Declassified Affairs

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You may be looking for the UNCLE zines by the same publisher called Reclassified Affairs OR Classified Affairs.

Zine
Title: Declassified Affairs
Publisher: Markate Press
Editor(s): Marion McChesney and Jan Davies
Date(s): 1998-1999
Series?:
Medium: print
Size:
Genre:
Fandom: Man from UNCLE
Language: English
External Links:
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Declassified Affairs is a gen anthology of Man from UNCLE fiction. The publisher says while it is not slash, it contains some adult stories.

Issue 1

cover of issue #1, Jan Davies

Declassified Affairs 1 contains 238 pages and was published in 1998. Cover art is by Jan Davies; the interior art is by C.J. Hansen.

Beyond the Fourth Wall:

In the Beginning:

  • First Death by Theresa Kyle--In the wake of his wife's death, a young Napoleon abandons his unsympathetic family for a new life and a new name. (15 pages)
  • Debts by Taliesin--London, 1955. When Illya helps a young American escape his pursuers, little does he know how it will affect his life. (11 pages)
  • The Rocky Start Affair by Rosemary C.--Napoleon Solo heads up an in house investigation wherein he first meets Illya Kuryakin. (30 pages)

First Season:

Second Season:

Third Season:

Fourth Season and Beyond:

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 1

See reactions and reviews for The Rocky Start Affair.
[First Death]: Let me confess here and now that Napoleon is a baffling mystery to me. So I admit to being more than idly interested in Ms. Kyle's vignette of him. First Death details what Napoleon's life might have been like before he joined U.N.C.L.E. Here, he is a young man mourning the death of his wife and reassessing his life. His domineering father, who disapproved of their marriage, has disowned him.... There are other interesting aspects of Napoleon which are explained: the ring on his little finger, his dislike of water, his decision to enlist in the army, and, of course, his distinctive name. It is also very moving in its depiction of grief and youthful idealism, and highly illuminating of Napoleon's habits and personality. In a similar fashion, Nadya focuses on Illya's own personal tragedy and its consequences. [1]
[The Russian Spies Affair]: How does one describe a great story wrapped in a literary device, encased in a "reader's" comments? This story operates on three levels, all of them complete and each giving a story. The basic story is straightforward - Napoleon and Illya have just completed a mission and Napoleon has amnesia. But it's interlaced with comments from the director of the supposed TV episode. And then those are remarked upon by a reader supposedly looking over the writer's shoulder. The result is much more than a run-of-the-mill tale. The comments are humorous and the story pokes gentle fun at the usual outlandish plots of the show. [2]
[The Uncertainty Principle]: In the “Man from U.C.L.E.,” Napoleon and Illya work together seamlessly. This story – the only gen one I’ll be rec’ing this month because I’m a big ol’ slut for slash – takes place at the beginning of their partnership, and heralds a distinct turning point in how they work together. It also uses a kernel of canon – Illya’s extended stay at U.N.C.L.E. Survival School – as part of a gritty insight into his character. Plus, the deadly Angelique makes a guest appearance. Is running into her happenstance, or something else?

Nothing is completely what it seems in this tautly constructed classic. Set against a post WWII-early Cold War backdrop, this sequel to “The Devil’s Attic Affair” stands firmly on its own, exposing the underbelly of the code U.N.C.L.E. agents follow.

