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Print Zines and Fiction Reviews

Classified Affairs

The first issue of Classified Affairs appeared in 1995, weighing in with ten stories and 155 pages. Edited by Marion McChesney and originally published by Markate Press, this entire series of zines is sadly out of print.

A glorious Suzan Lovett cover of naked lovers gets this full size (8.5" x 11") spiral-bound zine off to a good start. The full page layout, with plenty of white space and easy-to-read font, is kind to aging eyes. Unfortunately, the abundance of typographical errors is less pleasing to the eyes. To my knowledge none of the stories in this zine are online.

In "The Blue Room", Suzan Lovett proves just what a multi-talented fan she is. This is a post-Nowhere-episode story, wherein Napoleon finally puts the clues together and ventures into the blue room of knowledge. 16 delightful pages.

Illya and Napoleon have "A Secret for Dessert", in one of Linda White's Third Level stories. Possessive and protective instincts, love, trust and honesty are on the menu in this 8 page story.

Abandoning her usual hurt/comfort fare, Mary Millard instead delivers a potent, 14 page helping of angst and desire in "A Personal Affair".

Lady Luck may have deserted Napoleon when THRUSH gets their hands on him, but then again "Luck is No Lady" in Linda White's Third Level story. It doesn't take all eight pages to figure out just what the wellspring of that famous luck might be.

When Napoleon barters a lie for information in order to save Illya's life, he unwittingly triggers a previously unacknowledged longing in "Secrets". Theresa Kyle examines the emotional backlash from that single unexpected truth. 27 pages.

Vibrating beds and a discussion about Napoleon finding Illya a date for a belated New Year's Eve celebration enliven a holiday stakeout in Jane Terry's "New Year's, Vibrating Beds, and California Tans". Happily, the California Tans never put in an appearance after the guys figure out how to produce their own fireworks. 18 pages.

Hephaistion's "Innocence Pursued" is a sequel to a story in another zine, and quite frankly, I don't think this story stands alone. Neither Illya's infatuation with a youthful Innocent nor Napoleon's attitude makes any sense. 7 pages of pure confusion for this reader.

April Dancer may be a very lady-like drunk, but she still calls 'em like she sees 'em in Elizabeth Cochrane's "Matchmaker, Matchmaker". April sees something about Napoleon's partner that Napoleon can't - at least at first. 33 enjoyable pages of pursuit and retreat.

Illya has a deadly secret in Kate McChesney's "The Spy Who Loved Me". Under threat to his family back in Russia, he has been primed to murder his American partner - but his affection for Napoleon leaves him conflicted. 21 pages. The cover illo goes with this story.

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DeClassified Affairs

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 Callahan 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.

Linda 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.

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The Evergreen Affair and Other U.N.C.L.E. Stories

The Evergreen Affair and Other U.N.C.L.E. Stories by DVS is one seriously fun zine from start to finish. This zine offers ten stories written and published by DVS in the late 1980's and early 1990's, gathered into a convenient collection. Published in 2002, the zine is 188 pages, double-columned with a large size serif font that's easy on the eyes. 8.5 x 11 size, comb-bound, no interior art. The cover is a nice black-and-white still photograph of Napoleon and Illya, guns in hand, from "The Virtue Affair".

I bought the zine from Kathy Resch, and think it is still available for sale as of January 2008. To my knowledge, none of the stories in this zine are available online.

This is a slash zine, and not only that, it is an all "first time" zine. Since first time stories are generally a fan favorite, this is probably a plus for most readers, but I got a little frustrated with the single note theme. I'm a big fan of established relationship stories, so some variety would've been nice.

DVS' writing style is very distinctive. Her prose is as direct, economical, and powerful as her characterizations. While the matter-of-fact style suits the confident, strong characterizations, there is an abruptness to the stories that this reader found both surprising and intriguing. There is no angst to be found here - zip, zero, nada. These guys are extremely decisive. Events lead the guys to recognize a mutual attraction, and then they act. Nor is there any hearts-and-flowers romance, although their feelings and commitment toward each another are never in doubt. I find this approach extremely appealing, although severely underwritten. The story endings tend to be truncated a bit, but there's no doubting the emotional depth to these stories. And doggone it, they are just plain fun to read!

The focus in every story is on the relationship, and on how they are moving toward a sexual relationship. Action plot fans - these aren't the stories you're looking for. There be much explicit sex here. The words are as stripped-down as Napoleon and Illya's bodies are, but it's wonderful stuff.

