Blake’s 7. A trip to the late Seventies required for this one. This is an Alphabet of Influence or Inspiration and I have to e honest and say I was a young child when Blake’s 7 was shown initially. It was a piece of British television space opera, undoubtedly created to cash in on the cinema success of films like Star Wars. It had woefully poor special effects and sets, in comparison, but was popular in its time. The series was a piece of dystopian fiction about a group of political renegades led by a freedom fighter called Blake and their fight against the oppressive forces of the totalitarian Terran Federation. They escape incarceration and steal a spaceship as part of their getaway that turns out to be an alien vessel called The Liberator. The Liberator is faster and more powerful than anything the Federation has and Blake and his band of revolutionaries and criminals (his ‘Seven’) use the ship to both escape and take the fight to the Federation. The series follows these adventures. In this respect, Blake’s 7 shares a great deal in common with the more recent science fiction series Firefly.
I remember little of the characters and plots: I don’t even remember the titular character, coming to associate the series with another main character called Avon. This suggests that as a child I came to the series late. Seeing Blake’s 7 through the eyes of a child, I could overlook some of its clear weaknesses. Taken as a product of its time, however, it was unusual and interesting. Its dark and pessimistic tone appealed to me, as well as the fact that it seemed to concentrate on anti-heroes as opposed to characters in a clear-cut conflict between the forces of good and evil. The ship was cool, also – even if the effects were not and both the artificial intelligences, Zen and Orac, came to be characters in their own right. Blake’s 7 remains highly regarded to this day, often achieving high positions in science-fiction polls. Many consider Blake’s 7’s enduring legacy to be the long-term story arcs that are now commonly employed by American science-fiction series and are absent from Blake’s 7’s contemporaries. The series is often the centre of rumours concerning its re-issue or re-invention but for the time being the Blake’s 7 universe lives on in the audio adventures of fellow Black Library author James Swallow. His blog can be found on the bar to the right.