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15th-Jan-2014 10:13 pm VID REC: Blake's 7 - Holding Out For a Hero
Several other people seem to be last-minute reccing vids, so I am going to finish my Blake's 7 recs with a quick vid rec. That really is it, though. Thank you, and goodnight.

So long, [livejournal.com profile] crack_van, and thanks for all the fishcs.

Vidder: zukalis
Musical artist: Bonnie Tyler
Pairing: Ensemble
Vidder on LJ: ?
Vidder's website: on Youtube
Why this vid kicks ass: Let's start with a quickly slid in rec for the series 2 trailer that the actual BBC produced (just for the DVDs) and put on their actual DVDs. What I love about this trailer is that it presents Blake's 7 as this exciting, fast-paced action show where people are always running around and punching other people, and things explode, and people let of quips, and THE TENSION IS REALLY HIGH. I love that. The show does have all those moments, and it has a lot of quips, but you get quite an odd idea of what it's like from the Beeb trailer.

This vid is fast and funny, which I like, and it has a very 80s song choice that fits with the look/feel of the show. It's a bit like that trailer I linked to in that it is a highly entertaining compilation of running and jumping and punching (including some nice bits where women literally kick ass too, because B7 is good like that). I also feel, though, that unlike the Beeb version this vid has been made with a sense of irony and it understands that the men of Blake's 7 are not really known for being like this really (the women are, though).

One of the most famous exchanges in the show is:

VILA Where are all the good guys?
BLAKE You could be looking at them.
AVON What a very depressing thought.


But they also all are heroes :D Even if it's only because Blake made them do it.

Link: Holding Out For A Hero
crack_van: (Default)
15th-Jan-2014 08:58 pm Iron Man by Executrix (NC-17)
Fandom: BLAKE'S 7
Pairing: Blake/Avon (who else?), ensemble
Length: 15,300w
Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] executrix
Author Website: on Ao3, then there are various other locations around the web, including Hermit and Liberated.org
Why this must be read: And we end with a fic from 2014! The very year that I am writing to you from now. Let me get this straight before we begin: I am reccing this fic because I think it is very, very good (and indeed one of the best from the author's oeuvre), otherwise I would not rec it. However, it does also please me to have this as a final rec, because as you may or may not know, faithful reader, [livejournal.com profile] executrix was Blake's 7's first reccer and was certainly part of the fandom at the point where there were zines and cons and more than 30 people (we get more and more people every day, though!). So I think it's nice that people from the earlier era of fandom are still writing for us, and that what they are writing is really great.

To talk specifically about this fic - it's also interesting that people can still have (probably?) new ideas after 30 years of fandom. I've never seen any other fics about Avon becoming president in the wake of the Andromedan War. There are a few about him as president, but they're usually post series 4 (or PGP). This early splitting off from canon really affects the characters, and not in a way that you see much elsewhere. Similarly, Avon in power is usually presented as something dark and Servalan-like. Here, it is his own particular 'sentimental about money'/'the rest? have the same chance as I have' outlook on life that dominates his presidency, and makes an enemy of Blake the idealist (even though this Blake also loves him) but in a way that's ironically more difficult to fight against than flat-out evil. The political universe created by this fic is fascinating, and great fun (though not for Blake).

Executrix's prose is always dense with literary, religious and Blake's 7 references, as well as other jokes and clever asides. I get to end of her fics and think 'I've probably missed loads of that', but fortunately the internet is forever and you can re-read, and I do. I've read this one three times already and, as I stated above, it's only been published about a fortnight :)

Excerpt )

Link: Iron Man
crack_van: (Default)
14th-Jan-2014 10:19 pm Another Man's Freedom Fighter by The_Dancing_Walrus
Fandom: BLAKE'S 7
Pairing: N/A
Length: 929w
Author on LJ: ?
Author Website: on AO3
Why this must be read: The penultimate day, the penultimate rec - and this time it's some meta, rather than a fic. I hope everyone will forgive me for veering off the beaten track, but I feel really strongly about this piece and would very much like to rec it (I will understand if I have to remove it).

The piece discusses the still-current possibility that our low budget 1970s BBC TV show will be re-made a flashy American multipart series. Many of us have written posts on the theme of how little we want such a thing, but this is a very special example of that genre. It talks not just about what a loss it would be not to have our wonderfully strange looking yet compelling heroes, or our wonderfully strange looking yet compelling costumes, or whether they would redesign the Liberator to look shit, or turn Servalan into a man. But rather about the ways in which Blake's 7 and the characters within it feel about being under an oppressive regime - and how this directly relates to the life of the author of this piece, and to the lives of many other people both living and dead in our world, rather than in the world of this telly show.

'Another Man's Freedom Fighter' is, in my opinion, an extraordinary piece: beautifully written, powerful and thought provoking.

Excerpt )

Link: Another Man's Freedom Fighter
crack_van: (Default)
11th-Jan-2014 11:18 pm Shall We Dance? by Unsentimentalf
Fandom: BLAKE'S 7
Pairing: Avon/Servalan
Length: 2774 words
Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] unsentimentalf
Author Website: on AO3
Why this must be read: We're approaching the end of the reccing period, so time to rec some 2013 het! And such wonderful het it is too.