“The Uncertainty Principle” has you on the edge of your seat almost from the beginning. At its crux is a moral dilemma, a philosophical fine line, if you will: a traitor to U.N.C.L.E. has been caught and captured by his peers with the intent of passing judgment and killing him – only he may not be the traitor in question...or is he? Napoleon and Illya are shanghaied into this tribunal. Will they be able to stop a cold blooded murder, or help carry out an execution? [3]
[Alternate Endings]: ...it's one of my favorites and a lovely illustration of how well humor can be incorporated into a fanfic story. Only a few paragraphs into this story and you'll recognize the theme, but the enjoyment lies in the zest and liveliness with which it is carried out. And the level of snark from Illya is wonderful, for those who enjoy a sarcastic Russian! [4]
[Debts]: A pre-series first meeting between NS & IK has long-term repercussions. It's an interesting premise, and her depiction of the guys getting to know each other and learning to see behind their respective armor is well done. [5]
[Debts]: I've been meaning to rec a first time partnership story for ages, but a lot of the ones I had in mind were already rec'd. I've also been wanting to rec one of Taliesin's stories as she's one of the authors whose works hooked me into this fandom, but it was challenging to find one that wasn't already rec'd. Debts features her perfect blend of swiftly moving action and intrigue, banter and spot-on characterizations. This pre-UNCLE Illya is no KGB/GRU honeytrap, traumatized war victim or egghead scientist; he's just as sardonic, clever and consummately professional as we see on the show. This isn't to say that Napoleon is a milquetoast agent, either; between quips, Taliesin illustrates how their working styles complement each other perfectly. I could seriously imagine their first encounter and developing partnership playing out this way. [6]
[zine]: What a fun surprise to find tucked in with the Classified Affairs series of slash zines. This gen zine (with some slashy undertones) offers character-driven stories by well-known gen and slash writers.

At 238 pages and 18 stories, this is a substantial zine. Jan Davies, the editor, has cleverly structured the zine like an episode, dividing the zine into sections that correspond to the show's seasons. Each story fits (more or less) into the canon timeframe appropriately.

Published in 1998 by Marion McChesney and now out of print. 8.5" x 11", double-column layout. I found the font just a tad too small for comfortable reading. Original art color cover by Jan Davies, interior art by C.J. Hansen. Several of the stories are online; this will be noted on the individual stories.

Let's start with a story that defies description in the Beyond the Fourth Wall section.

The Russian Spies Affair is a story within a story within a story, rather like a matryoshka nesting doll set. In this 11 page story, Linda White plays with the line where reality and fantasy intersects and blurs. What is the reality and what is the make-believe? How do we define such things? More metaphysics than MfU story. This story is online.

The stories grouped as In the Beginning predate our introduction to Napoleon and Illya in the actual program; think of them as backstories.

Theresa Kyle writes fabulous Napoleon-centric stories, and "First Death" is one of them. This one deals with his struggle to create a life for himself against an oppressive but well-meaning family. This is a most intriguing look at how loss and pain turned a courageous, idealistic young man into a principled UNCLE agent. 15 pages.

What do a quiet graduate student and a fledgling secret agent have in common? In Taliesin's Debts, they both have more courage and curiosity than is healthy. A chance initial encounter (most fortuitously for Napoleon) comes full circle years later. 12 pages, with a unique take on how Illya and Napoleon might have met. This story is online.

The Rocky Start Affair by [Rosemary C.] is a straightforward detective story about betrayal within UNCLE ranks, where Illya is the main suspect and Napoleon is the hotshot investigator called in to sift truth from a smokescreen of lies. Their initial encounter in the canteen is particularly good reading. 30 pages. One of my favorites from this author. This story is online.

First Season

A gen classic, C.W. Walker's "Uncertainty Principle" places new partners Napoleon and Illya into a situation where they face a classic moral dilemma and a turning point in their partnership. 25 brilliant pages. The professor can write. This story is online.

Even heroes get the blues. In Jane Terry's "There is a Season", Illya and Napoleon consider individually the choices that have shaped their lives - and will continue to do so indefinitely. 23 quietly poignant but hopeful pages.

Paula Smith has a very clever way with words. This zine offers two of her witty poems. "The Theme from Jeopardy" is hysterically funny.

Second Season

"The Quarantine Affair" by J.E. Bowman reads like a good episode, nicely balanced between plot, action and humor. I snickered through all 14 pages as the guys attempt to unravel the mysteries of bucolic agricultural research.

Waverly scents THRUSH interference when Iowa suffers an inexplicable string of tornadoes and dispatches Illya and Napoleon to investigate. Deb's "The Act of God Affair" offers 11 fast-paced pages.

Linda Cornett's The Appalachia Affair exploits the hidden-base-in-an-abandoned-mine cliché, but the writing is good and the original characters are wonderful. 19 pages. This story is online.

Third Season

A day that starts this badly has to end well, right? Alexander Waverly's Very Bad, Terrible, All Around No Good Day" by Chajka is seven pages of thoroughly delightful fluff. This story is online.

