I recognise my own writing style, but it's a much earlier version - I hadn't really mastered 'point of view' back then, and it shows...
It's hard to resist the temptation to go back and edit, but life really is too short.
B7 ENTERPRISES ANNOUNCE A LICENCE DEAL WITH BIG FINISH PRODUCTIONS TO PRODUCE ORIGINAL BLAKE’S 7 AUDIOBOOKS AND NOVELS.
LONDON, July 4, 2011: B7 Enterprises has announced a licence deal with Big Finish Productions to produce original audiobooks and novels based on Terry Nation’s popular science fiction series BLAKE’S 7.
Blake’s 7: The Liberator Chronicles will be launching in Spring 2012 on CD and download, and will be performed by the original stars of the TV series. Each box set will contain three discs, with each disc comprising a separate adventure performed by two of the show’s stars. There will be two box set releases each year.
The BLAKE’S 7 original novels will be released in hardback editions, each of approximately 60,000 words. There will be two novels per year – thus ensuring there’s a new BLAKE’S 7 release every three months!
Jason Haigh-Ellery, executive producer of Big Finish, says: “As a huge fan of Blake’s 7, it is a series that I have always wanted Big Finish to be involved with – and now we have the chance due to a ground breaking agreement with B7 Enterprises. It’s something that Andrew Mark Sewell and I have been discussing for several years and I am so pleased that we have come to an agreement.”
Nicholas Briggs, executive producer adds: “’Blake’s 7 is something our listeners have been asking us to produce for ages, so I’m so pleased that we’re finally delivering!‘”
Andrew Mark Sewell, managing director of B7 Enterprises says: “We’ve long been an admirer of the audio dramas produced by Big Finish and are delighted that they will be lending their considerable talents to recapturing the spirit of the classic Blake’s 7 series with a series of new novels and audio plays. Even though thirty years has passed since the original television series ended, we’re sure that these new novels and audio stories will recapture the magic of Terry Nation’s original creation and reignite people’s passion for this seminal show.”
The audio series will be produced by David Richardson, with Xanna Eve Chown as books editor. “I have two loves in science fiction,” says Richardson, “and they are Doctor Who and Blake’s 7. And now I get to produce both on audio! I couldn’t be happier.”
Richardson adds: “The Liberator Chronicles will be a series of exciting, character-driven tales that remain true to the original TV series. We’re aiming for authenticity – recreating the wonder of 1978 all over again!”
My God, we've only had to wait half a lifetime... Will we finally see some decent professional Blake's 7 novels? I wonder who they've got lined up as writers? I'm a bit worried that they're going to be hardbacks. What kind of price are they looking at?
I can't now remember which journal I read the discussion in, but I have managed to find two CDs with Linda's songs on.
If someone can put me in touch with the person who was looking for the songs, then I'm sure we can sort something out. I'd like the songs to be widely available.
Skate and Merrin Cally are closer than most clones having been reared as a twin pair. They can share thoughts, even the taste of a hot chocolate, they're that close. Twins are particularly useful to Auron for long-distance reconnaissance, as they can maintain telepathic contact over a much greater distance, thus enabling radio silence to be maintained.
Skate is sent on a mission which it becomes clear is more dangerous than she was originally told. When things go wrong, the difficult question then becomes that of whether a rescue mission should be sent. (In this aspect, the two dramas on the CD share a thematic link) The dilemma is clear - is it more important to attempt to rescue a pilot at all costs, or to accept that a rescue mission would almost certainly result in the loss of more lives now that the enemy has been alerted? (I felt the writer's treatment of this issue came across rather one-sided - it was clear where the listener's sympathies were intended to be.)
However, the issue is more complex than just the risk to other pilots - was there a reason why Skate was selected for this mission?
This is one point where the story felt weak. Skate and Merrin live almost continually in each others minds, yet Skate has a secret that Merrin doesn't know. It seems implausible.