A beatnik coffeehouse is the perfectly natural setting for "The Muddy Waters Affair". Illya's friends decide to find a suitable companion for their quiet, mysterious friend. 15 pages.

"Forbidden Fruit" features a lot of fast-paced banter and double-entendres when Napoleon intuits what Illya is brooding over - and it ain't really apples. 10 pages.

Napoleon rises to an unexpected challenge when he shows his competitive side in "Operation Showtime". Illya is assigned to a case and Napoleon decides he does indeed "need to know" what his partner is up to. 9 pages.

My favorite story is "Sex and Poetry". Illya confides a long-held secret to his partner, and Napoleon is rather quick to figure out why he's suddenly receiving confessions from Illya. 15 pages.

A dangerous assignment leaves Illya with a head injury and an unpleasant dream, prompting him to re-evaluate the status quo of his life. Napoleon isn't very happy to learn that Illya has decided to pursue his own version of "The American Dream". 17 pages.

"Revelations", at 36 pages (and with a plot), is one of the longest stories in the zine. Napoleon and Illya are stuck in an isolated cabin with a THRUSH defector who happens to have a grim history with Illya. But all is not as it seems.

Illya rescues and befriends a very young man one evening in "Baker's Man". The encounter has consequences that reverberate down the years and change the lives of four people. A cross-over story with "Starsky & Hutch". 21 pages.

UNCLE has finally eradicated THRUSH and in "The Hot Springs Affair", Illya thinks it may be time to retire. I'm still blinking over Waverly's role in this story. 8 pages.

Time passes and things change, even when you're retired. Reunions can be especially sweet. And a "Hot Springs Decision" can be very enjoyable in the middle of a cold autumn night. 9 pages.

In "The Evergreen Affair", Napoleon and Illya spend a leisurely week in December retracing the steps of an agent who mysteriously disappeared, trying to discover what happened to him. Nothing much happens except for a lot of talking and thinking - but the talking and thinking changes their lives forever. 48 pages.

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Perestroika

a slash novel by Elizabeth Urich

Twelve years after resigning from UNCLE, Napoleon Solo has what seems to be the perfect life - except for the hollow sensation that he's missing a huge part of himself. On a bitterly cold day in Kiev, standing before Illya Kuryakin's grave, he recognizes that hollow sensation for what it is and wonders if he'll ever recover from losing his partner.

Happily, neither Napoleon nor the reader has to wonder for very long. A grumpy, elderly man bumps up against him and drops a message in his pocket. The message catapults Napoleon - and the still alive but very much in hiding Illya - into the greatest and most rewarding adventure of their lives.

The basic plot: Illya, suffering from the same emptiness at the core of himself that Napoleon feels, isn't dealing nearly as well with it. His fierce independence and the complex circumstances of his life have brought him to a point where he's lost everything that ever mattered to him, caught in a trap not entirely of his own devising. And it's up to the ever-resourceful Napoleon to reclaim his partner's life, for both of them. The first problem is to get Illya out of Russia so that he has a life to reclaim; the second is to awaken him from his emotional paralysis.

At 201 pages, this novel covers a lot of territory, geographically, time-wise and emotionally. Illya's nationality and past are characters in their own right, and Russia is visited more than once. How accurately Soviet conditions are portrayed is something this reader cannot judge - I suspect plenty of literary license - but the end result is emotionally satisfying. The author tackles major canonical mysteries and offers solutions that work very well within the context of the story. Illya's wedding ring? It's central to the primary and secondary plot threads. Napoleon's youthful marriage? It plays a role. Is Illya a defector or a loyal Soviet? That too is addressed.

While the story line relies heavily on a domestic theme - there is a child involved - Napoleon and Illya must also wrestle with their political and emotional reasons in working for UNCLE originally and now returning to work for the organization. They must somehow learn to find balance in their lives, something that had been lacking for a long time. No surprise that in this story such balance is found in each other.

This novel has drawn criticism for being overly sentimental. Well, it is very sentimental, at times bordering on saccharine. Even readers who love to wallow in sentiment are going to recognize this. The domestic scenes are pure fantasy and require a certain amount of critical suspension. What makes the sentiment acceptable, even enjoyable, in this reader's opinion, is the quality of writing and nuanced characterizations. Both men are conflicted and carry physical and emotional scars from their years with UNCLE. The connection and essential trust between them is tangible, as it was in canon, but strained after so much time apart. The biggest complaint I have with the characterizations is that they aren't as competitive and edgy as they are in canon, and that Illya occasionally appears a bit too needy (although he is never soft). But on the whole they're still the same smart, cranky, smug, arrogant, manipulative guys they always were. The banter ranges from good to excellent. Domestic bliss and needy Illya are still popular in MfU slashfic to this day. Elizabeth may not have established the pattern in 1991 when she wrote this novel, but I think she handled the clichés better than most.

