Oblique Reviews #3

Oblique Reviews #1
Oblique Reviews #2
Oblique Reviews #3
Oblique Reviews #4
Oblique Reviews #5
Oblique Reviews #6
Oblique Reviews #7
Oblique Reviews #8
Oblique Reviews #9
Oblique Reviews #10
Oblique Reviews #11

It’s all well and good for me to say Oblique influenced how Blake/Avon came to be written, but here’s a word from Aralias on the conditions of production and reception that ensured this:

“If you look at Nova’s A/B slash listing, you’ll see that Oblaque is one of the earliest Blake’s 7 slash zines. Resistance is a year earlier (1987), but isn’t as influential partly because it doesn’t have a strong in-house-style. It hosts either fluff (mostly written by a Natasha Solten psued) or things that could have been in Oblaque – most notably Sylvia Knight’s ‘Descending Horizon’ series, which begins in Resistance 2 (1988) – the same year that Oblaque starts.

Oblaque is into its fourth issue by the time Fire and Ice starts in 1990. It is this latter zine (from issues 3 onwards, 1995) that you start to see a more middle way between what Fanlore describes as ‘Floods of Tears vs Oblaque‘. By this time Oblaque is in its sixth and final issue; Paean to Priapus (same publishing house, same style, but multifandom content 5printed) has also finished after 3 issues. Resistance is also finishing, and zines like ‘Magnificent Tales’ 1 &2 (which is also rape and angst filled) are in the past.

This means that before 1995, if you wanted to read B/A you had very little choice beyond Floods of Tears or Oblaque. The Space City rec list is full of terrible fics from both these schools – but it was written in 1995/96. The prose in Oblaque is generally less Americanised, and more superficially well-written than the Floods of Tears stuff. Plus, it’s ‘cooler’.

It makes sense that people would prefer this to most of the fluff. What’s interesting is, as we’ve discussed before, Suzan Lovett was clearly enjoyed (she makes the rec list), but has relatively little influence. Perhaps because Judith only republished all her fics together in 1996?”

It’s also important to note that Oblique is a multifandom publishing house, and Paen and some other zines were themselves multi-fandom. Glasgow, for example, wrote for a variety of fandoms. These stylistic trends weren’t necessarily developing in isolation.

STORY: Come as You Are
MUSE OF FIRE RESPONSIBLE: M. Fae Glasgow writing as Emma Scot
HAS POOR VILA BEEN DRAGOONED INTO THIS SHITSHOW? Blake hits on other people but not really
WHY ARE BLAKE AND AVON DOOMED THIS WEEK? I guess Blake is too homophobic and too about a kind of schoolboy gay sex that ISN’T GAY!! But then in his mind he’s like–‘gosh, I could get used to holding you in public’, etc., so the grim IT CAN NEVER BE tone when Blake’s desires are contrasted with Avon’s wish for a romantic relationship is unintentionally hilarious, bc like… dude this is such a fucking ‘How Relationships Develop’ problem? One partner is more romantically interested, the other more sexually interested, and with time this balance is shifting. Idk what to tell you mate, it seems likely to work out fine, but I don’t think the story believes this. (As I told a friend: Blake’s just like ‘oh all RIGHT I’m over my homophobia, maybe I could even hold you in public omg that would be SO good *shit*’ and the story is like ‘dooomed, doooooooomed!!!’)
PROSE: p normal
OVERALL: short, some weird ‘Blake sexually harassing Cally when he can’t get it from Avon even though it’s only been weeks’, and Blake’s GREAT PROBLEM in this is that he ‘uses Avon for sodomy!!’ so…

It’s not a bad fic (though Avon gets seemingly-accidentally drawn a bit camp?), but it’s not a good one.

STORY: The Compass of His Desires
WHY ARE BLAKE AND AVON DOOMED THIS WEEK? They are together but it is gothic and a terrible idea and dreamlike.
PROSE: So purple I had to screencap it out of context to show strangers on the internet to facilitate my healing process

Fire walk with me:

Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 03.25.28.pngScreen Shot 2017-01-13 at 03.25.56.png
OVERALL: It is SUCH OTT Snowflake Avon trash and would, as Elviaprose pointed out, make more sense as a dream. But I actually like the crack turn ending, so idk what to think.

