Sex, Lies and U.N.C.L.E.

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Zine
Title: Sex, Lies and U.N.C.L.E.
Publisher: Keynote Press & Straight Up Press, distributed by Oddbalz & Mayhem
Editor:
Author(s): Anne Higgins
Cover Artist(s):
Illustrator(s):
Date(s): 1995, September 1997
Medium: print
Size:
Genre:
Fandom: Man from UNCLE
Language: English
External Links: online flyer
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Sex, Lies and U.N.C.L.E. is a 126-page slash novel with two interconnected stories ("Sex, Lies and U.N.C.L.E." and "The Parallel Lives Affair", a crossover with The A-Team) by Anne Higgins.

This zine is a winner of a 1995 STIFfie Award. The zine was originally published with the first story; later editions contain the crossover sequel, which contains a graphic rape scene.

It required an age statement to order.

The first part of the story is online: Part One: The Affair Affair and Part Two: The 8x10 Glossy Affair. As is The Parallel Lives Affair.

Author's Introduction to the First Edition of Sex, Lies and U.N.C.L.E.

cover of the edition that contains only the first story, 1995
There is no situation in which I would believe Napoleon Solo would sleep with Illya Kuryakin.' Words to that effect greeted me when I signed on to my on-line service early last Fall. Being the perverse little creature that I am, I immediately thought of an instance where they would not even consider doing otherwise. Two nights later the story burst into my head and woke me up from a sound sleep at three in the morning. Fortunately, it was Saturday morning, leaving me free to start writing. The result is in your hands. I have tried very hard to keep our two favorite U.N.C.L.E. agents in character, but I did take a few liberties with their surroundings. The only thing I remember about living in the sixties was an intense desire to get out of the sixties, so I've moved everything to a modern setting. This story takes place in the nineties, a few months after a modernized version of the final episode, The Seven Wonders of the World Affair. Napoleon is in his mid-thirties, and Illya, who was always played as younger, is in his mid-twenties. I also played fast and loose with the structure of the New York office as I couldn't make sense of the Sections the show's creators established. I hope purists will forgive me. -- Anne Higgins Spring, 1995

Author's Introduction to the Second Edition of Sex, Lies and U.N.C.L.E. and The Parallel Lives Affair

cover of the edition that contains both stories, September 1997, art by Warren Oddsson
At the time I wrote 'Sex, Lies and U.N.C.L.E.', I was new to both fandom and slash. I'd actually only read my first fanzine a few months earlier, while my fannish contacts were limited to a delightful, but small group on GEnie. I was, therefore, amazed and thrilled with the sudden influx of new friends that followed the release of the story at the 1995 MediaWest*Con. Marcelle and her roommate, [L B], were among the first people I met when I attended the 1996 MW*C. We were instant friends, and to my bemusement, Lois informed me that she was me. Lois doesn't write slash, but many thought our styles were so similar that Anne Higgins just had to be LRH Balzer's slash pen name. I admit that Anne Higgins is a pen name, but I'm not [L] and she's not me. Still, we are fans of each other's work, and perhaps it was inevitable that Marcelle, [L] and I would end up working together. So here you have a re-edited version of S.L&U, produced by Marcelle's Keynote Press and agented by [L]. Proof positive that the Fates do indeed have a sense of humor. -- Anne Higgins September, 1997

Summary

Napoleon and Illya are ordered to start an affair to lure THRUSH blackmailers, but what happens six months later when both can't forget - and aren't sure it was just an act?

Sex, Lies and U.N.C.L.E. (98 pages)

"It won't work, sir. Thrush is bound to become suspicious if Illya and I suddenly become lovers." Waverly actually seemed close to laughing. "There would be nothing sudden about it. Your obvious affection for one another has had vague rumors floating around the office for years. I've often suspected it myself."

That was news to Napoleon, and he opened his mouth to sputter a protest, but Illya said, "It is true, Napoleon. I have heard the whispers before, and more than one Thrush interrogator has asked me what it was like to be the lover of Napoleon Solo. Given their need, Thrush would undoubtedly be most willing to accept the notion that time had made us careless."

"Quite so," Waverly said, rising. "See that you are careless in two minutes."

