Relative Secrecy

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Title: Relative Secrecy
Editor(s): Marion Kelly
Date(s): 1997-2007
Medium: print
Fandom: Man from UNCLE
Language: English
External Links: Link to zine flyers
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Relative Secrecy is a slash Man from UNCLE anthology with covers by Rune.

General Reactions and Reviews

Probably my favorite series of MFU zines overall; the variety of authors and stories is wonderful, and the editing is top-notch. Plus the covers are gorgeous. [1]
These are often a darker read then the Comrades or We Have Each Others. The stories can be romantic, but I believe these zines are the darkest of the current crop of MUNCLE zines. [2]

Issue 1

cover of issue #1

Relative Secrecy 1 was published in 1997 and is 195 pages long. Includes: To Live in Interesting Times by Taliesin, winner of a 1998 STIFfie Award (Best Story), nominee for a 1998 Fan Q Award (Best Story); The Baltic Affair by P.R. Zed and The Party Time Affair by Linda White, nominees for 1998 Fan Q Awards (Best Story); and The You Chased Me 'Til I Caught You Affair by Paloma Manchada, nominee for a 1998 STIFfie Award (Best Story).

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 1

See reactions and reviews for To Live in Interesting Times.
[To Live in Interesting Times & Sufficient Unto the Day] - In Relative Secrecy 1 and Relative Secrecy 2, respectively. These two A/Us have almost nothing in common with MFU canon, although fans of La Femme Nikita will recognize the mood and premise. Nevertheless, they're beautifully written, and a haunting portrayal of a possible NS and IK in a (very) worst-case scenario. [3]
[Sufficient Unto the Day]: Why this must be read:

Because it's the sequel of "To live in interesting times"!, already recced, written with the same magic, in the same vibrating, haunting tone and because this dark universe, that we see progressively becoming ours a little more everyday, is my favourite MFU nightmare; this time the author is offering us a tiny, faint blink of light, a while of rest in a murky, chaotic, meaningless fight.

like the ancient Taliesin the Bard, who had the power to tell the things that are, the things that were and the things that would be, our Taliesin knows how to call forth the shadows of the events to come. [4]

Issue 2

cover of issue #2

Relative Secrecy 2 was published in 1998 and is 148 pages long. Winner of a 1999 STIFfie Award (Best Zine). Includes The Broken Man Affair by Linda White, co-winner of a 1999 Fan Quality Award (Best Story) and nominee for a STIFfie Award (Best Story).

From the editorial:
We're a little shorter this year than last. However, though the number of stories is a little less, the number of authors is greater, so I think we're achieving greater diversity. We have a few first time stories, a few established relationships, one "in the beginning" and one that doesn't even really get started. We also have one death story ("Falls the Shadow"), for those of you who prefer to be warned. Several of the stories this time around are sequels to stories which appeared in Relative Secrecy 1. Though even someone who hasn't read the first stories will enjoy these, a few references will make more sense to readers familiar with the earlier efforts. These sequels include: The See Lubyanka and Die Affair", in which P.R. Zed answers the question ofwhat comes next for our boys following The Baltic Affair" and what happens to the U.N.C.L.E. agents who were taken in the KGB sweep which failed to capture Kuryakin. We also have The London Affair" by Paloma Manchada, continuing her series (which is shaping up to be a veritable universe) which began with The Over-Night Sleep-Out Affair" and "The You Chased Me Til I Caught You Affair" — and this time, never fear, they actually make it into the sack. Linda White weighs in with three more installments in her fascinating universe, which certainly needs no introduction from me! Finally, "Sufficient Unto the Day" is set in the same alternate universe as T o Live in Interesting Times." It was written in response to several requests for a sequel, but I hesitate to call it such, as I'm not convinced that the Illya and Napoleon of that universe would ever meet up again. Shall we merely I say it's a possibility?? (How's that for authorial quibbling in an editorial?) In addition to the returning authors, Relative Secrecy 2 also has quite a few new authors (some of whom are not only new to the zine, but to writing in U.N.C.L.E. slash fandom). I'm grateful that they felt brave enough to deal with me and my editorial quibbling and I hope they are as happy with the end result as I am.