I would also have liked to know more about how long it takes to raise a clone to maturity. Skate and Merrin mention their time at school, so this suggests a normal rate of growth. However, Skate claims that twins are a disposable commodity - lose a pair, crack open the vats and have a new pair. This is a valid suspicion if clones can be grown rapidly, but not if it takes a couple of decades.
In conclusion, I'd say that the Cally prequel CD is worth buying for the first story alone. Regard the second story as a bonus - It's worth listening to even if it isn't as good as the first (and I suspect from the way the story develops that Merrin Cally might be the one to eventually join Liberator, even though I'd personally prefer Ariane Cally).
In the original series, the history Auron was confused to say the least; in this new series, an attempt is being made from the outset to work out a consistent background that I'm hopeful will be continued throughout the series.
Ariane Cally is one of many sisters in the Cally clone group. The first Auronar clones were brought up in very close groups and this led to a very intense relationship. Ariane is a single -- she is still very close to clone siblings of her own age, but was brought up with other children as well. Hence, she alone among her clone group has a fear of flying. When her plane crashes with how was the sole survivor, Ariane Cally, the management consultant, has to survive in the forest on her own. Owing to a head injury, she loses contact with all her clones apart from one whom she has never met before. On Auron, sisters from older clone groups are referred to as aunts. Thus, the only sister who is able to contact her is called 'Aunty' by her.
Jan Chappell plays the character of 'Aunty', and the relationship between the two Callys is well portrayed. I enjoyed the development of Ariane from management consultant to survivor -- her glee when she works out how to contact the people searching for her is an absolute joy.
My only real niggle with this drama is that the pilot of the aircraft appears to be played by the same actor as one of the other characters, and this is briefly confusing. Otherwise, I recommend this drama highly and I'm hoping that Ariane Cally will be the one who eventually meets up with Blake and his crew.
I've been listening to the new Cally CD (Blood and Earth + Flag and Flame) and will be reviewing it properly as soon as I've listened to it a second time to confirm my initial impression.
The first drama on the CD is probably going to be my favourite of all the Blake's 7 prequels so far - it's lovely to see the way Cally's personality develops, and there's also a serious attempt to give Auron a consistent history. Jan Chappell is in this one, and she's good. (There are many Callys, all clones of the first Cally. They have similarities in their personalities, but also differences)
I've been listening to the new Cally CD (Blood and Earth + Flag and Flame) and will be reviewing it properly as soon as I've listened to it a second time to confirm my initial impression.
Jan Chappell, will be signing this latest audio adventure at The Who Shop on Saturday, 12 September 2009 from 12-3pm. Also joining Jan Chappell will be Blake’s 7 audio series writers’ Ben Aaronovitch and Marc Platt along with Producer/Director, Andrew Mark Sewell.
The signing takes place at The Who Shop on Saturday, 12 September from 12-3pm;
The Who Shop
39-41 Barking Road
The level of coincidence also runs just a little too high overall.
However, if you're a fan of Blake's 7, there's a big bonus in the arrival of Servalan (under a different name, obviously, but you'll recognise her personality very quickly) and she gives Miles a run for his money. Also, for the really keen, there's a point where I was briefly channelling Miles as Jarriere. (Miles is 4ft 9in, so it's easy to do this).
The basic difficulty in reviewing this CD is that the plot revolves around whether Carl Varon is innocent or guilty of the charges against him, and I really don't to give that away, yet the way Travis deals with that issue is central to the story.
Carl Varon is a leader of the Radical Party, more extreme in their views than Roj Blake's Freedom Party. There are extremists in the Radical who believe in terrorist methods to overthrow the government and the key question is whether Varon is one of them, or whether he has been skillfully framed. Varon has specifically asked for Stefan Travis to be his defence at the trial, on the grounds that although part of a system Varon sees as corrupt, Travis is idealistic enough to consider the possibility of his innocence, rather than condemning him outright on the evidence of some suspect tapes.
The good part of the writing is that the listener can see factors that suggest both innocence and guilt, although a big annoyance was that a key recording with a piece of distorted text had it so distorted that I couldn't work out what was actually being said - which was frustrating as it was apparantly related to a terrorist plot.
