Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, May 10, 2019

FORGOTTEN BOOK: THE VAMPIRE AFFAIR

The Vampire Affair  (The Man from U.N.C.L.E. #6) by David McDaniel  (1966)

Among the television shows that helped define the mid- to late-1960s* was The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (105 episodes, 1964-1968), a camp and tres spy-guy show about a fictional international agency, the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement. and two of its top agents, Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin.

Exploiting the James Bond craze, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was created by Sam Rolfe and Norman Felton, with a minor assist from Bond's creator Ian Fleming.  (Felton had asked Fleming for some concepts for the show.  Fleming came up two:  the names Napoleon Solo and April Dancer -- Dancer became the lead character in the spin-off show The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.)  The show was originally going to be called Ian Fleming's Solo with the emphasis on the title character, but the character of Illya Kuryakin tested so well, he was given a co-starring role.  As the proposed title switched to the familiar one, Sam Rolfe felt that the acronym in the title should remain undefined, allowing viewers to assume the U.N. part stood for United Nations, but potential legal issues quashed that idea.

The New York headquarters for U.N.C.L.E. is hidden behind an nondescript tailor shop.  The head of this operation is Alexander Waverley (played by Leo G. Carroll), who sends Solo and Kuryakin (Robert Vaughan and David McCallum**) on assignments throughout the world, most often to defeat nefarious plots by enemy organization THRUSH***

The influence of the show is strong.  Not only were there films**** (eight of which were mash-ups of the television show), books, comic books, soundtrack albums, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Magazine (and a related magazine featuring April Dancer), board games, action figures, lunch boxes, toy guns, and other tie-ins.  U.N.C.L.E. memorabilia is displayed at the Ronald Reagan, Library, C.I.A headquarters, and museums.  The show also spawned a number of sex-up book series with various spies from O.R.G.Y,  L.U.S.T., S.T.U.D, S.A.D.I.S.T.O. and other such organizations.  The show and its characters have been reference in television, films, and music many time since the 1960's.

David McDaniel (1939-1977) penned seven books in the paperback series, including the "unpublished" final book, fittingly called The Final Affair.*****  McDaniel also wrote a tie-in novel for television's The Prisoner and a stand-alone SF novel, The Arsenal Out of Time.  An active SF fan -- as can be seen by one of the characters he inserted in The Vampire Affair -- McDaniel was also known by his fan name "Ted Johnson."

The Vampire Affair  opens with a lone man running through the dark, fog-enshrouded Transylvania woods, being chased by a pack of something...dogs?  wolves?  what?  In his haste, he trips and injures his ankle.  He drags himself to the trunk of a large tree and, with his back to the tree, counts the bullets in the gun.  He must save the last bullet for himself... 

The man, we learn, is an U.N.C.L.E. agent.  His body has been found in the Transylvanian woods completely drained of blood.  Waverley fears someone is pulling a joke on his, or that there was a mistake in the coding of the message that reached New York.  He sends Napoleon and Illya overseas to find out what really happened.  In Romania, they rescue a man who had been set upon by a mob; the man turns out to be  Zoltan Dracula (Yes.  A descendant of that Dracula) whose family had once owed a large castle in Pokol, the small provincial town in Romania near where the body had been found.  Acting as their guide is the lovely Romanian U.N.C.L.E. agent Hilda Eclary, dressed as one would expect a hip young girl of the time would dress.

Napoleon and Illya head to where the body had been found.  With night closing around them, they cannot find there car.  Suddenly they are being followed by wolves, a pack of about twenty -- something unheard of outside of legends and horror films.  Running for theior lives they find a small empty cave where they can make a stand but they probably do not have enough bullets to kill the entire pack.  From behind them a dark figure appears and mysteriously bids the wolves to depart
and they do.  The man, calling the two agents by name, tells them where their car is and vanishes just as suddenly as he appeared.  Later, going through records, they recognize the man to be a centuries-old descendant of the Dracula family, and a man reputed to be a supernatural being.  There was no record of what had finally happened to this man.

Then, at night, Illya and Zoltan hear screams coming from the hotel's next room which had been given to Hilda Eclary.  Breaking down the door, they find the mysterious man bearing fangs and looming over Hilda's unconscious body.  Illya shoots the man pointblank to no avail.  It is only when two silver knives, crossed to form a crucifix, that the vision backs down and, leaping through a third-floor window, vanishes into the fog.

More wolves.  A labyrinth of dark tunnels under the old castle of Dracula, an ancient, freshly polished empty coffin placed in undisturbed dust.  More hints of the supernatural.  And an American tourist named Forrest J (no period) Ackerman, editor of Famous Monsters of Filmdom and an expert on vampire lore.  I can't say McDaniel threw in everything but the kitchen sink, because he reserved that for a later novel.******

A fun read, just as The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was a fun show.




* Other influential television shows that followed were Batman, Dark Shadows, Star Trek, and Laugh-in.  The Sixties were a turbulent time of change and viewers needed to escape into a world far removed from reality.

** Now in his eighties, McCallum plays medical examiner Ducky in the series NCIS.  (Tony Dinozzo:  I wonder whay Ducky looked like when he was younger?  Leroy Jethro Gibbs:  Illya Kuyakin.)

*** In the television series, no one knew what the heck THRUSH stood for, or whether it was an acronym or not.  In one of his entries in the book series, David McDaniel noted the THRUSH stood for the Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity -- a title certainly in keeping with the campiness of the television show.

