Southern Comfort 4.75

SOUTHERN COMFORT #4.75 (slash, mostly A/V)
Editor: Ann Wortham
Publisher: Ashton Press
Date: September 1988


R. L. Parker, "Return" (A/V)
Masha Romanova, "No Redemption" (A/V)
Barbara Tennison, "Lost Perfection" (A/V)
Victoria Towers, "Quietus" (A/V)
Lora Rene, "The Way It Might Have Been" (V/A in C's body)
Sister Mary Veronica, "Auron Fantasy #1," "Auron Fantasy#2" "Auron Fantasy #3" (based on Cerebus)
R. L. Parker, "Light of Day" (A/V)
Chris Kessler, "The Watcher" (A/V)
Jane Carnall, "A Lesson Well Learnt" (A/V)
R. L. Parker, "Feeding the Fire" (A/V)
Sean Charles, "Nothing Left to Lose" (A/V)
Maree Celeste, "Remembrance" (A/V)
Jane Carnall, "This Neurotic Little Worry" (A/V)
Tenaya, "Flying Colors" (A/V)
Scorpio and Syl Newell, "Not with a Bang, But a Whimper" (A/V)
Paula, "Stress Factors" (A/Ta)
Barbara Tennison, "Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer" (A/V)
Ebony Silver, "Bloodlust" (A/V)
Catocala, "Playing on the Edge" (A/V/K; Last Stand universe)


Letters of Comment
"Traffic Lights Too!" (humor)


Scorpio front cover, color V

Adrian Morgan p. 82 A-V; illo for
"Nothing Left to Lose"
? (Scorpio?) p. 104 A/V
Leah Rosenthal back cover V & fox


Southern Comfort 4.75
Ashton Press 1988
Slash zine 188 pages

This is an edition for Avon and Vila fans as barely anyone else gets a look in, the exception being "Stress Factors" where Cally and Blake also get their share of fun and anguish. Most of the stories are well worth reading, even where they cover familiar territory, and there are a couple of real gems by Barbara Tennison and Catocala.

Tiresomely there are also the seemingly inevitable ones portraying Vila as helpless, hopeless, and constantly awash with tears, an uncritical specimen for whom Avon can do no real wrong. I enjoy hurt/comfort a lot and have nothing against emotional outbursts where the text justifies it, but everlasting sobbing just destroys any emotional impact a story might have. More restraint would do wonders for effectiveness . And while I'm on the subject, must Vila meekly forgive Avon when what his beloved desperately needs is a punch on the mouth (IMHO anyway, and I don't care how much Anna hurt him).

To start with the two gems:
"Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer" Barbara Tennison

This is an utterly delightful tale, my favourite in the zine, in which Vila and Avon find themselves at a loose end on a rainy planet and decide to go burgling for the hell of it. Vila demonstrates his professional skills and Avon is along for the ride. Ms Tennison's writing is always perceptive, whether the story is serious or light hearted, and this example is typically witty and endearing.

"Playing on the Edge" Catocala

A short Last Stand story by one of my favourite writers. It starts with a threesome between Avon, Vila and Kerril and ends on a conversation between Avon and Kerril about their earlier lives. Mutual tenderness tempered with humour. A story whose excellent characterisation and intelligent dialogue leaves you with a nice warm glow.

"Return" RL Parker

Yet again Vila has been hurt by Avon - in this case, shot by accident - and needs reassurance, lots of it. Vila cries so much that West Yorkshire Water Authority would do well to employ him to fill reservoirs, and Avon does the (in)decent thing.

"No Redemption" Masha Romanova

Post Orbit story which predicates a fifteen year relationship between Avon and Vila. Vila senses Avon is on the edge of madness and Avon ultimately gets vulnerable.

"Lost Perfection" Barbara Tennison

Classy, touching short story told by Vila in the first person. Avon drops in for a supportive chat after Vila has lost Kerril. Here Vila is unhappy without being abject, tearful without being pathetic, and Avon is Avonish. Hurt/comfort for grown ups.