The terrorist plot is important as it is intended to raise questions of what it is ethically acceptable to do to get information from a terrorist in order to save lives. However, (and this is where I feel the story falls down), the bar at which a character might be expected to feel guilt over his actions has been set at the wrong level. Or maybe I'm wrong... Perhaps each listener has to decide that one for themselves.
Before you listen to it, ask yourself which of the following is true:
Would you feel deep regret for your actions if you tortured a man:
To discover if he was innocent or guilty?
To find out what he knows, if you're convinced he's guilty?
To find out if there's a bomb when you know he has terrorist connections and there's an event they want to disrupt?
To find the location of a bomb when you have good reason to believe there is one, even if you're not sure if he was involved in planting it?
To find the location of a bomb when you have good reason to believe there is one and that your prisoner knows where it is?
To fnd out who else was involved after a bomb has gone off and you know your prisoner was involved?
For any reason under any circumstances.
Craig Kelly was very convincing as Travis - I hear mental shades of both Stephen Greiff and Brian Croucher when I listen to him. It's just the script that I feel reaches a trifle too far for idealism and thus ultimately fails to convince. (If Travis had been portrayed as more naive, I'd have gone for it, but he's written as intelligent and perfectly willing to be cynical - I just don't quite buy the very end of the drama.) I'd rate it three out of five, wheres Eye of the Machine is worth four or five out of five.
'Eye of the Machine' is by Ben Aaronovitch and it's a well-written drama. Colin Salmon plays Kerr Avon, Keeley Hawes is Anna Grant, and I greatly enjoyed Geoffrey Palmer as Professor Ensor.
I liked it a lot better on the second pass than on the first, and I suspect that may be the case for many fans of the original series. When a series is rewritten, a lot of the back story inevitably changes with it. The same characters walk the stage, and their key relationships remain, but all the details do not. After all, if they remained identical, there would be no possibility of surprise or any real sense of dramatic tension. The real questions then are whether the new series captures the spirit of the old and whether the stories work as dramas in their own right.
On my second listening, I was no longer thrown off balance by discovering that Avon, a relatively naive student from a provincial planet who has come to Oxford to study artificial intelligence under Professor Ensor. Ensor, the leader in his field, is very dismissive of those below his own social level, but with the help of his new girlfriend, Anna Grant, Avon is able to get Ensor to listen to his ideas.
Anna is a political activist for the Freedom Party and Avon falls in love with her during an entertaining argument on how the heath service could reasonably reduce its budget (this is the future, so Avon's suggestion is one that seems counter-intuitive to our ears until he explains it). Avon, a non-political animal, is persuaded by Anna to help out. In some ways, he's more cynical about the government than she is, but far less interested in getting involved. Anna starts to change that and infect him with her beliefs.
How does it all turn out?
Well, we know our Avon (in both series). He's totally cynical and thinks getting involved is a bad idea - this is one version of what gave him those beliefs.
Oh yes, what is Anna studying? Funny you should mention it. She's a post-graduate in psycho-dynamics...
I'll be reviewing the second CD shortly, but I'd say the pair are good value for money. The Vila/Gan back story, while reasonably well written, wasn't as good as this pair.
I'm not planning on getting stock unless people tell me that they want them, because I've still got a few copies left of the 'When Vila Met Gan' CD (which rather surprises me as I thought it was a good CD) but if at least five people want the new set and tell me now, then I'll do them a discount of a pound on the normal price.
I'd expect these to be good - they've got good script-writers, and that's a big plus with me.
When I originally made the decision to stock the Blake's 7 audios, it was on the strength of the podcasts on the sci-fi channel website. They were okay, but I found listening to them in five-minute chunks irritating. I only listened to the first three and hoped that the rest would be okay.
In fact, having listened to the first CD, it's a lot better than okay. I've listened to it twice already and I certainly intend to listen to it again.
