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On Influences - 40 years of Blake's 7!

This week is, apparently, the 40th anniversary of Blake's 7, that shaky-setted, pirates in space series.

Apart from making me feel incredibly old, it also made me nostalgic (Rumours of Death might go on tonight for old time's sake) it also made me reflect on where we take influences from and why.

It's no secret that B7 was a huge influence on Abendau (along with a load of other sf from the 70s-80s like Star Wars, Dune, and the older, classical Space Operas). There are a number of B7 Easter eggs through the trilogy - Kare is named for Kerr Avon, my baddy was a woman because, after Servalan, deliciously evil male rulers lack smack. There are other, subtler, references - the shifting sands of Abendau were partly inspired by Sand and when I had to abandon my good guys somewhere awful where better than a quarry?

But it was also a huge influence on the type of characters I develop. Characters who question, who have moral codes of various ilks, who feel real. Characters with pasts (even Avon, the enigma, has a past we come to know of), with complex relationships, who don't need to be good or bad, but just real. Even today, in this world of SX and gadgets, my kids loved B7 when they discovered my box sets, ages ago. There is something timeless about a great set of characters and great writing.

The more I write, the more I realise we are sponges, seeking things that move us and has relevance to our world-view. (Which does rather beg the question - what on Earth will today's teenagers absorb and write about. Gosh.) And that partly explains why I write such a range of stories: I've always read and watched across genres.

With Abendau, it was all about Space Opera. The feel of Space Opera was central to the story - even though the story itself could have been set in any world.

With Inish Carraig, it was a different vibe: V came into play (as a few people recognised, I nicked the virus dispersal methodology from the mini-series, as another little Easter Egg) but also Joan Lingard's YA Belfast series I devoured when young. (John releases the virus from the top of the Cave Hill, where Kevin and Sadie looked over the city from). District 9, which it is sometimes compared to, didn't come into my thinking. It was all my early points of references I celebrated.

Sometimes it takes a little step back to see what influenced and why. Sometimes it's nice to be able to pay homage to those influences that stick with us. For me, this week, I look back at B7 and know I wouldn't have written the books I did without it setting a spark in me, that I would never have fallen for Space Opera as hard as I did but for it. And for that, for 40 years of escapism, of starships and morally questionable characters, I am grateful.

Now. Where's those Box Sets?