"Quietus" Victoria Towers

Multiple kleenex job in less than two pages. Avon and Vila are about to be executed and comfort one another. Sweetly sentimental and why not? Some of us out here ARE sentimental on occasion.

"The Way it Might Have Been" Lora Rene

Inspired by a scene in "Trust, Like the Soul". Avon is trapped in Cally's body, and Vila gives him a hand in getting used to being a woman. Not as contrived as it sounds, as Avon remains recognisably Avon in character.

Auron Fantasy (poem)

I don't usually comment on poetry but "Auron Fantasy" is pithy and breathtakingly effective in its use of language, all nine words of it. A giggle.

"Light of Day" R L Parker

After Malodaar Vila leaves Xenon base with a deathwish. Avon gets him back inside and realises his true feelings. Vila is predictably hapless but doesn't cry much until the next day. Avon is quite touched.

"The Watcher" Chris Kessler

Longer PGP in which the Xenon crew are "rescued" by a hostile rebel crew out to avenge Blake. They meet up with Jenna and are ultimately sent off on a mission. Vila's love for Avon has been unrequited and Vila is very wary of him, but times change. Avon then upsets him badly and for once Vila doesn't promptly forgive him. . This is quite an interesting saga and presents a more malign view of Avon than is usual in such stories, but the tone is uneven as if the writer couldn't decide between a harsh or happy ending.

"A Lesson Well Learnt" Jane Carnall

Light-hearted two-pager. A caring Blake is worried Avon might be abusing Vila.

"Feeding the Fire" R L Parker

After he and Cally are rescued from Changa, Vila is worried that Avon is stressed out. Avon initially rejects his advances but has second thoughts. This time he's the one to get uncharacteristically emotional.

"Nothing Left to Lose" Sean Charles

After Malodaar Vila goes after Avon with a gun and takes him by surprise. A neat two-pager.

"Remembrance" Maree Celeste

Very enjoyable story. Following Gan's death, Vila and Avon converse over a few glasses of soma and reveal more than they meant to. Sensitively written with sentiment implied rather than sloshed on in bucketfulls; emotions are certainly in play, but both men are allowed to act like adults, insofar as they ever do.

"This Neurotic Little Worry" Jane Carnall

Avon takes Vila for granted and Vila tells him where to get off. Reconciliation follows but has Avon really got the point?

"Flying Colours" Tenaya

This one begins on Xenon base, where Vila sees Avon is increasingly moody and dangerously unpredictable, then carries on after Malodaar as Avon tries to make amends. Many post-Orbit stories give wildly unconvincing reasons for Vila's forgiving Avon, but "Flying Colours" makes a better job of it than many, emphasising as it does both men's human confusion and fallibility.

"Not with a Bang, But a Whimper" Scorpio and Syl Newell

More light relief as Vila takes an aphrodisiac with unusual properties, becoming the crew's saviour as a result, and ultimately getting his reward.

"Stress Factors" Paula

This is a sequel to one of my favourite zines "The Bondstone" so I was predisposed to like it. Its 46 pages take up the story three weeks after the Bondstone, in which Vila, Avon , Cally and Blake became bonded. Avon is having problems adjusting to the bond, problems which leads him into danger. Tarrant and Servalan also feature heavily, Dayna less so, and Soolin is barely mentioned. I didn't feel this had the emotional impact of its predecessor, though it's certainly well worth reading. The plot felt rather contrived IMHO, especially where Tarrant is concerned, but then you could say the same about the original. If you like wallows and loved the Bondstone, you might be slightly disappointed; if you prefer a little more action with your protestations of love/renunciation or whatever, you should enjoy it.

"Bloodlust" Ebony Silvers

Avon is attacked by a vampire with inevitable results and tries to deal with it privately, frightened lest he attack the crew. Vila guesses what has happened and decides he has to act. This is one of the stories that has Avon as a caring human being, which you may or may not believe. Not a particularly original story but well -written.

Last updated on 04th of February 2001

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