The Joys Of Fan Fiction: Blake’s 7

Blake’s 7 is a sci-fi series developed by Terry Nation that ran on the BBC between 1978-81. Set several hundred years into the future, it was a dystopia, in contrast to Star Trek (which, though I enjoy, is sometimes too optimistic: “we conquered poverty in the twenty-second century” someone says at one point. Oh yeah?) I was captivated by this disparate gang trying to fight back against a brutal tyranny, and tuned in eagerly every week. My interest in it was revived in the early nineties when it was released on video. I wanted more, so I joined one of the many fan clubs and soon began to contribute to the newsletter.

Unlike Doctor Who and Star Trek, which had novelisations and new stories in print, fans of Blake’s 7 largely had to content themselves with fan fiction. That is, fiction written by fans. This is a valuable resource especially for series that have ended. It can follow on from the series end, set stories between episodes, provide back stories for characters and even tidy up inconsistencies from episodes. It keeps the flame alight. The club produced its own fiction, and I eagerly sought it. However, while you can’t doubt the enthusiasm of the contributing writers, the problem with fan fiction is the wide variation in quality. I read a lot of it in the nineties and while there were some good writers, there were also many not so good. Perhaps it’s a reaction to how I was taught at university, but I often thought there was too much telling and not enough showing.

I don’t want to be too negative however. I enjoyed a lot of what I read and it filled the gap left by the series end and helped keep my interest going. Now, the series is out on DVD, and there are various audio adventures and books available. This would have seemed an impossible dream in the nineties. I can still remember the anticipation of a newsletter or zine arriving through the post. It was one of the things that brightened my life then, and for that I will always be grateful.

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