While the child story thread is often intrusive, I found the parenting aspect something that really works with my perception of canon. In the show we saw Napoleon and Illya interact with children (boys in that case) and their attitudes toward Sasha here are remarkably consistent with their canonical behavior.

Elizabeth's writing style is extremely vivid. She has a real talent for describing visual details in a way that allows the reader to feel the scene as well as see it. To see these guys the way she does is truly a wonderful experience. And although she doesn't write explicit sex scenes, she manages to make you feel as if she had.

No review of this novel would be complete without mentioning the fantastic Suzan Lovett art throughout. In a fandom where art is rare in zines, this novel is blessed with an excess. Okay, not really an excess, but there's plenty to enjoy. Between the glorious color cover that interprets Napoleon and Illya as the fierce but proud lion and wolf, and the meltingly tender but playful naked lovers on the back cover, this zine offers no less than 21 full page illustrations. Some of them are exceedingly hot, some of them tender, some of them cute, but they're all very beautiful. I find it impossible to select one as a favorite, but the drunken (and nearly naked) Illya talking to an amused Napoleon comes close.

Perestroika by Elizabeth Urich. 8.5" x 11"; comb-bound; 201 pages; full page layout; large, easy-to-read typeface. Originally published in 1991 by nowayjose press. Available from Agent With Style as of October 2004.

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Through Innocent Eyes

This is an Illya-centric gen zine worth the purchase price for even the most die-hard of slash fans, and is a handy way for readers to lay their hands on Linda Cornett's excellent fanfic, published in a number of different zines over the years. However, please note that since I wrote this review, Linda has brought nearly all of her fiction online. Links are provided below for each story.

"Through Innocent Eyes" is a nice sized zine, collecting 24 reprinted stories in 282 pages. Published in 2003 and still available from NorthCoast Press as of January 2008. Layout is full-page, and the pages are packed with text but still pretty readable in what looks like 12 point Arial font. 8.5" x 11", comb-bound, no interior art, and a cleverly designed, if minimalist, cover.

The "hook" in many of these stories, for those readers who have not encountered this author before, is that the story is nearly always told from an outsider's point of view. Sometimes this person is an Innocent, hence the zine's title. Sometimes it is a less-than-innocent outsider, but in nearly every story what we get is a refracted, multi-faceted view of Illya and Napoleon.

Too often collections from a single author throw a limited repertoire into harsh outline, but this is not the case here. The stories range from hilarious to heartbreaking, with length as varied as concept. Linda has a remarkable ability to make readers cry and laugh at the same time, and the stories are full of injokes and clever references.

Please note that not all of these stories have happy endings.

There is occasional explicit het sex. Consider yourself warned, slash fans. However, several stories imply a more-than-business relationship between Napoleon and Illya, and I really like the way Linda incorporates this so casually into essentially gen stories.

Now, on to the stories!

In The Trainer, a seasoned agent must cope with the shock and grief of losing a beloved partner while trying to carry on with the mission that took his other half's life. 5 pages of trying to guess who and hoping it isn't who you think it is.

A young woman accidentally caught up in a bloody revolution finds the man - Illya - leading her to safety just as frightening as the danger that dogs their heels in More Precious Than a Carriage. 11 pages.

Beautiful redheads, THRUSH, high finance and a private detective whose attitude could put Bogie to shame complicate Illya and Napoleon's lives in Close to a Knockout. 17 hilarious pages.

In The Dying of the Light, Illya spends several difficult hours facing the reality of his actions. 7 very touching and thought-provoking pages.

Inevitable Evil is a fascinating character study of an investigative reporter who comes to examine her life and ethics and must make a moral decision, because of her brush with Illya. 14 pages.

Kids say the darndest things. Especially when they're writing in their school journals. Miss Butcher thinks one of her students has a career as a novelist ahead of her when she reads Lorelei's Journal. Hilarious and chilling at the same time. 9 pages.

