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Blake's 7

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Sphere, London, 1977
price: 85p
208 pages

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Arrow, London, 1979
price: 1.00
192 pages

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BBC, London, 1981
price: 1.50
160 pages

copies available to buy

The blurb on the backs:

Blake's 7:
Galactic freedom fighters!
Exile from Dome City - where a vicious regime wields dictatorial power - Roj Blake swears vengeance on the corrupt leaders who have destroyed his future.
Hijacking the
Liberator, the most advanced spacecraft ever created, Blake travels to the sinister planet Cygnus Alpha. There, risking the dreaded Curse of Cygnus, he rescues other victims of the regime from the megalomaniac Vargas...
And with these allies he forms a fighting force to combat galactic injustice: BLAKE'S SEVEN!
From the latest spectacular television drama series by Terry Nation, creator of
Survivors and other smash-hit TV successes, top British science fiction Trevor Hoyle has written a gripping novel of deep-space action, adventure and intrigue.

Project Avalon:
Alone against the might of the Federation, an army of androids - and Project Avalon!
From the arid wastes of Amersat, Planet of the Dead, to the oceans of acid on the planet Aristos Roj Blake and his crew on board the
Liberator wage a deadly war against the forces of galactic oppression.
But now the Federation's Supreme Commander, Servalan, and her lieutenant, the evil and embittered Space Commander Travis, are launched upon a plan that cannot fail. Their aim: to capture the
Liberator, to trap and destroy Blake's Seven and to defeat for ever the freedom fighters of the universe!

Scorpio Attack:
After the Atomic Wars there emerged from the ensuing chaos a Dictatorship so powerful that it enmeshed the majority of Earth-populated worlds. Known as the Federation, it grew in power until the hard-won freedom of the people it ruled disappeared.
Blake himself began the sole resistance against the might of the Federation. Now he is lost - perhaps for ever - but in his pioneering footsteps come his gallant followers known as Blake's Seven.
In their new ship, the
Scorpio, they carry on their heroic and dangerous fight for Liberty ...

opening lines:
The concrete chamber was dank and bare. Caged wall lights glowed a dull red, making areas of shadowy darkness so that it seemed a place without dimensions, a lost corner of a labyrinthine basement stretching for miles beneath the city. Water dripped solemnly, like slow seconds, and there was the sour odour of dampness and decay.

Blake's 7 ran between 1978-81, which isn't much of a run frankly, but in those few seasons it managed to establish itself as the ultimate British cult SF series. Forget Dr Who and The Tomorrow People and even Quatermass, this was Britain's real answer to Star Trek.

What was particularly extraordinary is that the appeal was largely political. Blake's Seven were a small group of guerrillas fighting a vast dictatorial system with whatever tools are at their disposal. Which means that in the modern world they would be targeted under George W Bush's so-called war against so-called terrorism, but back then, in more enlightened times, we saw them as being part of the human struggle against tyranny. Also impressive was the sheer pointlessness of their campaign: the tiny pin-prick actions they staged did little to sabotage the operations of the Evil Empire, and didn't even work as armed propaganda. If they were going to have any real impact as freedom fighters, Blake and his group would have done better to study some theory before lashing out.

Nonetheless, even inchoate politics is better than apolitical fantasy, and Blake's 7 was really a very nice little series. And indeed these are very nice little books. Trevor Hoyle is a decent writer (a little over-fond of adjectives, but after all this is science fiction) and he's treated this project as though he's writing proper novels rather than cheap cash-ins. So they survive quite happily, even separated from the original inspiration. Good stuff.


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