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 2

[The Fusion Affair]: Napoleon is saddled with a new partner, and he's not too happy about it. There's a delightful whimsical tone to his introspections as he muses on the loss of his freedom....

However, everything changes as Napoleon and Illya seem to forge a mental union in order to escape from Thrush. Or did they? Is this 'fusion' real, or is Napoleon imagining things?

It's funny and intriguing and there's this lovely half-clothed scene in the shower. There isn't much banter, but that's only because they've found a more elemental way to get their point across. [5]
[After Querido]: I first read this story when I was too new to the fandom to really appreciate the depth and detail of this characterization. Even so, I fell in love with the complex, fascinating layers of both Napoleon and Illya in this short rumination. Now that I know the characters better, I appreciate the story that much more.

This piece is part of Linda's Third Level universe, but I don't think you even have to know what that means to enjoy the story. Linda certainly has a very *specific* vision of the guys and their relationship and, as presented here, it's quite accessible and believable.

Linda also writes *beautifully*. After Querido is one of the more "literary" stories I've read in this fandom. The poetic language has a rhythmic cadence that is almost hypnotic, as in this paragraph -- my favorite passage of any fanfiction story:

You count the scars on my body. You touch them with your fingertips and your lips, and you count them out loud sometimes, in Russian. And we remember where I got them. I do the same for yours, and we remember those wounds, too. It pulls us together, it binds us in ways normal people can't understand. The invisible thread of life sewing us one to the other, stitching into my wound and out, into your wound and out, back and forth, until we are wound up together, inextricably woven into the same tapestry of remembered suffering. [6]

Issue 3

cover of issue #3

Relative Secrecy 3 was published in 1999 and is 271 pages long. Nominee for a 2000 STIFfie Award (Best Zine).

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 3

[Finders Keepers]: Napoleon's charm, patience, and good humour is tested when he tries to find his way back to Illya and U.N.C.L.E HQ during one hectic night in New York City. Thrush agents want him and the secret codes he's stolen from them, a pretty damsel eagerly offers a change of clothes and her affections for the night...and the men at the gay bathhouse are all too ready to welcome him with open arms and various other appendages.

Poor Napoleon. He's too popular for his own good. But never fear - the ever-dependable Illya is in hot pursuit. And tonight he's determined to get his man in more ways than one.

A crazy, witty and sexy farce from start to finish. [7]

Issue 4

cover of issue #4
sample page

Relative Secrecy 4 was published in 2000 and is 284 pages long.

Winner of a 2001 Fan Quality Award (Best Zine. Nominee for a 2001 STIFfie Award (Best Zine). Includes: The Dangerous Man Affair by Linda White, winner of a 2001 Fan Quality Award (Best Story), nominee for a 2001 STIFfie Award (Best Short Story); Pirates by Kate Drummond, winner of a 2001 STIFfie Award (Best Short Story); Each Our Own Devil by Taliesin, nominee for a 2001 Fan Quality Award (Best Story), and a 2001 STIFfie Award (Best Novella); Lonesome Road by Kate Drummond, nominee for a 2001 Fan Quality Award (Best Story), and a 2001 STIFfie Award (Best Story); The Virus Affair by P.R. Zed, nominee for a 2001 Fan Quality Award (Best Story), and a 2001 STIFfie Award (Best Story); Magic by Theresa Kyle, nominee for a Fan Quality Award (Best Story); Aftermath by Deb, nominee for a STIFfie Award (Best Short Story); Love Is A Battlefield by Gilrain, nominee for a STIFfie Award (Best Novella).

