Thursday, June 18, 2015

Blake's 7: Lucifer III This Time It's Personal

Yes, that final installment of "really-is-that-the-best-you-can-do?" PGP novels which are published and everything has been released. It takes a truly unique mind to make a reader pine for stories where Avon and his pet Sea Devil were forced to recreate old episodes at the demented whim of Nala Snevets, but I found myself at times yearning for the nihilistic pointlessness and characters saying "You tell me" a lot.

So. Where were we? Um...

...seriously, trying to remember. Basically, if you liked any characters in Blake's 7 they are now all dead. They died horribly and pointlessly and more often than not their corpses were multilated and defiled by some nutters with pump-action shotguns, or some dodgy Oriental stereotypes, or the Alien Greys as apposed to the Human Greys or something. And if you're - somehow - interested in characters from previous books, well, they all died in similar ways.

So, all that's left is a scraping-the-bottom-of-a-barrel evil empire (all the others have been shot by pump-action shotguns) while Avon deliberately travels in a shitty, fuel-inefficient spaceship with a retarded computer called I Am George and Orac, who dreams of better times when Paul Darrow hadn't written any of this shit and only had his appearance on The Adventure Games as a career low. (You seen that? I know, right, but in fairness how anyone would deal with that demented chaos escapes me...)

After a soul-crushing dramatis persona listing all the dead characters - but not Soolin, for some reason - and reminding us we've had to watch the destruction of the European, American, Russian and Chinese Federations in the same tedious inevitability, the plot itself starts.

The first prologue has Travis in his snowy hunting lodge ambushing a squad of ninjas who are stupidly named after their social status - Alpha, Beta, Gamma, etc. - without any motivation beyond trying to be a Bond villain and showing off how he totally is a badass.

The second prologue has Travis having a flirty champagne dinner with Servalan as they discuss their plans to conquer the Federation and kill Blake. This is utterly, utterly, beyond-sparacus wrong and although Darrow says at the start of the book this is a warped history percieved by Avon, surely even he wouldn't get it so wrong? I mean, he really thought Servalan and Travis had dinner parties? That they enjoyed?!

Fucking insane.

Then there's part one - The Past - which describes the prologues as "non-events". They are, mate, in more ways than one. This then follows a very uninteresting history of the Federation with all the Cold War super powers creating Federations and gangster syndicates, and it's all like some action montage spliced from The Godfather and The Karate Kid and I'm not even reading this shit, I'm skimming through it.

Part two - Present - kicks off with Avon left alone on the Liberator flight deck shortly after Cygnus Alpha and trying to interrogate Zen. This goes nowhere, but Zen announces that the Federation have passed new laws so terrorists like Blake don't get trials. And Avon is surprised that Blake has named the ship Liberator, presumably contradicting canon so Avon can remember Blake as a deluded Christ-like visionary. How thrilling. I'd forgive the changes if they were interesting.

Anyway, Blake uses the Liberator to attack some asteroid or other, but Servalan, Travis and all their funky pals in the Quartet are there and it all goes pear-shaped. Avon has to tell Blake about Travis and Servalan, including the fact the former might just want some payback because of the whole "eye" business. Blake is amazed at Avon's genius, ruffles his hair and sings "For He's A Jolly Good Fellow..."

No, wait, sorry. Brain slid off the page there.

Part three - Past Imperfect which rather worryingly implies that the previous was meant to be taken seriously - is some bollocks about a teenaged Servalan killing some Chinese hookers or some crap.

Part four - Present Company - is a rewrite of Time Squad with the 'not-Daleks-some-guys-in-sandals' plot removed and replaced with some Oriental warships that only let the Liberator attack Saurian Major because the lead Chinaman and Avon went to Cambridge together. Over the finest French absinthe, Avon negotiates a treaty before he, Blake and some chav named Vila teleport down and meet some vulgar brood mare called Cally who Avon considers an uncultured mare.

Cut to Travis and Servalan drinking champagne ("what else?" as the text reminds us) and listening to Bowie as they text about how ghastly this rebel business is. Then some Chinese assassins have a Darrow-patented knife fight in an arctic wasteland for some reason or other. Meanwhile, Blake who couldn't go to the toilet without asking Avon for permission, agrees to smuggle some Chinese stuff to Earth but then they run away.

I should stress, I'm making this sound more exciting than it actually is.

Part five - Dark Past - reveals that rather than any no-fist whimpering about Anna Grant, Avon actually SUCEEDED in robbing the bank AND got away scot free with all the money. He was then worshipped like a god by the Orientals who thought he was just so damn awesome and his degree from Cambridge made them totally want to decree this as canon.