I'm still reeling from Alice Dryden's silly "The Tropicana Affair", an over-the-top 'I Love Lucy' meets 'Man from UNCLE' story. Very third season, indeed. Two pages.

Chajka has a knack for absurdist humor that holds just inside the line. Illyagan's Island is two pages of fun silliness. This story is online.

The Missing Partner Affair by P.R. Zed is a third season rarity, a serious story. Mark and April learn the bitter realities of being field agents, with a little assistance from Napoleon and Illya. 17 pages. This story is online.

Fourth Season - and Beyond

Illya and Napoleon play a cat-and-mouse game in F. Y. Driver's "Set". When Illya takes on an unsanctioned mission involving an old friend, Napoleon tries to deal himself in, as does THRUSH. 23 pages revolving around tense political intrigue, with a very fourth season theme of mistrust and betrayal. This is a sequel to an earlier story I have never read, but would love to.

[L. White] introduces her primary Third Level original character in "The Madison Avenue Affair". I adore Tuula Crighton, a smart, strong and sassy gay woman in a world dominated by men - a woman who beats them at their own game, even. Napoleon and Illya adore her too - once they get past their bruised egos, of course. A very enjoyable 8 page read. This story is online.

"Alternate Endings" is a retelling of Dickens' traditional Christmas story. Patricia Jean Foley, one of the classic gen writers in this fandom, casts Illya as Scrooge, with other familiar characters filling the other roles. 18 pages. This story is online. [7]

Issue 2

cover of issue #2, Rudas

Declassified Affairs 2 contains 238 pages and was published in 1999. Cover art is by Rudas; interior art is by Xan Nowakowski, C.J. Hansen, Jeanne Morris, and Jann Davies.

In the Beginning...Pre-Series:

  • That's All by Paula Smith (poetry)
  • Expectations by N.L. Hayes (21 pages)
  • First Encounter by Elizabeth Cochrane (4 pages)

First Season...:

  • The Space Race Affair by Theresa Scott (11 pages)
  • The Betrayal Affair by Deb (11 pages)
  • By the Numbers by Paula Smith (poetry)
  • Life's Footprint by N.L. Hayes (5 pages)

Second Season...:

  • Nadya by Theresa Kyle (10 pages)
  • The Endgame Affair by Betty J. Glass (52 pages)

Third Season...:

  • Limericks by Paula Smith
  • Tailor, Soldier, Spy by Lin Cochran (3 pages)
  • Influential Enemies by Mo Boldock (9 pages)

Fourth Season...:

  • Chesapeake Affair by Chajka--Investigating a mysterious fish kill in Maryland leads the agents to an encounter with a bitter enemy thought dead. (10 pages)
  • Midnight Angelus by Paula Smith (poetry)
  • Web Spinning by F.Y. Driver (6 pages)
  • Requiem for Innocence by Lara Garek (26 pages)

...And Beyond:

  • Daddy by C.W. Walker (21 pages)
  • I Know by Paula Smith (poetry)

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 2

[Expectations]: Why this story must be read: Because this story is so much more than just an excellent Solo and Kuryakin first mission story told from Illya's perspective. Harry Beldon, the head of U.N.C.L.E. Northeast, was a bizarre caricature in the episode The Summit-Five Affair, but here he is a fully realized character that Illya has good reasons to respect. Thrush is a convincing enemy exploiting Cold War tensions in a wholly believable and insidious manner. In fact, the author effectively uses the backdrop of East and West Germany in 1960 to both highlight the personal and cultural differences between Napoleon and Illya, and underscore why they are on the same side nonetheless. [8]
[Life's Footprint]: In my opinion, N.L. Hayes writes the best Illya Kuryakin in the entire fandom, bar none. Her take on the character won’t please everyone, particularly those who are more accustomed to Kuryakin either as the Ice Prince or the cute hottie. Her Illya is neither. He’s complicated and nuanced: cerebral, quick witted, dry humored, pragmatic, Marxist, politically motivated, morally aware, highly principled, steady, dependable, trustworthy, loyal to a fault, very much the rational realist, and very Russian. If I was a field agent (like a certain head of Section II), this is the guy I’d want watching my back and bailing me out. Although she hasn’t written many stories, what she has is choice. This intense, poignant and ultimately enigmatic tale is probably the best. The agents are in a desperate situation: a bomb has just gone off and Solo is trapped under a pile of debris. Clinging to life and consciousness, Solo asks Illya to talk until help arrives, to tell him “... interesting things. Things that will make me listen. Tell me about your family...” And Illya does. [9]
[The Ransom of the U.N.C.L.E. Chief]: Alexander Waverly is one of the most neglected characters in fanfic and probably with good reason. He’s a man of contradictions: arguably the most powerful man in the world --- a spymaster to trump all spymasters --- yet he appears to be so absent minded, he can’t seem to even remember his own agents’ names. Clearly, there is so much more to Alexander Waverly than meets the eye. But who knows what’s really going on behind those bushy eyebrows and that bloodhound countenance? More enigmatic than Solo and Kuryakin put together, he, like God, moves in mysterious ways.

