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David McDaniel at his desk, writing, 1974.
|Born||David Edward McDaniel
June 16, 1939
Toledo, Ohio, United States
|Died||November 1, 1977
|Notable works||The Dagger Affair
The Vampire Affair
The Arsenal out of Time
David Edward McDaniel (June 16, 1939 – November 1, 1977) was a United States science fiction author, who also wrote spy fiction, including several novels based upon the television series The Man from U.N.C.L.E..
David McDaniel was born June 16, 1939, in Toledo, Ohio. He studied cinematography at San Diego State University, then moved to Los Angeles to be near his mother. While living in Los Angeles he joined science fiction fandom, using the pseudonym Ted Johnstone. This makes him one of the few authors to write under his real name but conduct his social life under a pseudonym. He was also known by the nickname "Tedron", the name of his character in a Shared universe fantasy called Coventry.
McDaniel died sometime in the early morning of November 1, 1977. A friend found him several days later, and associated evidence suggested accidental death from autoerotic asphyxiation. The family preferred to not discuss this publicly, and his death was originally described to those outside his immediate circle of friends as being from less controversial causes, from slipping and falling in the bath or from a cerebral hemorrhage. At the time of his death he was contracted to fly to Baton Rouge, Louisiana for freelance work as a cameraman.
McDaniel sold two stories while still an undergraduate. Pulp writer Noel Loomis was teaching a course on writing at San Diego State, and offered an automatic "A" to any student who sold a story. McDaniel found a boy's magazine whose requirements he could meet, and sent them two stories. They accepted both.
- A young English boy sees Vikings about to attack his village. He rouses the village and helps drive off the Vikings.
- A short space story about a teen boy, with both problem solving and character development.
McDaniel came to write books in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. series at least partly because of a prank. He got some patches with the THRUSH sigil through a friend who worked for MGM Studios. Then a group of his friends sewed the patches on dark suits and they showed up at a theater where UNCLE star Robert Vaughn was playing Hamlet. Afterward they stood politely in line to greet Vaughn, and equally politely insisted that they were from the "Public Relations" department of THRUSH. There were several more "THRUSH runs" to various places where they could startle people who weren't expecting a group of fictional villains to show up. McDaniel referred to these actions as "Zaps". The group of fans who impersonated THRUSH agents included Barry Gold, Robert Short, Bill Mills, Evan Hayworth, Gail Knuth, Charles Lee Jackson II, and other members of the LASFS, many of whom have been included in McDaniel's novels as characters.
The acronym for THRUSH, "The Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity", was created by McDaniel's friend Dean Dickensheet. McDaniel called into a talk show where UNCLE producer Norm Felton was a guest and insisted that THRUSH existed. Felton of course denied this, and McDaniel asked what "THRUSH" stood for. Felton said it didn't stand for anything, and McDaniel said, "It's the Technological Hierarchy for...." Felton's reaction was "The Technological Hierarchy for What?" McDaniel used that line in his first UNCLE novel, The Dagger Affair.
In a discussion with McDaniel about how to sell to Ace Books, Hank Stine pointed out that most of the books had "of" in the title, like Pirates of Zan and Star of Danger. This inspired McDaniel to start a novel about a lost cache of weapons. He didn't have a good name for the aliens, so he used XXX as a placeholder. McDaniel finished the novel but still hadn't come up with a name, so he sent it in that way, using the title The Weapons of XXX. Terry Carr, a junior editor at Ace, liked it, but the chief editor, Don Wollheim wasn't convinced, so they returned it. Ace landed the contract for the UNCLE novels a month or so later, and Carr remembered Weapons of XXX and knew McDaniel was a big UNCLE fan, so he asked McDaniel to submit a novel. The result, The Dagger Affair, was one of the biggest sellers in the series, and Carr asked him to write another, The Vampire Affair, and then signed him to a contract for six more. Royalty statements received from Ace Books showed The Vampire Affair as the biggest seller of the six U.N.C.L.E. novels that McDaniel wrote.
Later on, McDaniel noted that THRUSH field agents were always doing stupid things and getting killed or arrested by U.N.C.L.E. agents—but THRUSH continued to exist and flourish, so there was obviously another group that was competent. He mentioned this conundrum to a friend, Don Simpson. Simpson came up with the idea that there were three levels of THRUSH:
- The incompetent field agents who we saw getting killed or arrested every week on The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
- A group that weeded out the incompetents and made sure that only the best THRUSH agents graduated to the third level.
