This is probably going to sound ridiculously gushy, but the truth is the title story of this zine absolutely knocked my socks off. It's basically an alternate ending to the episode "Hostage": in this version, Blake is captured by the Federation and shipped back to Earth, where a guilt-ridden Avon comes to rescue him only to discover that the Federation has already done something terrible to him... This is a premise with a *lot* of potential, and Lovett makes good on all of it. She's captured the Blake-Avon relationship here in all its intense, complex, angst-filled glory, and she's done it with a wonderfully deft subtlety. Avon and Blake are perfectly characterized, the emotional intensity between them never made too obvious or explicit, but conveyed between the perpetually-sniping lines just as it was in the best Blake-Avon moments of the TV series. That by itself would make this story well worth reading, even if it had nothing else going for it. But it's also got smooth, professional-quality writing and an exciting plot (since it's obvious from the outset that this is an AU story, and Our Heroes are by no means guaranteed to get out of it unscathed). I read this story in one eager sitting, and it left me with a big smile on my face for the rest of the day and a desire to re-read it again soon. It's great stuff, and I can't recommend it enough.
In fact, the only problem with the title story is that it was *so* good that it kind of makes the other stories in this zine -- which would probably be standouts in any other collection -- pale a bit by comparison. (Though I'm sure that in my case, this wasn't helped by the fact that they're all set in the third season or later, and I'm far less familiar with the second half of the show's run than I am with the first.)
The second story, "Lightbridge," is just a short, plotless scene set sometime in the third season, in which Avon visits Blake's quarters on the _Liberator_ for the first time and discovers something interesting that Blake had apparently built in there. It's well written, the metaphor of the "lightbridge" is a rather appealing one (if perhaps a little obvious), and once again the characterization of Avon is subtle and nicely done.
Next is "Doppelganger," in which Avon, at Avalon's request, makes contact with Blake's clone. Lovett does a good job with the clone, emphasizing both his similarities and his differences to the "real" Blake, and an equally good job with Avon's ambivalent reactions to both. There are also some bits of post-"Orbit" Avon-Vila interaction which I quite liked, as well. It's not quite as well-paced as "The Road to Hell," and I found the Avon-clone interaction somewhat less compelling than the Avon-Blake interplay in the first story, but still very good stuff.
The fourth story, "Circle of Fire," is a short alternate version of "Blake" about which, for spoiler reasons, the less said the better, probably. But I *will* say that I found it to pack quite an emotional punch.
Finally, we have "Gemini Rising," an interesting story about an intense, idealistic, and very familiar-seeming young man who dares to take a stand against the injustices of his government. It's all about youthful ideals -- losing them, finding them, and realizing that they're not as clear-cut and simple as you'd hoped -- and about how much one person can change over the course of a lifetime. It does a good job with those themes, and with the portrayal of familiar characters at a previously unfamiliar time in their lives. It also features some truly wonderful, sharply written dialog.
Add to all of this a beautiful cover featuring a very well-rendered Avon and two different aspects of Blake, as well as a few other nice pieces of artwork, and you've got one hell of a zine. In case it's not already blindingly obvious from the glowing comments above, I definitely recommend this zine, especially if, like me, you find the complex, ambiguous relationship between Blake and Avon to be one of the central attractions of the show... even when Blake isn't actually around.
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Last updated on 13th of July 1999.