Roots of the Present

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Title: Roots of the Present
Author(s): N.L. Hayes
Date(s): 1999
Fandom: Man from U.N.C.L.E.
External Links: online here

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Roots of the Presentis a Man from U.N.C.L.E. story by N.L. Hayes.

It was published in the zine The Kuryakin File #18 and is online.

Reactions and Reviews

Why this must be read:

It is easy to answer; because it's the most definitive, thoughtful, clever and satisfying presentation of U.N.C.L.E.'s nature and mission you can find in all the MFU fictions available on line or in zines so far; because it's bliss to read a text where every word is pondered, precise and meaningful; because for some persons, intelligence is more intoxicating than sex and, more prosaically, because MFU "canon" and "fanon" badly lack plausible information about the diplomatical and political background of the U.N.C.L.E. organisation.

The main accepted feature is its international support by all the nations belonging to the "U.N.O." community. It implies (or should do) the equal contribution of all the signatories countries, whatever their system of government or their political ideologies, including -of course- the Soviet Union and its East-European allies. But, strangely, in most MFU stories this aspect of the question is quietly ignored or deliberately flouted: U.N.C.L.E. is implicitely shown as a western organisation, strongly resembling O.T.A.N, The Soviet Union (and the monstruous KGB) is the ennemy and, evidently, Illya Kuryakin, though Russian, cannot be else than a defector. This vision is very strange for an European reader. How many times, while reading some fiction (otherwise pleasant) written by an American author, had I wondered in dismay if we really were living on the same planet (and apparently we didn't).

Therefrom my relief when I found out this text, which is more a prologue to a future and complete fictional universe than a stand alone story and yet as exciting and lively as a good action/adventure tale. In one word, it explains how Waverley managed to recruit his first Soviet operative agent and the reasons of his choice.

That allows the author to set out in the same time the morals and politics of both U.N.C.L.E. and Kuryakine:

“If in practice you are the organization defined by your principles, then you are in the business of protecting the rights of nations – all nations – to make their own decisions, define their own beliefs, pursue their own ideals (...) without the threat of interference by supranational or individual outside forces.”

Such a definition of U.N.C.L.E. principles and missions give, I think, quite another dimension and significance to the MFU fictions that would be placed on this ground. And that is one of the many reasons I have to wish, patiently but fervently, that N.L. Hayes would soon write all the stories one could expect from such promising premises.[1]
Thank you very much for pointing to this story! I read it some time last year, but your rec brought back every single thing I loved about it. I was so very happy to find a MfU story that didn't excise the Soviet Union from UNCLE, and that gave Illya a background I could believe. I can only whole-heartedly agree with you - I wish there were many, many more MfU stories with this kind of premise and understanding. [2]
In the same spirit and from the same author, there is in "File 40" another story with more action which gives a quite plausible version of the first meeting between Solo and Kuryakin and a very interesting deciphering of an intriguing secondary character of the show: "Expectations". The choice was difficult but I thought necessary to put the stress on the principles first. [3]
I definitely agree on both counts. MUNCLE is certainly not NATO and I prefer it not be portrayed that way.[4]


  1. a 2005 comment at Crack Van
  2. a 2005 comment at Crack Van
  3. a 2005 comment at Crack Van
  4. a 2005 comment at Crack Van