin. I'm glad that she decided to do it that way, because the side comments are wonderful. As most of you will recall, the PGP frame story has Our Heroes captured and treated with an interrogation drug that makes them talk-- about everything, mostly sex. Soolin tells the tale of her visit with Avon to a planet dominated by women, to the amazement of Vila, Tarrant, and Dayna, who all have amusing things to say. "Avon's face was a study in mixed emotions, teetering precariously between annoyance at the destruction of his privacy and the satisfaction of a male ego fed to the bursting point. He looked like a tomcat undecided whether to spit or to purr." I love this story.
The final story in the zine is Riley Cannon's "In This Lonely Place," a sweet, sad PGP in which Blake and Soolin console each other over the apparent death of Avon. Like "Orpheus Dreams" in #2, this story is not explicit, but it seems to me to belong here anyway, since the sexual union of the two main characters is the central event of the story. Beautifully written, with a wistful mood that makes it a nice end piece-- and with a little reprieve for Avon fans, I'm happy to say.
On the whole the zine is very nicely laid out, compact but easy to read; but I have some small complaints. For two stories, "The End of the Play" and "Misdirection," an illo for the story appears on the very last page, so that it's actually facing the next thing rather than the story it goes with. I would prefer to have the illo somewhere within the story, as was indeed done in "Affinities." For "Anna," one of the more haunting of Val's sexy Avon pictures was used as a frontispiece, and that was a nice effect too.
There are three serious poems, "Crown of Thorns" by Liz Sharpe and "Absent Friends" and "I Need to Kill Her Myself" by Susan Bennett. I liked all three of these very much and would have liked it if they had been given greater prominence-- perhaps on a separate page, maybe even with an illustration if possible, rather than just filling in the end of a page after a story. This is fine for the limericks, which work nicely as a little counter-balance to the stories; but I think it detracts from the longer poems, which I'd prefer to see given more prominence. "Freedom," the Blake/Jenna filk by Vanessa Mullen, was also nice; I would have liked to see an indication of what the tune is.
I really liked the little male and female symbols that were used instead of asterisks or other devices for dividing sections of stories. What a clever idea!
Nonfiction items include Letters of Comment and an article by me, "More of the Same," listing het stories in other zines.
Once again, a really excellent zine.
"The End of the Play" by Cami: (Tarrant/Anna Grant) I never would have thought of a Tarrant/Anna pairing. And what a plot! Tarrant was very like himself, I thought, nicely extrapolated. My favorite lines were "...[Tarrant] was operating on sheer nerve and a touch of the kamikaze," (p. 16) and Anna describing Tarrant's smile as "positively lethal," (p. 21).
"Hunting Girls" by Rhapsodie: (Vila/Zee/Barr) What a blast, right down to the throwaway when Cally senses Vila's orgasm several light years away. The Meegat sequence was delightful--"My Lord, I regret I do not know how to release your shining lightning bolt from its housing," (p. 38). I loved all of the hilarious metaphors. Zee and Barr were a riot, and perfectly in character. My other favorite line is "Vila didn't have many morals, but the occasional one would sometimes rise up and niggle at him..." (p. 41).
"Affinities" by Misha: (Jenna/Tarrant) It's rare to find a story that delves into Jenna so deeply and so well. Does the little shock Tarrant feels when he touches Jenna have something to do with Zen, or was it purely physical? I really liked the way Jenna spoke about Blake and Avon. This story also had a lovely illo on page 57, by Randym, a nice conglomeration of curves and angles.
"Morning Glory" by Aurora: (Cally/Tarrant) All characters were written masterfully, with extraordinary dialogue. The little snatch of Vila's pov at the beginning was so good I wanted to whimper. I also loved him spinning tales to Tarrant. And when Vila is analyzing Avon's behavior: "Vila recognized Avon's mood with increased misgivings. Avon was feeling cheerful," (p. 117)...snicker. As far as the actual relationship in the story goes, I liked, "It was strange but rather sweet, [Tarrant's] idea that [Cally] might need his deliberate assistance," (p. 113). Poor Cally's frustration with Tarrant's endurance is just so cute. And it's really nice when Tarrant is such a gentleman at the end: "Look me up in about 10 years, will you?" (p. 118).
"Negotiating Position" by Pat Jacquerie: (Soolin/Avon) So far, this is the one I've read more than once. The frame story had me cackling, particularly Dayna's reactions to Soolin's having kept a secret, and the part when Avon is resembling a tomcat. The comparison of Avon's skills at sex, "scientific exactitude," (p. 127), to his skills with machines struck me as very erotic, but I'm not sure why. He's most amusing when he's initially unwilling, and then...vavoom. Simple fun. Soolin was the perfect choice for this, I can see Avon trusting her to see him like that.
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