Editor: Ann Wortham
Publisher: Ashton Press
Date: September 1987

Jane Carnall, "Civilized Terror"
Ingrid Montrose & B. J. Benson, "Opportunities"
Tenaya, "In the Cage"
Paula, "Ill-Gotten Gains"
London Bates, "Not in Death nor Sleep Repose"
Erica Leonard, "Mended Dream" (sequel to Broken Fantasy)
Barbara Tennison, "Revenant"
Ellis Ward, "A Question of Trust"
Bobbi Withers, "Torn Between the Blessing and the Curse"
J. D. Reece, "Privacy"
Henrietta Street, "Payment in Kind"
Catocala, "How Much Love" (Last Stand universe)
Catocala, "Long Way from the Edge" (Last Stand universe)
(Leah Rosenthal) front cover A & V
back cover A & V
p. 30 A/V
? p. 9 cartoon

Review by CB

Ashton Press 1987 - 76 pages staple bound paper cover

Contents: Civilised Terror by Jane Carnall
Opportunities by Ingrid Montrose and B.J.Benson
In the Cage by Tenaya
Ill-gotten gains by Paula
Not in Death nor Sleep Repose by London Bates
Mended Dream by Erica Leonard
Revenant by Barbara Tennison
A Question of Trust by Ellis Ward
Torn between the Blessing and the Curse by Bobbi Withers
Privacy by J.D.Reece
Payment in Kind by Henrietta Street
How Much Love by Catocala
Long Way from the Edge by Catocala

This zine is entirely A/V. The good news for A/V fans is that none of the stories are duds and most are excellent. Unusually in an exclusively A/V zine there are no Orbit stories - now that just ain't natural.

In "Civilised Terror" Avon takes up Vila's invitation. Vila gets hold of the wrong end of the stick and Avon is predictably less than thrilled by his response. The story revolves around their ambivalent feelings for one another and has a happy ending.

"Opportunities" is a lighthearted story in which Avon persuades Vila to break into a bank vault. Things get out of hand when they are unexpectedly interrupted, and Avon kisses Vila to stop him betraying their presence (well, what else could he do?). Events quickly come to a climax before they make their escape.

At the start of "In the Cage" Vila is grieving for Gan, and also worried at the loss of his protection; he feels threatened by the Liberator's Alpha contingent. Avon is concerned, bless him, and realises he misses Vila's company. Then he realises he is missing more than company, but how will Vila, with his history of victimisation, react to Avon's advances?

"Ill-gotten Gains" is great fun. Immediately after Gambit, Avon and Vila stash their winnings and then proceed to more pressing matters. Their relationship is amiable, teasing, and reflected in the quick cut and thrust of their dialogue. The ending however is quietly ominous.

Avon and Blake have been lovers in "Not in Death nor Sleep Repose", but now it is three days since Aftermath and Avon is missing him. There is a mysterious noise in the depths of the ship, Vila and Avon become lovers. It would give away the plot to say what they find when they investigate.

"Mended Dream" is a sequel to "Broken Fantasy" in Quicksilver Rising 4. In the original story Avon tried to make love to Vila, whom he thought would welcome the experience, but Vila saw it as attempted rape and rejected him. Now, after Anna's death, Vila tries to help his anguished colleague. Avon has got uncharacteristically drunk, Vila is uncharacteristically bold and gives him a few home truths - Avon really needs to get a grip, not necessarily on himself of course - about acknowledging needs, caring, tenderness, the usual in these scenarios. Ultimately they have another go, and in the end Avon admits to needing a nice, warm Delta- ahh!

"Revenant" is another goodie from a reliable writer, but sadly it's only two and a half pages long. This too is post-Anna's death. Avon is shattered by Anna's betrayal and turns to Vila whose advances have not previously interested him. He needs Vila to take a lead and Vila responds suitably.

The plot of "A Question of Trust" contrives to place Avon and Vila, who are not and have never been lovers, in a situation in which they have to have sex with each other or get killed. Avon has his own reasons for wanting to go through with it. Vila has been abused many times in the past and blames Avon for their situation. Contrived though the plot is, the scenes between the two men are pretty good, and this is an enjoyable story.

"Torn between the Blessing and the Curse" is post-Anna's death for the third time. Vila had looked after Avon following the original embezzlement, and tries to help him recover in the usual way. He kisses his friend to show him he's not dead yet, Avon is suspicious of his motives but responds to loving and those big brown eyes.

"Privacy" may be the best story in the zine. It takes place three days after Dorian's cellar and begins with Vila looking, with understandable apprehension, for Avon. The first section is told by Vila and the mixture of humour, anxiety and savviness which pervades it is absolutely right. Both men are heaving with conflicting emotions. While showing concern for Avon, Vila is nevertheless scared of him and suspects he may be psychotic; however he is also afraid of Avon might leave him alone with the others. Avon is his usual fraught self, but more so. Will he accept help, or will he come down hard, or both?

On Xenon Vila is fast developing an ulcer - it took this long?- and having problems opening a store room lock in "Payment in Kind". He is intercepted by an inebriated Avon, who has knocked back half a bottle of 100-year old whisky to get up the courage to proposition Vila, or so he says. (Speaking as a whisky drinker, I an shocked to think that Avon of all people would treat 100 year old whisky thus - tut, tut) He and Vila almost get it together, lose it, but the need for comfort triumphs in the end. Vila manipulates Avon for his own good. Vila and his ulcer get the treatment they need.

The last two stories are both set in the Last Stand universe, hurrah. Kerril is putting pressure on Vila to ask Avon to consummate the bond all three share in "How Much Love". Vila is apprehensive abut Avon's reaction and at first tries to sidestep the issue. There seems to be a communication problem here, so what else is new? However it all ends in group hugs. The adventure continues in the beguiling "Long Way from the Edge". The plot is very simple; Kerril sends Avon and Vila off on a soil safari, ostensibly to see why the land won't support agriculture, but we know better don't we? They sit and talk and eventually declare their love for one another, followed by a demonstration. Simple and beautifully written.

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