There’s a late story from the original Star Trek series (The Mark of Gideon from season three) in which Captain Kirk finds himself alone on board the Enterprise… save for a beautiful woman whom he inevitably has to bed. When something similar happens to Vila in the middle tale of the first volume of The Liberator Chronicles, author Nigel Fairs saddles him with a male elder from Cally’s race.
It’s not the only thing that could have gone better for Vila in this story, but in usual Fairs style, the plotline is secondary to an examination of what makes the character tick. He’s very good at analysing characters who we think we know and revealing facets of them that feel wrong initially but on reflection make sense, and in this case, there’s the added bonus that he’s working with Blake’s 7′s own version of an unreliable narrator… although would Vila really paint himself in quite the colours we see here?
The resolution won’t come as too much of a surprise, but the note of ambiguity at the end (particularly Vila’s very last line) will make you ponder further on what you’ve heard – after all, isn’t Vila the epitome of someone who “protests too much”?
It’s a risky change of pace from the sci-fi drama that audiences would normally expect from a series A Blake’s 7 story, and were the titles being sold separately, I wonder if it would have been released in this form. But as the middle (often slower) movement of a trilogy, it works well. 7/10