I know you must be bored of this criteria by now, but it's worth mentioning that the dialogue here is exquisite. Like the very best interactions between these characters on the show it's a delicious mixture of flirtation and threat, and the surrounding prose aids the crackle of sexual tension marvellously. I like that they're both after something as well - it's not just a time out: it's a mission and they are trying to out think each other, Servalan using sex as a weapon as always but also possibly, genuinely interested in Avon. Well, who wouldn't be? The image of him in top hat and tails (created by this fic) is particularly delicious. As is, to be entirely equal opportunities, the image of Servalan in a dress that can be removed with one tug :D

Excerpt )

Link: Shall We Dance?
crack_van: (Default)
9th-Jan-2014 10:37 pm Information by Clocketpatch (G)
Fandom: BLAKE'S 7
Pairing: Avon, Zen
Length: 1,762w
Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] clocketpatch
Author Website: on AO3
Why this must be read: Readers of 'Doctor Who' fic may recognise Clocketpatch from that fandom, where she is well known for writing a wide variety of Doctors and companions excellently and well (link goes to [livejournal.com profile] calufrax, btw). She's recently arrived in B7 fandom (drawn by Avon and the computers that love him), and we are very lucky to have her :) Well - in truth, we are lucky to have all these people in our fandom!

This 2013 fic (her first in B7) presents a backstory for Zen and the Liberator so compelling and plausible that sometimes I forget it's not actually canon. It's very elegantly delivered backstory too, taking place in the form of a conversation between Avon (the man who doesn't trust, and who believes computers should obey him) and Zen (one of several computers he can't really trust and who doesn't obey him), but Avon is clever and persistent. It has lots of nice, crunchy character work as well as good story work, and excellent dialogue. And some very effective foreshadowing...

Excerpt: )
crack_van: (Default)
7th-Jan-2014 08:57 pm Nexus by Corngold (PG-13?)
Fandom: BLAKE'S 7
Pairing: Blake/Avon, Avon-Jenna, ensemble.
Length: 26,692 in five chapters
Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] corngold
Author Website: on AO3
Why this must be read: I think it's fair to say that the fic-writing part of B7 fandom, though never dead, has gone through something of a renaissance in the past year. It's still quiet, but new fic is being written and at a goodly pace. We also have a kink meme (something only popular from 2007 onwards) and some new shared gags (Jewish!Travis springs to mind, as does Avon and Jaguars). I've got three more recs from 2013 for you, and one from 2014. We're back, baby.

Bodyswap is another trope that is practically canon thanks to (astonishingly) the same episode that gave us canon!'aliens made them do it'. It's also one of my favourite tropes, just generally. In this fic Avon and Jenna are swapped with each other and (rather than endure sympathy from their crewmates) decide to pretend to be each other until they can fix it or they are found out.

I really like this fic for its dedication to making use of its ensemble cast and for bothering with a good, interesting, universe-expanding B7-style plot, as well as for
the warmth, respect and love with which it depicts Blake, who is my not so secret favourite. But I usually use this space for some meta about why the fic is clever, so I also want to flag up the fact that it's an interesting choice a) not to swap the 'love interests' with each other and b) to specifically choose to swap Avon and Jenna, who are quite similar characters with quite similar concerns. The main differences are (arguably) that Avon pretends to be less moral than he is and that he strongly dislikes Blake, and Jenna wants to be more moral than she used to be and is willing to admit she likes Blake a lot. They're sort of on opposite sides (Jenna vocally supports Blake, Avon openly does not), but Corngold shows that they respect each other too. So, it's interesting to compare and contrast the two of them as they play each other. It's also very funny, like a good bodyswap or episode of Blake's 7 should be :D

Excerpt )

Link: Nexus
crack_van: (Default)
5th-Jan-2014 10:24 pm A Quarter to Midnight by Paranoidangel (G)
Fandom: BLAKE'S 7
Pairing: Dayna/Tarrant or Dayna-Tarrant, if you'd prefer
Length: 1,048w
Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] paranoidangel42
Author Website: Angelic Paranoia, on Ao3
Why this must be read: Due to a change in rules and a massive increase in old fics uploaded to the archive (and new fics, but I'll talk about that on the 7th), Blake's 7 is no longer a Yuletide fandom! But it was in 2012, which is where this fic hails from.

Dayna/Tarrant is practically canon (thanks to an 'aliens made them do it' plot in series 3), but there is remarkably little fic. This great vignette about the two of them being trapped in a vault together is largely a character piece. In a very short space of time, we explore some of their strengths and weaknesses, see them react to each other and to their situation, and interestingly and effectively contrasts Tarrant's relationship with Dayna directly with his relationship with the rest of the crew (subtly showing us how much better he is to Dayna). I like how unflinchingly it shows Tarrant to be a bit of a tool, even as he is one of our heroes and quite nice in some ways. Great, crackly dialogue.

Excerpt )

Link: A Quarter to Midnight
crack_van: (Default)
3rd-Jan-2014 11:20 am Hot Stuff by Nicola Mody/Vilakins
Fandom: BLAKE'S 7
Pairing: Avon, Vila, Soolin, ensemble, OCs
Length: 11,109w (I like them long)
Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] vilakins
Author Website: Breaking Orbit or (and I'm not sure how much crossover there is) Nicola Mody on AO3, Vilakins on Ao3
Why this must be read: It's 2009, so the history lessons are pretty much at an end.

'Hot Stuff' was written for an LJ finishathon. It is also, probably, my favourite [livejournal.com profile] vilakins (I'm not sure how she'd feel about that). As is perhaps not obvious without the summary, this is a PGP pastishe of 'Some Like it Hot' (Vila, Avon and Soolin join an all girl band). One of the things I love about the infinite variety of fanfic is that this lulzy plot is presented as a perfectly reasonable response to the events of Gauda Prime, just as other authors have used the same event to make things even worse for our heroes.

Vilakins very carefully walks the line between referring back to the movie in clever ways (Avon and Vila's romanatic exploits - particularly Avon's) and making the plot very anchored in the PGP universe and its concerns. Also, because it's Vilakins, we've anchored in firmly in Avon and Vila's friendship and thus - there is lots of hilarious banter (both in and out of the dialogue).