The abandoned mine turned into a secret laboratory for nefarious doings is a cliché, but in The Appalachia Affair it's a well-done cliché. It's the original characters - and the way Napoleon and Illya interact with them and affect their lives - that takes this story to a higher level. 21 pages.

She Waits is a hysterical teaser of a vignette. I howled. More double entendres in two pages than I would've believed possible.

THRUSH villains show up in force in "The Heaven's Slingshot Affair", (now online retitled as The Devil's Slingshot Affair, a 30 page story co-written with F. Y. Driver. The focus is on a very complicated plot (at the expense of characterization and partnership moments, in my opinion). There is also the obligatory Illya torture scene, sadly with precious little comfort.

Shopping malls and conspicuous consumption - everybody who always thought THRUSH was behind the commercialism of modern society raise their hands. The Temple of Mammon Affair only confirmed my suspicions and made me laugh into the bargain. 7 pages.

A retired Illya returns to New York City when he receives an Invitation to the Dance, and teaches a couple of rookies a thing or two. 11 pages.

During My Dinner with Angelique, Illya doesn't give much away but discovers he has a lot in common with this surprisingly vulnerable THRUSH agent when they end up sharing a table and conversation. 7 pages.

Another very plot-heavy story co-written with Fara Y. Driver, The In Vino Veritas Affair offers a more light-hearted premise and more partnership moments. Napoleon's womanizing gets himself (and a friend) into trouble, and Illya must help him unravel the puzzle. 43 pages.

Number 1, Section 1 hasn't been forgotten. In "The Waverly's Day Affair", the inspired resourcefulness that made Alexander Waverly The Man in Charge is detailed. Who knew the old man had it in him? 11 pages. This story is not online.

'At'sa some spicy meataball they serve over at that little Italian place across from Del Floria's. The La Famiglia Affair is 5 pages of takeover madness.

Poor Los Angeles. Poor Ben Kowalski. Neither one comes off well in The LaLa Land Affair, a post-Return story wherein Illya has a close encounter with California cuisine while rescuing Napoleon from THRUSH's evil clutches. 10 pages.

Human Kindness is a heartbreaker of a short story (5 pages). Illya goes looking for release after a particularly difficult mission and finds absolution. This one will stay with you, readers.

It's always rewarding to meet Such Friendly People when travelling to luxurious resorts, especially when they're THRUSH. Poor Illya gets the experience of his life when he must assume a role that was intended for Napoleon. There is an unfortunate editing glitch in this story, where a character's name switches back and forth. I found this error annoying and distracting. 12 pages.

"Partners" most definitely isn't about Napoleon and Illya. It's a coda to "Such Friendly People" and is essentially a het PWP. Although there's certainly a point to what happens here; as with all good PWPs we learn a lot about who these people are. 3 pages. See the link to "Such Friendly People" for the online version.

Poor Francesca Johnson, taken in by that THRUSH agent masquerading as a photographer for National Geographic. But Illya has come to set things right. Uncovered Bridges takes up where the famous novel The Bridges of Madison County left off. 16 pages.

Another heartbreaker of a story, in a completely different way. "Waiting for the Light" suggests an all too likely scenario - at least up until the end, when it turns a bit overly sentimental and convenient for my taste. 9 pages. This story is not online.

Coitus Interruptus isn't exactly what you think it is... but it's pretty darned close. Apparently Illya holds a Ph.D. in flirting along with all his other advanced degrees. 7 pages of amazing dialogue.

A lonely widow without a future meets a man without a memory or a past, and together they find the will to live again, in "A Wonderful Life". 10 pages. This story is not online.

The title says it all. "Survived By". Grief can draw the most unlikely people together. 6 pages. This story is not online.

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U.N.C.L.E. Confidential, File One

U.N.C.L.E. Confidential, File One, is the first issue in a very delightful series of anthology slash zines. Edited and published by File 40 Press, the same people who bring us the excellent File 40 online fiction archive. These zines are apparently now out of print.

File One is a full size 8.5" x 11" zine, comb-bound, double-column layout, with satisfyingly large size print. My eyes thank the publishers. I also really like the fact that the story title appears on every page; makes it easy to flip through and find what I want. Originally published in 2000. Color cover cleverly designed to look like a top secret file folder, featuring a nice black & white photo manipulation of Napoleon and Illya. The zine contains nine stories in 185 pages. Several of the stories are online.

The zine leads off with a strong and very funny story from Blondie. Ménage à Trois is a Mary Sue of a different stripe, wherein a female agent thinks she's getting her own fantasy but finds herself outmaneuvered by the master strategist himself. Napoleon knows what he wants and takes advantage of an opportunity. 12 steamy, hilarious pages. This story is online.