STORY: Cream
MUSE OF FIRE RESPONSIBLE: M. Fae Glasgow writing as Emma Scot
WHY ARE BLAKE AND AVON DOOMED THIS WEEK? I–THINK they are together? Or at least going to have more sex? I think the joke of the ending is that it’s staged like every other Oblique ending but then… something less Gothic and dramatic happens? But it’s difficult to get excited about it because they don’t seem to like each other much outside of trifle-based sex acts.
PROSE: not bad
OVERALL: the trifle-centric sex is quite nice–I’d have beta’d the through-line and put in some more feelings

STORY: Cream and Sugar (no relation)
MUSE OF FIRE RESPONSIBLE: M. Fae Glasgow writing as Gael X. Ile
WHY ARE BLAKE AND AVON DOOMED THIS WEEK? Blake is too Mind Wipe Virgin and too incompetent at sex/too dumb to do much to curb how bad at sex this makes him
PROSE: voices weird bc Blake is an idiot manchild?
OVERALL: re: Manchild Blake, idk you don’t have to like this character, but you do have to allow him an IC level of ‘ability to deal with problems’. What is this dichotomy in every fic of this style where Blake is a DEVIOUS PUPPETEER!! or as brainy as a dead dog, and what characterisation you opt for out of those options seems entirely arbitrary and, for the writers, not internally consistent? Do they not get those are opposites? It’s one thing to opt for a certain characterisation to achieve a desired effect, but this seems like Fixed Opinion: muddled, incoherent and unsupported as it is. The story’s idea could be cute, but the execution isn’t funny or endearing enough.

STORY: Destiny
HAS POOR VILA BEEN DRAGOONED INTO THIS SHITSHOW? Blake fucks someone who looks like Avon, Avon fucks a lady of the night
WHY ARE BLAKE AND AVON DOOMED THIS WEEK? Blake uses people, sort of, maybe. Avon… is insufficiently present in this story.
PROSE: fine
OVERALL: Avon’s unrealistically a dick to a whore for no real reason, more in how he does it than in what he does. Also, are they all staying at the *same* hotel? Bit unclear. (And why would they necessarily be?)

Sliiight indication of ESL?

Not enough emotional follow-through. I don’t think Cally stays because she’s sexually attracted to Blake, or that Vila would love to fuck him. I don’t think Jenna makes decisions based off this sort of thing. I don’t know why Blake thinks this situation is sooooo funny. I don’t feel the other guy’s resemblance to Avon is sufficiently justified by the story, which, given that it’s the whole plot-turn of the fic, it should be. The ending is some unearned Oblique crap: Blake ussssessss peopleeeee, in this case: a guy who fucked /him/ in trade for something? And now he will use Avon!!, though not… in this plot. Or anything.

The ultimate lines sort of suggest something interesting but then just drop it and it’s a mess. Once my step-father-in-law promised to make us roasted blackberries for desert, but he tried to flip them and they all landed on the floor and he was pissed and I think we had something else. This feels rather like that occasion in Oblique-fic form. Also I need more emotional-arc: I’m not asking for schmoop when I say this, I mean literally: the stuff of the plot? There should be more of it, so character decisions make more sense and things Mean Stuff.

WHY ARE BLAKE AND AVON DOOMED THIS WEEK? Well Blake’s not happy about it/it’s extreme bdsm and Avon’s fantasy, but there’s physical and emotional interest between them
EDITOR’S NOTE: conveys some information; shaped like a strange triangle
PROSE: not bad
OVERALL: Set within another Sebastian fic as one of the fantasies (a context that both works for me and doesn’t, here–Avon specifically says something like ‘didn’t it look like you were enjoying it?’ in the original, which I suppose could either happen later in this fantasy or just not quite be the tone of this fic’s Explanation of that line). This is fairly well-done for what it is. Not My Jam, but I like the weird making-it-worse tenderness. It’s emotionally interesting, even if ideally I’d prefer a richer engagement with the motives and pleasures involved.

3 thoughts on “Oblique Reviews #3

  1. I’m loving this series. I knew I would from the start but fell in love when “Has Vila Been Dragooned…” was a ranking factor. Really looking forward to when you get to the two stories of the whole production run that I actually enjoyed enough to read twice.

  2. Thank you! It *needed done* though, like, for years we have said nothing, through all the arbitrary capitalisations of ’cause’…

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