Excerpt )

Link: Hot Stuff
crack_van: (Default)
1st-Jan-2014 01:19 pm Simulacrum by Kindkit (NC-17)
Fandom: BLAKE'S 7
Pairing: Blake/Avon
Length: 4981 words
Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] kindkit
Author Website: on AO3
Why this must be read: Happy New Year! Here is some amazing and wonderful porn from 2008, which is unfortunately (I think it's fair to say) about the time that B7 fandom began winding down. Interestingly this fic that is not really like any of the others in the fandom, partly because of the period it was written in and the medium it was written for, uses a set-up that was relatively popular back in the fandom's heyday i.e. our heroes take some time off on a pleasure planet.

I don't think I've said that any of the fics I've recced so far are hot, which is something of an oversight on my behalf because many of them are, but this one is, in my opinion, the hottest B7 fic that I've recced ever. One of the things that's particularly interesting about it is how surprisingly honest the depiction of these men having sex is. It's not fantasy sex: both Blake and Avon are described realistically and occasionally unflatteringly, physical things they do to each other don't necessarily go as intended, things they say to each other are misinterpreted - or not (some of Avon's barbs hit home), Avon's not sure what he feels (obviously), and there's a nice bit where the light catches 'Blake mercilessly, with one sock on and his underwear around his knees'. Lots of other things go right. Cumulatively it is, as I say, incredibly hot.

The writing's excellent, the dialogue is very in character, and the relationship is realistically, subtly... and not (ultimately) unhopefully depicted. I think if script editor Chris Boucher read B/A porn (and who knows? Maybe he does), he would particularly like this one.

Excerpt )

Link: Simulacrum
crack_van: (Default)
30th-Dec-2013 10:13 am Groff's Wife by hafren (G)
Fandom: BLAKE'S 7
Pairing: Tarrant, Avon
Length: 1697 words
Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] hafren
Author Website: on AO3, Hafren's Gloomy Patch
Why this must be read: Still in 2007. This is a lovely, quiet, thought-provoking fic of the kind hafren excels at. Interestingly it spins off a completely absurd series 3 episode that begins with the crew playing space monopoly and then largely takes place in a parallel universe seemingly run by a magical ringmaster. But within that wacky parallel universe are some normal, helpful, unflashy people, living their lives as best they can - a character type that B7 excels at, even as it also excels at the flashy characters with awful personality problems.

This fic sends two of our flashiest characters, Avon and Tarrant, to see the widow of one of the extras they met in the parallel universe. In doing so, it gives us a highly sympathetic and plausible Tarrant (Tarrant is not universally beloved, but this fic showcases some of the finer points of his character - loyalty, courage, chivalry, a willingness not to give in to Avon). The fic also depicts a three-dimensional Avon, who is at turns awful and at turns surprisingly compassionate, and who learns something emotionally important from this meeting with an unremarkable dead-man's wife.

Excerpt: )

Link: Groff's Wife
crack_van: (Default)
28th-Dec-2013 02:38 pm 'Ships That Pass in the Night by AnonEHouse/Willa Shakespeare/Entropy House (NC-17)
Fandom: BLAKE'S 7
Pairing: Blake/Avon, with background Jenna/Cally and Dayna/Vila
Length: 6,811
Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] entropy_house
Author Website: [livejournal.com profile] b7fanfic_etc, on AO3 and on Hermit (as Willa Shakespeare and other pen names)
Why this must be read: Another fic from the writer I shall continue to call Willa Shakespeare, even though she'd abandoned that penname by this point - because she's one of the best, and so prolific! (hooray).

This fic (from 2007, so we're off the edge of the map of previous recs here) is one of my absolute favourites, although it's another slightly weird choice from the author's oeuvre. The premise is that, rather than finding himself on the Liberator in episode 2, Blake winds up on a ship controlled by the consciousness of the ex-Kerr Avon. In the vein of 'A New Machine', 'Ships' is a chance to compare Avon to an emotionless, logical machine and find him very human and very swayed by Blake's arguments. It does that very well. But what I particularly like about this fic (apart from the dialogue, the clever ways it re-works canon, and how much exasperated affection there always is between B & A in Willa's fics) is the ways that making Avon into a ship changes his relationship with Blake. The result sounds obvious, but in fact what's changed (and it's made clear by the fic summary) is that he's already got the things he claims he wants in the telly show - power, safety, wealth, independence. And so he meets Blake on very different terms, and so their relationship is different. In a way it's easier, actually, because Avon's got more to negotiate with, but how they interact is still based in who they are and the problems they had with each other in the show.

So 'Ships' is clever, and it's funny, and it makes me very happy.

Excerpt )

Link: 'Ships That Pass in the Night
crack_van: (Default)
27th-Dec-2013 04:58 pm VID REC: Blake's 7 - That Don't Impress Me Much
Vidder: elviaprose
Musical artist: Shania Twain
Pairing: Blake/Avon
Vidder on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] elviaprose
Vidder's website: on Youtube
Why this vid kicks ass: One of the things Blake's 7 fandom has always been very good at (in meta and RL, perhaps, more than fic) is simultaneously appreciating Kerr Avon for being a sexy, bad-boy, super genius (who thinks he's Elvis or something)... and for being an emotional cripple who falls over a lot and loses most of the time.

This vid (2013) combines both of those views, filtering Avon through the eyes of our eponymous hero, who does (I would argue) like Avon very much for both those reasons, as well as finding him absolutely exasperating. The vid is obviously tongue-in-cheek and hilarious (elviaprose goes all out with the phallic imagery and shots of Paul Darrow being silly and adorable and Blake's weary faces - plus, what a great choice of song!), but I feel it's also a serious commentary on the way that Avon can be funny and clever and have his own car(!), but if he's not going to help bring down the Federation (and ideally without whinging) then he will never impress Blake. And unfortunately it is fairly clear in canon (whether you ship it or not) that he wants this, even though he'd really prefer not to.

