But Not For Me

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Zine
Title: But Not For Me
Publisher: Markate Press
Editor:
Author(s): Jane Fairfax
Cover Artist(s):
Illustrator(s):
Date(s): 1998
Medium: print
Size:
Genre:
Fandom: Man from UNCLE
Language: English
External Links: Online here
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Butnotforme.jpg

But Not For Me is a slash Man from UNCLE 130-page novel by Jane Fairfax.

It was originally meant to be a story in We Have Each Other #3, but grew too long.

Summary

When does casual sex become something more? What is Illya to do when his desire for Napoleon becomes an obsession? How is Napoleon suppose to react to new dynamic in their partnership? [1]

Excerpt

"Napoleon paused on the dance floor, narrowing his eyes. For a moment, he'd almost thought he'd seen Illya at the edge of the room. He craned his neck in that direction, there was nothing there now but inky blackness."

Reactions and Reviews

Highly original, angsty, lots of just *wow* sex scenes! [2]
"I have incredibly mixed feelings about the characterization of Illya and Napoleon, but this story deserves to be recced because it is incredibly hot, yet so emotionally cold. I have never read a story which has affected me in this way. The guys have extended sex, but they hide their emotions. For fans of the master-slave genre. Major IK angst."[3]
"But Not For Me" by Jane Faifax was one of the first slash stories I ever read, three years ago, and certainly the first that could not be placed in the "mild slash" category (and that's an understatement). The author herself uses the expression "sex marathon" to describe the hottest part of the narrative. I'd need a rating higher than NC 17 to qualify the scorching intensity of some pages.

So, it had the effect of an electric shock on me and I was stunned, not knowing whether I should like or dislike the strange thing. I am not so naive any more but I remain strongly impressed by the blasting might of Jane Fairfax' writing.

Her vision of the characters was not mine and still is not. If you absolutely refuse any idea of a tormented, vulnerable Illya, submissive to a rather mean, manipulative and bossy Napoleon you won't be pleased. I don't say "Don't read it" because it's not my role here and also because, as we say in French "better not to die an idiot" (meaning: all experiences are useful).

So, you are warned. But don't be afraid; everything is for the best at the end and naughty Napoleon is redeemed! [4]
I did initially have trouble with her characterizations. But there's something mesmerizing about this story, and, indeed, in her writing.[5]
Yes, when I first happened to read slash, by mere chance I tumbled over classical authors like Jane Fairfax and Nyssa and though I didn't share their take of the characters at all, I was in awe at the strength of their style and vision. It's interesting to notice that the stories I now remember most vividly are not those I read with the greatest pleasure at the time or those I was completely in tune with but those that had the most creative power and the most original writing style. [6]
This has to be one of the most famous MFU slash stories of all time. So many people count it among their favourites. [7]
I agree with you about the characters; it's not how I see them at all. Yet, oddly enough, I really do like this story. Perhaps because, as you say, Napoleon is redeemed. [8]
And because the author's voice is haunting and takes possession of the reader, whatever his will. Illya evokes the idea of possession too...An inspired writer is allmighty. [9]
Interesting how many of us had the same reaction. I honestly don't at all see the guys this way, and find her characterization disturbing. But the stories are so damn' good, they're mesmerizing. Jane Fairfax forces me to see the guys her way, at least for the duration of her stories. [10]
What a definition of talent! But honestly there are also talented authors, whose style and writing skills I admire, who cannot convince me at all. For whatever reason the spell doesn't work.[11]
Three weeks ago I returned from a trip to California, and before I had a chance to unpack, Marion thrust the draft of the new novel she was publishing at me with instructions to proof it so that she could get it out in time for Eclecticon.

Of course reading U.N.C.L.E. slash by as skilled a writer as Jane Fairfax is irresistible, and I dutifully stayed up till 3:00 a.m. proofing it. I found very few errors, by the way, and the novel could have survived quite nicely as it was. i am delighted that Jane Fairfax has produced this novel because U.N.C.L.E. fandom desperately needed a strong slash novel as we haven't had one in several years. Originally "But Not For Me" was intended as a short story for "We Have Each Other 3", which will be coming out this fall, however Jane lost control of the characters and they decided their story needed to be longer. I seem to recall her saying something about Napoleon leaping out from the computer monitor and saying "Wait a minute, you think this isn't going to affect me too?" and insisting on including his side of the story. If there is one element that has been regrettably lacking in our U.N.C.L.E. novels so far, it is ... sex. The two strongest novelists in this fandom, Elizabeth Urich and Hephaiston, usually choose to keep the sex scenes behind closed doors. While I have enjoyed their novels enormously, I have wished for years that somebody would write something substantial that would let us follow the characters through the doors, under the covers, into their heads . . . well, you get the idea. As if delivering to my specifications, Jane has done just that, gloriously, graphically, and abundantly. Napoleon and Illya's sexual relationship is established very early in the novel, a practical arrangement for (hose after assignment occasions when a suitable partner of the opposite sex is not available. Napoleon believes this arrangement to be satisfactory to both until an episode following the Ultimate Computer Affair where Illya lets slip that he has not been happy with the way things are.

Napoleon is reluctant to believe that Illya is actually in love with him, and even more reluctant lo admit to himself that his own feelings lean in that direction, however he knows he wants to continue the relationship so he adjusts the arrangement to accommodate I's needs.

While Napoleon and Illya are confused about what they really want in an emotional relationship, they have little trouble figuring out what they want in a physical relationship, and Jane is generous in sharing that with her readers. There is a slight imbalance in sex drives; Napoleon is insatiable, poor Illya is exhausted after the third time in a night of love making, but both are ready for another session the next afternoon.

