Terry Nation's Blake's 7

First Published:
Page Count: 64
Full Colour Illustrations: 21
Single Colour Illustrations: 36
Availability: Currently unavailable

Trivia: Although this would have been the 1981 Annual (the annuals traditionally being published the Christmas before the year they were supposed to represent), its title was simply "Terry Nation's Blake's 7".

At last! After two worryingly half-decent Annuals, I was beginning to think World were letting the side down. Yet here they come up trumps with 64 pages of pure What's this in your pocket, eh, young man? Don't struggle, I'll be gentle. effulence.

This site's designer, Jonathan -who's subtler than I am, which isn't hard - said it looks as if crayons had vomitted onto paper. Myself, I see it as a World executive opening up the pages of this book and doing onto them an almighty turd.

It's not just the inaccuracies, like a pony--tailed Servalan, but the sheer outrageous crappery of it all. Page four has a decent rendition of Avon, and then that's it. Generic, not to say downright bloody awful, The one third from left is Dayna. No, really. images follow. They honestly could be anyone, and with Dayna joining the line-up you suspect the artist has never seen a black woman in his life before. An innovative idea is mixing in a treated photoshot of the Liberator with the drawings on two occasions. Sadly, this only flags up their limitations more.

Yet I'm not just slating the "art" - all of it is dire. These Annuals never credit an author, but this has quite clearly been written by a different person or persons than the first two. Personally I reckon it was Jeffrey Archer, in between writing Kane and Abel and whatever other tripe he wrote. Some lines amuse, such as suggesting Vila as a caveman wouldn't have invented the wheel as he'd prefer to sit around the fire where it was warm. However, rambling, adjective-crammed monstrosities like "Twisted pieces of metal, contorted in grotesque patterns, drifted aimlessly amid a vast and varied array of mangled components, pieces of tubing, remaining fragments of mutilated electronic units, almost as if some giant hand had taken a space station, thrown the pieces up in the air." kill it stone dead. Yes, you did read correctly - that was one sentence.

They're long, too: Message From Nowhere, where they intercept a meaningless message, and narrowly escape Servalan after testing the teleport... and that's it!!... lasts for ten whole pages. Twelve tedious pages make up Double Decoy (Almost an exact anagram of "Ee, u bloody clod!"), while the okay-ish The Island gets nine. Capsule, billed erronously as an "exciting story", is the sole two-parter, and so takes up fifteen pages. In actual fact, the two-parter isn't so bad, and does contain a thoughtful plot set in the aftermath of Star One. But again, the Archer-scribing kills off any interest or credibility. Three of the stories feature Servalan, yet a hopelessly out of character Servalan, so what's the point?

Of the features, then there are eight. "Zen Facts", where he reproduces facts about electric currents and hydrologic cycles; a piece about Sky Lab; Pluto; Space Pioneers; Space Alphabet ("G is for Galaxy"); Star Quiz (only two of the twelve questions relate to the programme); Computer Chips and Constellations. (Yes, again!!!) This is by far the worst hit rate for feature relevancy out of any of the Annuals. The final feature actually asks "would you like to hear about them?" Sadly, this book is not interactive, and so a "no, get lost" response is not an option...

This really is incredibly, insufferably poor. I suspect that the previous years' Annual had sold poorly, as the print run for this was less, making it, ironically, more of a collector's item than the other two. Although Blake's 7 had another season after this book, World never made another Annual for the series. After this textual excrement it's not hard to see why...