Link: That Don't Impress Me Much
crack_van: (Default)
26th-Dec-2013 01:15 pm Retraining by hafren (PG)
Fandom: BLAKE'S 7
Pairing: Blake-Avon (hyphen, not slash), Deva
Length: 4842 words
Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] hafren
Author Website: on AO3, Hafren's Gloomy Patch
Why this must be read: We're just over half-way through my recs, and we've hit 2006, which is notable as the year that the last batch of [livejournal.com profile] crack_van recs ended.

Hafren is another of my absolute favourite Blake's 7 authors, and in fact I'm reccing another hafren fic next week. This fic is particularly interesting in that it's a slavefic (Blake buys Avon) where the slavery isn't sex slavery, and a story that focuses on the intense relationship between Blake and Avon that isn't slash. There is in fact a whole genre concerning the latter (for more information, see this list.

'Retraining' is an AU of the end of series 4 - and it is about trust, and how Blake and Avon used to interact in series 2, how they now interact in series 4, and how Avon (informally Blake's second in command in series 2) and Blake interact Deva, Blake's new computer expert and second in command. And how a lot of those ways of interacting were... not very good. It is, as my fellow reccer [livejournal.com profile] elviaprose observed in our B/A and B-A rec list, quiet and lovely - and a clever remix of problematic Shakespeare play 'The Taming of the Shrew.'

Excerpt )

Link: Retraining
crack_van: (Default)
24th-Dec-2013 02:15 pm A New Machine by AstroGirl (R)
Fandom: BLAKE'S 7
Pairing: Avon/Orac, Blake/Avon is implied but is very secondary to the concerns of the story
Length: 10,273 words
Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] astrogirl2
Author Website: on AO3, on Hermit (under the names AstroGirl, Betty Ragan, Belatrix Carter)
Why this must be read: In my very first rec, I said that Avon was at least half of all the most popular ships in Blake's 7. This fic (written in 2005, and posted first on LJ!) is not the only reason why I said that, but it does fit the pattern. In brief - the plot is that Orac's consciousness is placed into a human body that is a clone of Avon.

One of the things that's particularly interesting about Avon/Orac as a ship and the way Astrogirl portrays it in this fic is that it's not crackalacken. Avon is accused of being a machine by Vila and would probably quite like not to have to deal with his numerous emotional problems - and Avon and Orac do have a close relationship (of sorts), and Orac does canonically express his/its love for Avon - admittedly due to some sexpollen sand in series 4.

So - you might expect a crack fic between the sexy, leather-clad antihero of our series and his computer, but what you actually get is some reasonably hard-skiffy ideas about what it's like to be a computer and particularly this computer, which is acknowledged to be a member of the crew by most of the crew. And what it would be like to be a human if you've only before been a box that observed humans. It's very funny, very clever, very sad and... really disturbing. The ending creeps me out wonderfully.

Astrogirl has written some truly stunning things across various fandoms - this is one of my absolute favourites, although since I'm here I'll also thoroughly second the recs for The Zombie Master and Bargaining Stage.

Excerpt )

Link: A New Machine
crack_van: (Default)
22nd-Dec-2013 12:38 pm Vila's Emails by Vilakins/Nicola Mody (PG?)
Fandom: BLAKE'S 7
Pairing: Vila and ensemble
Length: Very long
Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] vilakins
Author Website: Breaking Orbit or (and I'm not sure how much crossover there is) Nicola Mody on AO3, Vilakins on Ao3
Why this must be read: I am shocked this hasn't been recced before...

Blake's 7 from Vila's POV (as related to his mother) with various other emails coming in from other members of the Liberator and Scorpio crew, as well as other luminaries such as Servalan, Travis, Carnell, etc. Firstly, it's a very funny take on the series as shown, but also - [livejournal.com profile] vilakins is a strong believer in the Avon-Vila (the dash implies strong platonic relationship, rather than sexual or romantic) friendship and it shines out as the primary concern of this fic. The silly, fun email format allows us to get another layer of 'what Avon is OK with saying in a public and private space' (this is - in addition to the show) and the way Vila responds to that - both to Avon and around Avon.

Also - on a historical note... I think this may be the first fic I've recced that is only available online, rather than in a zine, although B7 fandom has been online since 1992 and this fic was written in 2002. [livejournal.com profile] vilakins, who I will talk more about later, is one of (for me) the primary figures of internet-only B7 fandom, having started up most of our LJ comms, one of the two major internet archives (Hip Deep in Heroes, closed as of this year). She's also written a huge amount of very good fic about Vila. This is one of the most iconic.

Excerpt )

Link: Vila's Emails
crack_van: (Default)
22nd-Dec-2013 12:03 pm Touching Life by Vanessa Mullen (NC-17)
I meant to post this yesterday on GP Day, but ran out of time...

Fandom: BLAKE'S 7
Pairing: Blake/Avon, with background Avon/Servalan
Length: Pretty long - about 10k
Author on LJ: I have suspicions as to whose pen name this is, but I don't know if they want their journal linked to this fic, even if they are who I think they are
Author Website: more on Hermit (N.B. the bit of 'As Time Goes By' posted here is only a third of the actual story)
Why this must be read: It's the year 2000 and the sixth edition of Blake/Avon-only zine 'Fire and Ice' has been published - it ends with this story. Quick discussion of the zine before we move on: I find it bizarre that there weren't more single-pairing-only zines - in B7 the only other example I can think of is the .75 editions of 'Southern Comfort', which are all Avon/Vila. I don't think of myself as a 'slash' fan, or even as a 'non-gen' fan - I'm a gen and B/A fan, who occasionally reads other pairings. Unfortunately, the practicalities of getting enough stories together to make a print zine mean that you can end up purchasing a whole 300-page zine for 30 pages of your pairing. So, I'm grateful for the existence of F&I, particularly because (in my experience) it's mostly excellent from edition 3 onwards.