From the editorial:
Several of the stories in this zine are set in their authors' previously-created universes, though I don't think that any of them would suffer if read without prior knowledge of previous stories. P.R. Zed and Linda White have provided new installments in their established universes. Karin Porter has expanded on Napoleon and Ilya's relationship, begun in The Mediterranean Affair" in RS3. Deb's story "Aftermath" is a sequel to her "Discovery in an Alley" from RS3. And Kate Drummond's story "Lonesome Road" is sequel to "Lost and Found Affair," "Roman Holiday," "Here Be Dragons," Standing Stones," etc; only one of which ("Standing Stones") was printed In a Relative Secrecy zine. I plan on using that against her to get more stories for future zines, but don't tell Kate that.

Parts of ACT 1 of Gilrain's "Love is a Battlefield" originally appeared in Kuryakin Files #2 as "The Cabin Affair" although, as will be seen, she has greatly expanded on that beginning.

Finally, my own story, "Each Our Own Devil" might most properly be called an alternate, or maybe parallel, universe. It hypothesizes a first meeting between Napoleon and Ilya which goes on to change all their interactions from that point forward, and cannot be fit (comfortably or otherwise) into the aired canon of the show. Those who are bothered by stories which step outsidecanon have been warned, though I hope not warned off.

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 4

[Teacher's Pet]: a great first-time story. Robert Vaughn's dislike of water comes across strongly in the episodes and this fic expands on that in brilliant style.

The story opens with Napoleon trying to overcome his fear of water, with Illya teaching him in the UNCLE pool. Whilst Napoleon's fear of water is somewhat central to the story, the plot takes a bit of a twist when Illya grudgingly tests a new Section 8 surveillance device on his partner. We get to see the great seducer Napoleon Solo at work.

This story gets Napoleon's demeanor exactly right, down to his flirting ways with the ladies. Top it all off with great humour and some interesting OC's from Section 8 also add a nice touch. Plus the sexual tension seems to build and build throughout the piece to a deliciously satisfying, well written (and extremely sexy) conclusion.

AND finally it's a must-read for those with a water kink, and I'll say no more on that ;-) [8]
[One More for the Road]: In the U.N.C.L.E. organization, you must retire from fieldwork when you reach the age of 40. Because Napoleon and Illya are about a year apart in age (in some stories they're quite a bit more than that, but many writers use the actual age difference between the actors as a guide) this means that Napoleon will have to leave fieldwork for a 'desk job' (taking over for Mr. Waverly in his case) before Illya has to, thus breaking up their working partnership. Although the show ended when the two agents are still in their early thirties, there are a lot of stories which extrapolate how the two of them would deal with this issue. This is one of my favorites. It has an evocative tone that really makes me think of the 1960's, it's emotional without being sappy, and I can hear the characters voices clearly in the dialogue.[9]
[The Virus Affair]: Illya suffers horribly as Dr. Egret infects him with a nasty virus. Napoleon must race against time to find Illya before he dies. The Girl from UNCLE characters, Mark Slate and April Dancer, also join in the hunt.

This is a fine example of a slash story that has cross-category appeal to gen fans as well. There is a 'realistic' edge to the narrative, with tense angst and suspense mixed with some graphic violence and action drama. The established relationship between Napoleon and Illya is warm and loving, but it forms the backdrop to the actual plot. If you were to take away the references to 'lover' and the brief kiss, the story would qualify as hurt/comfort gen.

For fans who are tired of the focus on sex and relationship and want to see the guys working as agents, this is the story for you. Fans of GFU will also get a kick out of the strong supportive roles played by Mark and April. [10]
[Services Rendered]: I love this story and I have recc'd it repeatedly to both slash and gen fans. It's told from the POV of an original character, a young, unnamed male hooker who is picked up one night by a mysterious handsome man who offers the exorbitant fee of one hundred dollars for a quick rendezvous. The narrator is constantly surprised by his customer - by the man's strange mix of danger and gentleness, by his sure touch and ability to please sexually, but also by the gun he wears and the wicked scars that mark his body.

We're not surprised, of course. It's obviously Napoleon Solo, only one who's harder, darker, bitter and more melancholy. Something is not quite right here, and we, like the young hooker, are almost afraid to ask what's really going on. And we should be.