Author's Introduction to The Parallel Lives Affair

The Parallel Lives Affair is the only other UNCLE slash I have written to date. I consider it part of the Sex, Lies and U.N.C.L.E. universe, set two years after the conclusion of The 8x10 Glossy Affair. Like S,L&U, this story was inspired by a single thought. I used to watch The A-Team, and vaguely, remember seeing THE SAY UNCLE AFFAIR episode the first time it aired. A few months after completing the novella, I was channel surfing and stumbled upon a rerun in time to see Trigoran torturing Stockwell. By the time the episode ended, I looked at that van exploding and announced, "No, absolutely not! Napoleon does not kill Illya!" And so I began to write. The reader should keep in mind that while Napoleon and Illya are young men in the following tale, the members of The A-Team, with their origins grounded in the Vietnam War, are that much older, making this a bit of an alternate universe sequel to THE SAY UNCLE AFFAIR. For those of you asking for further sequels, well, I have learned never to say never when it comes to fandom, but I have-to admit that it is unlikely as I am so heavily into The Professionals that I can no longer hear Illya whispering in my ear. Should he ever find his voice again, I will share with you what he says. -- Anne Higgins September, 1997

The Parallel Lives Affair (27 pages)

It is a sequel to the A-Team episode "The Say Uncle Affair"

"As soon as his feet touched the ground, Hannibal took Illya's gun, then did a more thorough search. "Nice make-up job, kid," he said rather dryly. "You are hardly the only one who is good with putty noses, Colonel," Illya answered, allowing Face to handcuff his hands behind his back, while Murdock serenaded them with yet another Frank Sinatra classic. "Where is Stockwell?" "In a meeting."

That would have earned him the back of anyone else's hand, but Hannibal just gave him a ‘don't push it, kid' look. "Want to tell us what he's up to?" "A most interesting question, Colonel Smith," an unfamiliar voice announced, though Illya stiffened at the Russian accent.

It was shaping up to be a very bad morning, Illya thought as he and the A-Team were surrounded by a group of mercenaries led by a short, dark blond, fifty-something man with blue eyes. Trigorin, the real one, said, "Perhaps we can persuade our young friend to give us some answers." The gas canister exploded a moment later.

Reactions and Reviews

Unknown Date

[zine]: Damned good story! Napoleon and Illya are ordered to start an affair to lure THRUSH blackmailers, but what happens six months later when both can't forget - and aren't sure it was just an act?... [added later] I [the reviewer] received feedback from one fan who said that the MUNCLE zines 'But Not For Me' and 'Sex, Lies and UNCLE' were too violent for her, specifically the rape scenes in both involving Illya. I didn't feel they were upsetting or even of much note, since in 'But Not For Me' they are all told in flashback, and in 'Sex, Lies and UNCLE' they are all implied but not in the least graphically depicted, but rather occur offstage. But in the interest of clarity I'm letting you know that there *are* such depictions in both stories. New Update: I just discovered that later copies of the zine 'Sex, Lies and UNCLE' include a pseudo-sequel, entitled 'The Parallel Lives Affair', which is an A-Team/UNCLE crossover. My copy didn't contain this story, so I hadn't read it until it was recently posted on the Net. This story *does* have Illya rather graphically raped at least twice during the story, in a way that is rather upsetting, as it is designed to torture Napoleon moreso than Illya. I found it rather disturbing myself, and was content that my copy of the zine didn't contain this story. Caveat lector. [1]

2000

\Yet another favorite zine shows up on the web: Sex, Lies and Uncle, by Anne Higgins. It's easy to quibble with this story -- the occasionally prudish language ("bottom passage"), the parched dryness of the emotional tone -- but it's a page turner: fast moving and wonderfully plotted. A real standout in MUNCLE fandom. [2]