- A central core of highly motivated and competent people, who ran the various major groups ("Satrapies") and THRUSH Central
The Second level of THRUSH was...U.N.C.L.E. Most people in the U.N.C.L.E. organization had no idea that this was the case, believing themselves to be "the good guys". This enabled them to fight THRUSH and weed out the incompetent personnel of that organization. But the head of U.N.C.L.E. (Section 1, number 1 -- Alexander Waverly), knew. McDaniel once threatened to write a story in which Kuryakin was promoted to the Third Level of THRUSH, and had to find a way to let Solo know without blowing the "three levels" secret. Such a story could not have been published, of course; it does not conform with MGM's official "bible" for the U.N.C.L.E. universe.
Weapons of XXX was later published by Ace under the title The Arsenal Out of Time, but the name "XXX" for the aliens remained. The book as originally written was slightly longer than Ace's standard book length at the time, so he was asked to shorten it by about 2000 words. He deleted a scene which did nothing to advance the plot but helped to humorously delineate the character of Ginger, based loosely (Tuckerized) on one of his friends. The missing scene was later published in The Best of Apa-L #3.
His last novel, The Final Affair, was to have been the last book in the series; however, he was several months late finishing it, and by that time the series was no longer on TV. The Final Affair was never published; permission was obtained from MGM for a limited press run which, however, never occurred.
More details can be found in "The inside story of how DMcDaniel became involved in UNCLE" [sic] at The Fans From U.N.C.L.E. website.
Under his fan name of Ted Johnstone, McDaniel was active in an SF fan APA called Cult(dead link as of 9/2010), where he served as Official Arbiter. He served as editor of the LASFS's Official Organ, Shangri L'Affaires (pronounced "Shaggy") in 1964-5. He was active in the LASFS's weekly APA, APA L, for over a year, publishing a weekly zine titled, "B-Roll Negative." In addition, he wrote a column, "A Slow Train through Gondor." The first two times he submitted a column under this title, the fanzine he sent it to folded one issue after publishing it. The third time, the fanzine folded before publishing the column.
At various times he served as "Director" (presiding officer) and as "Scribe" (secretary) of the LASFS, and is remembered as a "Patron Saint" (substantial donor). He was Chairman of Westercon XX (officially Shere-Con because it was held at the Sheraton West hotel in Los Angeles, also referred to as "Double-Cross Con" because of internal fights within the operating committee), but Brandon Lamont was named as acting chairman for the duration of the convention.
McDaniel wrote several filk songs, including "High Fly the Nazgul-O" (tune: "Green Grow the Rushes-O) and "The Mimeo Crank Chanty" (tune: "Haul Away Joe"). Some photos of McDaniel/Johnstone can be found on the LASFS website.
- The Dagger Affair (#4 in the series) (1966)
- The Vampire Affair (#6) (1966)
- The Monster Wheel Affair (#8) (1967)
- The Rainbow Affair (#13) (1967)
- The Utopia Affair (#15) (1968)
- The Hollow Crown Affair (#17) (1969)
- The Final Affair (unpublished) 
- Number Two, (1969) also known as Who is Number Two, the second book in the series based on the TV series The Prisoner
Stand alone novels
- "Quiet Village", a short story set in the same fictional history published in Analog in 1970 and reprinted in the collection There Will Be War, edited by Jerry Pournelle, Tor Books, 1983.
- "Prognosis: Terminal," in 2020 Vision, Jerry Pournelle, ed. Avon Books, 1974.
- ^ At the time, Ace was the largest publisher of science fiction paperbacks, paid the lowest rates, but was the easiest "port of entry" for a would-be SF author.
- ^ Carr knew about the "Thrush runs"; they had gained a certain notoriety in SF fandom.
- ^ Not numbered in the series, published with permission by a small press.
- Membership records of the LASFS
- public records: death certificate
- The Dagger Affair (Ace Books, 1965), p. 89
- "Menace (minutes) of the LASFS", 1963-1975
-  Patron Saints & Other Donors, LASFS official website
- The Filksong Manual, Bruce E. Pelz, ed. & pub., originally published in four volumes, 1965-1972, later republished as a single volume and now available from Lee Gold
- The Arsenal Out of Time, David McDaniel. New York: Ace Books, 1967. 156 pp.
- David McDaniel at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- The Fans from U.N.C.L.E. website
- The Key to The Rainbow Affair