The script is written by Ben Aaronovitch and his familiarity with the original series shines through. Many elements of the plot are different, but the key dilemmas remain the same. Blake no longer has to face a situation in which prisoners on board the London are threatened with death by sub-commander Raiker, but he still has to make a decision whether to choose freedom when it will mean the death of a hostage.
Another noticeable homage to the original series is in the sound effects. If you are keen-eared, and familiar with the original series, see how many sound effects you can recognize. Alistair Lock did a good job -- and I also got a real buzz when I heard the Liberator theme tune at appropriate points in the plot.
Many of my favourite lines of the original dialogue occur in the present series - Villa still objects to personal violence, especially when he's the person... But this is not a slavish copy of the original. There are many changes, and some are for the better. Jenna comes over as a much stronger character and has some good dialogue of her own -- " There are two rules to remember when landing a shuttle on a strange planet. One -- do not leave your shuttle unguarded. Two -- do NOT leave your shuttle unguarded."
Yes, that's right, Liberator has a shuttle rather than a teleport. This makes excellent sense. TV SF shows went though a period of having transporters or teleports for budget reasons.Building the set for a shuttle acquired extra money. Also, showing the crew entering and leaving the shuttle took more time than simply showing them arriving via a teleport. As everyone knows, the visual effects are better (and cheaper) in audio.
The teleport was a handicap in many ways in the original series. It was very difficult to pin the characters down in a dangerous situation without having to devise a way for the teleport bracelet to become lost or broken. Using a shuttle should make it much easier to set up dramatic situations.
The cast are well chosen. Daniella Nardini reminds me of Jacqueline Pearce in her performance of Servalan, Carrie Dobro gives Jenna confidence and grit (I wasn't sure about her American accent at first, but in fact it helps to have different accents in audio), Derek Riddell's Blake is buoyant and confident (and appears to have Avon's measure). Colin Salmon as Avon is self-centred and sarcasic and has no difficulty insulting Blake's decisions.
It looks as though the characters may get more developed backgrounds. We already have hints that Vila and Gan have worked together in the past, and Travis has a fiancee! (I wonder if she's going to get killed...)
Servalan appears aware of the internal corruption that is damaging the Federation and is concerned about it, but not so concerned that she didn't use her family influence to get where she is now.
My favourite character of all is probably one who will never appear again (though I can hope). Frances Barber as the judge at Blake's trial gave a brilliant performance and left me wanting to know more about this determined, elderly woman.
It's clear that the Auronar are going to be more developed than they were in the original series. Hints are being dropped about them - and this is before Cally has appeared on the scene. They're a force that worries Servalan and we wonder whether their society is potentially even more repressive than the Federation - or is that just political spin?
Last, but not least, because I'm picky about scientific details, the series won my heart about the time the Commander of the London ordered a thrust of several million Newtons. Yeah! I love SI units and I hate technobabble. I'm hearing plausible sounding stuff about ship courses and accelerations and they appear to have determined the basic rules of the way space flight operates in this universe. And Blake is an engineer who actually gets to use his engineering skills!
It's fun. Go and buy a copy!
Sheila Paulson has written another story in the popular Jabberwocky series, 'Avatar' starts with a dilemma for Tarrant and can also be found in the Hermit Library along with all the rest of the Jabberwocky stories.
When visiting the library, remember that you can set your preference for the amount of sex that you do/don't want in the stories it offers you.
The new Blake's 7 audio CDs are now available to pre-order. We're offering a discount if you order all three together (though they'll arrive individually as they are released). I'm really impressed with some of the things they've done with this new version of Blake's 7. There's some inevitable quibbles, but overall I think you'll enjoy them. Definitely worth a listen. We're selling them at £10 each, plus postage and packing at cost (that's £10.70 for the UK, £11.20 Eur, £11.70 ROW).
As a separate item, I also have a collection of Blake's 7 songvids, again a mixture of PAL and NTSC - half a dozen tapes.
I'll part with either set in exchange for postage costs (a donation to the Redemption con charities would be appreciated, but is optional).