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And so it came to pass that 34 years ago, many of us were looking forward to the season finale of the fourth season of Blake's 7. It was obviously going to be a cliffhanger, because that's what they always did.

We're still hanging on the edge of that cliff...
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It is the winter solstice today, and more importantly for one small church, the Church of Boucher, it is one of our main feast days. Ladies and gentleman, raise a glass of good cheer angst to the man who killed Christmas. Happy Gauda Prime Day!
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Picked up from the Lyst: Gareth Thomas will be playing Cadfael on stage in a production touring the UK next year. More information on the touring company's website, including the first batch of dates (they mention touring in autumn as well, but no dates as yet).

http://www.middlegroundtheatre.co.uk/Cadfael.htm
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And a very happy Gauda Prime Day to you all, troopers. Alas, I have no presents to leave under the tree farm today, but fear not, I intend to continue with the zine upload as soon as my hands are recovered enough for that amount of mousing.

I regret to inform you that I will not be taking part in the annual Blake wake on Twitter tonight, owing to being geographically challenged. :-(
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Gacked from Altariel, on the off-chance that there's someone reading my LJ but not hers who would appreciate it:



And when I'd finished watching that one, YouTube offered me the following, which will make no sense at all to non-fans, but which reminded me of why I loved and still love this show so very very much.

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I was very sorry to hear of the death of Janet Lees Price on 22 May 2012 (currently at the top of the news page at http://www.avon-paul-darrow.co.uk/news.htm ). I never had the opportunity to meet her, but I know from friends how much she gave to Blake's 7 fandom.

Kalypso_v has a nice tribute to her.
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Big Finish is looking for Blake's 7 novellas -- 20 kword, first season only, open submission call. Outline and first 1000 words to be in by 10 June 2012. More details at their website:

http://www.bigfinish.com/news/v/blake-s-7-writers-opportunity

(I very much regret to say that I recognise that it's impractical for me to submit to this call. I don't have anything suitable on hand even in partial draft, and there is no way I can write a novella from scratch in a commercial timeframe until my RSI has improved somewhat. Writers who miss deadlines without very good reason go to the end of the queue for the next submission slot. But dear god I would like to write something for this.)
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Thirty years ago tonight, the BBC broadcast the last episode of Blake's 7. Yes, that episode, the one that even non-fans remember. Thirty years since Chris Boucher ruined everyone's Christmas. Or, looked at from another perspective, gave angst fans their best Christmas present ever.

And it was the gift that just kept on giving, as far as fanfic was concerned. It's still inspiring stories. But the ones I've got under the G-P tree farm are from the 20th Anniversary Wake. Tales 5 and 6 are now available for your reading pleasure at the zine website on WordPress.
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Tales 5 and 6 (from the 20th Anniversary Wake) are now on the WordPress site, at least in draft form. They need to be tidied up, but they're readable. Alas, I have not had time to copy them over to AO3. Nor have I had time to dig out one of my own stories to upload, but I think two zines is enough for now. :-)
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Catching up on some mailing list posts I missed when I was ill, and found this:



I think I should get out the boxsets this weekend, ready for the thirtieth anniversary of Gauda Prime Day in a couple of weeks. :-)
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Well, that's a top collection for Tales set up at AO3, and sub-collections for "Dead Boyfriend of the Week" and Tales 1. Dead Boyfriend is populated with the cover art by Spacefall, a contents list, and links to all the contents, plus I've added my own story to AO3 and put it into the collection. I'm stopping there for the moment, but will put up sub-collections for the other zines at some point. Next experiment is to upload the entire zine of Dead Boyfriend as a single "story" so that anyone who wants to can dump the entire thing onto an ebook reader. However, that can wait -- I've done enough zine stuff for one weekend, and it's time to work on the writing that I get paid for.

Setting up the collection for Tales 1 necessitated trawling my hard drive looking for the editorial and contents list, which took longer than it might, mostly because that was 13 years ago. Urk. I also found the permissions list for Tales 1, which was a serious blast from the past. I've lost contact with a lot of those folk, and not just because I've gafiated from the fandom -- some of them gafiated before I did, and a lot more thoroughly. At least I still go to Redemption.
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Jesse Wave's latest post about m/m romance being non-stop twenty-something white USAmericans inspired me to do a headcount. Let's see...

the tl;dr stats under the cut )

So, how do I fit that stereotype of writing twenty-something white USAmericans[*] in an unidentified cookie-cutter USAmerican city, doing jobs like writer or artist or BDSM club manager? [* specifying because Wave is Canadian.]

Not too many twenty-somethings in that lot. An awful lot of scientists and engineers, to the point where I have been accused of being unable to write characters that are *not* geeks. And not a single one of my main characters is an American. Every one of the humans is British, even the ones in stories set in interstellar empires. Funny, that... The leads are uniformly white, but that's partly a reflection of my personal experience of discrimination based on my ethnicity being about things that aren't as obvious as physical appearance -- though it took me years to consciously recognise where some of the stuff in my m/m fiction about passing was coming from.

