The Colonial Affair
|Title:||The Colonial Affair|
|Length:||59-pages in zine|
|Fandom:||Man from U.N.C.L.E. fusion and/or AU|
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It was printed in the zine Dyad #11.
The summary from the zine it was printed in: "Following the incidents in Billy Budd, Stephen "Illya Wyeth finds himself in the hands of the infamous Colonial pirate, Napoleon Solo."
Reactions and Reviews
Ever read something that made you want to hurl the entire zine across the room? That made you want to go out and plantaforesttoapologisetotheplanet that a twig was used to print this? That made you wonder if the editor actually read this and if the writer were actually familiar with the characters, the history, the setting—or people in general? Well, this story did all that, and more. In fact, this is the sort of story that gives rape a bad name—and it's so Anglophobic that even this Scot felt sorry for the poor, maligned Sassennachs!
This story. The Colonial Affair, began with an all right enough idea: take David McCallum's role in Billy Budd, add Napoleon Solo, a spot of rape, true love and then all live happily ever after. Unfortunately, the execution fell far short of even the concept. There isn't an area of this story that didn't irritate me, from the syntax to the vocabulary to the quite numbing ignorance displayed herein. The two main characters are called Napoleon Solo and Stephen llya Wyeth (his mother, apparently, was a Russian contessa...). Napoleon Solo is a pirate captain—but wait! All may not be as it seems, and Our Hero just might be a hero despite his profession. Dya, as befits such a delicate, small, young little thing, has been captured by the villainous Frenchies, who wish for nothing more than to have their wicked way upon our little hero. After the Frenchman refrain from raping little llya (well, of course they wouldn't do such a thing to him, would they—not when they could bargain with him to give them his lush body in return for medical treatment for his friend). Napoleon Solo the pirate captain (a Colonial, but no-one's perfect) captures these two French yobbos and the said scurrilous villains' three English Naval officer captives (including llya's wounded friend for whom he would sell his virtue). Following all this so far? Anyway, said pirate (the handsome, loving, sensitive. Napoleon Solo) then locks the two Frenchman up (unguarded and unrestrained, I hasten to add) in the same small cabin as the two English men—and then evinces some small surprise that a touch of animosity breaks out. Oh, my goodness gracious me—the French and the English at each others' throats! Who ever would have thought such a thing?
Now,ontothecharacterisation.Ilya (originally called Stephen Wyeth until Napoleon discovers his Russian middle- name and immediately refers to him as if Napoleon were his Uncle), is frequently referred to as a 'boy', a 'child', the sort of 'little white bo/ so sought after by Arabian slave owners—yet Wyeth is 25 years old, which was considered less than entirely youthful by the late 18th century. He is also, rather typically and very unfortunately, referred to by the most diminishing of adjectives, every thing possible used to enhance his image as a weak victim, ripe for the raping and therefore, destined to fall in love with caring Napoleon who has to rape Ilya to teach him about love... There is one absolutely priceless section where Ilya and Napoleon are having a discussion about Ilya's sexual history: this is a twenty-five year old who's been at sea for eight—coimt 'em, eight years—^yet we're asked to believe he is still a complete, total and absolute virgin, never having experienced either the temptations of the flesh nor the advances of lusty men (despite Solo having just rescued him from the evil Giscard who had even more evil intents upon the "little bo/s" body.). On top of that, there's the absolutely convincing part where Napoleon, uncovering the "child's" body, combing his fingers through the "sparse" pubic hair, com ments that Ilya has "hardly entered puberty"...
This story ties itself in knots tr/ng, on the one hand, to make Ilya an adult (that big sign announcing he's twenty-five and been at sea for eight years), but he is endlessly referred to as a child, a boy, an innocent. The dishonesty of that little hypocrisy annoyed me almost as much as the inherent paedophilia. I can see that the author would not want to make Ilya under-age (there are laws against transporting that sort of thing across state lines!), but she could easily have made him barely eighteen, making it all legal whilst still making it at least feasible (if one is willing to stretch the imagination) that Ilya was so completely inexperienced. But twenty-five? Then there's the flip-flopping over what is truth and what is lie, these two things seemingly interchangeable dependant upon the needs of the narrative and having no cohesion with the characterisations, such as they are, 'facts' introduced when convenient and discarded when no longer so handy for the story. One example of this is that we have this poor, innocent, defenceless child raped and bruised by big, hand some Solo, constant references to how small Ilya is, how "slender", "slight", "fragile", how "helpless" he is, how he must yield to the man who rapes him because Napoleon loves Ilya so much (that's the concept of the story, not me)...
[snipped]As you just might be able to gather, I really, really hated absolutely everything about this story. This is one of the very few times I can't think of a single good thing to say, which is why I won't review this crap anywhere, but I simply had to rant and rave about it somewhere, so you poor fools are the recipients. 
Your review of *The Colonial Affair' is spot-on, and a thousand times more entertaining than the story! I think the only thing I can take the story's or writer's side on is the "scarcely any beard growth" - he is a young blond. After all, even some young men with brown hair (I'm thinking of Johnny Depp here) have extreme trouble growing beards - blond hair tends to be finer and softer. BUT, that's not much in the story's favour, is it...Sheesh! Please don't apologize for sharing the rant - I loved it! 
- from a multi-page, single-spaced, self-described "rant" by M. Fae Glasgow in Strange Bedfellows #1 (May 1993); includes many, many other strongly expressed opinions about ellipses, medical inaccuracies, societal anachronisms, poor history, terrible characterization, sloppy plotting, vast improbabilities, silly descriptions, dishonest kinks, and much more.
- a fan in Strange Bedfellows #2