During its NBC network run from 1964 through 1968, Man From U.N.C.L.E. fans enjoyed one of the most popular series of tie-in novels created for a television show. Not until Alias, in fact, did any spy show have the number and variety of such books as MFU—23 published titles in all.
While a number of writers contributed to this series for Ace Books, none was as significant as David McDaniel. In fact his first, The Dagger Affair (No. 4 in the American series) contained the first use of the acronym for the evil THRUSH--the Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity. (McDaniel took the term from his friend, Dean Dickensheet, and introduced it to MFU creator Norman Felton on a radio talk show.) His second, The Vampire Affair (No. 6) was and is one of the highest regarded contributions to the collection, featuring what would become a McDaniel staple, that of using actual and fictional people from other realms to spice up the MFU universe. In the case of Vampire, McDaniel made a character of the actual Forrest Ackerman, the editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland.
After The Monster Wheel Affair (No. 8), McDaniel contributed another much discussed story, The Rainbow Affair (No. 13) in which Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin shared time with Sherlock Holmes, The Avengers, and Fu Manchu. McDaniel’s The Utopia Affair (No. 15) had Napoleon Solo in charge of the New York HQ of U.N.C.L.E. and The Hollow Crown Affair (no. 17) ended McDaniel’s run as a novelist for one beloved TV classic. Well, not quite.
In fact, McDaniel had written one last MFU story justly called The Final Affair which he unfortunately finished several months past its deadline, completed after the parent show’s demise. Ace Books was no longer interested in further novels beyond a handful of reprints of stories first published in England. The Final Affair would have been the 24th ACE story that would have brought the TV show to a more or less logical conclusion where the battle between U.N.C.L.E. and THRUSH finally came to an end. In the last pages, Illya Kuryakin returned to the Russian Navy, Alexander Waverly dies, and Napoleon Solo became head of U.N.C.L.E. with his long thought dead wife, Joan, a double agent for THRUSH, by his side.
While revealing these moments might seem “spoilers” for those who never read the book, in fact The Final Affair has long been circulating around MFU fandom, mainly due to the efforts of Paula Davis who happily sent copies to anyone who asked. Even after the advent of the internet, only hard-copies of this legendary book were available as no one had taken the time to scan the MS pages into a digital format.
In Feb. 2010, MFU fan Debbie Coley made the MS available in the PDF format, and fellow aficionado Kathy E. put out the word—The Final Affair was ready for a new generation. According to Kathy, she “consulted Cindy Walker, Paula Smith, and Greenwoman (who in turn consulted Bob Short). Their consensus was that David McDaniel would be glad to have the book reach as many people as possible, so putting it out there and making it generally available to the public would be a good thing.”
So, Spywise.net is delighted to join the effort of expanding the readership of this artifact of the “Spy Renaissance.” We look forward to new discussions about whether or not McDaniel gave us the conclusion we can accept as “canon” to The Man From U.N.C.L.E., a summation never seen on the small screen.
Click on this link to read The Final Affair.