Reviewed by Bex (1989)
Paul Darrow's novel Avon: A Terrible Aspect was rather amusing to read. Unfortunately, I don't think the author intended it quite that way.
This disappointing story is populated by characters denied full human expression. The male characters, with few exceptions, are stock macho types; the women, even the 'good' ones, are scheming Jezebels. Characterization has been sacrificed in favor of a fast-moving plot full of violence, scientific anomalies (such as going from the moons of Jupiter to Earth via the Clouds of Magellan, which happen to be outside the Solar System), and grammatical constructions that are almost, but not quite, sentances.
The tale is divided into a prologue and four parts that each focus on upon a different main character. It begins with the introduction of Kerr Avon's mysterious fugitive father, Rogue Avon. Aptly named, he casually begets his son, engages in much bedroom activity (usually everywhere except in bed) and dispatches enemies with violent ease. This doomed anti-hero travels across the Solar System towards a fatal confrontation with his nemesis and half-brother, Axel Reiss.
In part Two, Kerr's mother, Rowena, marries Alpha surgeon Pi 'I have need of a woman' Grant. Young Kerr is adopted into the Grant household on Saturn and is raised along with fellow adoptees Del and Anna Grant. Rowena, who is now privileged, in a patriarchal sort of way, primes her son to kill those responsible for Rogue Avon's death. A reasonable explanation for such bitterness is never offered, given the fact that her association with Rogue consisted solely of a one-night stand.
Part Three introduces us to the shennanigans of Axel Reiss and his cronies, all movers and shakers on the Federation High Council. Reiss, having discovered the existence of Rowena and Kerr, plots their destruction. The inevitable confrontation between Avon and Reiss is set up.
Despite a philosophy of nihilism and pessimism, in Part Four Avon agrees to avenge the murder of his father. As we follow him into the corrupt heart of the Federation, towards the reason for Reiss's insane grudge against the Avons, we met an assortment of characters whose most prominent and common trait is their iniquity. Darrow's portrait of the Federation Intelligensia and ruling class more resembles a decadent Rome in which Machiavelli would have felt right at home than the 1984-like grimness protrayed by the TV series and fan stories.
Avon: A Terrible Aspect reads rather like an unfinished fan story. A better job of editing would certainly have rendered it more readable. The simplistic focus of the novel, however, would still send the die-hard fan hungry for more substance back to the many fine fanzines. With an $18.95 list price for the hardcover, either borrow it from a friend or wait for the paperback to come out.