It’s difficult to write a Waverly who is more than a mere conduit for exposition, but Chajka has met the challenge several times. In fact, she’s produced a number of very clever stories in general, but this is one of my favorites. Even if you don’t get all the canon references, it’s still a hilarious misadventure and makes me laugh every time I read it.

Two dim bulbs from Thrush, Forrest Farr and Rodney Muffin (remember the Boris Karloff in drag episode from GFU?) decide to kidnap one of U.N.C.L.E.’s best agents in order to boost their failing careers. As luck would have it, they stumble upon Waverly leaving Del Floria’s and end up bagging The Old Man himself.

Before long, Waverly is complaining about the accommodations, demanding his favorite tea and critiquing their lack of professionalism.

And that’s only the beginning. [10]
[First Encounter]: Illya stumbles upon Napoleon in a moment of rare vulnerability during one of America's greatest tragedies. A moving, poignant look at the man behind the mask. [11]
[zine]: DC2 is actually an even better zine than DCI. Jan has packed it with great stories, some by new writers, with everything from drama to comedy, action to angst, but all a top quality read. This is the best gen anthology zine I've read. This is a thick anthology so this review will be in two parts. The zine editor has grouped the stories into seasons corresponding with the show.

For Pre-Season stories, Expectations, the first story in the zine, written by relatively new writer Nancy Hayes is an impressive effort, a mature and thoughtful story representing when Kuryakin first meets Solo when the latter arrives in the Berlin office, presently the continental headquarters of Harry Beldin. The wealth of Soviet detail presented with Kuryakin's character is a real plus for IK fans. He is drawn very well, and Solo is also well presented. My only real issue with the story was that, since we know Beldin later turns against UNCLE and is in fact, a Thrush plant, I was waiting for some sign of that future betrayal, a foreshadowing of when the other shoe would drop. But other than that this was a masterful piece, and makes me impatient for more.

Elizabeth's Cochrane's First Encounter is another pre-first season first meeting story, a short vignette set among a turbulent event in American history, it's a touching cameo of the two enforcement agents' inner selves.

For First Season stories, Theresa Scott's Space Race Affair is an action oriented story that takes us from Florida's Cape Canaveral to the Soviet Union. It effectively captures some of the feelings of the sixties, when we were racing the Russians to conquer space. Deb's Betrayal Affair involves a scenario where IK has been programmed to kill NS and the concern is when and where it happened and can IK be deprogrammed. While it was a surprise to find Waverly turning so quickly against IK, and that Waverly was so emotionally invested in NS, the conflict as presented in the story meant that unless the answers to IK's apparent betrayal are immediately uncovered, the partnership and even Kuryakin's future in UNCLE is over. It's NS who thinks of the solution that satisfied not only Waverly, but the ultimate skeptic in Kuryakin. This story has some nice mood swings, and a lot of intense character issues. A second story by Nancy Hayes took a trip into pathos, with Life's Footprint. NS is injured and IK tells him stories about his childhood to help keep him conscious until help arrives. Pure melodrama, you'll want to have a few tissues ready.