I wasn't deliberately setting out to write diverse characters (in the sense of "diversity" that Wave was using). I was writing stuff that interested *me*, and for various reasons that means a lot of characters in their thirties. As I get older myself, it becomes easier to write convincing characters in their forties and fifties, and I expect to write more of them. I don't write about US characters because from my perspective they're the alien, not the default. The non-stop parade of scientists and engineers is both "write what you know", and "write what interests you". Less obviously, the political characters fall under those headings as well -- $EX_EMPLOYER was big on encouraging staff to participate in the community, and I had several colleagues who were involved in local politics. So I've been writing these characters because they reflected my world and my interests. And I've been doing it for a long time, in genre terms. From before most of the epubs would consider m/m, from when one of the biggest said that it wouldn't take m/m because women didn't want to read that stuff. All the way back to when I was writing mostly fanfic, and there you have one of the biggest reasons why I write stuff about thirty and forty somethings with a strong political thread running through it. Because what set me writing somewhere back in the late 1990s was a dystopian sf show with 1970s BBC sensibilities and a cast who were easy on the eye but very much not selected on their sex appeal for the demographic that American network tv is chasing. I'm a product of my time and place, and that influence is just as obvious in my original fiction as in my fanfiction.

Which leads back to a conversation elsewhere a few weeks ago about a new wave in that fandom that seems to have been born out of the culture of a specific group of mailing lists. One of the markers of that new wave was an interest in experimenting with literary form, but it wasn't the only one. As I said in that discussion, I wasn't that interested in exploring literary style in my own writing, but I was very much interested in using the background universe provided by canon to explore political and psychological concepts, and yes, *especially* in the X-rated material.

That hasn't changed just because I've gafiated from writing in that fandom. Indeed, I probably started writing in the first place because I was already interested in such concepts, and along came a discussion forum that allowed me to chew those concepts to death, both in essay format and in fiction. Branching into original fic (which happened only a couple of years after I started writing fanfic) simply gave me new ways of talking about this stuff. One of the ways this shows up is the constant harping about identity, what it is, and who controls it.

This is utterly overt in Mindscan, where mental invasion and coercion is the very basis of the book. Hardly surprising, you might think if you're aware that the core of that book started life as a fanfic piece; but the reality is that I wrote the original novelette as fanfic because fanfic was my primary format at the time. The basic story concept, I could and probably would have written as original fiction had there been anywhere at the time where I could have sold it. On the other hand, watching the show as a young teenager nearly twenty years earlier, with no thought then of writing, was probably a contributing factor in my interest in such things in the first place - a pretty little chicken and egg problem.

But it colours other books as well. Promises to Keep, Spindrift, Dolphin Dreams -- these all address in various ways the problems faced by paperless people in an increasingly cradle-to-grave documented society. Particularly people who are paperless because they are outside the norm. There is, of course, another specific influence on these books, and that's Heinlein's Methuselah's Children.

There are other examples, and other influences. But it does rather look as if part of the reason my stories don't fit that stereotype quoted above is because I'm using a slightly different toolkit to a lot of m/m romance writers, and yes, I am including some of the other writers who came out of fanfic in that. There are fandoms and fandoms, and My Fandom had a strong self-selection for people who were interested in the sort of things you find in dystopian space opera, as is rather obvious when I look at some of my fellow fen who went off to play with original universes. We're perfectly capable of writing pretty twenty-somethings if that's what the story requires, but it's unlikely to be because that's what the market requires.

So why write romance at all, if what my toolkit contains comes from science fiction and fantasy? Because there is room within romance for the stories that don't fit narrow stereotypes of what romance should be. Because the genre conventions can be a self-imposed framework to work within, rather than an externally imposed constriction of my writing choices. The requirement of the Happy Ever After doesn't have to be an artificial limit imposing a fake conflict and equally fake resolution; rather, it can be an intriguing puzzle for a writer, a game to play with your readers. There will be a conclusion where the rough general nature is guaranteed, just as there is with a mystery, but there are so many interesting ways to get there. And writing about a wider range of characters than that narrow stereotype falls naturally out of playing the game.
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I have Too Many copies of the Blake's 7 novelisations, in part because of my habit of picking up cheap copies of certain books to pass on to other fen. Some of them now appear to be worth more than my lower limit for "give it a couple of months on Amazon before putting it in the Waveney box". I *was* going to sell the Citadel versions, because they have the gloriously bad cover art by someone who clearly had *no* *idea* what he was copying by rote (Liberator with only 2 engine pods?).

Except they appear to be the copies that Gareth Thomas signed for me. It's not as if I'm short of Things Wot Gareth Signed For Me (and some of them have some very rude comments to prove they were signed specifically for me). But...

Shall have to think about this a bit longer.
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The Halloween story [livejournal.com profile] predatrix and I wrote for the City a few years ago is now posted at my original LJ, in honour of Gauda Prime Day. Most people who'd have an interest in it will have seen it before, but I'm running out of GP-themed stories and the other obvious candidate is too long to post on LJ in one chunk.

For that section of my readership that didn't understand a word of that -- yes, it is free fiction by self and Alex Woolgrave. No, you will not enjoy reading it if you didn't understand the references without resorting to Google. I hope to post something of more general appeal later.
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Just noticed on Amazon UK that BBC Audiobooks is publishing a CD series titled Classic Radio Sci-Fi, and one of the recently released title is Radio 4's dramatisation of Childhood's End. It was previously released on cassette in 1998, but as I've no idea where my copy is, I think I shall be getting the CD version...

Childhood's End (Classic Radio Sci-Fi)

A note for the Blake's 7 fans, especially the Tarrant Nostra: this is the one starring Steven Pacey.
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Amazon UK informs me that the DVD with Blake's Junction 7 and two other short pastiche films from the same gang is now available to pre-order at a special price of 10.98, release day being 21 January:

Blake's Junction 7 / 'Ant Muzak' / World of Wrestling
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Just watched That Scene in broadcast quality for the first time in years. In fact, all of the final scene from the scene break point on the DVD menu. Oh my. Gareth can be very, very scary when he chooses to be...

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