Blake's 7

Written by:
Trevor Hoyle
First Published: 1977
Page Count: 204
Availability: Try Amazon

Perhaps there should be an unwritten rule about TV tie-ins - you're only as good as your source material. When I reviewed the episodes for this site, I did them back to back, in order. However, for this merchandise section, what with B7 merchandise being rare, I've done them as and when I could get my hands on them. Consequently, I read Project Avalon - Hoyle's second and inferior tie-in - first. Where there the stories featured were somewhat shallow and more realisable in TV terms, here it's notable that the first four episodes (Well, the first three at any rate) have a much denser text.

What also comes across is how much extra time Hoyle seemed to have. While Avalon was jam-packed full of corny descriptions and over-adjected prose, here it runs along solidly. Only occasional passages - "the frustration building up in him like an explosive mixture of gas" - jar.

The action takes place over twelve chapters, with each novelised episode - The Way Back, Space Fall, Cygnus Alpha and Time Squad - being covered in three chapters each. They're also pretty much the same length, ranging from 48-51 pages, with the slight plot of Time Squad being surprisingly the longest. It works better in print, without the dated hairstyles and cringing slow fighting, and Hoyle even gets to lengthen the somewhat underdeveloped Limiter conversation between Gan and Jenna. It still doesn't quite come off, so we can just put this down as a lost cause. In fact, it's while stretching the wafer-thin exploits of Time Squad that Hoyle again veers towards purple prose, though generally it's kept well in check.

As the novel was written before the series then it's notable that Jenna is dark-haired, Avon is less cold and suspicious, and the Liberator uses Time Distort. What also comes across is that Hoyle seems to be adapting his material from incomplete first drafts, with much of the dialogue ringing out as staid Nation rhetoric, rather than the wittier Chris Boucher edits. Again, Hoyle can only be as good as the stuff he's given. There's also neat touches of adult tone throughout the book, the child molestation motif of the first two episodes being retained, and we're told Cygnus Alpha smells of urine.

This isn't a classic work of literature, and it doesn't beat - except in the case of Time Squad - watching the episodes proper. Yet for a TV novelisation this is well above average.