Avon 4

Reviewed by CB

Published by the Avon/Paul Darrow Society 1993

A5 digest card cover staple bound 68pp

This edition contains two stories from Judith Rolls and two from Judith Seaman. It opens with the superlative "The Way Things Are" by Judith R., in which Vila recounts in flashback what happened to him and Avon in the years following GP. This is eminently NOT a sentimental story, but a harrowing tale that grips the reader because it has the ring of authenticity and is exceptionally well told. This is not a tearjerker awash with tears and declarations of hidden love (not that I don't enjoy those too) but a realistic and mature view of what the likely outcome would have been. The relationship between the two men is all the more moving because of the writer's restraint. This has to be one of the best Avon - Vila stories around.

Ms Rolls' second story "Strategic Withdrawal" is also told from Vila's point of view. It is set pre-series in the Delta domes and describes an initial encounter between Vila, who is busy thieving, and Avon acting in a rather unexpected official capacity. This too is spot on for character and very well told. The first of Judith Seaman's stories "Phoenix" takes place several years after GP. Avon has been incarcerated alone on a planet, and Vila has sunk into destitution, when Servalan takes a hand. As the title suggests, this has a more upbeat ending than you might expect.

The second one "Neither Foes nor Loving Friends can Hurt You" is also some years on from GP. The crew are still operating on GP but having potentially fatal technical problems because of interference from Blake beyond the grave. The plot device allows the crew to acknowledge their feelings towards Avon and the debts they owe him by helping him against Blake's malignant ghost (poor Blake; well, this is a Judith Seaman story, he should be used to it by now). Both these stories are written to the usual high standard.

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