The St. Crispin's Day Society
|Title:||The St. Crispin's Day Society|
|Publisher:||Ceiling Press, boojums Press|
|Editor(s):||Paula Smith & Carol Lynn|
|Fandom:||Man From U.N.C.L.E.|
|External Links:||St. Crispin's Day Society page on File 40 (both of these sites no longer exist, but some/all of the fiction is at Archive of Our Own -- see The St. Crispin's Day Society)|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
Story summaries can be found here.
"...A Few Words About The St. Chrispin's Day Society"
From issue #2:
The Fraternal Order of St. Crispin was formed by U.N.C.L.E.'s original thirteen field agents in January 1946. The name was derived from the king's famous soliloquy in Shakespeare's "Henry V". When female agents were accepted into the ranks of Enforcement in 1965, the name was changed to the St. Crispin's Day Society, by which it is still known today.
The St. Crispin's Day Society has no formal internal structure. No officers are elected. No dues are levied. No meetings are held. However, there are local groups of retired agents who get together regularly, usually about once a year. Favored dates are the second weekend in January; October 25, the feast of the martyred saints, Crispin and Crispian, and the Wednesday before Easter, commonly known as "Spy Wednesday", the day Judas betrayed Christ. The Society also maintains several charitable funds for disabled field agents and for the widows and children of agents killed in the line of duty. Contributions are strictly voluntary.
Although the existence of the society is well-known within the espionage community, the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement officially disavows any recognition, association or approval. Indeed, over the years, the Command's administration has actively tried to discourage membership, with extremely limited success.
All enforcement agents who work in the field are automatically eligible to join the society. (Agents from other sections of the organization must be invited.) With rare exceptions, membership among operatives in Sections Two and Three is universal.Induction traditionally occurs on the eve of graduation, at the U.N.C.L.E. survival school. While the details of the initiation ceremony is a closely-guarded secret, society members can be recognized by a hair-line scar that parallels the lifeline of their right hand.
General Fan Comments
Someone mentioned that they'd found THE ST. CRISPIN'S DAY AFFAIR dry reading, whereas I think it's about the best UNCLE stuff out there -- it develops the characters consistently with the show, while not glossing over the hardship of an agent's life, and it gives UNCLE a history it lacked in the show. 
The St. Crispin's Day Society 1 was published in May 1990. It contains 91 pages. The art is by Paulie.
- The Best Man Affair (7 pages)
- The Mother Muffin Affair, Part II (8 pages)
- Seat Partner, Archived version (14 pages)
- The San Cristoval Affair (18 pages)
- The Eye of the Beholder (9 pages)
- Telling Secrets (7 pages)
- The Long St. Crispin's Day ("In 1969, after surviving a brutal interrogation, Solo and Kuryakin are sent to a Swiss clinic to recuperate and be re-evaluated for field duty, while a parallel story set in 1946 reveals the origins of U.N.C.L.E. The first part of the Origins Trilogy.") (27 pages)
Reactions and Reviews: Issue 1
See reactions and reviews for The Long St. Crispin's Day.
I consider anthology zines 'safe,' as they contain works from various writers and artists. By law of averages, I figure something in there is bound to appeal to my taste. (That law of averages is not an absolute law, of course, as all zine readers periodically find out.) When I'm not previously familiar with the writer's work, a novel—like The Practical Cats Affair, by Jody A. Cummings-or a collection of short and interrelated stories by one writer—as in the case of The St. Crispin's Day Society, by C.W. Walker—are more risky to purchase. Sometimes I make such a purchase, 'meet' a writer for the first time, and find a delight.
That leads us to The St. Crispin's Day Society. The title comes from the Bard (Henry V, Act IV, Scene III): "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers / For today that sheds his blood with me / Shall be my brother... / ...that fought with us upon St. Crispin's day"—and brings a deeper level of complexity to the ties that bind the UNCLE front-line agents in Ms. Walker's series. Something that lets you hear ages-old echoes of warrior codes and blood-oaths, of honor and loyalty among brothers and sisters in arms, united in cause, however diverse they might be otherwise. Actually, it's a retroactive echo, as the writer brings the concept to the reader's attention with the last story in the zine, although that these field agents are a different breed than even the other agents of UNCLE, let alone the "man on the street," is pointed out in some of the earlier stories.
Which brings me to a word of warning: this isn't fluff. Even in the Might' stories, there's a hard edge and underlying pathos. Although civil, these UNCLE agents aren't sweet or particularly kind, except to the innocents in need, or, more rarely, to people who strike a sympathetic chord in them. And they aren't comedians. If you love the campy, spoofy aspects of MUNCLE, have a soft spot in your heart for the clownish side of 'our' agents, you're not going to find them in Ms. Walker's universe.