'Touching Life' (which, like 'All in the Mind', is a PGP where Avon has to choose between beautiful Servalan+power+security and Blake+danger+uncertainty) is pretty much my favourite Blake/Avon fic of all time, although there are some other strong contenders, some of which I can't rec because they have been recced already. Alas.

The Avon of 'Touching Life' is about to marry Servalan and has done terrible things under the pretense of not feeling anything, even after knowing Blake, but the fic makes it clear that he's worth redeeming and can be redeemed. And whatever he's done, I still feel sympathy for him. That's some fantastic and compelling characterisation. And then there's Blake - who is old and weary (which is notable because I love that Avon still fancies him, and that we are shown through Blake's actions how strong and attractive and desirable he still is, even if he is not physically desirable), and still fighting and angry and so innately good. I love the plot and its themes. And, as I've intimated, I think this is one of the best depiction of both characters to be found in the fandom. Cracking dialogue, too. Very, very strongly recommended.

Excerpt )

Link: Touching Life
crack_van: (Default)
20th-Dec-2013 07:52 pm Path of Thorns by Mitzi Tick and Felicia Adams (NC-17)
Fandom: BLAKE'S 7
Pairing: Vila/Tarrant, Scorpio crew (with some circumstantial straight!Avon/Tarrant, and some Servalan/Tarrant)
Length: LONG. Must be about 20K
Why this must be read: This is a very long review. I've lj-cut most of it ) even though V/T is not my pairing at all (or is it?), even though the Avon in this story is aggressively straight (for plot, I think), and even though Blake is entirely absent, 'Path of Thorns' is, in my opinion, one of the best Blake's 7 stories ever. Fanlore tells me that it lost out in the 1999 Stiffies to 'Divide and Conquer' and... I love D&C a lot, so I am OK with this, but... I would have been OK with things going the other way. And D&C is a beautiful, awkward and funny B/A epic by one of my favourite writers. So - what I'm saying is PoT is one of the best Blake's stories ever.

It manages this through a combination of 1) fantastic, multilayered and gripping characterisation (more of this later), 2) an exciting adventure plot that makes use of all the characters, and forces most of them to have emotions and emotional crises... and blow things up and pretend to be important business men, AND 3) ... a ludicrous crack premise that is nevertheless 100% based in the show. Cut again - more rec behind here )

Excerpt )

Link: There was a copy on eBay recently, but not at the moment. I don't know where else you can look, but I strongly recommend doing so.
crack_van: (Default)
18th-Dec-2013 10:43 pm All in the Mind by Gemini (NC-17)
Fandom: BLAKE'S 7
Pairing: Blake/Avon, Avon/Servalan
Length: Long-ish. Probably about 10K+
Author Website: Some more on Hermit.org
Why this must be read: Another of my favourite B/A fics (this one was written/published in 1997), and the first fic that I've recced thus far that it's going to be difficult to talk about without talking spoilers. Nevertheless, I shall attempt it...

It takes place after the end of the series - a time period B7 fen generally call PGP (if you don't know what that stands for, don't look it up), and it deals with one of the many fan-crack ideas that B7 casually introduces and then forgets about. In this case - the idea of memory erasure and implanting new memories into a person. The first canonically happens to our hero and it's something he has to deal with a lot in fic. The latter is less common, but still a reasonably persistent theme.

This fic does something quite unusual and interesting with the memory erasure/implanation idea, and what it is does is essential to the two major relationships explored in this fic: B/A and A/S. They're far more complex than this as characters (particularly Blake, who makes some spectacularly grey decisions), but in a way (while getting on with their own stuff) Blake and Servalan also function as Avon's shoulder angel and his shoulder devil. And this fic, which depicts the relationships simultaneously (sex in both), plays into that negotiation between Avon's best and worst instincts in a very plausible and compelling way. I'm not that keen on the ending, but I'm keen enough (i.e. very keen) on the rest of it to strongly urge you to read it. I also recommend Gemini's other work - particularly 'Identity Crisis', which, as you may guess from that title, plays on a similar idea, but in a very different way.

Excerpt - contains major spoilers for B7 )

Link: All in the Mind
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17th-Dec-2013 12:42 am Depression is more than a state of Mind by AnonEHouse/Willa Shakespeare/Entropy_House (PG)
Fandom: BLAKE'S 7
Pairing: Ensemble, with Avon/Cally, Blake/Jenna
Length: 8476w
Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] entropy_house
Author Website: [livejournal.com profile] b7fanfic_etc, on AO3 and on Hermit
Why this must be read: On the one hand, this fic (written in 1996) is not exactly the sort of fic Willa Shakespeare is best known for (see, Divide and Conquer, recced back in 2004, for a more typical example - and an excellent fic). It's het, there's no sex, and it's a historical AU. But on the other - it is. Willa is very good at ensemble fics where everyone gets something important and interesting and probably amusing to do, but these fics are still primarily based around the romance arc. Willa believes you can have an exciting plot and a romance (and often sex) in the same fic - which is a combination I love, particularly when it's done this well. She's great at awkward people romances (now she writes Tony Stark, rather than Avon) and plausible mega-happy endings. The term 'HEX' was apparently of her coinage. coined to describe her work.

I would also say that one of her primary motifs as a writer is the re-use and re-purposing of existing material to provide structure and create comedic and narrative tension. In some cases this takes the form of a fusion (the plot 'Much Ado About Nothing' used for B/A) or a crossover. In this case (unusually) it takes the form of a historical setting, specifically 1930s 'Guys and Dolls' America. It's a somewhat an unusual choice for a historical!AU in general, but I think a clever one for these characters and their concerns. And it's fun. Willa fic is almost always lots of fun.