This is an intense, haunting story that not only paints an incisive portrait of Solo (it's authentic right down to the most minor details), but also offers a realistically voiced and thoroughly convincing OC narrator as well. The story packs an emotional wallop that will stay with you long after it's over. It's worth reading for the dialogue alone. [11]
[Acts of Sabotage]: Sometimes I'm in the mood for something sweet, but not too sweet, and sort of funny. Not rolling on the floor funny but where reading it brings a smile to your face. This story fits the bill nicely. Illya is perhaps a bit more naíve than I tend to think of him, and Napoleon a bit more dense, but it works here. It's lighthearted without being sappy, and with just a tiny touch of angst. Just right. [12]
[Each Our Own Devil]: I usually don't care for this much angst, but this story definitely works for me. As the title implies, both men have their demons though neither is a thoughtless jerk, a situation I heartily dislike in a story. No matter what they may have done to one another, that they love each other is never in least, not to the reader. Napoleon, especially, shines as he suffers for a wrong he can't seem to set right. I think my only complaint is that the story ended too soon for me. Though the outcome is not in doubt, I would have loved another scene or two. [13]

Issue 5

cover of issue #5

Relative Secrecy 5 was published in 2001 and is 296 pages long. Winner of a 2002 Fan Quality Award (Best Zine). Includes: The Changing Times Affair by Linda White, winner of a 2002 Fan Quality Award (Best Story); Bermuda Landfall by Kate Drummond, nominee for a 2002 Fan Quality Award (Best Story); The Enemy Within Affair by P.R. Zed, nominee for a 2002 Fan Quality Award (Best Story).

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 5

[The Naked Truth]: Drugged sex is a major kink of mine. There is nothing more satisfying and funny than having character A half-crazed with lust for a bewildered and confused character B. If drugs can help things along, so much the better.

This time it's Napoleon who is given a new truth serum by Thrush: a fitting revenge for all the times he's been distracted by a pretty woman while on assignment. Illya comes to the rescue and finds himself with much more than he can handle...

There is a lot to love about this fic. The breezy humour and sexual sizzle is effortless and a joy to read. Victor Marton only made a single appearance in canon (Foxes and Hounds Affair) but he is vividly brought to life in all of his smug oiliness. Illya's matter-of-fact attitude as he struggles with an ardent Napoleon is laugh-out-loud funny. Of course, there's a little angst the day after...but true love and truth serum win out in the end. [14]
[Standard Procedure]: It's a preposterous premise, but highly entertaining, and exceedingly...stimulating. I love her take on both of the guys in this one; IK takes charge wonderfully, and NS's bemused fascination is a thing of beauty. [15]
[The Fine and Private Place Affair]: I hate death happening unless it's to a bad guy, but this redeems itself quickly and has a great mystery tale at the heart of it, as well as some yayyummyhawt bits. Ghosts, lost treasure, Mr. Waverly being his beautiful half grumpy/half paternal self, and hey bonus! Two sequels. Give it a try, I think you will like it. [16]

Issue 6

cover of issue #6

Relative Secrecy 6 was published in 2002 and contains 262 pages. Winner of a 2003 Fan Quality Award (Best Zine) Includes: Let Nothing You Dismay by P.R. Zed, and The Ice Man by Linda White, co-winners of a 2003 Fan Quality Award (Best Story); Cleansed by Deb, nominee for a 2003 Fan Quality Award (Best Story); Snow Blind by Kate Drummond, nominee for a 2003 Fan Quality Award (Best Story); The Innuendo Affair by Graculus, nominee for a 2003 Fan Quality Award (Best Story).

