Starring: Paul Darrow (Avon) and Peter Tuddenham (Slave/Orac/Zen).
Guest-Starring: Gareth Thomas (Blake), Jacqueline Pearce (Servalan), Trevor Cooper (Kelso), Tracy Russell (Elise), Ian Reddington (Lydon), Alistair Lock (Major Brecht), David Tulley (Section Leader), Alan Stevens (Sqd Leader #1), Bruce McGilligan (Sqd Leader #2), Pete Wallbank (Trooper), Sharon Eckman (P.A. System), Patricia Merrick (Kerrine) and Jim Smith (Ric).
Crew: Alistair Lock (Incidental Music), Jim Smith (Script Editor), Diane Gies (Financial Director), Terry Nation (Series Deviser) and Alan Stevens (Producer).
Trivia: The Logic of Empire is dedicated to Terry Nation. Thanks are also given to Chris Boucher, while Vere Lorrimer pens a special introduction.
Gareth Thomas makes a cameo appearance as Blake, with sixteen lines of dialogue.
The release of the story is broken down into two acts, with the first, "Fool's Gold", lasting 22'24 minutes, and "The Way Back" 22'50m.
2'15m of the story are a recreation of unseen backstory from the episode Blake, while 3'14m bridges the gap between seasons two and three.
Pete Wallbank was the artist behind the cover artwork and insert design.
Warning: The Logic of Empire contains spoilers for the TV series. If you haven't seen all of Blake, then do not read further.
Story: Seven years after the end of the television series, Avon is alive and now a mercenary and arms trader. He is contacted by a band of rebels - Kelso, Lydon and Elise - who used to be ten in number before seven were killed on the planet Molineaux. (Including a member named Garravick, who got "his head blown off.") Joining them on a barren planet with an unpronouncable name, they have a plan to steal gold from the Federation's mining facility on Asteroid PZ337 in the outer edge of the ninth sector.
However, Lydon is a traitor who kills Kelso and Elise, and leads the Federation to Avon. Servalan, who has anticipated the whole thing using a Psychostrategist, kills Lydon after he has served his purpose, and captures Avon. There she explains to him the need for an Empire to have an enemy ("Without enemies the Federation will not survive.") and returns him to society, brainwashed and believing he is Roj Blake.
Avon: It is implied that Elise used to be Avon's lover. His current ship is one from the United Planets of Teal, with a teleport installed by Avon himself. He escaped Guada Prime by stealing a Federation pursuit ship. He also detonated a phosphorus grenade as he claimed he didn't want Blake exhibited. However, Servalan expresses doubts and believes it was to cover his murder of Blake.
The Crew: The President's personal security service - The Iron Guard - were appointed to Guada Prime in the episode Blake, and forensic reports confirmed all except Avon were killed.
The Federation: There have been three major civil conflicts during the last twelve years of the Federation. The last returned Servalan to power and saw the destruction of Earth.
"Saying 'I was being ironic' is not a universal get-out."
The Mark of Kane and The Logic of Empire are two audio stories written, produced and directed by fans. Normally I wouldn't include fan audios on a site dedicated to "official" Blake's 7, yet what makes these two different is that actual Blake's 7 actors feature in them.
Okay, most of the fans involved have since gone on to become professionals, such as Alistair Lock with Big Finish, yet in The Logic of Empire Paul Darrow actually stars, with Jacqueline Pearce and Gareth Thomas making minor appearances. Even most of the original roles are taken up by "proper" actors, such as Trevor Cooper and Ian Reddington. Of the fan actors, then the writers, producer, script editor and cover artist give themselves very minor roles as Federation soldiers, which is fun and completely forgivable. Only Patricia Merrick's slightly stilted performance (sorry, Patricia!) disappoints, though not as much as some of the more wooden guest actors on the actual series.
The Mark of Kane is currently sold out and unavailable, though The Logic of Empire has every copy signed by Paul Darrow, which made the fanboy in me sing. It's also astonishingly well put together for a non-professional endeavour, and has a really nice cover. As it is made by fans then, as you might naturally expect, it is a little fannish. The actual story is heavily indebted to the events of Blake, though there's also references to The Way Back, Gold, Weapon, Terminal, Star One, Aftermath and Death-Watch, and the mood of the whole thing is more akin to the wearied, worn mood of Rumours of Death. Being fannish isn't necessarily a bad thing, and, even though you'll have to have seen the final episode to understand this, it's extremely rewarding. The fact that it's unofficial also helps, as it means they can't use the Blake's 7 theme, with the low-key sombre replacement instrumental actually creating a moodier ambience. Particular plus points go to the fact that they don't explain how Avon survived the final episode, an exceptionally nice touch. Observant fans may note that the sounds of Avon's nightmare resemble Dorian's room from Rescue. The idea of Dorian's room saving Avon was mooted in an unrelated short story by David Tulley, so this can be considered.
There are seven swear words (eight if you're going to count "bitch"), which is not a criticism, just an observation really. Most of the emotions, situations and experiences on display are second hand (There's even a former lover of Avon's to contend with, Anna Grant style), yet Empire has a haunted, etherial quality that more than transcends any such recycling. The flashback sequences see him address Dayna, Tarrant and Jenna, yet they do not reply. In another form this could seem like obvious cost-cutting, yet here it blurs the distinction between reality and Avon's tortured psyche. Add to this a Darrow performance that is arguably better - certainly more understated - than any in the season that proceeds it, and you've got a fine, fine story.
Minor niggles are Elise, with her cod foreign accent and somewhat superfluous role. That's about it as far as I'm concerned though. Peter Tuddenham sounds more like Slave and Orac than he does on the BBC audios, even if his recreation of Zen is again Clive Dunn territory. Gareth Thomas doesn't quite pull off sounding like Blake of season two, though Paul Darrow does admirably. Moan-wise, that's all, and those are minor. This story restores the depth and involved politics that the Barry Letts creations completely overlooked. I feel as if I've almost bigged this one up too much, but ignore the "fan" tag - it's really very good indeed.