Point of No Return / Eye of the Machine
This is the second release from B7 Media in their Blake's 7 The Early Years series.
A double CD, it features two stories, Point of No Return featuring a young and more or less decent Federation officer called Travis, and Eye of the Machine revolving around Kerr Avon's relationship with Anna Grant and Professor Ensor.
The first release in this series was When Vila Met Gan, which was somewhat disappointing. The story didn't add up to much more than an interlude in the characters lives and felt somewhat over-priced, which was a shame.
I am much happier with the second set. The value has risen, with the inclusion of the two separate stories and also the plots are more involved and have much more substance. I think it is worth pointing out that there is certainly not much here to interest anyone but the most die-hard of Blake's 7 fans. Both stories relate episodes from the early lives of central characters from the television series and apart from some minor action are mainly concerned with developing their personalities towards those later seen in the TV show.
Point of No Return features Travis as a young officer brought in to investigate a suspected terrorist. By the end of the story he has had to use some rather unsavory techniques to conclude his investigation, but it is not that apparent as to how this basically sympathetic character evolves into the hardened killer (and Servalan's sidekick) that we saw in the TV show.
Eye of the Machine is set around the period that Avon was at university, studying under Professor Ensor. Avon is ripped off by Ensor who steals his theories and generally abuses his position as a senior academic. While all that is happening Avon also falls in love with another student, Anna Grant, who is involved with a radical political movement determined to overthrow the corrupt Federation. Eventually, the different aspects of the story are drawn together and it rounds out the two disc set nicely.
The first release, When Vila Met Gan, did feature one of the original cast members, whereas this set has a wholly new cast, however the quality of acting is excellent and with the cast including, amongst others, Peter Guinness (Sleepy Hollow, Alien3), Keeley Hawes (Spooks aka MI-5, Ashes to Ashes) and Geoffrey Palmer (Tomorrow Never Dies, Fawlty Towers and too many others to mention), the quality cannot be faulted. I thoroughly enjoyed both stories and would recommend it to any Blake's 7 fans.
I will have just recently bought the third release (Cally) and will review it shortly.
Below is a full list with a couple of forthcoming releases, including a boxed set of the first four releases containing episodes 1-5 (doesn’t add up I know, but the Travis/Avon set is considered 1.2 and 1.3):-
1 / Blake's 7: The Early Years - When Vila Met Gan: 1 (Blake's 7: Early Years) by Ben Aaronovitch (Audio CD - 23 Jun 2008)
2 / Blake's 7: The Early Years: Avon / Travis - Point of No Return & Eye of the Machine: 1 by Ben Aaronovitch and James Swallow (Audio CD - 1 Dec 2008)
3 / Blake's 7: Cally - The Early Years: 4 (Blake's 7: the Early Years) by Ben Aaronovitch and Marc Platt (Audio CD - 24 Aug 2009)
4 / Blake's 7: Jenna - The Early Years: 5 (Blake's 7: the Early Years) by Simon Guerrier (Audio CD - 30 Nov 2009)
Blake's 7: The Early Years - Box Set Episodes 1-5 by Ben Aaronovitch, James Swallow, and Simon Guerrier (Audio CD - 7 Dec 2009)
Also listed on Amazon.co.uk:-
"Blake's 7": Zen - Escape Velocity 1.6: The Early Years (Blake's 7: the Early Years) by James Swallow (Audio CD - 31 Dec 2009)