David McDaniel

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David McDaniel
DavidMcDaniel November1974.jpg
David McDaniel at his desk, writing, 1974.
Born David Edward McDaniel
(1939-06-16)June 16, 1939
Toledo, Ohio, United States
Died November 1, 1977(1977-11-01) (aged 38)
Sunland-Tujunga, California
Occupation Novelist
Nationality American
Genre Science fiction
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[citation needed], then moved to Los Angeles to be near his mother[citation needed]. While living in Los Angeles he joined science fiction fandom, using the pseudonym Ted Johnstone.[1] 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",[2] the name of his character in a Shared universe fantasy called Coventry.[3]

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.[4] The family preferred to not discuss this publicly[citation needed], 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.[citation needed] At the time of his death he was contracted to fly to Baton Rouge, Louisiana for freelance work as a cameraman.[citation needed]

Professional career[edit]

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.[citation needed] McDaniel found a boy's magazine whose requirements he could meet, and sent them two stories. They accepted both.[citation needed]

  1. A young English boy sees Vikings about to attack his village. He rouses the village and helps drive off the Vikings.[citation needed]
  2. A short space story about a teen boy, with both problem solving and character development.[citation needed]

McDaniel came to write books in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. series at least partly because of a prank.[citation needed] He got some patches with the THRUSH sigil through a friend with an artistic bent.[citation needed] 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.[5] Afterward they stood politely in line to greet Vaughn, and equally politely insisted that they were from the "Public Relations" department of THRUSH.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] McDaniel referred to these actions as "Zaps".[citation needed] 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[citation needed], many of whom have been included in McDaniel's novels as characters.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed] McDaniel called into a talk show where UNCLE producer Norm Felton was a guest and insisted that THRUSH existed.[citation needed] Felton of course denied this, and McDaniel asked what "THRUSH" stood for.[citation needed] 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?"[citation needed] McDaniel used that line in his first UNCLE novel, The Dagger Affair.[6]

In a discussion with McDaniel about how to sell to Ace Books[4], Hank Stine pointed out that most of the books had "of" in the title, like Pirates of Zan and Star of Danger.[citation needed] This inspired McDaniel to start a novel about a lost cache of weapons.[citation needed] He didn't have a good name for the aliens, so he used XXX as a placeholder.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] Terry Carr, a junior editor at Ace, liked it, but the chief editor, Don Wollheim wasn't convinced, so they returned it.[citation needed] 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[5][citation needed], so he asked McDaniel to submit a novel. The result, The Dagger Affair, was one of the biggest sellers in the series,[citation needed] and Carr asked him to write another, The Vampire Affair, and then signed him to a contract for six more.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed] He mentioned this conundrum to a friend, Don Simpson[citation needed]. Simpson came up with the idea that there were three levels of THRUSH:

  1. The incompetent field agents who we saw getting killed or arrested every week on The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
  2. A group that weeded out the incompetents and made sure that only the best THRUSH agents graduated to the third level.
  3. A central core of highly motivated and competent people, who ran the various major groups ("Satrapies") and THRUSH Central[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

Weapons of XXX was later published by Ace under the title The Arsenal Out of Time, but the name "XXX" for the aliens remained.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] The missing scene was later published in The Best of Apa-L #3.[citation needed]

His last novel, The Final Affair, was to have been the last book in the series;[7] however, he was several months late finishing it, and by that time the series was no longer on TV.[citation needed] The Final Affair was never published; permission was obtained from MGM for a limited press run which, however, never occurred.[citation needed]

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.

Fan career[edit]

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,[8] and is remembered as a "Patron Saint" (substantial donor).[9] 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.[citation needed]

McDaniel wrote several filk songs,[10] including "High Fly the Nazgul-O" (tune: "Green Grow the Rushes-O) and "The Mimeo Crank Chanty" (tune: "Haul Away Joe").[11] Some photos of McDaniel/Johnstone can be found on the LASFS website.

Letter to Lee Klingstein on Thrush Letterhead
Letter to Lee Klingstein on Thrush Letterhead. The addresses at the top are those of McDaniel, Ace Books, and Dean Dickensheet.[citation needed] The logo was drawn by Don Simpson.[citation needed]As an inside joke, McDaniel would sometimes send letters to friends on stationery bearing the "letterhead" of The U.N.C.L.E. or Thrush.[citation needed]


U.N.C.L.E. novels[edit]

  • 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) [6]

Other TV related novels[edit]

Stand alone novels[edit]

Short Stories[edit]


  1. ^ 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.[citation needed]
  2. ^ Carr knew about the "Thrush runs"; they had gained a certain notoriety in SF fandom.[citation needed]
  3. ^ Not numbered in the series, published with permission by a small press.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Membership records of the LASFS
  2. ^ http://www.lasfsinc.info/newdeprof/deprof439.pdf
  3. ^ http://fancyclopedia.org/coventry and http://www.conchord.org/xeno/rainbowaffair.htm
  4. ^ public records: death certificate
  5. ^ Robert Vaughn: A Fortunate Life: An Autobiography, Macmillan Publishers, ISBN-10: 0312590431
  6. ^ The Dagger Affair (Ace Books, 1965), p. 89
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ "Menace (minutes) of the LASFS", 1963-1975
  9. ^ [2] Patron Saints & Other Donors, LASFS official website
  10. ^ [3]
  11. ^ 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
  12. ^ The Arsenal Out of Time, David McDaniel. New York: Ace Books, 1967. 156 pp.

External links[edit]