Excerpt )

Link: Depression is more than a state of Mind
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14th-Dec-2013 10:12 am Compassion by Irish (R)
Fandom: BLAKE'S 7
Pairing: Blake/Avon, Scorpio crew
Length: 13,500
Why this must be read: Less of a leap between years now - the chart I linked to a few days ago shows that B7 zines were at their peak 1988-91, but B/A (my favourite pairing and the pairing that ultimately dominates the fandom) peaked (at least in zines) around 1993-95 with 72 stories published in 1993 as opposed to 21 in 1988.

This fic was originally published in 1995 as part of the zine Love and Sacrifice, which a review by one of my favourite B/A authors, Nova, describes as containing four stories that "all take some unexpected and interesting approaches to the canon". This fic is what would become known as a mundane AU - but written before they were cool. There are only about 10 other mundane/historical AUs in the fandom - that I know of. Without even having a long-established genre to subvert, 'Compassion' makes some very interesting choices regarding the new lives taken by the characters - as Nova's review observes: 'a less imaginative writer would probably have cast Avon as the researcher and Blake as the man of action', instead we have a fic where Blake is a scientist passionately searching for the cure to AIDS while Avon (who was, in the show as aired, dragged unwilling into Blake's quest for freedom and used to protect him without really meaning to) is the head of Scorpio, a company hired explicitly to protect Blake. The rest of the crew make a good showing and all get interesting and fun moments with Blake (it works well to have him as an outsider, given your usual PGP fic set up, but also here gives B and A a chance to have a different meeting), but it's Avon who goes above and beyond the call of duty - and it's Avon who tells Blake he's an idiot and then works very hard to make sure Blake can give the speech he needs to give.

It's excellently and cleverly characterised - I love how hard they both fight for what they believe in and how their attraction to and trust in each other softens that fight. Great dialogue, as well, which I hope will make you accept the somewhat purple (but compelling!) 1990s prose. Nova ends her review by saying - "One of my personal favourites, if you haven't worked that out already." And so I end by saying - "ditto".

Excerpt )

Link: Compassion
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12th-Dec-2013 10:26 pm The Nothing That Is by Lexa Reiss (NC-17)
Fandom: BLAKE's 7
Pairing: I would argue this was Tarrant!gen, despite the rating. However, you do have Tarrant/Travis, Tarrant/Kyera, Tarrant/OC (Jarn - puppeteer in training)
Length: Long-ish
Why this must be read: Skipping on to 1994 and a fic from the zine 'Southern Comfort 8.5'. With some serious reservations about the final 50 pages, I really like this zine. It has one of my favourite A/B fics ('Turn, Turn, Turn' by Irish) and lots of other fun and/or thoughtful things. It also has very nice illustrations, as do most of the SC series (.5 indicates B7 only, .75 indicates Avon/Vila only - none of my recs will be A/V, but it was a very popular pairing back in the day.) This fic is arguably the best thing in the zine.

I've given it the NC-17 rating it deserves (and there's non-con as well as consensual sex), but the fic is not so much about the sex (although the way that Tarrant has different sex with all of the three people mentioned above is interesting and reveals different aspects of his personality). It's about living in the Federation when you know what it's doing is wrong and how you cope with that. The use of Jarn's future profession (puppeteer) works very well as a device for understanding the B7 universe, while Kyera's ultimate fate (as the mutoid from 'Duel') never feels cheap - it feels like a Greek Tragedy. Our hero himself, Del Tarrant, is out of his depth, but not at all stupid - and he's the one who is changed by these events. And we have a good example of a morally grey Travis (in a similar vein, I second the rec of Privilege . Excellent writing, too. I thoroughly recommend.

Quite a long excerpt as none of it's online )

Link: You can buy the zine here. I got mine on eBay.
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10th-Dec-2013 08:59 pm Cats Cradle I and II by Sebastian (NC-17)
Fandom: BLAKE'S 7
Pairing: Blake/Avon
Length: Long-ish
Author Website: Quite a lot more on Oblique Publications
Why this must be read: It's 1991 and here's some slash and some smut at last! That's not to say there wasn't any written before this point, although gen zines hav always massively predominated in Blake fandom and slash only began to be more popular than het in the late 1980s.

This fic was published as part of the zine series 'Oblaque', which focused on dark and psychologically intense slash. The publishers have kindly put all their zines online to read in PDF form, so if you want to get the 'reading a zine experience' without venturing out of the comfort of your own internet, this is the place to start.

As for 'Cats Cradle' itself - it is both dark and psychologically intense. That's not usually my bag, but this fic most definitely is. The way they treat each other in this fic (Avon suggests reciprocation therapy to get back at Blake for his behaviour on the flight deck) is genuinely nasty, but there's also definite, explicit, (grudging) affection/Love, which seems to me to be a very accurate representation of their relationship. There's a lot of bondage and D/s in this pairing (and in this fandom, to some extent), but this is easily my favourite. The constant battle between our heroes is as compelling as it is exhausting - and I like the way it seems like either of them could win at almost any time. Often in B/A (it seems to me, although it is debatable) and certainly in canon, it's fairly clear that Blake is going to win, but Avon really holds his own here all the way through and very credibly. Sebastian's also a great dialogue writer and writes both characters excellently - I also thoroughly recommend 'Bittersweet' (online), 'Interjunction' and 'Melancholy'.

Excerpt )

Links: Cat's Cradle I and Cat's Cradle II
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8th-Dec-2013 02:38 pm The Totally Imaginary Cheeseboard by Jean Airey and Laurie Haldeman (PG)
I promise I won't rec quite this often after this weekend. After this, it'll be one every other day. Largely.