"The Kalamazoo Affair" is almost a Mary Sue story, although the Mary Sue in question is a profession and conference many fen are familiar with. The talented Emrys drops Illya and Napoleon into the annual Medieval Conference (held in Kalamazoo, Michigan), where they must cope with obsessed academics and a shadowy threat. Twenty pages of good scholarly fun.

You'll never look at the second season in the same way after reading Theresa Kyle's "Act Two". Missing scenes are woven through the second season episodes, showing the developing intimacy between partners. It's an intriguing glimpse of some personal doubts and fears we never see projected on screen, but lend depth and poignancy to the episodes. 61 pages.

Illya has had it to the breaking point with Napoleon's constant flirting and teasing. The result is "Hot Monkey Sex", a sizzler of a PWP from Gilrain. Four very stimulating pages. This story is online.

Taking a bit of R&R after a harrowing mission, Illya and Napoleon discover the delights of Olympic festivities - and each other - in Ravenschild's "The Grenoble Affair". 12 pages.

Clare Chew is one of my favorite writers, for her fine characterizations, unusual storylines, the way she weaves canonical fact into the fabric of each story. "With This Ring" is no exception to this tradition. 34 yummy pages. This story is online.

Established relationship stories tend to be less popular than first-times, so I treasure the few I find. In "The Mile High Affair", Anita has Napoleon and Illya vacationing in India, Sadly, their relationship doesn't seem all that healthy here. 13 pages.

Kate Drummond writes some very sweet snapshot vignettes, capturing precious fleeting moments in time. "I Was Asleep" is one of these; both Illya and Napoleon need reassurance after a stressful near-disaster. Six pages.

Elizabeth Urich, queen of banter, mouth-watering descriptions and erudite slash, does it again in "The Cryptic Quote Affair". Illya takes on yet another impersonation while Napoleon teases him with gifts and a quote to identify and interpret before the mission is over. 21 fast, funny and very very smart pages.

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We Have Each Other

So... when fans think of Man from UNCLE slash zines, is there a name that instantly comes to mind? Apparently so, because everywhere I turned there were recommendations for "We Have Each Other". This substantial anthology, along with its two succeeding issues, was praised high and low by everyone I asked. Guess what my first zine purchase was? I don't see these zines being offered online anymore, so guess they are out of print again.

Here we go: Issue 1 of "We Have Each Other", 2003 reprint, originally published in 1996 by World Peace Press. 248 pages, 8.5" x 11", spiral bound. No editor noted, color cover by Suzan Lovett. To my knowledge, only one of the stories in this issue is online. There's only one non-'first time' story in the anthology.

Design is simple and clean, with easy-to-read print size and plenty of white space. Format is full-page, no columns and no interior art, except for a few computer graphics. This fandom could certainly use a few more artists, although Suzan Lovett is probably the equivalent of two or three all by herself, she's so talented. The color cover is sweetly charming, and either was inspired by the first story in the zine, or vice versa.

If sentimental fiction is your thing, this is a good zine for you. The majority of stories were a bit too sentimental or angsty for me, but probably suit a lot of readers. For instance, I think Napoleon should call Illya "baby" a lot less (as in never).

Theresa Kyle departs from her usual style and proves her writing range in "Blue on Blue", a pointedly sentimental piece about Illya's fondness for cats - and Napoleon's fondness for Illya. This is the cover story. 8 pages.

Hurt/comfort is always popular in slash fiction and in "The Time of Truth Affair" Mary L. Millard delivers lashings of both. Illya suffers nobly as the victim of a vicious attack that leaves him with a mysterious, debilitating and potentially fatal disease, which also serves as a catalyst for Napoleon to recognize his true feelings for his partner. 36 pages.

An overheard conversation jumpstarts Emily Levin's "Exchanging Confidences". Illya is lonely but resigned to his fate. Napoleon has other ideas, including a most interesting little revelation at the end of the story. 9 pages.

In "A Minor Difficulty" Linda White gives us one of her Third Level stories, which follow Napoleon and Illya through a long-term love affair. Humor is an integral part of Linda's style and she deftly weaves a THRUSH plot, homophobia in the UNCLE gym, an old friend's loyalty and typical Solo derring-do together with her usual light touch. And in only 9 pages! And not a first-time story!