2004

[Sex, Lies and U.N.C.L.E. -- The Affair Affair]: Illya and Napoleon pose as lovers to expose a Thrush ring of blackmailers and a spy within UNCLE. Pictures are taken of them having sex and Illya suffers many slights by homophobic UNCLE agents before it comes out that they were acting undercover.... This is a wonderful story that appears on many MUNCLE recs lists. I like the plot - I'm a sucker for the "posing as gays to catch the bad guys" plotline - and I love the characterisation. I don't care for this fannonish representation of Illya as so slight and delicate that he's a natural victim, but it's not a big part of this story so it's not too much of a problem. [3] [4]
[Sex, Lies and U.N.C.L.E. -- The 8x10 Glossy Affair]: Six months after they posed as lovers to trap a traitor, Illya and Napoleon have to deal with the emotional fallout....This story contains the lovely "get together for real" portion of "Sex, Lies, and M.U.N.C.L.E." It's done rather well, despite the fact that Illya is once again the bottom to Napoleon's top, and I get so bored with that dynamic. Lots of lovely plot in this one and lots of lovely Illya/Solo interaction, both in and out of the bedroom. [5] [6]

[zine]: This is an interesting series-- it has to be considered an AU because it has been brought forward to more or less the present day from its original mid-1960's setting, and she has changed some aspects of the UNCLE organization, but the characters are definitely recognizable and the plots are interesting.

In the first, Our Intrepid Heroes are ordered to pose as lovers and perform on camera in order to entrap a mole within UNCLE HQ. Somewhere along the line they come to realize that they're not entirely acting. The second story is set in the same universe, and shows how they've integrated that new aspect into their partnership, while once more saving the world.

Probably because I have a soft spot for 'established relationship' stories, I actually prefer the second part of the series to the first, it's the one that stuck with me to the point where when I couldn't find it again to rec (because I didn't remember it being part of a series) I went asking around until someone recognized the story I was talking about and pointed me in the right direction...NOTE: There is a third part of this series linked at the end of the part 2, but unless you've seen the A-Team episode "The Say Uncle Affair" which featured Robert Vaughn and David McCallum it may not make much sense to you, because it's a crossover. I know I had no clue what was going on until after someone sent me a copy of that ep. If you decide to read it anyway, be aware that there should be a noncon warning on it as well, and it's slightly more graphic than the first story. [7]
[zine]: Thanks for reccing these! I really like these stories, read them a long time ago. (Yes, everything is relative ;) It didn't occur to me just how AU they are, not till now, when I have rewatched lots of episodes. And I've never seen the A-Team. But she captures the boys so well that it doesn't matter that she messes with time. The way she developes their relationship, and describes it after it is well and truly established, is oh, I can't find the correct word...I even like April and Mark! I only wish she would write more in MfU. [8]

[zine]: These were some of the first stories I read. I have a weakness for the "you two must have sex for the cameras" stories. *G*

K, it might be worth mentioning that, although she doesn't warn for it, there is some rape in these stories. (Not between our heros, of course.) Although it's not graphic, I found it kind of disturbing. [9]

[zine]: Although it's not graphic, I found it kind of disturbing. As a fan of some non-con scenarios, I found these stories *extremely* disturbing. It's important to note that Illya is tortured and raped several times in this series of stories...and I had the uneasy feeling that it was for kink value. This becomes especially clear in the A-Team crossover, in which IK is raped by a doppelganger version of himself.

This story has been widely recced...but I have never really understood the appeal. Maybe I wouldn't feel as squicked if it had been Napoleon on the receiving end. [10]
[zine]: This is probably why I liked the middle story by far the best and sort of 'forgot' that it was part of a series. Because I'm really not a fan of noncon, and you know it seems like IK gets it far more often than any other character I've ever seen. [11]

[zine]: Maybe I wouldn't feel as squicked if it had been Napoleon on the receiving end.

Eeks! Not my poor sweet Napoleon! Say it isn't so! *G*

Personally, I don't get a charge out of seeing anybody raped. I realize that it's a kind of h/c that some people find very emotionally satisfying, but I think you either love it or you hate it. :( [12]

[zine]: I'm not especially fond of rape stories either, I tend to skip those parts, so much so that I had probably repressed some scenes from these stories. But "don't like" doesn't mean "not realistic", imo. They are at war after all, and things happen. I think it "fits" here, and these stories have so much other, good stuff. How she has portrayed the characters and how they interact has stuck with me. The care between NS and IK.(And hope I got my commas right, so what I meant to say isn't, um, bent.)

In my ideal world? No one gets hurt, anytime, anywhere. Birds and flowers. [13]

[zine]: Oops!... I realized after I wrote my comment that it would sound more critical than it was meant. I was referring to "rape stories" in general (and to readers who seek out that particular kind of h/c). Not to this story in particular.