Fandom: BLAKE'S 7
Pairing: Avon, RPF (Gareth Thomas, Michael Keating, Jacqueline Pearce, Sheelagh Wells, "OCs" i.e. some real fans, some OCs)
Length: 50 odd zine pages

Why this must be read: Another 1988, and another one that's quite famous - I assume it hasn't been recced before because it's zine only, but it's a zine that I often see on eBay. The premise is that Avon and Paul Darrow are swapped while Darrow is at a B7 con. Thus, Kerr Avon has to endure... everyone being really nice to him!!! When I read the premise of this fic, I assumed it would be a hilarious string of 'Avon fails to deal with modern life' incidents, and it is, but more than that it's a chance for Avon to examine his behaviour and his established relationships from the outside and potentially make different choices. It's genuinely thought-provoking and moving. Out of his own universe, Avon gets to be both more adorable (very excited about steak and clothes and toys he could re-sell in the future), more out of his depth/vulnerable and more terrifying (dangerous killer in amongst normal people) than I've really seen elsewhere. Vv interesting and plausible characterisation.

The fic is also interesting as a historical document, giving a detailed and (I assume) accurate account of what a B7 con in the late 80s was like. And the illustrations by Gail Bennett are lovely. I uploaded a few of my scans to the Fanlore article, which is linked below.

Excerpt )

Link: To the long extract; to the listing on Fanlore; to the current eBay listings for the zine
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7th-Dec-2013 11:42 pm Doppleganger by Suzan Lovett (PG)
Fandom: BLAKE'S 7
Pairing: Gen (apparently). Avon, Blake's clone (Roj)/Rashel, series 4 ensemble, particularly Tarrant and Vila
Length: 29,000
Author on LJ: N/A
Author Website: http://tarrantnostra.com/suzan/main.htm
Why this must be read: This fic was also published in 1988 - in a zine that I own (thanks eBay), accompanied by various nice illustrations by Jean Clissol. I've taken a photograph of the fic in situ, which you can find beneath the cut.

Suzan Lovett is one of the B-est BNFs there are (not just in this fandom - others include ST:TOS, Pros, S&H and more recently House MD). Although she's most known for her art, she is also justly celebrated for her fic, which is incredible. 'Road to Hell' and 'Gemini Rising' have already been recced here, which is good because it means I can rec this one, which is my personal favourite and one of my favourite 5 fics in the fandom, but not perhaps as accessible as RtH (which I also strongly recommend and which is more standalone). This isn't one you can leap into without watching the show, because I think to appreciate how gorgeous 'Doppleganger' is you have to know Avon and his weird, intense relationship (of heroism, disbelief and denial) with Blake.

This fic is about the absence of Blake, made obvious by the presence of someone who both is and isn't him (i.e. his clone - introduced in episode 2x3), and what that absense forces Avon to do and feel - and it twangs every heartstring I have about a million times over the course of its word count. And yes, I know that is an exceptionally high word count, but the fic's really easy to read, so give it a try. And don't be put off by the epithets. In terms of emotion derived from character, and in terms of character dialogue, there are none finer than Lovett. She needed that word count, and I'm pretty sure I hugged the zine after I finished reading this fic.

Excerpt )
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7th-Dec-2013 09:37 am Customs by Stranger (PG/PG-13)
Hi. I'm [livejournal.com profile] aralias and I'll be driving the Blake's 7 crack van for this, the comm's final flight.

Some quick context about B7 and what I'm likely to rec before I get down to the business of actually reccing some fics )

There will be spoilers for the show in almost all of the fics, but I will try and keep them out of the recs unless it's absolutely necessary, in which case I will mark them.

Fandom: BLAKE'S 7
Pairing: Predominantly gen, with Jenna/Cally and Avon
Length: 2599
Author on LJ:
Author Website: Stranger on AO3
Why this must be read: This fic was written in 1988 for a zine by one of the people who contributed most heavily and (I think) insightfully to the famous 1998 essay, 'Normal Female Interest in Men Bonking'. If you like femslash - well, actually, don't get excited about this fandom. This is my first rec, my first femslash rec - and my last femslash rec (but not my last rec). But I am very excited to have this one to rec first (even though, it was in a way, a quirk of its date) because while in one way it's unusual (sorry femslash), in another it demonstrates a lot of the stuff that's most exciting about B7 fic - great snarky dialogue between the ensemble, strong characterisation for all (even women!), unlikely friendship with people who go out of their way to look like jerks, and convincing world building. There's some femslash at the end and it's good and interesting femslash, but mostly this fic is a gen fic about the way the Federation looks to those inside and outside it.

Thanks go to [livejournal.com profile] wellharkather for showing me this fic after I'd already drawn up a shortlist of what I wanted to rec.

Excerpt )

Link: Customs
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15th-Jun-2012 12:42 am Blakes 7 / Spooks (Gen / PG)
Title: A Comedy of Errors by Lost Spook
Pairing: Kerr Avon / Ros Myers (implied only)
Author on LJ:
[livejournal.com profile] lost_spook
Author Website: Archive of Our Own
Why this must be read:

On one show, there was a team of misfit freedom fighters (who didn’t think of themselves as terrorists) with massive personal issues, running from the secret police and roaming the universe in a sarcastic space ship which occasionally wobbled.

On the other show, there was a team of a misfit spies (who didn’t think of themselves as the secret police) with massive personal issues, chasing after terrorists and defending Britain from a home base with lampshades made from upside-down Ikea wastepaper baskets.

Put the two together: hilarity ensues. Ros interrogates Avon? Comedy gold! Vila and Ruth go out for ice cream? Comedy gold! Malcolm wonders whether the Liberator’s teleport bracelets were built on children’s television? Comedy … sticky backed plastic?