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 6

See reactions and reviews for Chiaroscuro .
[The Kissing Bandit]: This is just a fun, feel-good fic. Napoleon's a thief, alias the 'Kissing Bandit'. Hey, I'm maz and this is my first time in the drivers seat. I've decided to start with one of my favourite fics by one of my favourite authors. I know Blondie has been recced here in the past, and for bally good reason! The characters are spot on, the plots swift and delightful, and always utterly entertaining. While not as well known as her other stories, this is just so sparkling and fantastic. Unlike many first-meeting stories, which tend towards angst or hurt/comfort, this is fun, fast paced and delightful; it will have you squeeing like a fangirl and hoo boy, there's candy too! Plus, it starts off with a fancy dress ball. Oh yeah. [17]

Issue 7

cover of issue #7

Relative Secrecy 7 was published in 2003 and contains 218 pages. Winner of a 2004 Fan Quality Award (Best Zine - Honorable Mention) Includes: Prodigal's Return (mistakenly called "Prodigal's Son" on the Fan Q site) by P.R. Zed, winner of a 2004 Fan Quality Award (Best Story) and a 2004 SCREWZ award (Best Story); The Two Birds With One Stone Affair by Graculus, winner of a 2004 SCREWZ award (Best Novella); The Dreams of Vampires Affair by Rari, nominee for a 2004 Fan Quality Award (Best Story); The Revenge is Mine Affair by Linda White, nominee for a 2004 Fan Quality Award (Best Story); Tintinnabulation by Nickovetch, nominee for a 2004 Fan Quality Award (Best Story)

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 7

See reactions and reviews for Small Distances.

Issue 8

cover of issue #8

Relative Secrecy 8 was published in 2004 and contains 243 pages. Winner of a 2005 Fan Quality Award (Best Zine)Includes: Fear of Falling by Emrys, winner of a 2005 Fan Quality Award (Best Story). The cover art is by Rune.

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 8

See reactions and reviews for Switching Sides.

Issue 9

cover of issue #9

Relative Secrecy 9 was published in 2005 and contains 256 pages. Winner of a 2006 Fan Quality Award (Best Zine) Includes: Los Vivos y Los Muertos by PR Zed, winner of a 2006 Fan Quality Award (Best Story)

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 9

[The Inhumation Affair]: Buried alive, Napoleon wonders how long it's going to take Illya to get there and rescue him. As he asks himself when he got so certain that his partner would always turn up in the nick of of time, he reflects on milestones in their relationship. This is a relatively short one-shot, clever, pacy and funny, which doesn't miss a beat in its sharp characterisation of Napoleon and Illya. The dialogue is great and Illya in particular is well drawn, although Napoleon doesn't suffer either. Read and enjoy! [18]

Issue 10

cover of issue #10

Relative Secrecy 10 was published in 2007 and contains 198 pages. The two-color cover art is by Rune.

  • With Friends Like These by P.R. Zed (6 pages)
  • Consequences by Emrys (13 pages)
  • Reaching Out by ChannelD (10 pages)
  • A Relative To Truth by Graculus (25 pages)
  • Dutch U.N.C.L.E. by Nickovetch (10 pages)
  • The Footloose and Fancy Free Affair by Sundance and Meredith (34 pages)
  • Courting Disaster by YumYumPM (12 pages)
  • A Dish Served Cold by Blondie (14 pages)
  • Vanya by Emrys (17 pages)
  • Ashes To Ashes by P.R. Zed (10 pages)
  • The Ruby Butterfly Affair by Linda White (13 pages)
  • The Devil In The Flesh by Taliesin (33 pages)


  1. from This is Katya
  2. from Lynn W., accessed March 7, 2014
  3. from This is Katya
  4. a 2005 comment at Crack Van
  5. a 2004 comment at Crack Van
  6. a 2004 comment at Crack Van
  7. a 2006 comment at Crack Van
  8. a 2009 comment at Crack Van
  9. a 2004 comment at Crack Van
  10. a 2004 comment at Crack Van
  11. a 2004 comment at Crack Van
  12. a 2005 comment at Crack Van
  13. a 2005 comment at Crack Van
  14. from a 2004 comment at Crack Van
  15. from This is Katya
  16. a 2010 comment at Crack Van
  17. a 2011 comment at Crack Van
  18. a 2006 comment at Crack Van
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