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As I have previously admitted in another review I have to accept geek status and say that I am a fan of Blakes 7, a late 70s/early 80s British sci-fi series from the BBC. As a member of the fan club I became aware of Avon; a terrible Aspect many years ago but it was quite a while before I managed to get my hand on a copy. I had actually forgotten about it until it popped up on Amazon when I was buying something else so I ordered a copy. It is currently very expensive on Amazon (£26!) but I think I paid about £4 last year.
Paul Darrow is the actor who played Kerr Avon in the television series. He was a friend of Terry Nation who wrote the original series and he has always supported fan events. He wrote this book to give his interpretation of the background to the story of Avon, the cold-hearted computer genius who ended up heading to a penal colony after being convicted of computer fraud.
The story begins with a first person account from his mother, Rowena on her brief encounter with Avon's father and her distress as his leaving. The desolation of life on Phax and the unusual behaviour of the visitor were well described and the strong, solitary nature of Rogue Avon is soon apparent.
The narrative then jumps to follow the precarious journey of Rogue Avon. Formally a Killer-man of the Federation he arouses suspicion and malicious, corrupt underworld stalks his every move. He has a talent for staying alive and clearly understands the world of bluff and double-bluff through which he travels. He is trying to make his way back to Earth, as a citizen who was born on the planet he is one of the few who is allowed to travel back to this Federation stronghold. Eventually he realises that it is his half brother Axel Reiss that is trying to destroy him. Eventually he lands on the Graveyard planet where the high and mighty of the Federation store their dead ready for the day when a cure for death will be found. The dissatisfied Guardian of the planet helps him on his last leg of his journey to his home planet and Rogue eventually faces his enemy.
Meanwhile life has changed for Rowena and her young son Kerguelen. They had travelled to Saturn Major and Rowena had realised that she would need protection in the increasingly turbulent times. She was extremely attractive and was chosen by a well-respected doctor Pi Grant. He already had two adopted children, Anna and Del, and he took on Kerguelen too. Unfortunately Rowena was a bitter woman who became intent on destroying anyone who may have been involved in Rogue Avon's life and who could have been the cause of him having to leave her. She brainwashed Kerguelen (who became known as Kerr) to continuing her work. However she was not as subtle as she thought and suspicions were aroused by her behaviour and her son's life was to be moulded by her misguided sense of righteousness.
This is only a short book of less than 200 pages. Paul Darrow obviously gave a lot of thought to the nature of his character. Avon always appeared to be very cold-hearted in the series but there were several episodes where people from his past made an appearance and affected him profoundly. The author has used these instances well and tied them into the story well. Avon's acute skill for self-preservation was obviously a trait that he inherited from his father but his inability to behave emotionally like others was due to his mother's warped sense of love and loyalty.
The writing style was better than I had expected. This is not a literary masterpiece but that was not to be expected. However it is very readable and I was impressed at the feeling of desolation and fear that the author managed to convey. Sometimes the narrative was little hard to follow as the names were unusual and the devious nature of the characters meant that there was a lot of double-crossing going on so I found I had to concentrate hard to remember who was a friend or enemy of someone else. All futuristic writing has to rely somewhat on you imagination and there were some parts that were confusing, the Subsidiaries were mentioned a lot but I really couldn't picture what I thought they were as the description was vague.
Overall I would have to say I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. It was interesting to read a story written by an actor relating to the character he played. I do not usually read sci-fi but it was the relation to Blokes 7 that made me pick this up. It was a fast-moving story with lots of action which was easy to read. If you have never seen Blakes 7 then I doubt if it would appeal at all as it would be a wholly unsatisfactory ending as it ends where the TV series begins.