The zine starts off with the story, "The Best Man," and a premise that would've been at best silly, at worst distasteful, had it been handled by a lesser writer. Some pompous ass of a fellow agent challenges Napoleon to a marathon of sexual prowess, and the latter accepts, all of which is told from Illya's point of view. I wrinkled my nose, sighed, and read on. By the end of the story, I had my hat tipped to the writer. Just pulling this idea off would've been enough of a feat in itself, but Ms. Walker further uses the ridiculous competition to excellent effect to give us a peek into Solo's psyche, and to comment on it through Illya's voice: "'My friend is like a hurricane turned inside out, an intense, furious eye surrounded by a deceptively self-possessed calm;' 'He has so much hunger, so many needs;' 'He didn't just thrive on risk. He seemed to require it...sad, really, when you think about it."' My compliments. As a rule I don't care for first person voices, especially in the case of characters that are aloof" and somewhat mysterious — it simply gives too much away of a character who really should not become an 'open book.' But Illya's voice felt so right, with just the right amount of reserve, that I could only sit back and admire the writer's handling of it. The 'voice' also gave tantalizing hints of Illya's past, which leaves me impatient for clarification. What about Masha and her father? Enquiring minds want to know. There is an ongoing theme in this universe of a friendly, comfortable and periodic intimate relationship between Solo and April Dancer, as can be read in "The Mother Muffin Affair - Part 2," and "Telling Secrets." Out of a purely personal preference (let me be honest and call it prejudice), these stories are not my favorites, but they're well written, in character, and they show aspects of Solo that can't be seen through Illya's eyes (at least not in this universe), but need the point of view of another fellow agent and good friend who also happens to be female. And, of course, we get a closer look at an UNCLE agent other than Solo or Kuryakin. As such, they work very well.
"Seat Partner" is a story about Illya on a mission by himself, and "The San Cristoval Affair" is mostly about Napoleon, although Illya is physically present. Both follow the 'tradition' of the aired series by catching up and involving innocent bystanders in the "affairs." In the series, however, sometimes how and why those people got involved was silly or contrived, and a lot of the time could be blamed on Solo's glands (i.e. in "The An Apple a Day Affair:" "She can read the map," Solo says. "I can read the map," lllya rightly objects—the little ditzy blonde-of-the-week ends up in the car anyway). The set-ups in these stories are immeasurably more intelligent than that. One of the hardest things in fanfic is to make the newly-introduced characters three dimensional and likable, but not so intrusive as to slide into the Mary-Sue Syndrome. Another tip of the hat to the writer.
"The Eye of the Beholder" is my second favorite story in this line, it is told from the point of view of two administrative agents of UNCLE who have an up close encounter with a few of their own field agents. Their expectations come up squarely against the facts of life, and it becomes clear that some truths are better left unknown, even to other fellow agents who don't have to live with the harsh realities of field work day in and day out. Good point.
Last but not least, my favorite story, the longest in the zine: "The Long St. Crispin's Day." [See that page for this fan's comments on this story.]
Overall, a good narrative style, and I don't know if Ms. Walker travels extensively or if she does good research, but the sense of locations and atmosphere are admirably handled. (Once I read a story in which Solo and Kuryakin landed in Istanbul airport, travelled along an avenue lined with palm trees, and in fifteen minutes were in a villa on the Bosporus. That is not the Istanbul I grew up in. On a miraculously good day for traffic, it'll take you an hour and a half to get anywhere on the Bosporus from the airport, and for a city with palm trees in Turkey, you have to go to Izmir or Antalya.)It'd be wrong to say The St. Crispin's Day Society establishes a universe, but it builds a refreshing, intriguing framework around the already established MUNCLE universe. And I for one am eager to read more of Ms. Walker's work. (Speaking of which, there's an excellent story by her and Nan Mack, "The City of Lies," in 11&2, issue five.)... which brings me to a word of warning: this isn't fluff. Even in the 'light' stories, there's a hard edge and underlying pathos. Although civil, these UNCLE agents aren't sweet or particularly kind, except to the innocents in need, or, more rarely, to people who strike a sympathetic chord in them. And they aren't comedians. If you love the campy, spoofy aspects of UNCLE, have a soft spot in your heart for the clownish side of 'our' agents, you're not going to find them in Ms. Walker's universe. mall quibbles, if I may, purely on the production side of the issue. Repros of photos are all right, and graphics are fine, but I'd have dearly loved to have some illos besides the cover. Also, I wonder if some effort could be made to print with the larger margin on the right side of the left-hand pages. As it is, you almost have to pull the zine apart to be able to read to the end of the lines on the even-numbered pages. There's also a 'hiccup' on a page in my copy, but for new buyers, I've been assured it has been corrected in the second printing. 