The Third Season stories begin with Linda White's Team Player Affair, a short, humorous story with a bit of a trick ending. Then follows the story that had me rolling with laughter, Jan Bowman's Ransom of the UNCLE Chief. Truly worthy of being classed with Third Season, this story has all the zaniness of that time, with a pair of buffoon-like Thrush agents. It's often told from their POV as they deal with the results of their unfortunate plan to kidnap Waverly. They soon discover that is a harder job than they might think. In spite of being a bit of a farce, the Thrush agents are thoroughly believable as they tell their woeful tale. Waverly is a delight. The agents' dubious countenances as they rescue their curmudgeonly boss adds to the fun. This story is absorbing right up to the amusing conclusion.

Following this are two stories that are in the best tradition of the innocent meeting the UNCLE agent. Lin Cochran's Tailor, Soldier, Spy has a poignant, Cinderella-like feel to it as the little tailor watches Solo from afar until she gets thrust most unexpectedly into the world of a spy. Short but enchantingly done.

Mo Boldock's Influential Enemies is a longer innocent story, this time told from the story of a low level Thrush clerk who, after years of filing reports on the exploits of our two, gets car jacked by a desperate IK. This story had a Linda Cornett-like feel to it, in that the action plot dove-tailed nicely with a well developed character study of an innocent viewing the agents. IK comes across in character, flinty, suspicious and, of course, injured. NS comes in at the end for a nice bit of H/C, with eyes "only for his partner." We also get to see a few other UNCLE and Thrush characters nicely portrayed including the transformation of our Thrush "innocent" into a new identity. A great "classic" UNCLE story.

Fourth Season and Beyond the Fourth Season in a future issue... [12]
[zine]: Oh, these big, fat zines loaded with big, fat wonderful stories are just my favorite things in the whole world. When something like this arrives in your mailbox, or in your hands at a con, there's just nothing like the anticipation of late nights and stolen hours when you can bury yourself deep in the fan fiction world o f Napoleon and Illya. Not the tv series world, mind you, but the zine is one that's full of the twists and turns of adult relationships and introspection. DC2 doesn't disappoint.

I think my favorite section was the first, labeled In The Beginning... Pre-Series. This is a good time to mention that DC2 continued the clever concept of dividing up the stories to match the series' seasons; there's the above mentioned section, then 3 stories and one poem grouped into First Season, then 2 under Second Season, 4 plus one poem in the section marked Third Season, 3 plus poem in Fourth Season, and a story and a poem under the heading of ... And Beyond, which picks up after the show went off the air. I was completely bowled over by N.L. Hayes' Expectations, which was a "first meeting" story that shows the author's wonderful imagination and writing technique. I found this version of "first meeting "very appealing and very believable. I don't want to give it away except to say Ms. Hayes is a highly talented writer and knows UNCLE and its characters very well. I wasn't familiar with her writing so discovering a new author in the genre is a genuine delight. First Encounter by Elizabeth Cochrane is a shorter but thoughtful piece that imagines the meeting in a historical context. Good stuff.

First Season section's highlight was for me again N.L. Hayes' Life's Footprint, which offers a glimpse of Illya's past in Russia. Or does it? Again, excellent writing and a sure grip on the characters, which is o f paramount importance to me. I also liked Theresa Scott's The Space Race Affair, which zip panned around the world like an early UNCLE episode, but offered the additional benefit of some good Illya angst. The Betrayal Affair by Deb reminded me o f a slash story without the sex at the end; the focus was the relationship between these two men being put to a test, with their affection and loyalty the overriding forces that prevail.

Second Season's Nadya by Theresa Kyle suggests an Illya at the emotional mercy of a woman from his past. He's not the strong, acerbic IK we see in the series, almost the opposite, and I wasn't sure I could reckon with it. I liked Betty Glass' The Endgame Affair better. This is a writer who managed to bring in many characters from the series, almost like guest stars, to tell a complicated story with a detailed plot and surrealistic overtones.

