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Lobby 2. Welcome The Reading Room Reading Challenges 2012 topic #134
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Subject: "Zette's 2012 'Read something odd' year" Previous topic | Next topic
Mesg #134 "Zette's 2012 'Read something odd' year"
Author zette     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
Author Info Member since Jun 12th 2002
13570 posts
Date Sat Mar-03-12 02:59 PM
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My usual reading runs to things like The Cambridge Ancient History series lately. This year I decided I needed to lighten things up. A lot. While I am stil reading the CAH and the Durant history books, I decided to add in something light fun, and finish in one sitting.

I'm reading The Man from U.N.C.L.E. books. Unlike many of the TV based books that came later, these were not rewrites of an episode, but rather entirely new adventures. Silly stuff. But fun.

Total books for 2012: 6


Jan --
The Thousand Coffins Affair
The Doomsday Affair
The Copenhagen Affiar

February --
The Dagger Affair
The Mad Scientist Affair
The Vampire Affair


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Man from U.N.C.L.E. # 1: The Thousand Coffins Affair, zette, Mar 03rd 2012, #1
Man from U.N.C.L.E. #2: The Doomsday Affair, zette, Mar 03rd 2012, #2
Man from U.N.C.L.E. #3: The Copenhagen Affair, zette, Mar 03rd 2012, #3
Man from U.N.C.L.E #4 : The Dagger Affair, zette, Mar 03rd 2012, #4
Man from U.N.C.L.E. # 5: The Mad Scientist Affair, zette, Mar 03rd 2012, #5
Man from U.N.C.L.E. #6: The Vampire Affair, zette, Mar 03rd 2012, #6

Mesg #135 "Man from U.N.C.L.E. # 1: The Thousand Coffins Affair"
Author zette     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
Author Info Member since Jun 12th 2002
13570 posts
Date Sat Mar-03-12 03:43 PM
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In response to Reply # 0

Sometimes I read odd things.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E television series and the books related to it were favorites in the years the show ran. When my husband and I met, we talked about the show from our youth. We made a real effort to collect all the episodes on VHS (and even on Beta), and then, finally, got the gorgeous DVD boxed edition. We have an original poster that they hung on the walls of NBC affiliates. We even have one of the original UNCLE guns (metal, not a plastic replica) from the series.

The books sit on a shelf with a lot of other television-related books. All twenty-three are original stories and not rewritten episodes from the series. They made a lovely addition to the shows and we had collected and re-collected them down through the years. The other day, passing the shelves once again, I thought it might be fun to pull the first one out and read it.

I was right.

While the first book was clearly written before the series got started, it tried to capture the feel. It did not have, among things, the communications system down. There was no "Open Channel D" and contacting Solo in Europe was a tiresome problem. I also felt as though the Illya Kuryakin material might have been added in after the first draft: Oh, we decided to add a new character to the series -- write him in, too. Waverly was very well done, and most of Napoleon Solo rang true. The story was a bit more Bond-ish than the series and later books, but overall, not badly done. Yes, Solo's thoughts often linger on the feminine charms of his companions, but he was a debonair lady's man in the series as well.

Written in the mid 1960's, the feel of the time lingers with material tied to World War II and the Cold War and with some passing references to the Korean War. I had only one true 'plot' problem with the story. Jerry Terry was allowed on the mission because she had a photographic memory, and yet nowhere in the story did that gift ever truly come into use. I suspect that was the author side of me looking for story flaws. Her hatred of the communists also made her easy acceptance of Illya rather unsettling, but I could at least believe that part had been handled 'off stage' so to speak.

This was really just a fun little trip back in time. I plan to read more of them.


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Mesg #136 "Man from U.N.C.L.E. #2: The Doomsday Affair"
Author zette     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
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Date Sat Mar-03-12 03:45 PM
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The Doomsday Affair pits Napoleon and Illya against an enemy known only as Tixe Ylno, a mastermind who is preparing to destroy the world, and only the top team from U.N.C.L.E. has any chance of stopping the madman.

The second Man from U.N.C.L.E book had a couple really good characters -- and spots in the plot that were so annoying I found it hard to keep reading. The chase scene through the streets of Honolulu could have been shortened to a couple paragraphs with a much better feel. Illya's incredibly stupid move to walk right into the room with the bad guy just drove me over the top.

But still, the character of Sam Su Yan had some interesting touches in an egotistical, crazy way. Violet managed her part well, too.
However, the plot depended too much on the two main characters doing stupid things and more than a little coincidence, as well as UNCLE not bothering to check out something obviously Thrush related.

So the second book wasn't as well done as the first, and I think part of that may still be based on how early this book was written.