The St. Crispin's Day Society 2 was published in May 1991 and contains 119 pages.
- The Devil's Attic Affair ("Young agents Solo and Kuryakin meet for the first time and join veterans Nate Cassidy, Asa Carpenter and Gregory Von Linden on a dangerous rescue mission on New Year's Eve in 1952. This is the second story of the Origins Trilogy") (3)
- The Angel of Death Affair (reprinted from The Kuryakin File #6) (50)
- Just A Nice, Private Affair (63 pages)
- Sparrow's Tears (79)
- Among the Eagles (83)
- The Double-Blind Affair (96)
Reactions and Reviews: Issue 2
[The Devil's Attic Affair]: This is a fast-paced, well-plotted gen story set in the early days of U.N.C.L.E. Napoleon and Illya form part of a crack team whose mission is to infiltrate a seemingly impregnable THRUSH stronghold and retrieve an agent who has been in deep cover for several years. But things are not quite as they appear... The story takes place in the French Pyrenees - in a France which has not forgotten the memories and scars of the Second World War - and the action never wavers. One of the strengths of C.W. Walker's writing is the way she evokes a sense of place - you'll feel as if you are really there while you are reading. There is also superb dialogue, a host of well-drawn original characters and a great Napoleon and Illya. 
The St. Crispin's Day Society 3 was published in May 1994 and contains 112 pages. It is a single novel called "The Sleeping Beauty Affair." The cover is by Suzan Lovett who won a 1995 FanQ as did the author, C.W. Walker, and the editor, Paula Smith.flyer:
From Del Floria's Interview with St. Crispin (2011):It is February, 1987. Thrush is making another comeback. One of their scientists has developed an ingenious narcotic which binds with the molecules of caffeine to subdue unsuspecting populations and take over the world at last. Solo and Kuryakin are called back into service. Kuryakin has been living with an artist in Brussels and working as a freelance spy. Solo, long retired from espionage, is a self-employed businessman with a college-age daughter named Allyson. The girl, who knows nothing of her father's previous life, is caught up in the desperate search for the drug, a pursuit which runs through London, Atlanta and the hallowed halls of the Ivy league. The affair ends in the coffee-growing regions of Central America, where Allyson learns about the "family business," Illya gets some unexpected exercise, and Napoleon is forced to confront his past.
[In the mid-1980s], I’d started another MFU novel and was talking to an actual New York agent who encouraged me to write it. I was unhappy with the Return movie and was inspired to come up with a different scenario. My father had just had a heart attack and although he recovered, I began to think generationally about MFU. Surely, there’d been other people, other relationships, in Solo and Kuryakin’s lives [and honestly, the slash scenario never occurred to me.] What happened to the agents after they left U.N.C.L.E.? The literary agent tried to shop the novel but there was no interest, and looking back, I’m not surprised. It was my first adult-written work and though I’d been a professional journalist for some 15 years, I had no idea how to write fiction. That novel, which was revised three times and eventually became The Sleeping Beauty Affair, was a learning experience. It also eventually became the foundation for the entire St. Crispin’s Day Society series and won a Fan Q in 1995. But that was in the future. At that point, I only shared it with Nan and she told me about zines.
Reactions and Reviews: Issue 3
[This zine] began as Walker's attempt to sell a Man From U.N.C.L.E. "reunion" script, intended for the original stars. Even after she began publishing fanzine stories, Walker held this story back. Finally, after a decade of, as she put it, "chasing a dream," (author's note) she turned it into a fanzine novel more than five years ago....The fanzine novel was revised several times. Set in 1987, the story has Napoleon Solo — again — being recruited to help out U.N.C.L.E. and once again needing Illya Kuryakin's assistance. Except this time, Solo has a daughter in tow, a kind of stand-in for women U.N.C.L.E. fens who, when children, wanted to be agents, not innocents.
Like James Bond, the wife of Walker's Solo was killed by an enemy. But, unlike Bond (where the subject comes up sporadically), Solo is still brooding about this years after the fact. Solo still enjoys female companionship (he and Maude Waverly have a more-than-casual relationship) but he's still quite scarred emotionally from the death of his wife. Those events continue to haunt Solo no matter how he tries to move on. Eventually, Solo and Kuryakin are again drawn to foil another Thrush plot. But there's a strong emotional underpinning to the story supplied by Allyson, Solo's daughter. The reader has a dual feeling of dread and anticipation concerning whether she will find out about her father's past. This leads to a big payoff at the end o f the story where Allyson informs Solo about what she's learned....
