Following on from 'Descending Horizon' from Resistance #2 there are three interconnected stories by Sylvia Knight - 'Shards' (set pre-series), 'A Friend in Need' (after Countdown - B/V, a very rare item, and not bad at all, though poor Vilakins is so blatantly second-choice), and 'On The Edge' (pre-Star One, A/B, and even more explosive and intense than the earlier story). All three men are well, if quite harshly, portrayed, and the emotion between Our Heroes is a satisfying mix of passion and vitriol, though I did miss the humour of the series. Recommended, especially the last.
M Fae Glasgow has two stories, 'Prick Up Your Ears' and 'Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder' both A/V. Unfortunately, though I recognise the exceptional quality of her writing, I have the same problem as in her stories in Oblaque - I don't recognise the characters. Much of the dialogue is clever, but the voices never ring true for me, especially Avon and Blake. This is, however, a very personal reaction based on differing views of the series, and lovers of A/V should get a lot out of these two stories.
'The Final Run' (post-Rumours A/V) and 'A Price to Pay' (A/B, post-Horizon) are quite good PWPs, readable but not out of the ordinary.
The final story, 'A Feast of Bacchanalia', is a rich A/B set on Destiny after Blake has won his revolution. The character called the Margravine' is a bit off-putting for me (I get annoyed by sages of any age or description) but Blake and Avon are well done, older, perhaps a smidgen wiser, but still definitely themselves, and I really liked this story.
Shards (A as child) -- Sylvia Knight
Stunningly powerful & wrenching story that despite no overt sex is more adult than most sex stories. This author has a lucid style (with occasional lyrical touches) and an ability to write internal description without drifting into bad writing. She also never lets the POV slip (not faint praise at all after the "wobbly" POV all-too-prevalent in other zine stories, including some from this). The implicit child-abuse plot is chilling, and A's evil brother is a worthy villain: a nascent puppeteer with decadent tastes, he treats the family circle as a private brothel. Don't miss this story whatever other 'zine you miss. Also fits in a cycle with two other stories in this issue and *Descending Horizon* -- Resistance 2.
A Friend in Need (B/V) -- Sylvia Knight
Very few people can make this pairing work, but Sylvia Knight puts in enough accuracy and characterisation to do it. Again, rather a lot of internal character-describing-his-emotions stuff but she makes that work, too. The friendly half-drunken tumble is surely handled, and Knight doesn't put a foot wrong throughout (apart from the occasional Americanism, but that's personal taste: as a Brit, I can't hear "I like most everything" in Blake's voice. It's just not idiomatic anywhere but the States). But despite that, and despite using a relationship that won't be central for most readers, this story works. Same sequence as the last. Don't miss.
On the Edge (A/B) -- Sylvia Knight
A fitting, and wrenching, climax to the sequence. It's much more painful to watch Avon's dark-and-twisted psyche at work knowing the backstory from *Shards.* Dark psychology and hot sex: rather like an *Oblaque* story really. Which is, of course, praise. One for tragedy fans: through no fault of their own, the characters have fallen in love with the wrong people -- each other -- and any closeness can only be temporary. I'm not a tragedy fan, but I love these stories anyway.
A Price to Pay (A/B) -- Northwest Smith
Suffers inevitably from comparison with what went before, as Smith is (IMO) a competent rather than a brilliant writer. This is a h/c story where sex leads Avon to show rather more of his vulnerability than he's comfortable with to Blake. The story's a PWP with, strangely enough, blink-and-you'd-miss-it actual sex: the impetus of the story is in the dangerous swoops and swerves of emotions, vulnerability and power-dynamic in the seduction, there's a tucked-away sentence to the effect that They Did It on the next-to-last page. This will only matter to Irremediably Shallow readers like me, who like to see the characterisation carry on while They're Doing It, but there we are. The strength of Smith's writing is that she's one of the few writers who can carry off a friendly give-and-take in the A/B relationship father than everything being neck-or-nothing dominance battles. This isn't what I'd call her best story, but I like it. The pacing doesn't seem perfect, which I notice in a PWP -- could have been more convincing, and the POV slips between the characters, but all in all a good workmanlike story with a strong hurt/comfort element.
The Final Run -- Quale (A/V)
Didn't get round to reading this, which may not have been its particular fault. I'm an A/B fan and also cannot stand the poor typography in this zine.
Prick up your Ears -- -M. Fae Glasgow (A/V)
A rare early fluff by M.Fae, but has its moments. The idea is that Vila has dominant tendencies & likes talking dirty in bed, particularly because it drives his prim-and-proper Alpha so spectacularly demented...
Absence makes the Heart grow Fonder -- M. Fae Glasgow (A/V)
A good, plotty, optimistic PGP is the next early work by the Miscellaneous Caledonian, in which Avon has been conditioned by Servalan to betray and try to kill his friends. These stories don't have the gloomy psychological Oblique feel, so I wouldn't advise Ob fans to buy this zine for them, but they are good.
A Feast of Bacchanalia -- the Fifth Amendment (A/B)
Another basically optimistic PGP (also involving a conditioned Avon) with a strong lyrically-romantic quality. She's picked up on the agricultural planet Destiny (_Mission to Destiny_), and since we didn't see the planet she's free to invent a social background and a religion with Apollonian and Dionysic aspects. Avon is a very repressed near-virgin while Blake is straightforwardly bi and in love with him. Can he overcome A's tendency to crawl into a computer every time intimacy threatens? Can A accept that his fear of intimacy is blocking his ability to do his work? Can they both sort things out in time to enjoy a very Bacchanalian festival? An excellent story, especially considering that it was this author's first. Less difference between this and her later stories than in M.Fae's work in this 'zine and _Oblaque_: the basic tone of lyrical romanticism is fairly similar. Both she and her sister Bryn take liberties with the language, but I find Bryn a far better stylist.
Sylvia Knight, "Shards" (A/oc)
Sylvia Knight, "A Friend in Need" (B/V)
Sylvia Knight, "On the Edge" (A/B)
Northwest Smith, "A Price to Pay" (A/B)
Quale, "The Final Run" (A/V)
M. Fae Glasgow, "Prick Up Your Ears" (A/V)
M. Fae Glasgow, "Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder" (A/V)
The Fifth Amendment, (aka Melody Clark) "A Feast of Bacchanalia" (A/B)
Dovya Blacque, "Those of Darkness" (A/B)
Dovya Blacque, "Confession, After a Fashion" (A/B)
Kami Saiid, "Pressure Point" (A/B)
Robin Hood, "The Enigmatic Man" (Avon)
Kami Saiid, "Voice from the Past" (Blake)
Taerie Bryant, "Vila" (A/V)
Lysi Strata, "Arrogant Alpha" (A/V)
Lysi Strata, "Devious Delta" (A/V)
Ty Downs, "The Terror of Love" (A/V)
Robin Hood, "Crush the Lily" (A/B)
Dovya Blacque, "One Word" (A/B)
Dovya Blacque, "Joined" (A/B)
Marilyn Cole cover (Avon)
Coyote p. 50 (A/B)
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Last updated on 26th of January 2000