As good as both shows may have been, they also tended to take themselves way too seriously. This crossover crackfic neatly skewers that self-importance, but all in good fun and with plenty of witty banter.

Given the angst quotient in both fandoms, there aren’t too many stories which are simply fun, in character, and enjoyable. It’s worth savoring this one.

Excerpt:

"I transported directly from my spaceship, the Liberator," explained Avon airily. "I'm sorry, is something wrong, Miss Myers? You did say you wanted the truth."

Ros met his gaze. "I'm too old for fairy tales."

"I sympathise."

"I want answers, not sympathy. What was your target? How many of you are there in your group, and what were you doing trying to get into the Commons?"

He sighed. "You seem to have a dull, one-track mind."

"If you won't co-operate," she said, "we'll have to try more painful methods. This isn't the middle ages, but you'd be amazed what we can get away with doing to you without even breaking the law. Want to find out, or are you going to talk?"

Avon's expression hardened. "Do your worst. You'll find, as others have done, that I don't break easily under torture."

"Shame," she said. "I was looking forward to seeing you scream and beg for mercy."

He smiled. "I could manage a whimper if it would make you happier."

"Sorry," said Ros. "Nothing less than genuine, bleeding agony cuts any ice with me."

A Comedy of Errors

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15th-Apr-2010 11:29 pm Unacknowledged Poets by Executrix (R)
Fandom: FIREFLY/BLAKE'S 7
Pairing: Roj Blake/Inara Serra, Kerr Avon/Simon Tam, Hoban Washburne/Zoe Alleyne-Washburne, Ronaldreagan Xiang/Kaylee Frye-Xiang
Length: 37,094 words
Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] executrix
Author Website: just her lj
Why this must be read: I will start by giving you E'trix's own summary: "In an alternative version of the events at Gauda Prime, General Blake continues the struggle against the Federation of Allied Planets, facing new challenges--including a novel form of chemical warfare. The former members of Serenity's crew are important to the efforts, although not necessarily in the ways Blake wanted them to be." I think E'trix manages to integrate these canons very well---so well, in fact, that it's easy to forget that they weren't always merged like this. I also really love her OCs; Kaylee's new in-laws in particular are wonderfully fun. There's also a meaty plot going on, interesting character dynamics, and a fascinating underlying theme of growing up and learning to let go of impractical and childish absolutes. I think what I always enjoy most about E'trix's work, though, is the way she infuses her stories with her dry and erudite wit; her clever turns of phrase, apt allusions, and snappy word-play are ever and always a delight.

read an excerpt )

Unacknowledged Poets
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30th-Dec-2007 12:37 pm Songvid Oddities: Multi-fandom - Us
Vidder: Lim
Musical artist: Regina Spektor
Pairing: None
Vidder on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] lim
Vidder's website: some vids by lim
Why this vid kicks ass: When it was released, this songvid ate fandom. It's easy to see why: it's an anthem to fangirls and the way they love and invest in stories and pictures and characters -- all the things I've tried to encapsulate in this rec set. Saying anything else about "Us" would be hype for the sake of it; this vid speaks for itself.

Us (scroll down)
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29th-Mar-2006 09:52 pm Generous For One, By RedStarRobot (R)
Fandom: BLAKES7
Pairing: Avon/Cally
Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] redstarrobot
Author Website: None I am aware of
Why this must be read:

Because it's the polar opposite of the last fic. Because it's the perfect illustration of why Avon/anybody is doomed, but especially Avon/Cally. Because even though there's no detail and nothing explicit, the sex is painfully real.

The bunks in Liberator were generous for one occupant, sufficient for one and a half, and inadequate for the comfort of two. This, thought Avon, would logically lead to Vila and Cally's immense popularity as bedmates, were anyone else on the ship as rational as he. )

Because it's a short, brutal, lovely gut-punch of a fic, just the kind [livejournal.com profile] redstarrobot is best at. Because you don't know whether to end up hating Avon or pitying him. Because in the end, you might just do both.

Generous For One
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29th-Mar-2006 03:11 pm Sand is Another Word for "Grit" By Marian Mendez (PG-13)
I'm a bad, bad, bad little reviewer whose life got away with her for a few weeks. Mea Culpa. As punishment, I will not be able to post all the stories I planned, but if you lot will forgive a very little bit of spamming, I'll get as many of them in as I can. Never fear, I won't post any back-to-back.

Fandom: BLAKES7
Pairing: Vila/Soolin
Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] entropy_house
Author Website: Marian's Text-Only Fics
Why this must be read:

Marian is well known in the fandom for her brilliant, short, outrageously funny humour pieces - and her gift for crackfic. While I could have nominated any one of a dozen of those beautiful gems, I chose this because it's something she's not as known for - a deadly serious, quiet, and heartfelt character piece.

This fic takes place after "Sand" - a rather bleak, emotionally charged episode, in which (in addition to Tarrant and Servalan being manipulated into screwing) Vila nearly dies and no one much seems to care. It's a significant episode for Tarrant, and many people have speculated on his aftermath, but "Grit" takes a look at Vila's state of mind in the midst of the bleakest season of the series.

I freely admit I'm a sucker for Vila, and he's at his best here, but this fic also contributes to my growing love for Soolin - not a character I had much time for in my original run through the series, but one which talented ficcers like Marian (and [livejournal.com profile] vilakins, who first brought this pairing to my attention) have fostered a deep love for.

Soolin observed people with the dispassionate fascination of a scientist, and at the moment, Vila had aroused her curiosity. )

And it just gets better from there. So go, read, and find out the true meaning of "Sand".

Sand is Another Word for ‘Grit’
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