[Comparisons between this zine and "Zero Minus Ten" by Raymond Benson (pro novel, 1997)]:
SIMILARITIES: Both stories use contests to propel the plot. Sleeping Beauty sends Kuryakin to play chess with an elderly Thrush official in a bid to secure vital information. Ifthe Russian wins, the information is his. If not, Kuryakin likely won't draw anything from his U.N.C.L.E. pension. In ZMT, Bond plays Thackeray in a high-stakes game of Mahjong as a way of sizing up his adversary. Thackerary cheats, of course, a trait that Bond is quite disdainful. I tend to prefer the Sleep Beauty sequence better. The game builds tension gradually andeffectively. I found ZMT's Mahjong game a bit hard to follow. The book even comes with illustrations to help the readerbut I still had to re-read passages to keep things straight. Also, both stories utilize torture sequences at critical junctures. Solo is exposed to a Thrush chemical that affects the mind. Bond gets caned in a passage intended to remind long-time 007 readers of the torture sequence in Fleming's debutnovel, Casino Royale.
DIFFERENCES: Sleeping Beauty has a more sophisticated useof sexthan ZMT. For the latter, one can't really call them "love scenes" but sex scenes. "They continued to make love for what seemed like hours" is about as subtle as Benson gets. By contrast, Solo and Maude Waverly seem to have quite an adult relationship without awkward passages.Overall, these two stories are more alike than not, the main differences coming down to the skill of the writer and the working conditions. Sleeping Beauty is generally smoother but, then again, ZMT had specific publishing deadlines (the book came out in the spring of 1997 in advance of the Hong Kong handover) and Sleeping Beauty was years in the making. Also, because Sleeping Beauty is a fen story, its author had more freedom to make alterations. Both novels have their admirers. Nevertheless, looking at both suggests that authorized pro publishing does not have a monopoly on a well-told tale. 
The St. Crispin's Day Society 4 was published in May 1997 and contains 112 pages. It contains stories reprinted from out-of-print gen anthology U.N.C.L.E. zines. It is a 1998 Fan Quality Award winner. The interior art is by Suzan Lovett.
- Deuce in the Side Pocket (reprinted from The Kuryakin File #6)
- Casualties of War
- Home for the Holidays (reprinted from 11 & 2 Holiday Special #2)
- The City of Lies Affair (reprinted from 11 & 2 #5, also in Black Jag #4)
- The Throne of Jade Affair (reprinted from Relative Encounters #3)
- Epiphany (reprinted from PI³ #8)
- Also includes the essay, "I Am an U.N.C.L.E. Agent."
The St. Crispin's Day Society 5 was published in May 2004 and contains 154 pages. It has the subtitle "Intercourse." The interior art is by Suzan Lovett.
- Romancing the Spider (reprinted from Eyes Only #5)
- Taming the Spider (reprinted from Eyes Only #7)
- Consolation Prize (reprinted from Eyes Only #2)
- Escape Clause (reprinted from Eyes Only #7)
- Ties that Bind (reprinted from Eyes Only #2)
- Body Language (reprinted from Can You Get Channel D in the Back of a '57 Chevy?)
- Two Spies Sittin' on a Boat, Talkin' About Sex (with N.L. Hayes)
- The Children of the Night Affair (with L. White)
Reactions and Reviews: Issue 5
See reactions and reviews for Two Spies Sittin' on a Boat, Talkin' About Sex.
[Unfaithful]: Napoleon has a reputation for being a red-hot lover, a total flirt, and a sexual dynamo, who deeply appreciates women and romances his many dates without simply using them. How could this have come about? How does a man receive a sexual higher education? How does he govern himself in body, and in the soul he has given to U.N.C.L.E.? And what happens when the two combine? Napoleon and his history are very much in character, and it's a deep, rich character indeed, with conflicts resonating in it, pulling him two ways. Although April is an active participant in the story, the focus is on Napoleon and beautifully satisfies curiosity about how Napoleon became the person he is. 
- comments on Virgule-L, quoted anonymously (October 28, 1992)
- from Strange Bedfellows #5 (1994)
- from Psst... Hey Kid, Wanna Buy a Fanzine? #1. The reviewer gives it "4 trees." The reviewers in "Psst... Hey Kid, Wanna Buy a Fanzine?" rated zines on a 1-5 tree/star scale.
- a 2005 comment at Crack Van
- from Z.I.N.E.S. v.2 n.1 (January 2000)
- a 2004 comment at Crack Van