More hurt/comfort in "Seductive Reasoning" by Elizabeth Cochrane. The hurt is only Illya's annual cold, but the comfort - ah, the comfort, and that's only the start of Napoleon's dogged pursuit of Illya. 23 pages of nice dialogue, and hot sex too.

The Only on the Holidays Affair by Rosemary Callahan is at times humorous, at times heartbreaking, as we follow Napoleon and Illya's relationship over several years' worth of Christmas holidays. The last Christmas has overtones of "An Affair to Remember" with its generous helping of sentiment, but the sex is fair compensation. Another favorite of mine. 53 pages. This story is online.

Mary L. Millard gives us a serving of angst in "The Return to Love Affair", set during the 15 Years Later Affair movie. Napoleon and Illya try to resume their relationship almost exactly where they left off all those years ago, but must work through some issues first. 9 pages.

An Anonymous offering, "A Little R & R" is a lust-driven PWP. Sure to cure any smut deprivation you might be suffering. 2 pages of nothin' but sex.

Susan Devereaux has "The Bogeyman" threatening Napoleon in this change-of- pace hurt/comfort/angst fic. She manages to avoid most of the melodrama inherent in this scenario, but even Susan's matter-of-fact approach carries a big wallop. Get out the hankies, readers! 35 pages.

Of the twelve stories in the zine, my favorite is "The K.O.A. Affair" by Jane Terry. The setting is utterly improbable (and therefore very canon) but the characterizations and dialogue are outstanding and completely believable. Thirteen pages nicely balanced between humor and hot sex. Jane knows these guys.

"Brief Candle" is by the multi-talented Suzan Lovett, and must be one of the most talked-about fanfics in Man from UNCLE fandom. Illya and Napoleon are approaching their 50's and still active field partners until Illya is cut down by terrorists. Lots of hurt, not nearly enough comfort, and far far too much angst as a result of unfathomable characterization. To give the author credit she was trying to undo an implausible situation created by another fan writer, but... ye gods, the way she does it! You'll need a couple boxes of tissues and time to mentally prepare yourself. 43 pages.

In "The Ultimate Insurance Story Affair", Eleanor Burke Marshall gives us a bit of utterly silly fluff. But I laughed anyway. 4 pages.

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We Have Each Other II

Another zine that came highly recommended, the second volume of the We Have Each Other series of MfU slash anthology zines is a beautifully put together project. I have the 2003 reprint of the 1997 World Peace Press original. As with the first issue, no editor is noted. This zine is apparently out of print.

244 pages, 8.5" x 11", spiral bound. Full page layout, 12 point typeface, plenty of easy-on-the-eyes white space. Another lovely color cover by Suzan Lovett, with a complementary interior color piece. Two of the stories in this issue are online.

Since this volume has fewer overtly sentimental and hurt/comfort pieces than the first volume, it's more to my taste.

Elizabeth Cochrane's "Q & A" is a very clever dialogue piece, wherein a frustrated Napoleon, recuperating from injuries sustained under questionable circumstances, hopes to maneuver the conversation around to a mutual exchange of confidences of a certain type. Chock full of good character moments. 10 pages.

A post-mission night in a London hotel makes for some "Changes" in Napoleon and Illya's relationship, but what's going to happen when a lengthy separation immediately follows? Emily Levin puts Illya through his angst paces here. 13 pages.

"In Sickness and in Health" by Mary Millard has Illya falling ill post-mission. His health interferes with their planned holiday, but Napoleon copes, offering oodles of tender loving comfort. 14 pages.

Illya indulges his fantasies in Bethany Kent's "Dreamscape". Whoa. Waverly's office will never be the same again. Only two pages but a lasting impression.

Mmmmm, I get hungry - for all sorts of things - just thinking about Theresa Kyle's "Oral Gratification". Napoleon becomes obsessed with the idea that a man who appreciates good food also appreciates the other sensual joys of living, and it makes him look at his partner in a whole new way. From Mexico to Rome to Antarctica, from Hong Kong to Bombay to Dallas, Napoleon charts Illya's various appetites as well as his own. 32 pages of pure yum.

In Bethany Kent's "The New Beginning Affair", Napoleon regrets old choices and ponders how to reconnect with his partner after The Fifteen Years Later Affair. 14 pages

The 'Napoleon has amnesia!' cliche is used to good effect in Taliesin's A Family Affair. The preposterous setup has Waverly and Illya coming to Napoleon's rescue, posing as an eccentric and wealthy (although apparently somewhat incestuous) family. 28 pages of good fun, one of the most famous sex scenes in MfU fandom, and there's even a plot. This story is online.