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Mesg #137 "Man from U.N.C.L.E. #3: The Copenhagen Affair"
Author zette     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
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Date Sat Mar-03-12 03:47 PM
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The Copenhagen Affair starts off with twenty-six pages of story about a guy who meets a young woman on the plane to Copenhagen and what happens afterwards. There is no hint of Napoleon, Illya or UNCLE. And this part was so well-written that I really didn't care. The man is finally introduced to UNCLE and then disappears completely from the story.

I wonder if John Oram had the start to a novel (unrelated to the television series) and used it to kick the story off. It worked well.

After this mini-adventure, the microfilm the woman had is safely in the hands of Mr. Waverly. From here we are into a story about flying saucers, hidden World War II era factories, former resistance fighters -- this story, like the first of the Man from UNCLE books has again delved into the post-war world to create a tale linked to the war that was only twenty years in the past when this book was written.

The characters were well written and the story interesting enough to keep my attention. The three main characters (Napoleon, Illya and Mr. Waverly) were far closer to their television versions than in the first two books of the series, which made this one far more fun to read. Since the television series had its share of World War II based stories (notably the first season Deadly Games Affair with the lovely Thrush agent, Angelique), this one fits in pretty well with the 'feel' of the shows.

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Mesg #138 "Man from U.N.C.L.E #4 : The Dagger Affair"
Author zette     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
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Date Sat Mar-03-12 03:50 PM
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Finally!

The Dagger Affair has all the elements to make a good 'episode' for the series. The characters are far more in line with their television personas and the story itself played out like a true show. The book is even laid out in the same pattern as the one hour shows. This one was a lot of fun to read!

There's a new organization in town. DAGGER is so much of an impending danger that UNCLE and THRUSH join forces to bring down the madman behind a scheme to send humanity back to the Stone Age. We meet a high ranking THRUSH official with an unexpected link to Mr. Waverly and learn what the acronym stands for (which was never mentioned in the series). We already knew U.N.C.L.E. -- United Network Command for Law and Enforcement. THRUSH -- Technical Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity. Is that fun, or what?

And the Thrush employed nurse named Robin? I suspect not a lot of people realize that the American Robin is actually a member of the thrush family of birds.

I loved the snarly attitude of the San Francisco branch of UNCLE and his implications that Solo and Kuryakin did little more than have gunfights and leave bodies lying around in New York. They didn't do things that way in San Francisco. They expected cooperation with the police here.

All in all, this was a fun read. For the first time, it made me really want to pull out the shows and watch them as well.

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Mesg #139 "Man from U.N.C.L.E. # 5: The Mad Scientist Affair"
Author zette     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
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Date Sat Mar-03-12 03:51 PM
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Napoleon and Illya are not having the luck of the Irish in the Mad Scientist Affair.

Beer that removes the sense of self-preservation and inflates the ego is just one part of the trouble as the two deal with King Mike, a man in a castle with two lovely nieces and a lot of henchmen. King Mike brews beer, but he's brewing up a lot more than that in his bid to help rule the world.

King Mike wants to sell his secrets to THRUSH for a seat in the high command. UNCLE doesn't really think that's such a good idea and the two agents are there to stop a truly mad scientist before he ruins the oceans of the world. THRUSH isn't happy to have the two around messing up plans.

I found it amusing to watch Napoleon as he dealt with Illya and Sarah, both of them 'geeks' in the modern term. This book also (obviously) tended to more gadgets than the previous ones, which again made it seem more like the series.

A fun read, all in all.

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Mesg #140 "Man from U.N.C.L.E. #6: The Vampire Affair"
Author zette     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
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Date Sat Mar-03-12 03:53 PM
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I admit that I hadn't expected a story about Vampires to be one of the best of the group!

A dead agent in Rumania, the body drained of blood? Waverly suspects a prank, but when confirmation arrives, he knows he must send his two best agents out to find out what is going on in the Transylvanian Alps.

Stoic, no nonsense Illya is considering silver crosses. Illya's Russian background is a problem, too, in a country which has no love for their northern oppressors. Oh yes, lots of problems here. Not to mention vampires, giant wolves. . . .

Napoleon is looking for solid, logical -- that really isn't a huge flying bat -- answers. Meeting up with the last of the real Dracula family is a bit of help. Maybe. The cameo appearance by Forrest J (no period) Ackerman is delightful, too.

I loved this line:

Napoleon usually left the more guttural Slavic tongues to Illya, who possessed a native ability to pronounce interminable strings of consonants as if vowels were an unnecessary bourgeois luxury.

Vampires, Cold War spies, THRUSH . . . this is a delightful, fun read.

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