I loved Mo Boldock's Influential Enemies in the Third Season. What a treat for an Illya lover like me: a little hurt stuff, a little angst stuff, an unusual viewpoint, a whiff o f romance, and a sense of humor to wrap it all up in a perfect package. Tailor, Soldier, Spy by Lin Cochran is fabulous, no other way to put it. This talented writer made me see the story so clearly in my head I felt like I was watching a movie. J.E. Bowman contributed The Ransom of the U.N.C.L.E. Chief, which reminded me of every Ring Lardner story I've ever read, except this one was funnier. I was very impressed with Ms. Bowman's dead-on characterizations and terrific ear for dialogue. Wow! The Team Player Affair by Linda White is about a bet between IK and NS that has gone way too far, but with a comical end. The joke is on Napoleon this time,but you can easily imagine the roles reversed (or the results a different gender!)

Fourth Season covers J.E. Bowman's Chesapeake Affair, a fishy story with an episodic feel. I could easily imagine this one on the small screen. I have to admit a fondness for anything F.Y. Driver writes; here she offers Web Building, not the Internet kind. Ms. Driver has a recurring character, a beautiful KBG Colonel, who is required to keep tabs on Kuryakin. Their relationship is complicated and confusing and utterly fascinating. I look forward to more installments, please! Fourth Season finishes with a long story called Requiem for Innocence by Lara Garek. Illya is forced to confront the ugliness in his past in this exciting tale with filled with horror, suspense and intrigue. Sorry, been reading too many movie ads...

C.W. Walker's Daddy is the sole entry in the last section, ...And Beyond. Nobody understands Napoleon the way Ms. Walker does. Her wonderful style, her ability to combine the mundane (a father/daughter day in New York City) and the fantastic (Thrush seems to be lurking everywhere!) makes me wish that she could go back in time and write for the tv series. We are lucky to have her here writing for us now.

A brief word about Paula Smith's poems, which run throughout the seasons in the zines. I am not usually a fan o f poetry in zines; they take up precious real estate from the stories. Ms. Smith's poems are not like the ones I usually encounter. Witty, touching, insightful and most of all, concise, they manage to shed light on the familiar characters and situations with brevity and intelligence. The economy of words and their juxtaposition shows a real talent.

Congratulations all around to the writers, editor and publisher. This is a zine that will appeal to the gen and slash fan alike. [13]
[zine]: This anthology, like its predecessor "Declassified Affairs 1," is a collection of gen stories which are arranged chronologically, by season (first through fourth), showing the gradual development of the Solo and Kuryakin friendship. And, as with "Declass I," the Stories, for the most part, emphasize relationship and characterization rather than plot (although there is no shortage of plot), making it a genzine that even slash readers will enjoy.

There are two "first meeting" stories. In a vignette by Elizabeth Cochrane called "First Encounter," Illya gets a glimpse of the real, flesh-and-blood man behind the legend called Napoleon Solo. In "Expectations," by N. L. Hayes, we see Napoleon and Illya work together for the first time — and incidentally experience doubts about the other's competence; Napoleon sees Illya as a green neophyte, Illya sees Napoleon as an arrogant jerk. As they continue to work on the assignment, however, both of their first impressions are revised...several times.

"The Betrayal Affair," by Deb, unfolds like a mystery; Illya wakes up in a hospital bed but has no memory as to what has happened to him, and when he and the reader find out, we are as stunned and disbelieving as Illya is. The plot is riveting, but Illya's and Napoleon's friendship is also a crucial part of the story: Illya's concern for Napoleon, his desire to protect him at all costs, and Napoleon's willingness to go to extremes to keep from losing his partner...all lead to a stunning climax.

Three stories explore the mysteries of Illya's past...and present. In my story, "Nadya," we find out why Illya wore a wedding ring for the first two seasons but took it off in the third. "Web Building," by F. Y. Driver, also deals with Illya's private life — a private life which Illya determinedly struggles to keep secret and Napoleon, with equal determination, wants to know more about. And "Life's Footprint," by N. L. Hayes, is a sharply poignant piece in which Illya, to distract Napoleon from the American's painful circumstances, tells his partner an incident from his childhood. The ending will haunt you.