Napoleon wrestles with yet another family problem in Linda White's "Love Letters". This time he doesn't know how to make a confession about a life-changing event. This 6 page vignette is part of her Third Level universe.

Mary Millard's "The Engaging Affair" posits a post-UNCLE-resignation that ignores the reunion movie plotline but uses much of the setup. Napoleon's wedding plans are derailed when a certain Russian wedding gown designer gets involved. 34 pages.

A post-Fifteen Years Later Affair story, Elizabeth Cochrane's "Pushing the Odds" adds a new twist: Illya/Vanya is a family man with wife and daughters. Old feelings die hard, though, because he still agrees to share a home with Napoleon... color this reader confused. 8 pages.

"Intermission" by Susan Devereaux is all about a major turning point in Illya's life. 2 pages.

"Kinks" is an episode-based story that builds from the not-quite-playful tension at the end of 'The Girls of Nazarone'. Nikki Weston takes the elementary schoolteacher theme one step further and applies some discipline to wayward secret agents. 28 pages of not this reader's kink.

The perfect story to heat up a cold winter night, The Arctic Nights Affair" by Rosemary Callahan puts Napoleon and Illya in an isolated training camp with a group of novice agents for an extended period of time. Napoleon gets antsy and Illya has the perfect solution. 53 pages of angst and fiery sex in equal doses.

Bethany Kent gives us gorgeous imagery in her poem, "Duet".

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We Have Each Other III

The final installment in this title line, it's also far and away the best of the three issues, in this reader's opinion. At 300 pages, it's also the largest. Again, I have the 2003 reprint of the 1999 World Peace Press original. As with the previous two issues, no editor is noted. 8.5" x 11", spiral bound, full-page format. The incredibly gorgeous Suzan Lovett color cover ("Wrapped in Sunlight") makes up for the lack of interior art.

Three stories are available online. This zine appears to be out of print.

Personal opinion - this is a must have zine for any MfU slash fan. Lots of long, thought provoking stories and sizzling, unrepentant sex.

"Kismet" by Linda McGee falls into the "Gee, I wish I'd written this" category. On the eve of assuming his new duties with UNCLE New York, Napoleon meets up with a mysterious, dangerous and very desirable stranger. This first encounter between future partners is extremely well done, illuminating with laser precision the hazardous balancing act they must maintain at all costs. 14 pages, and one of my all-time favorite stories. What a great pity if this is the author's only MfU offering.

Illya goes back to college as a student in the hippy-dippy late 60's in Sylvia's The Heart of Stone Affair. When Napoleon arrives to collect an interim report, they end up having to deal with a generation gap, recreational drugs, Thrush and sex on the side. Forget the plot and just enjoy a bewildered Napoleon riding his first hallucinogenic high and drool over an Illya in tight jeans and shoulder-length hair. 20 pages of lovely, nostalgic fun (for those of us who lived through the 60's, at least)!

Travel weary Illya has only one thought in mind in Kate Drummond's "A Matter of Necessity": get home to Napoleon as soon as possible. What struck me about this five page story was the very real sense of how much time they spend in transit and waiting, at the mercy of the travel gods, and how exhausting and frustrating that must be. A very sweet vignette.

Bethany Kent offers a dark change of pace story in "The Best Friend Affair". Napoleon suffers greatly in the aftermath of a random assault by Thrush agents but manages to mask his growing self-doubt under a veneer of confident recovery. He even manages to convince Illya he's doing fine, and thereby puts a major mission, the lives of many UNCLE agents and their own careers on the line when he must finally face the man who raped him. This is actually a rape-recovery story, dealing with the psychological fallout and healing process. 45 very intense pages. Be prepared.

In The Super Colossal Affair episode, poor Illya is doused with concentrated skunk essence and forced to undergo a major de-scenting process. In "Little Flower", Elizabeth Cochrane has Illya enduring his isolation with ill humor and Napoleon coming up with a solution in his own inimitable fashion. A wonderful, sizzling PWP. Nine pages of lighthearted antidote to the previous story.

In "Farewells", S. Mockingbird has written a sequel to the heartbreaker story of WHEO I, "Brief Candle". Napoleon bears his grief and regrets with strength and dignity. Four pages that made me cry.

Fencing, UNCLE style, with foils and words. Taliesin's Joust is more about character and strategy than athletic prowess. And sublimated feelings that are drawn to the surface by the competition. A six page gem of innuendo and tension.

