Blake’s 7: Archangel by Scott Harrison

harrisons-archangelThis is the second novel published in Big Finish’s range of Blake’s 7 original stories. Like the preceding book, it takes the form of a missing episode, set between the season two episodes Trial and Killer. Fans of the television series will know that this places the novel right after the death of crew member Olag Gan. Author Scott Harrison fleshes out some drama between Blake and his crew, as they deal with the tragedy. Blake comes under fire for his reckless idealism and lack of concern for the safety of those who accompany him.

The thrust of the story concerns Blake’s investigation into a secret Federation project called Archangel. It was once abandoned, but now there are rumours of it starting up again. But no one knows what it is. Blake’s only lead is Kodyn Tam, an old friend from Earth. After a bit of action here and a bit of action there (action that feels very much like padding), the crew of the Liberator eventually arrive at Project Archangel, which turns out to be … no spoilers, but it’s nothing terribly exciting.

The characters have always been the high point of Blake’s 7, and for the most part the dialogue penned by Harrison rings true to the original series. There are many sarcastic quips from Avon. This would normally be very enjoyable, except the author is a little over-enthusiastic, turning Avon into a walking bag of dry jokes. Harrison would have been better to pick the best ones, instead of saturating the reader.

Harrison’s writing is, unfortunately, distinctly amateur. There were numerous grammatical errors. He also has an irritating habit of cutting away from a scene to another scene, then cutting back to the original scene after the action has finished. At times, there was something awkward about the prose that made me struggle to get a proper mental picture of what was happening.

The novel is a mish-mash of familiar sci-fi themes, with no original spin, and the story moves from A to Z via a route that could easily have been shortened, but probably needed to be padded out for the sake of a required length. On a plus note, Harrison is fairly successful at capturing the authentic feel of Blake’s 7. But as a missing episode, Archangel is merely average. There are probably worse episodes in the television series itself, but I had hoped for something better here.