Part six - Requiem - is a rewrite of Duel where the only important bit is Blake blubbering to Avon on why he didn't kill Travis because, um, it was like a dream or something. Travis meanwhile bitches to Servalan he promises he'll get round to killing Blake on the weekend, and then he'll do the washing up. Servalan agrees and they all drink champagne and talk about how Avon is much cooler than Blake. Oh, and when Project Avalon fails and Travis is sacked, Avon is the only one to think there might be repercussion because he is the only one on the Liberator not a barely-hominid milk-fed gimp. Especially Vila, who everyone hates.

Part seven - The Magnificent Machine - kicks off with the aftermath of Orac. While Travis yawns and tells Servalan that, seriously, he promises he will kill Blake one day and then has rough sex with her, all the Liberator crew are worshiping Avon as a technological-demigod and confident he will be able to master the awesome power OF TURNING ORAC ON!!!! After lots of wire-cutting and booby-trap removing that only the wonderful Avon could ever manage, he turns Orac on and screams that the plexi-glass fishtank will do what Avon says OR HE WILL FUCKING BLOW YOUR BRAINS OUT THROUGH YOUR FUCKING ARSE YOU FUCKING FUCKER'S FUCK!

"I'm not sure I like you," says Orac quietly, but agrees because Avon is the main character.

Meanwhile, Travis and Servalan watch a video of the Liberator exploding on youtube. It's probably nothing.

Part eight - Adagio - starts with Avon telling off Vila and Cally for getting dialogue and announces that now DSV1 has been blown up the next logical step would be to wipe out Central Control and everyone agrees with him. Travis and Servalan somehow know this, but still aren't fussed. More champagne!

Part nine - Fast Forward - reveals that after Gan's death Blake was mad with paranoia and instructed Orac to bug the Liberator and record every conversation. But lo, the Great Leader did not prepare for the genius of Avon who simply re-iterated his original conversation with Orac who wisely wiped all the recordings before Blake could listen to them. Avon tells Blake off for independent thought but agrees to help him take down Star One (there's no explanation in the text clarifying what it is, so any new readers would be completely lost - no doubt this would all be explained in further rewrites). Blake sobs with gratitude.

Part ten - Lento - has everyone bitching about Travis' escape in Trial and generally foreboding about a possible Andromedan invasion from "undiscovered galaxies".

Part eleven - Decline - informs us that the gods "got a good laugh" out of the Season B finale. Apparently Servalan didn't take over the Federation but had some power bloc or other tell her to stop wasting time drinking champagne and do something. Blake admits he is so utterly pathetic that Avon should be in charge from now on and about bloody time too.

Part twelve - Fall - has Servalan reveal all that subtext Nala Snevets saw in Hall Mellanby was true, and Avon bigs up how he's not a Travis clone because he actually kills people. Mellanby proves to be "untrustworthy" when he turns out not to be bullet-proof and Servalan murders him. Bit harsh, there.

Part thirteen - Hiatus - yay, Tarrant turns up on the Liberator. Since he could be useful fighting Federation gunships, Avon lets him stay but is mightily pissed off that Cally, Vila and Dayna survive the episode - thank god Blake and Jenna are gone. The others, however, now fear how awesome Avon is and constantly conspire to stab him in the back but Avon is just too damn amazing for them to even try.

Part fourteen - Confusion - reveals that the whole Anna/Sula/rebellion thing has really been exaggerated and no one really cared what happened there. Seriously, you emo freaks, it was of no importance whatsoever. Avon is far more interested in meeting up with his Chinese fan-club and then killing them. The Chinese chase the Liberator through a cloud of "space dust" but aren't stupid enough to go through. After seeing Terminal on the scanners it takes them five seconds to work out the plot, because Asians are real clever.

Anyway the space fungus eats away the Liberator, kills Zen, but luckily Servalan escapes in an escape pod which isn't infected with fungus. Lucky. Since everyone except Avon spotted the corrosion right away, they managed to get off the ship. Avon smiles as the Liberator is blown up but, with no context of any kind, just looks like a concussed stoat.

Part fifteen - Clarification - those damn Chinese know everything that happens in the next couple of episodes because they're just so damn clever. You know Servalan, she's only cool because she pretends to be Chinese with all her cunning and death traps. Despite knowing every last detail of Xenon Base, they don't do a single sodding thing. Meanwhile, Avon decides to fight the Federation and use Tarrant as a replacement Blake figurehead type but it won't work because Tarrant's stupid and Avon's too much of a cool rebel to form a proper alliance. Also, Servalan is not Sleer, she's just wandering around trying to rebuild the Federation because some other guys told her to.

Also the ending of Season D is rewritten, so the troops kill everyone but leave Blake and Avon standing so Avon kills Blake as he tries to explain he didn't betray him. Avon, apparently "always shoots first and asks questions later" as this gives him more chances to smile enigmatically.

Part sixteen - Desolation - summarizes the first book of this trilogy of excremental narcissm. Except apparently the Federation troopers were killed by Blake's rebels trying to save Avon, who were then killed by Groucho Marx in this version. Servalan and the Chinese bitch about not being able to find Orac.