I enjoyed this story -- just not those scenes. [14]
[zine]: I was referring to "rape stories" in general - Yeah, I guessed so, and I see what you mean - some writers wallow in sordid details and lets one of the guys be so victimized that it hurts my eyes to read. I tend to avoid those writers after one story, and that says a lot, since there's not much I don't read. Except death stories. Enough of that in real life. [15]

2012

[zine]: What’s the smut like in this slash fiction?

The sex starts off pretty undescriptive and unfeeling – a little too heavy on the purple prose and not much detail – but it grows a bit stronger as the slash fiction story goes on. The camera turns away instead of showing us the sex quite often which is disappointing because the build-ups are so well done. Napoleon’s seduction seems realistic to his character as does Illya’s reaction to it, but we don’t always get the pay-off. Higgins does not write it terribly or anything; it’s just vague. But there are little things in this slash fiction, like Napoleon cleaning up after sex and their excellent interactions, that make it all worthwhile to me.

The rape scenes in the first two parts aren’t too intense, the camera generally turns away “when the going gets tough” as they say, but in the third part it’s a bit more descriptive. I’ve heard complaints on the internet that the rape scene in the third part is “graphic”, but I found it fairly tame compared to the slash fiction I’ve read (and written). Her slash fiction story focusses more on a psychological aspect that, I’ll admit, lingers with you (which I really liked).

What’s the plot like in this slash fiction?

The plot in the first two parts is particularly strong and kept me reading it throughout the day. The plot seemed like it could have been one of the episodes of the show (if only there was that much homosexuality and sex), and, like I said, this slash fiction plot really kept me going. I didn’t mind that there wasn’t a lot of sex because I was eager to get to the next part.

The plot in the third slash fiction part was a bit lacking and, I’ll be honest, I was disappointed because I would have written the adaptation of The A-Team episode completely different. It’s an interesting interpretation, but the plot seems to just be there to develop Illya and Napoleon’s relationship instead of actually serving a purpose. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the exploration of Trigorin and Stockwell’s relationship, but I’m not sure I liked the use of it to contrast Napoleon and Illya’s. It was interesting, but perhaps not as well executed in this slash fiction as it could have been.

Again in the third part, The A-Team doesn’t play a huge role in the story, and they seem awkwardly thrust into most scenes and places. I’m not a huge fan of The A-Team, I’ve only season one season and it was too much Cold War paranoia for me, but even so I didn’t really enjoy how poorly the characters were thrown in. (And I really didn’t enjoy that the two non-whites get taken out of the story early.)

Would I read this slash fiction story again?

I would probably read the first two parts again. I don’t think I’d read the third part again, but I might skip on to the rape scene to see what made it linger in my thoughts and perhaps inspire some of my own slash fiction.

What is my overall impression of the slash fiction story?

The first two parts were excellent. The plot’s engaging and Higgins represents all the characters accurately. I find a lot of poor representations of Illya in fanfiction, but this story really gets him while still holding onto the tropes that the fandom seems to like (and I sometimes tolerate). I really enjoy reading ideas on how Napoleon and Illya’s relationship turns romantic and the stories around them, and this one didn’t disappoint. There’s a great deal of action in the second part of this slash fiction, but there’s quite a bit in the first as well.

The treatment of Napoleon and Illya’s relationship in the public eye of the U.N.C.L.E. organization is particularly well done. On the outside it claims to be a progressive operation, but, true to reality, there are still ones within the corporation who are not happy about it. I really enjoyed how it seemed realistic both within the context of the show and within the context of reality. Not everyone is comfortable with homosexuality, and some are pretty nasty about it. I thought the story dealt with this particularly well. It’s interesting, represents the characters well, and not at all preachy.

I had a few problems with the third part. It seemed a lot more slapped together, and I didn’t like that it made Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin younger than the actors in the show. I’m not sure it makes sense chronologically (I really can’t be bothered to do the math), but the potential ageism unsettled me a bit in it. As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t like how The A-Team was represented (since it was barely represented). Murdock was probably best written out of all the characters, he even made me chuckle a few times, but their lack of representation was a disappointment. I also couldn’t really decide how well the two series were tied together. It seemed to undermine a lot of the overarching plot of The A-Team show, and I didn’t quite understand why Napoleon was there at all.

