Review by Predatrix
The Other Side 2. Slightly less "fluffy" than the first issue, although still rather too tasteful in places for me. The xBryn stories and the Sebastian story are my favourites in this issue.
So Easy to Give (A/B) -- Sebastian
A piece from Sebastian's early period, far less bleak than her later work. This is a simple PWP about Blake seducing Avon after a party, and in any other hands it would be a hopeless fluff. The quality of the writing makes it work, and makes it suggest a mood as well as just sex. Excellent illo by xBryn.
The Slave Pits of Ursa Minor (Se/Tr) -- xBryn Lantry
A splendidly dark and twisted story with an unusual view of an unusual relationship. As in _Amber Ambiguities_, xBryn characterises Travis fairly sympathetically and makes him far from the cardboard villain of some fanfic. xBryn's lovely full-page nude Travis is the perfect accompaniment: bringing out all the unexpected _beau laid_ grace that her story's Servalan sees in him.
Knight Takes Knight (A/B) -- London Bates
The editors call this a poem, but it's really a short dialogue piece (note: something does not become a poem because it has lines of irregular length and is less than a page long). Fluff, but nice fluff: I find myself warming to London Bates's writing when she's at her least ambitious and most playful, and the _stichomythia_ effect is rather nice. I like the consistent tone of... affectionate irritation, one might call it.
You Get What You Pay For (A/ocf) - Marie Celeste
I *hate* this one. A PWP: Avon is picked up by a fairly posh, fairly nervous, young girl who mistakes him for a prostitute. He initiates her with tact, charm, manners and unfailing gentleness (all of these characteristics tend to be stated by the author rather than shown in action). Like the A/D in the first issue, it seems to be more about the idea of an experienced man gently initiating a virgin than about the characters - and the use of an original character makes it even less about personal relationships than that one! Sorry about the rant, but (as well as preferring slash to het), I read fanfic for characterisation, sex, emotions, complexity, and humour, and I can't see any of that here. Maybe someone who likes the story could give a conflicting view?
Pale Lost Lilies (A/Anna) - xBryn Lantry
Ah, now this is something more like it. Avon thinking about Anna. Avon unable to forget about Anna. Avon doing Disgusting Things (unspecified) with a prostitute in order to forget about Anna - but failing to forget. Dowson's poem, heavily quoted (including the title), is marvellously effective in this context: "... I am desolate and sick of an old passion/I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! after my fashion."
More Than Gratefully (A/V) - Julie Kramer
Avon saves Vila's life and Vila offers himself in return. A bit of a sentimental wallow, and a bit too much of a "Soppy Wobbly Vila" story for me. As usual, People Who Like That Sort Of Thing will like this.
Ghosts and Ghouls (Avon/Anna) - xBryn Lantry
The famous "necrophilia" story (although suggested rather than stated) - Avon soliloquising Anna's corpse. Very much like Browning's _Porphyria's Lover_ in suggesting that only her death can give the lover absolute and unconditional possession of his beloved (although the fact that Anna wanted to kill him adds an extra twist to this). Packs a hell of a punch into three pages.
Mirror Among The Stars (gen) -- Janet Kragg
A "mirror universe" tale, in which in one universe Servalan and the Feds are "Good" and Blake's rebels "Evil", and in the other universe the other way round. Reads like Trek forced onto b7, but then I like the idea that b7 dealt with moral grey areas that more traditional telly sf didn't (and Classic Trek made a big thing of this "good vs evil" "mirror universe" concept. Am not sure whether later Trek universes used it or not).
Doing Time (B/just about everyone, but ending up with an A/B/V menage) - London Bates
Long ambitious novella that doesn't work for me (as noted before, I think Big Ideas make London Bates's writing fall flat on its face) but devotees of the more wildly romantic parts of her writing will love it (especially the weepie ending). This is the Blake-as-Bull-Alpha story (i.e. genetically-engineered to be very potent and very macho). Well, I think it's a lot of bull, myself, but don't let that stop you if the idea entertains you...
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last changed on 21st of December 2007