'Triumvirate' by la belle femme. A pacy story with an original premise - Travis as the Deltan chief of security on the Aquatar Project, Blake as the lover who is attempting to radicalise Travis, Avon watching jealously from the sidelines. The twists and turns of the plot lead to a denouement where nobody wins and an evocative last paragraph': 'Roj Blake lay back on the bed in his quarters [on Liberator.] No one would ever know how much he remembered.'
'An Anodyne to Dreams' by Paula. Post-Maoldaar A/V. If you can believe in stories where Avon cries and then reveals that he only needed encouragement from Vila to indulge in full-blown sentiment, then this is a well-written example, creating convincing versions of the characters within a set of parameters that I, for one, can't believe.
'Bound by Trust' by Christopher Montclair. (With assistance and added vitriol from M. Fae Glasgow.) Another story that begins with Avon in tears, although this time he's weeping over the memory of his SM sessions with Anna, the only woman who ever understood him. Luckily, Blake turns out to have 'a secret desire to dominate the aloof and moody tech', although there's too much psychologising and too little psychological consistency for a no-holds-barred SM PWP and the point of view shifts too abruptly and too often.
'Sand in the Sheets' by Lorna Breshears. Soolin seduces Vila, to convince the sand that he is a dominant male, while Dayna seduces Avon, to make sure that the sand doesn't turn against him. A half-joking celebration of female supremacy - we learn that Avon avoids sex because he faints on orgasm and that the two women realised all along that they could simply sweep the sand into the teleport.
'Nightwatch' by Aida St. Dummot. Avon and Vila flirt and have sex during the nightwatch. An odd combination of raunchy and Mills Boon, not completely convincing on either count.
'None So Blind' by Jennifer Hurley. For reasons that remain obscure, Cally decides that Blake, currently her lover, needs to sleep with another man. When the crew visits a pleasure planet, she talks Avon into posing as a sex worker, blindfolding Blake and making love to him, with predictably disastrous results. The language is ungainly - at the moment of orgasm, described from Blake's blindfolded point of view, 'he released tenacious white ribbons of semen across the bedspread' - and the writer covers important developments in a single paragraph and then records long conversations about peripheral details. Avon's motivations are as obscure as Cally's and the story as a whole neither fits into the series nor departs from it in any radical or provocative sense.
'A Fool and his Money' by Aida St. Dummot. Vila uses some of the money he wins at the Big Wheel to buy a night with Avon. This sounds like the premise for a pleasantly amoral PWP but the story instantly sidetracks into dealing with Avon's fear of sex, after being raped on the London. Within minutes Avon is 'finding tranquility and strength in following Vila's guidance', as Vila undermines his defences and convinces Avon that he has been 'woefully inadequate as a lover', until he had the chance to 'get it from a Delta'. Vila is not only more sexually skilled, he's also more loving. When he finally reveals that he took on the London rapists, in order to spare Avon, he assumes an almost saintly dimension that the story never really recovers from.
'Primal Male' by Christopher Montclair. I don't usually like the idea of warnings at the start of stories, because they seem too much like spoilers, but I wouldn't have minded a rape warning at the start of this one. Learning that Tarrant made love to Servalan on Virn, Avon teleports down and rapes her 'raw and bleeding rectum'. Servalan initially experiences 'humiliation and pain' but before long she's loving it and begging for it. I suspect a lot of women would find this so physiologically and psychologically unlikely that it becomes distasteful. (Well, I did, at any rate.)
'The Nature of the Beast' by Winona Symonds. Avon, 'hiding a fierce, passionate love behind a facade of black leather and indifference', nearly pushes Vila out of that airlock because he finds it easier than saying 'the words that would have bound Vila to him for life.' Avon then catches Tarrant beating Vila, beats Tarrant (who loves it) and heads off to confront Vila, who whimpers at the sight of the bloody belt and thereby wins Avon's heart. Confusing? Never mind. Avon also utters lines like, 'Shut up with the class crap,' which means that this one of those stories with only a tangential relationship to the B7 series, so there's no need to try and make sense of the characterisation.
'Speak No Evil' by Ailsa Craig. When Avon discovers Vila masturbating in his hiding place on Xenon Base, he is lured into reactivating their sexual relationship. A densely written story, tracking both men's internal analyses of the situation - in line with the title, there is no dialogue at all. The lavish use of metaphor is sometimes apt and sometimes a little odd - for example, Avon sees Vila's love as 'a parasol for his soul' - but Craig is trying for some interesting and unusual effects, even though she occasionally goes right over the top.
'Discoveries' by Aida St. Dummott. After the confrontation with Anna, when Avon fails to teleport, Cally senses his thoughts - a deep regret for 'the refusal of a purifying love from first Blake and then Vila.' So she and Vila seduce him and teach him to trust, after which Cally backs off and leaves the two men together. There are some nice moments, although by the end of the story the author seems to have forgotten that Avon was devastated and suicidal in the beginning.
Nova, March 2000.
la belle femme, "Triumvirate" (A/B/Tr)
Paula, "An Anodyne to Dreams" (A/V)
Christopher Montclair, "Bound by Trust" (A/B)
Anon, "Sand in the Sheets" (adult; A/D, V/So)
Aida St. Dummont, "Nightwatch" (A/V)
Jennifer Hurley, "None So Blind" (B/C, A/B)
Aida St. Dummont, "A Fool and his Money" (A/V)
Christopher Montclair, "Primal Male" (A/Se)
Winona Symonds, "The Nature of the Beast" (A/Ta/V)
Ailsa Craig, "Speak No Evil" (A/V)
Aida St. Dummont, "Discoveries" (A/C/V)
Gene S. Delapenia, "Mine Alone" (?A/B?)
Gene S. Delapenia, "Untitled #30" (?A/B?)
la belle femme, "Cool Smooth Stone" (A/B)
Gene S. Delapenia, "Listen" (V?)
Gene S. Delapenia, "Too Long" (A/B)
Phoenix covers A w/ roses & gun, front & back
p. 41 A/B (illo for "Bound by Trust")
p. 132 A/V, C (illo for "Discoveries")
dya p. 23 B
p. 33 V
p. 106 A
p. 126 A
Adrian Morgan p. 27 A
Lyndon Baines p. 99 Bizarro cartoon, A-V
Leah Rosenthal p. 107 "Tea and Cynicism" (A, B, V)
Review of Avon Calling 3
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