**** The reunion movie Return of the Man deom U.N.C.L.E., filmed fifteen years after the show's close, featured a cameo by James Bond star George Latzenby as a famous spy known as "J.B." who drives an Aston Martin "just like On Her Majesty's Secret Service."

***** Ace editor Terry Carr had planned this, the 24th entry to be the capstone of the series.  McDaniel, however, was several months late in finishing the book and, by the time it was submitted, the television series had been cancelled.  The book was never professionally published but can be found online here:    https://web.archive.org/web/20150602224012/http://www.spywise.net/FinalAffairIntro.html

****** The Rainbow Affair, which includes such characters as The Saint, John Steed, Emma Peel, Willie Garvin (right-hand man to Modesty Blaze), Tommy Hambledon (ace spy created by Manning Cole), Father Brown, Miss Marple, Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Fu Manchu, and Neddie Seagoon (a character from The Goon Show).



For the curious:
Here are the Ace paperbacks in the series:

#1  The Thousand Coffins Affair by Michael Avallone
#2  The Doomsday Affair by Harry Whittington
#3  The Copenhagen Affair by "John Oram" (John Oram Thomas)
#4  The Dagger Affair by David McDaniel
#5  The Mad Scientist Affair by John T. Phillifent
#6  The Vampire Affair by David McDaniel
#7  The Radioactive Camel Affair by Peter Leslie
#8  The Monster Wheel Affair by David McDaniel
#9  The Diving Dames Affair by Peter Leslie
#10  The Assassination Affair by J. Hunter Holly
#11  The Invisibility Affair by "Thomas Stratton" (Buck Coulson amnd Gene deWeese)
#12  The Mind Twisters Affair by "Thomas Stratton"
#13  The Rainbow Affair by David McDaniel
#14  The Cross of God Affair by "Fredric Davies" (Ron Ellik and Fredric Langley)
#15  The Utopia Affair by David McDaniel
#16  The Splintered Sunglasses Affair by Peter Leslie
#17  The Hollow Crown Affair by David McDaniel
#18  The Unfair Fare Affair by Peter Leslie
#19  The Power Cube Affair by John T. Phillifent
#20  The Corfu Affair by John T. Phillifent
#21  The Thinking Machine Affair by Joel Bernard
#22  The Stone Cold Dead in the Market Affair by John Oram
#23  The Finger in the Sky Affair by Peter Leslie
#24  The Final Affair by David McDaniel (unpublished but available; see footnote above)

Still curious?:
Three YA novels were published by Whitman:

The Affair of the Gunrunner's Gold by Brandon Keith
The Affair of Gentle Saboteur by Brandon Keith
The Calcutta Affair by George S. Elrick

And a juvenile storybook was published by Wonder Books:
The Coin of Diablo Affair by Walter B. Gibson

More curious?  Geez, can't you get enough?:
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Magazine published 24 issues, each with a lead "'novel" credited to house pseudonym "Robert Hart Davis":

"The Howling Teenagers Affair" (by Dennis Lynds, February 1966)
"The Beauty and the Beast Affair" (by Harry Whittington, March 1966)
"The Unspeakable Affair " (by Dennis Lynds, April 1966)
"The World's End Affair" (by John Jakes, May 1966)
"The Vanishing Act Affair" (by Dennis Lynds, June 1966)
"The Ghost Riders Affair" (by Harry Whittington, July 1966)
"The Cat and Mouse Affair" (by Dennis Lynds, August 1966)
"The Brainwash Affair" (by Harry Whittington, September 1966)
"The Moby Dick Affair" (by John Jakes, October 1966)
"The Thrush from THRUSH Affair" (by Harry Whittington, November 1966)
"The Goliath Affair" (by John Jakes, December 1966)
"The Light-Kill Affair (by Harry Whittington, January 1967)
"The Deadly Dark Affair" (by John Jakes, February 1967)
"The Hungry World Affair" (by Talmage Powell, March 1967)
"The Dolls of Death Affair" (by John Jakes, April 1967)
"The Synthetic Storm Affair" (by I. G. Edmonds, May 1967)
"The Ugly Man Affair" (by John Jakes, June 1967)
"The Electronic Frankenstein Affair" (by Frank Belknap Long, July 1967)
"The Genghis Khan Affair" (by Dennis Lynds, August 1967)
"The Man from Yesterday Affair" (by John Jakes, September 1967)
"The Mind-Sweeper Affair" (by Dennis Lynds, October 1967)
"The Volcano Box Affair" (by Richard Curtis, November 1967)
"The Pillars of Salt Affair" (by Bill Pronzini, December 1967)
"The Million monsters Affair" (by I. G. Edmonds, January 1968)

I sure hope you're no longer curious, because I am not going to list The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. books and stories!

3 comments:

  1. Aw! Anti-Dancer! And don't forget U.N.C.L.E. scripter Harlan Ellison's spun-off story "Santa Claus vs. S.P.I.D.E.R."...

    http://www.philsp.com/homeville/FMI/t/t4408.htm#A96909 for the FictionMags Index listings for THE MAN FROM U magazine, and
    http://www.philsp.com/homeville/FMI/t/t3346.htm#A71492 for THE "GIRL" (sic)...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not anti-Dancer, Todd. My fingers were just getting tired from all that typing!

      Thanks for the links.

      And no one who has read "Santa Claus vs. S.P.I.D.E.R." can forget it.

      Delete
  2. I wasn't a fan, too slapstick for me. "I Spy", however, I liked a lot.

    ReplyDelete