Kate Drummond's "Long Shadows" is the mother of MfU hurt/comfort stories. Illya resigns his job and disappears, leaving Napoleon to solve a puzzle with lots of missing pieces. It turns out Illya has gone to ground to die, suffering from a terminal illness... or has he? Much tender comfort ensues once Napoleon tracks down his independent partner, and they vow to see the crisis through together. 58 pages.

Napoleon Solo is happily married and awaiting the birth of his second child - so why is he dreaming of Illya? In "Dreaming in Color", Jane Terry has Napoleon reflecting on the enduring things in his life, such as his feelings for Illya (though he hasn't seen his former partner in years) juxtaposed beside the love he feels for his infant daughter. Some things you just don't get over, although I can't say I liked the choices Napoleon made in this scenario. Four pages.

The Prisoner of Love takes a long hard look at how difficult it can be to accept your heart's desire, even when it's handed to you on a silver platter. Rosemary Callahan's epic story starts out with Illya desperately in love with and longing to hear the same acknowledgement from Napoleon - but when it comes he trusts neither himself nor Napoleon to know what they truly want. His inability to accept love and pleasure very nearly destroys both of them, and it takes all of Napoleon's considerable strategic skills to find a way to salvage happiness. His solution really sizzles, by the way. 34 pages.

A weekend at a luxurious rustic lodge catering to same sex couples should be the stuff of fantasies for Napoleon and Illya in "The Last Resort Affair", but things aren't quite so simple in Linda White's Third Level universe. It's a working weekend, and they must deal with plots within plots and betrayals by the most unlikely of acquaintances. 23 pages of intrigue and action.

In "Survival of the Fittest," Theresa Kyle puts events in motion that will take some 15 years to unravel and resolve - and that hurts. In the midst of a highly complicated and dangerous undercover mission, Napoleon and Illya must also deal with their own changing feelings towards each other and lots of unfortunate miscommunication and bad timing. So much unresolved pain at the end of the story... 73 pages of unrelenting angst.

Cara J. Loup has mastered the art of subtlety in "A Song of Wolves". Only those with nothing to lose have no fear, and Illya and Napoleon now have much to lose. The past, present and future intertwine in a frozen moment that crackles with the connection between friends and lovers. Three pages.

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White Nights

a slash novel by Alexi Tesla

I confess to an inordinate fondness for Alexi Tesla's MfU writings. They are like third season episodes on steroids - completely over-the-top in a way that makes me laugh and cringe at the same time - and yet are completely satisfying. She plays fast and loose with canon but somehow manages to keep the guys (mostly) in character. Her blend of explosive sex and outrageous farce is unique. I've not read anything like her fic in any other fandom. One thing is for sure - she had fun writing Napoleon and Illya, and I imagine plenty of readers had just as much fun reading her stories.

When Napoleon discovers that his unsociable, unfashionable and unconnected partner is a member of White Nights, New York's most exclusive private club, he is both astounded and indignant. His competitive nature demands justice and so he puts a lot of energy into pressuring Illya to sponsor his membership. The two engage in a battle of wills for a couple of months, until Illya finally relents and takes Napoleon to the club as a guest. And there the fun begins.

White Nights isn't exactly the type of club Napoleon had envisioned. And what goes on behind those discreetly lacquered doors proves to be a real eye-opener, even for such a sophisticated man. Napoleon is unusually dense about what's going on, in fact, but that's part of the fun of the story.

The heart of the story is an incredibly detailed and incendiary sex scene that is guaranteed to melt a reader into her chair. A 16 page sex scene! Hot hot hot. I'm fanning myself just remembering it. And for all its hotness, it's sweet and tender, too, bringing their suppressed feelings to the surface, extending and completing their relationship.

This author's writing style relies heavily on exaggerating canon beyond the point of cliché, but because she skewers everything in sight it ends up being more funny than painful. Most of the time. Satire, you say? Parody? Not quite. I gave up trying to categorize this writer and her fic. Readers may well be very divided on her appeal; I suspect this is one author you either love or hate. I love her.

White Nights, a slash novel by Alexi Tesla. Digest-size; comb-bound; 74 pages; full page layout with fairly readable serif-style font. Originally published in 1993 by Samizdat Press. Cover is a drawing of St. Basil's, no interior art. This zine is out of print as far as I know. Be grateful if you can find someone willing to share a copy.

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