There are two delightful stories in the third season section which are from the POV's of two female "innocents" — "Tailor, Soldier, Spy" by Lin Cochran, and "Influential Enemies" by Mo Boldock. In "Tailor" the heroine has a "close encounter" with Napoleon; in "Influential Enemies," with Illya. Both women are reminiscent of the standard series innocent: not silly Mary Sues but independent, intelligent, and resourceful women who are also, nonetheless, immediately susceptible to Napoleon's and Illya's charms...of course.

This section has two other stories which very much match the humor of the third season. In Linda While's "The Team Player Affair," Illya promises to "fix Napoleon up" with a heavy date for Friday night, putting poor Napoleon on the rack as he wonders what his partner is up to. "The Ransom of the U.N.C.L.E. Chief by J. E. Bowman, a hilarious a/u version of O. Henry's famous short story "The Ransom of Red Chief," portrays two inept THRUSH agents who decide to kidnap Mr. Waverly for a million dollars' ransom — and an improved standing in THRUSH — but find they've bitten off more than they can chew. I have to say, 1 loved Mr. Waverly's bulldog.

There are two very special long stories, both written by new writers: "The Endgame Affair" by Betty J. Glass and "Requiem for Innocence" by Lara Garek. Both of them are riveting page-turners with tantalizingly convoluted plots, both rate very high on the relationship meter and both are excellent character studies ("Endgame" more of Napoleon, "Innocence" more of Illya). And both of them simply blew me away.

"The Endgame Affair" is a novella with a familiar hurt/comfort scenario; however, the hurt/comfort aspect (although it is there) is not emphasized so much as the plot: Napoleon and Illya have a problem to solve. Napoleon was drawn so perfectly I felt as if 1 were in the same room with him; the premise of his being reduced to near-helplessness is treated honestly, but without sentimentality or pathos. And Illya's concern/fears for his partner, as well as his outwardly pragmatic attitude towards solving the case, were beautifully in character as well.

"Requiem for Innocence" by Lara Garek. in the fourth season section, is another suspenseful long story, one in which Napoleon and Illya fight a dirty-dog villain and a nightmarish virus. It also gives us yet another tantalizing peek into Illya's past. I hope to see a lot more of this writer's work in the future.

"The Chesapeake Affair" by J. E. Bowman, also fourth season, is a story with a true U.N.C.L.E. flavor — a fascinating plot with flashes of humor ("his partner was a regular eating machine"), lots of jeopardy, and some unexpected twists and turns. Of all the stories, this one, I think, was the one most like an episode.

"Daddy" by C. W. Walker, the last story in the zine and the only "after the series" story, is one of those tales that appears simple — a Day in the Life of a retired Napoleon Solo and his young daughter Allyson — and yet grips you from almost the first paragraph. Even though Illya isn't physically in this story, his spirit pervades throughout, and an older, if not wiser. Napoleon is simultaneously a tragic, humorous, and admirable figure. Walker, once again, has drawn a picture that stays with you long, long after you've finished the story.

I enjoyed the poetry by Paula Smith especially the limericks and the piece "That's All," written as lyrics to go with the melody "Meet Mr. Solo" (the theme that we almost always heard in the last moments of the show). I also enjoyed the art. The cover is gorgeous, a color portrait of Napoleon and Illya by Rudas, and the interior art (lots of interior art) is on the whole well done. My favorite is the one opposite page 194, a moody and provocative drawing of a "fifteen years later" Napoleon and Illya.

I give this zine an A+, and add a recommendation: even if you usually buy only slash, buy this zine. You'll enjoy it so much you won't even miss the sex. [14]

References

  1. ^ from Z.I.N.E.S. v.2 n.2 (2000)
  2. ^ a 2009 comment at Crack Van
  3. ^ a 2006 comment at Crack Van
  4. ^ a 2004 comment at Crack Van
  5. ^ from This is Katya
  6. ^ a 2008 comment at Crack Van
  7. ^ from Partner Mine
  8. ^ a 2007 comment at Crack Van
  9. ^ a 2004 comment at Crack Van
  10. ^ a 2004 comment at Crack Van
  11. ^ from This is Katya
  12. ^ from Z.I.N.E.S. v.2 n.1
  13. ^ from Z.I.N.E.S. v.2 n.1
  14. ^ from Z.I.N.E.S. v.1 n.3