Despite the numerous (did I mention hot?) sex scenes, there is a very well written story going on here, about the psychological dynamics between the two as well as the impact their relationship has on their U.N.C.L.E. careers. In addition, Jane has woven in the subtext of I's early training to do sting operations for the KGB while he was in Cambridge and his relationship with his trainer. "But Not For Me" should please the U.N.C.L.E. slash community — Napoleon and Illya are very well drawn, obviously Jane has a great familiarity with the show. This novel should also be appealing to multimedia fans who like to dabble in different fandoms — the novel is not so tightly tied to the series that a reader needs to be an expert to enjoy the story, as the focus is the development of the relationship, and did I mention the sex is great? :-)

Don't miss this one. [12]
I must confess to having a special and personal affection for this novel, since it was originally intended as a story for my zine, "We Have Each Other 3". Unfortunately for me — because I would've loved to have printed this story — it became too long for an anthology zine, but fortunately for the rest of UNCLE slash fandom, Jane finished it and Marion McChesney published it as a stand-alone novel.

As anyone who has read "Classified Affairs knows, Jane is a very polished and adept UNCLE writer, with a simple but elegant style (rather Napoleon-like in that regard, actually). Her angst is never overdone, but strong feelings resound on every page, and she portrays Napoleon and Illya as two very real and very dangerous men who somehow must cope with their love for each other despite the dark world they live in. Her writing is always irresistible — and her fans will be delighted to discover that her novel is as wonderful as her stories.

The premise of BNFM is — well, I won't go into details because I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but suffice to say that Illya has some shady things in his past which must be overcome before he and Napoleon can live happily ever after. This kind of plot has been done before, but never in quite this way, and the twist at the end was (for me) a complete surprise.

To my mind, BNFM is a prototype of the best kind of slash novel there is: lots of angst, lots of relationship, fantastic characterization (you can almost see them and hear them), strong but not overpowering supporting characters (I especially liked Salty from "Ultimate Computer" — a shy but eager virgin who finds Napoleon fascinating)... and, yes, plenty of explicit sex! Except for [Rosemary C], I have never known an UNCLE slash writer who could make a love scene go on for pages and pages and still keep me interested — but Jane Fairfax does it, and with a vengeance. If you're looking for an erotic roller-coaster ride, this is definitely the novel for you. [13]
This is a slash zinc about angst. More specifically, it's about my favorite kind of angst — Illya angst.

We first meet IK as an innocent Russian student in Cambridge in 1954. A university professor with a predilection for young men is interested in Illya, and the KGB makes sure that the professor's desires are met, guaranteeing them a good source of blackmail pictures. In order for this scheme to work, the young man is trained for the mission by a specialist. Illya learns various techniques, some pleasurable, but most not, that will bring his target to completion in the most efficient and picturesque manner possible. In the process, Illya suffers through various conflicting emotions and humiliations, the most unexpected being a perverted affection for his master.

He also suffers the pangs of jealousy: the main story takes place immediately after the Ultimate Computer Affair, and Illya is desperate for the sexual attentions of Solo, who is concentrating on Salty Oliver. His frustration reveals itself in sarcastic remarks directed towards Solo, who thinks Illya is just overtired and cranky. IK, true to form, wallows in bitterness.

But mostly, Illya endures the painfully exquisite angst of sexual tension, brought on by Solo's marathon sex sessions. They are basically incompatible in bed - - IK is all hair-trigger nerves and instant arousal, brought about equally by his KGB training and his long periods of celibacy; and Solo is a slow-hand who likes it this way, that way, and then this way again, and makes it all last a long, longtime.

I think I've explained the theme of the novel, but there's much more to recommend it for. The characters' voices are perfectly captured in dialogue — I can't think of another zinc that sounds more the way Illya and Solo would converse in a sexual situation than this one. They arc clever and caustic and affectionate and intelligent. The writing is unequaled in other areas, too: the descriptions (particularly of Illya) made me swoon. Here's an example: "Back in the bedroom, he paused by the bed. His Russian partner had fallen asleep, the combination of sex on top of two weeks of hard labor, starvation rations, and the little sleep he'd managed had finally exhausted him. He lay curled against one side, having left the other side free for Solo to climb in next to him. His chest rose and fell easily, the smooth golden skin gleaming in the soft light. He looked almost content, only a brief vertical line between his brows indicating otherwise. And the outstretched hand. Solo looked him over impersonally as he turned and cleaned him, noticing in an almost detached way how really beautiful Illya was. Chaqua had only increased it, delineating his musculature, sharpening his already fine lines, adding a honey-rose glow to his skin. His shoulders and upper arms had broadened with the forced labor, his waist tapered to impossibly slender lines with hunger."

A good percentage of the zine is devoted to IK and Solo having sex. Like Illya, I generally want the characters to complete the act passionately but quickly, and then move on to witty banter, plot twists, and a satisfactory conclusion. Ms. Fairfax is a slow-hand like Solo, however, and the partners enjoy all manner of intercourse before we're done: some of it slow and gentle, some of it titillating and violent, but all of it explosive and thoroughly addicting. And, by the way, there's a pretty good back story going on all the lime, involving other members of UNCLE. [enjoyed it all very very much and look forward to more — Jane, please! Don't make me beg. [14]

References

  1. from Agent With Style
  2. Raonaid's Zine Recommendations, Archived version
  3. Zen's Novel Recs.
  4. a 2005 comment at Crack Van
  5. a 2005 comment at Crack Van
  6. a 2005 comment at Crack Van
  7. a 2005 comment at Crack Van
  8. a 2005 comment at Crack Van
  9. a 2005 comment at Crack Van
  10. a 2005 comment at Crack Van
  11. a 2005 comment at Crack Van
  12. from Z.I.N.E.S. v.1 n.1
  13. from Z.I.N.E.S. v.1 n.1
  14. from Z.I.N.E.S. v.2 n.2