Quotes from the authors:
Paul Cornell (The Way Back / Space Fall)
"The story they tell puts onscreen a literal version of the escape from the horrors of mundane life that I experienced watching them. The Liberator's arrival liberates the viewer too. I was a desperately bullied kid, and here was the resistance and the ship that would take them away from all that. [I think Blake's 7 is so well-remembered after all of this time because] it's all things to all viewers, with a different tone every other episode. It deliberately went against a lot of the cliches of its time while embracing others with complete abandon.”
Marc Platt (Cygnus Alpha / Time Squad)
“This has been a real treat. A chance to go back and flesh out our knowledge of Terry Nation’s epic Federation that wouldn’t fit into 50-minute episodes on a BBC budget. As well as re-watching the original series, we had the luxury of referring to the original Nation scripts with substantial extra detail which has fed into the books.
“I specifically asked Peter Anghelides if I could novelise Cygnus Alpha and Time Squad because that’s where we first get to know the Liberator and to meet Cally — two of the most intriguing characters. And yes, the Liberator is a character – it’s one of the original 7.
“What is intriguing about the original scripts is the amount of room and possibility available. Terry Nation was writing the entire first season (13 episodes) on his own with Chris Boucher as script editor. Ideas tumble through at a rate of knots. Some return, others vanish after one airing. Whatever happened to the Liberator’s treasure room, filled with alien jewels and wealth? Why was it there? Where does the endless supply of groovy outfits for our heroes come from? It was clear that we needed answers!
“What shines through most of all on this re-viewing is the casting of the leads. All of them inhabit their roles from the start as their characters struggle to survive in relentless alien environments. Their performances define how they appear in the book. It’s an excellence that endures and informs the stories, making them hugely rewarding to write. I found myself loving them all over again. That’s why Blake’s 7 is still going so strong.”
Gary Russell (The Web / Seek-Locate-Destroy)
“I think Blake's 7 stands the test of time because it's a rare case in 1970s TV of no one being 100% good or 100% bad. Everyone is just shades of grey — and nowhere more so than in Blake's own crew. They aren't a jolly band of heroes choosing to fight for the common good, nor are they conscripted people, trained to do a job. They are a ragtag group of misfits and miscreants who, mostly, choose to hang out and do what they do because they really have nothing better to do and if they weren't doing this, they'd probably be back in prison or worse. But they don't really like one another. It's a TV series where the main characters, and the villains too, are forced to depend on one another out of circumstance rather than choice. That was refreshing back then. Terry Nation was very good at creating that mix of personalities that would enhance a given mission, but clash ethically."
Jacqueline Rayner (Mission to Destiny / Duel)
“I'm a huge fan of murder mysteries and 'closed circle' mysteries are particularly fun, so I have always loved Mission to Destiny and its clever misdirection. I love its big cast of characters, too!
“Duel is the opposite as far as a big cast is concerned, but it's a lovely exploration of the psychology of both Blake and Travis, and their very different ways of looking at things. I love how the script doesn't spell things out, but gives us all these flavours of what might be, as there's a civilisation with a huge backstory that we're left to imagine. It's beautifully done.
“You can enjoy Blake’s 7 on many levels. The plots are fun and exciting, the characters have depth and there's a narrative that drives it onwards. It grips you enough that there's always the hope that maybe things will turn out all right for everyone this time round...”
Steve Cole (Project Avalon / Breakdown)
“My best friend and I missed most of series two of Blake’s 7 in 1979 because it clashed with the Cubs. But his mum made little books for each episode, complete with illustrations, to show us what we’d missed. How I longed for actual novelisations of each episode! It feels surreal that now I get to adapt two of them myself...
“For me, and I’m sure for the other authors, writing these novelisations has been like a love letter to the past, and to characters we have known and loved for over 40 years. It is the ship, the set-up and the stars that leave Blake’s 7 so well-remembered after all this time.”
Una McCormack (Bounty / Deliverance)
“I picked Bounty and Deliverance for two reasons. Firstly, I thought it would give me a wide range of female characters to work with. Not just the leads (Jenna, Cally, and Servalan) who have some great scenes in these episodes, but also the guest characters, Tyce and Meegat. The other reason was that I was interested in both the worlds we see (Lindor and Cephlon) and their respective societies.
“The ending is surely one reason that Blake's 7 is so well remembered, but I'm sure that Terry Wogan's affectionate piss-taking each week raised its profile too! And it's remembered fondly because even when it's being a bit rubbish, it's also being completely brilliant.”
James Goss (Orac / Redemption)
"The thing I loved most about this was getting into the original scripts. You could see the vision of Terry Nation, racing on far ahead of what the BBC could achieve — he never writes rooms, he writes chambers, he doesn't write quarries, he writes ancient cities sinking into sand. It is full of vistas that are alive and vibrant and populated, which was very different from the spartan, frequently freezing, locations that the production team provided. Maybe Blake's 7 is so fondly remembered because it tried when perhaps it shouldn't."
Producer and Commissioning Editor Peter Anghelides said: “Our wonderful writers bring their talent, imagination and wit to these new novelisations. Each of them already has an impressive track record as a novelist, not to mention a wide range of other writing in prose and other media.
“Unlike conventional novelisations, which tend to be written before a TV show or movie has been completed, these are all informed by the available reference materials, 45 years of the show, and the inventiveness of our authors. They are all big fans of the series — our very own ‘Blake’s 7’ for this unique collection.
“The Nation Estate very helpfully allowed us to see original drafts written by Terry, some hand annotated, to reference as the origins of the TV show. Where appropriate, we’re staying faithful to the original series. For example, some draft scripts feature the characters Arco Trent and Brell Klein, who make it onto Liberator – but (spoiler alert) they won’t be escaping Cygnus Alpha in our novels.
“However, along with BBC filming, camera, and rehearsal scripts, those early drafts have informed these brand-new novels for all thirteen episodes of that first season. And with Redemption as the conclusion of Terry Nation’s original fourteen-story run, it’s the first time that any of the second season has been novelised!”
Terry Nation (photo by permission of the Nation Family archive)
Paul Cornell (photo courtesy of Paul Cornell)
Steve Cole (photo courtesy of Steve Cole)
The Way Back / Space Fall
Cygnus Alpha / Time Squad
The Web / Seek-Locate-Destroy
Mission to Destiny / Duel
Project Avalon / Breakdown