Part seventeen - Another Time, Another Place - kicks off with the ongoing tale of Avon wandering around killing people for no good reason. Orac whines that he'd really like to be owned by someone less tedious an asshole, and maybe he could remove all the bombs he's strapped to the computer? Avon laughs like a buzzard in pain and continues his pointless quest.

Part eighteen - Last Man Down - has Avon crash his ship and take up his father's hobby of shooting helicopters with pump-action shotguns. Finally some Chinese people turn up and suggest that maybe Avon is a self-destructive moron trying to die in a pointless gunfight to make amends for being a collosal fuckwit. Avon shoots at them, so they send in their ground troops onto the ship but Avon empties the fuel tanks and intends to strike a match and kill them all in a blaze of... well, blaze. The army become stir-fry and Avon sneaks out of his ship with Orac...

...only to be shot by a sniper. Badly injured, Avon keeps trying to shoot people until some Chinese girl gets sick of this shit and decides to cut his head off.

The guard remained by the pod. Xian strolled towards the almost prone Avon. She looked down at him. ‘End of the line,’ she said coolly.

Avon tried to smile – and failed. ‘But for whom?’ he said.

Xian laughed – a charming, girlish laugh. ‘You’ve fought hard and well, Avon,’ she said, ‘but you never really had a chance, did you?’

‘Is that what you’re here for – to offer me another chance?’

Xian shook her head. She glanced at Orac. Avon placed a protective hand on the computer’s shell. His blood stained it. ‘You’re dying,’ Xian said, still maintaining a coolness.

‘We all die – it’s just a question of when.’

With astonishing speed, Xian extracted the sharp knife from her belt and slashed at Avon. At the same time, he attempted to rise – thus deflecting the blade from his face to his upper torso. Blood seeped through his jacket and he sank back into the sand.

Xian frowned, then raised the knife once more and prepared to deliver a fatal thrust. As swiftly as she had produced her weapon, Avon plucked the Bowie knife from his boot and, as Xian leaned forward, he slammed it into her stomach and twisted the blade upwards so that it pierced her heart. Xian looked surprised. Her eyes clouded in death and she fell backwards into the dust.

‘You haven’t lost your touch, have you?’ Orac said.

Avon crawled alongside Xian’s corpse and lifted her gun from its holster. The guard by the pod raised his rifle. Avon shot him. Then, exhausted, he fell back once more. ‘Arm yourself,’ he said to Orac.

‘Is this the end?’ the computer asked.


The sun was high and bright when the dragon guards of Lyn Wei approached – cautiously.

Avon lay motionless in the sand, as if sleeping. His face was deathly pale, his eyes tight closed, but a faint smile played on his bloodless lips.

Orac had obeyed its last instruction, but it paused before detonating the explosives within it. Explosives that would unleash tiny metal darts that would rip into any number of the dragon guards as they drew near.

‘Avon?’ Orac said.

Reply came there none.

And Orac wept.

As did I, gentle blog readers. As did I.

As the late Rik Mayall said, "THIS IS SHIT!!!!"


Matt Marshall said...

I really enjoyed Lucifer just down to how entertainingly bad it was. Lucifer II was just boring as it was Avon fighting the faceless Space Chinese; it didn't make me want to buy book 3 and from this it looks like 3 is more of book 2 than 1!

Youth of Australia said...

I'd say that's a fair summary.

The interesting thing I should have mentioned is BF's story "Brother" which gives us an insight into Avon's past and seems specifically written to completely contradict everything Darrow has ever written. Hell, it even contradicts Afterlife by revealing Torr Avon was not a super-manipulating space empress but an emo space leper. And a man. So BF might be publishing these books but they sure aren't canonizing it.

Matt Marshall said...

It sounds like Lucifer 3 contradicts Lucifer (and all of Blakes 7 as well?!?)

Does Avon's gun get any more barrels? I cheered when he made it to a 9-barelled space shotgun in Lucifer 2

Youth of Australia said...

It does, possibly intentionally.

And I can't judge the gun calibre, alas.

Miles Reid-Lobatto said...

This is getting to the point where I have to write my version... that... that's terrible.

Matt Marshall said...

I feel like you really need to watch Star Trek: Renegades. It is an attempt at a Trek Blakes 7 style show but not as good. There is a prize if you make it through the whole thing.

Youth of Australia said...

Hrm. What's the prize?

Matt Marshall said...

The prize is the expansion of your mind and experiences so that nothing you ever experience can be as bad as that.

(Actually that's a lie, the team's previous effort, Of Gods and Monsters was even worse, but that featured an elderly Uhura and Chekov bumbling around while in a mirror universe, John Harrison fought Charlie X in front of the Guardian of Forever. Renegades was (hilariously) an actual attempt at a fan-funded pilot being pitched to CBS)

Youth of Australia said...

But I have read the works of Ron Mallet. How can any Trek episode be worse??!