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Current Poll

Who is your Favourite Guest Rebel?

Avalon - (Project Avalon)
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18% [17 Votes]

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5% [5 Votes]

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5% [5 Votes]

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9% [9 Votes]

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Started: 09 July 2016

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Book Review: Blakes Heaven - Maximum Fan-Power

Blake's Heaven Maximum Fan-Power
Edited by John Davies

Review by Jackie Emery


Tarrant: I thought I was unique
Vila: You're not even unusual


First, I have to declare an interest: I was one of the contributors to this collection of personal essays by Blake's 7 fans. I naively thought that my tale would be an unusual one, but I couldn't have been more wrong. Reading some of the other extraordinary and moving stories was a humbling experience.

This book is not about Blake's 7; it's not a review, critical analysis or episode guide. This is about the fans, and the way in which the series affected their lives. When the book was commissioned, fans were invited to cover a particular episode, a season overview or spin-off. The resulting essays range from factual to emotional, nostalgic to humorous, sentimental to surreal. The quality of the writing is generally very good and the season-by-season structure of the book works well overall, although the connection between a few essays and their episodes is somewhat tenuous. Special mention has to go to one writer's metaphorical train journey through life, in which he name checks every episode. The essay on Animals is a fan fic interspersed with a review, although to be fair, there isn't a lot one can do with that episode. The essay on Gold depicts a conversation between the writer, Avon and Vila, while the one attached to Warlord is a hilarious imagining of what a 5th Season might have been like. But mostly, the essays are fans' genuine outpouring of appreciation of the way B7 shaped their lives.

Each contributor provided their geographical location, and it is fascinating to see how B7 fandom spans the globe. The writers are located in all parts of the UK, and also Germany, the USA, Australia and New Zealand. They were also asked to name their favourite character, and it comes as no surprise that the runaway favourite was Avon, with Vila an unsurprising second. However, some writers may not have taken the question entirely seriously, citing their favourites as Federation Guard 431, Third Mutoid on the Left and the Sopron rock.

As Blakes 7 fans span the globe, their essays span the circle of life. One contributor writes about B7 entering his life at the same time as he became a father, others about the way the series helped them cope with bereavement. B7 fandom now spans several generations, as those who watched it on its first transmission pass the legacy on to their children and grandchildren.

The series touched writers at different stages in their lives; early childhood, adolescence, adulthood. For some, it was part of growing up; moving school, finding friendship, love, life partners. For others, it was an important part of discovering their identity; their sexuality, politics, religion. They write with moving honesty about the way these themes depicted in the B7 universe affected their own lifestyle and career choices.

Another interesting aspect of these essays is the depiction of our changing viewing habits over the decades. Fans who watched the show on its first transmission; some on black & white televisions, some on colour sets. Those who discovered the series later through rare repeats on cable TV, or when the series was screened overseas. Some fans were left with only vague childhood memories of an old show, others attempted to preserve it by meticulously recording episodes on to audio cassettes. Then came the BBC's edited video releases, followed by the full length videos. For some fans, the price of a newly-released video equated to two weeks of paper rounds, for others it was two hours salary. Now we have the the DVDs, and new fans discovering the series through its spin-offs; the audios, the comics, the books.

Blake's Heaven includes a nice piece of Avon artwork by Simon Brett, a foreword by Paul Darrow and concluding essays by Big Finish writer/producer Cavan Scott and director Lisa Bowerman the current generation of professionals who are ensuring the legacy of Blakes 7 lives on.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable read it's almost like being at a convention, swapping stories about fandom. Whether you read it from cover to cover or dip into those essays that strike a chord, any B7 fan is in for a treat.

And sorry, Vila you're wrong.
Every one of these stories is unusual, and as unique as the person who wrote it.

***

Blake's Heaven - Maximum Fan-Power is available from Amazon

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