I mentioned earlier that I really liked how U.N.C.L.E. tried not to be homophobic because it’s supposed to be a progressive company, which I liked because it made sense. However, I found The A-Team’s blatant lack of homophobia unrealistic. I’m sure they’re great guys and everything, but let’s face it, these are men’s men during the 80s. And the 1980s is pretty homophobic (particularly in that age group), especially considering it was during the rise of AIDs. I just find it hard to believe that everyone in The A-Team would be okay with a couple of openly gay men without any sort of drama, especially after you take the time period into consideration. And I was disappointed since that anxiety was so well represented in the first two parts of the slash fiction.

I suppose most of the things I disliked about the third part are nitpicking details that ruined the story for me. So it’s entirely possible if you have lower expectations, you might get more out of it then I did. There’s still a lot of merit to the third one, but maybe it was the setting and appropriation of that particular A-Team episode I wasn’t a fan of. I can’t exactly pinpoint what about the story that rubbed me the wrong way.

Overall, the slash fiction story is well-written. The writing is clean and draws you in. I don’t really stumble over her use of language, and it keeps purple-prose to a minimum (usually for the sex). Not only does Higgins write the characters true to the show, she delightfully nods to the show as well without making vast knowledge of the show mandatory. There are a few formatting errors on her website, but it’s easy to overlook and not terribly distracting. So the first two parts were pretty great and engaging, which only made the third that much more disappointing....

Would I recommend this slash fiction story?

I would recommend the first two parts to any Man from U.N.C.L.E. fan who likes to slash and to anyone who has managed to read through my Man from U.N.C.L.E. fanfiction and enjoy it. I think it would be pretty easy for anyone to grasp the story and the characters without having a big Man from U.N.C.L.E. background. The only thing is it features two characters, Mark Slate and April Dancer, who are spin-off characters from the show, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.. And that’s pretty much all you need to know about them.

I wouldn’t recommend the third part unless you’re particularly interested and have seen The A-Team episode. It’s a little depressing (just in its content), so it was more bitter than sweet to me. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the episode and I tended to stumble over remembering what’s going on – but maybe that’s just me. You can always just skip down to the rape if you’re curious about it. [16]
Ok, the author note says that it is an updated timeline but other than Illya being only Russian and not actually a Soviet and a few mentions of flashdrives, this is so close to being just like correct!timeline!MFU that you won't notice it isn't. And yes, the beginning of the story is 'we had to do it for the mission' but the actual twisty turning plot will distract you from that right away. What I love about this story is that Waverly has a completely modern outlook on nondiscrimination policies and doesn't care who his agents sleep with as long as they do their jobs. That's a world I would like to live in. I also love the convoluted plot in the second half and how Illya outsmarts more than one bad guy. I love that the author never strays into 'Illya is weaker' territory and lets the characterization of our boys shine true. The hawt parts are hawt, I don't hate that either! This is a juicy (in SO many ways) piece with a great story to tell. Give it a try, I think you will enjoy the ride. [17]

2014

Probably what drew me into this fandom to begin with. [18]

References

  1. ^ Raonaid's Zine Recommendations, Archived version, accessed 6.15.2011
  2. ^ All Jewels Have Flaws... or... Net (dot) Bitch Does Recs, 2000
  3. ^ comments by Madrigal, posted December 2004
  4. ^ Webcite
  5. ^ comments by Madrigal, posted December 2004
  6. ^ Webcite
  7. ^ a 2004 comment at Crack Van
  8. ^ a 2004 comment at Crack Van
  9. ^ a 2004 comment at Crack Van
  10. ^ a 2004 comment at Crack Van
  11. ^ a 2004 comment at Crack Van
  12. ^ a 2004 comment at Crack Van
  13. ^ a 2004 comment at Crack Van
  14. ^ a 2004 comment at Crack Van
  15. ^ a 2004 comment at Crack Van
  16. ^ from Original Slash Fiction that Claims to Tie Smut and Plot Together, 2012
  17. ^ a 2012 comment at Crack Van
  18. ^ from Lynn W., accessed March 7, 2014