Susan Mathews

Mini Review By Sarah Thompson

No, not her pro novels, the second of which has just come out, but her fannish classics.

Look for these zines at used zine sales. If the price is at all reasonable (say around $10-$15 for a zine in good condition), grab them. They are well worth it either for the stories alone, or for the art alone (especially if you are lucky enough to score a copy of =Shadowplay= with the Karen River color cover of the painting nicknamed "To Die For" by those who saw it in reality).

The first of the interior illos in =Brother of Shadows= would presumably make the zine ineligible to be seen in public at Deliverance; which is ironic indeed considering that, so I'm told, all the illos for the zine were personally vetted by Paul Darrow, who liked them very much.

In an introduction to the zine, the author mentions that she is now giving up fan fiction to work on her original fiction.

Review By Sally Manton

A very very good AU story built around the relationship between Avon and Blake - with one enormous flaw.

Any fan of Avon-torture must enjoy this one. The whole premise of the story is built on his suffering the most appalling agony at Servalan's hands - to put it as non-spoilingly as possible, the torture is almost entirely mental and emotional, and tied very tightly to the close relationship - the love - between him and Blake, which is turned against them both. And the story follows the results of that torture.

Both men are well-written (though I would have preferred a little more reserve in Blake, who was a *touch* too sentimental over Avon for my tastes) and the fierce bond between them very believable. The other characters are quite well-done, especially (in my opinion) Tarrant, who comes over as brash and irritating, but also quite likeable and sympathetic, not an easy mixture to achieve. Vila is a little duller than I like him, somewhat humourless, but not too bad. Servalan is even nastier than in the series, a mixture of sadism, slightly decayed sweetness and steely calculation, and she and her subordinate, who supervised the torture, share some rather enjoyable if psychologically ugly scenes.

Now. The flaw. For the first time, I found myself thinking 'this would have been better as slash.' Cally - one of the three major characters, as central as Avon and Blake - is in my opinion *dreadfully* written (and in a good story, a flaw like this stands out all the more). She starts off by being sullenly dull, and half-way through turns placidly dull - positively bovine. And so the Avon/Cally relationship falls as flat as a three-week-old pancake; even he is duller in their scenes together. There is so much more real emotion in the Blake-Avon scenes that it makes the 'romance' slightly ludicrous to me.

A lesser fault of the story is its slightly humourless quality. The blend of angst and humour that helped make the series so fascinating is admittedly very hard for writers to achieve - especially with an angst level as high as in *this* story - but I did miss the humour that the TV Avon and Vila, especially, could inject into the most grim of storylines. There were odd attempts at humour - especially the end - but they didn't work as well as the drama.

Nevertheless, if you like to see both Avon and Blake put through the wringer, physically and emotionally, as thoroughly as possible - lots and *lots* of hurt and some comfort to sweeten it at the end - this is definitely worth reading and re-reading.

There are two sequels to _The Mind of Man_ and both have some good points, but are inferior to the first. _Mascarada_ has a quite well-done Jenna, a nicely twisted Dorian, and a mildly dull plot. And the third one _Shadowplay_ has some of the best ideas of the three (a dangerously desperate faux-Scorpio crew, and Avon being forced to relive the worst moment of the torture from the first - this *should* have been explosive) but the whole work is so diffuse, the characters so bland (even Blake and Avon are almost placid this time around, and Cally - tranquil to the point of stupefaction and hugely pregnant in the bargain - has nothing in common with the TV character but the name) that these threads can't have the impact they should have. It also introduces Avon's small son. There ought to be a rule banning this - I have yet to see a story where giving Avon children wasn't a mistake.

The Mind Of Man Is A Double-Edged Sword

(novel by Susan Matthews; part 1 of 3; alt-S3-4; A-hc, past A/Anna, A/C, So/V)
Editor: Regina E. Gottesman (New York, NY)
Publisher: Strelsau Press (authorized reprint: Jude Wilson, P.I. Press)
Date: September 1983 (reprint: 1986)

Non Fiction:
"Notes" (explanation of B7)
Regina E. Gottesman and Susan R. Matthews, "Scribbles"

Art (all by Pat Cash):
front c. A with sword
p. 7 A on GP (closeup)
p. 38 V
p. 61 D
p. 77 C
p. 107 A-B
p. 115 A-So
back c. A-B


(novel by Susan R. Matthews, plus an extra story; sequel to THE MIND OF MAN...; part 2 of 3; alt-S3-4)
Editor: Regina E. Gottesman (New York, NY)
Publisher: Strelsau Press (authorized reprint: Jude Wilson, P.I. Press)
Date: August 1985 (reprint: 1987)

Susan R. Matthews, MASCARADA
Susan R. Matthews, "The Portage" (S0; A-V, A-hc)

Non Fiction:
Regina E. Gottesman, "Scribbles"

Sheryl Adsit, poem in memory of Beth Nugteren (1950- 1984), to whom the zine is dedicated

Art (all by Pat Cash):
front c. S4 A
p. 14 B
p. 33 Ta
p. 52 Se
p. 71 J-A
p. 85 V
p. 108 A-C
back c. A


(novel by Susan R. Matthews; sequel to MASCARADA; part 3 of 3; alt-S3-4)
Editor: Jude Wilson
Publisher: P.I. Press (Rochester, NY)
Date: January 1988

Non Fiction:
"It Helps If You Know What's Going On" (plot summary)
Jude Wilson, "Scribbles"
Susan R. Matthews, "And More Scribbles"

Art (all by Karen River):
front c. A (color; same as cover of Avon: A Terrible Aspect by Paul Darrow)
p. vii tp; A and others
p. 10 ocm child; illo
p. 15 V-ocm; illo
p. 26 B
p. 29 ocm; illo
p. 39 ocm child; illo
p. 50 ocs resembling Scorpio crew
p. 65 A
p. 72 V
p. 87 A
p. 101 C
p. 110 V-ocm; illo
p. 120 B-J


(novella by Susan Matthews; S5; A-Se, A-hc, A-ocf, A-B)
Editor: Joy Harrison
Publisher: Osiris Publications (Morton Grove, IL)
Date: January 1989

Non Fiction:
Susan R. Matthews, "From the Author"
Joy Harrison, "From the Editor"
Osiris Publications ad

Art (all by Suzan Lovett, all illos):
cover "Miles to Go" (A-B; color)
p. 16a "Gotcha" (Se-nude A in spider web)
p. 32a "Price of Freedom" (A dripping blood)
p. 62a "Black Creatures" (A and bird)
p. 68a "Encounter" (B)
p. 78a "Judgement" (A-B)
p. 86a "Phoenix" (A-B and bird)

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Last updated on 10th of July 1999.