Intrinsic Natures

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Title: Intrinsic Natures
Author(s): Pat Foley
Date(s): 1999
Genre: gen
Fandom: Man from U.N.C.L.E.
External Links: Intrinsic Natures

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Intrinsic Natures is a gen Man from U.N.C.L.E. story by Pat Foley.

It was published in the zine Relative Secrecy #1, U.N.C.L.E. Chronicles, and is online.

Reactions and Reviews

Notwithstanding my rather sardonic rendering of the young Illya's character in "The Red Retriever" (borrowed from Lois Balzer's universe and consistent with it), which I previously recced, Pat Foley is for me the ultimate standard of MFU gen fanfiction; I have others in high esteem, of course, but, among the writers who have their work focused on NS/IK relationship in a gen context, she is the one I feel the most totally in tune with. I positively love the way she shows their interaction, the mutual commitment and loyalty they keep in spite of their stark differences in personality and turn of mind, their indissoluble bond and their occasional fights.

"Intrinsic Natures" relates to one of these fights. It takes place at a critical moment, when Solo is approaching the time of retirement from field assignments and Waverley, already decided to choose him as his successor, is pondering about the wiseness of putting Kuriakin in Solo's place as CEA. So the story is all about leadership, responsability and oppositions of allegiances (partnership against higher interests).

It is also about U.N.C.L.E.'s morals and politics, about the ends and the means. The clash is severe and Napoleon's determination uncompromising. Illya's behaviour is ruthless, but not without motives; Waverley appears here as the sly and pragmatic mastermind he is so rarely in fanfic. As a whole, characterisation is perfect and the moral issues clearly defined:

“Jesus, Illya,” Solo said, looking at the carnage left behind on the field as the copter swung away. “Was that necessary?” He wondered how this would look in the mission report. U.N.C.L.E. agents were expected to always use the minimum of force to accomplish their goals. Sleep darts instead of killing force, and selective force when killing force was required. They took lives, but they weren’t supposed to be rabid about it, or to take them en masse, and certainly not merely to save their own. What Kuryakin had done was close to murderous and it was against every policy in U.N.C.L.E.

“You’re alive, aren’t you?” Kuryakin retorted. “The mission was a success, wasn’t it? And that’s what matters.”

Through the crisis the partnership will be strengthened and Solo's authority and position confirmed. The narrative is maybe a little austere in some parts but so clever and thoughtful it's well worth the effort. If you have liked "Partners" (one of the first stories recced in crack_van) you'll certainly enjoy this as much.[1]
I'd forgotten how much I like Pat Foley's work. I really wish she'd return to MFU writing. [2]
[comment by the author]:


It's so nice these stories still inspire reviews. I'm very grateful for the feedback. I've been writing a lot of Trek lately, but perhaps when I burn out my current Trek phase, UNCLE will rear its head again. I do have a couple of hundred pages of partners 2 written, just a lot of holes in between that need filling in. Maybe someday. Anyway, I appreciate the review. Not sure what is meant by austere... is it that there's too much introspection in this one, and not enough dialogue? Or too much action, as opposed to dialogue? Just curious. I just finished a Trek chapter that was mostly introspection and I sort of cringed posting for that reason. So that's why I'm wondering here, it helps to know these things if you don't mind telling. :) thanks again.[3]

Not sure what is meant by austere... is it that there's too much introspection in this one, and not enough dialogue?

I suppose it was what I had in mind when I wrote this sentence. Actually I wasn't speaking for myself for, deep introspection and keen insights are maybe the skills I favour among a writer's various achievements (there are a lot if in "Partners" too). But many readers, especially of gen stories, are used to fast successions of action scenes and dialogues. So, I wanted to warn them that here the interest was elsewhere. [4]


  1. a 2006 comment at Crack Van
  2. a 2006 comment at Crack Van
  3. a 2006 comment by the author at Crack Van
  4. a 2006 comment at Crack Van