Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Bond, James Bond

I've been a huge fan of the James Bond character since I was in Junior High. It was then that I met David Deneen, a young man a year or so older than myself, who's brother had just married one of my favorite cousins. Well, one evening we were both visiting the aforementioned cousin's apartment in Newport, Maine, and he informed me that we would be watching Goldfinger, as it was scheduled to be run that night on HBO.

I'd never seen it – hell, I'd never seen HBO! – but David was already a dedicated Bond fan. Before the movie started he gave me a fairly detailed description of the character and the films, and after watching enraptured as Sean Connery outwitted Gert Frobe and saved the U.S. gold reserve from irradiation, I was well and truly hooked. I sought out and watched every Bond film I could, which wasn't easy, pre-home video (remember when they used to air exclusively on ABC?), hunted down all the Signet Ian Fleming paperbacks, and, starting with Moonraker in 1979, made a point of seeing each new James Bond film in the theater – usually on opening day.

In '81, John Gardner started writing original James Bond novels, and after a decade or so, the Ian Fleming estate signed author Raymond Benson to pen a few more. I never really warmed to Gardner's series. Some individual books were good reads, but his Bond didn't really seem very "Bondian." I enjoyed Benson's novels more. They occasionally came across a bit like fan fiction, but at least it was clear he was a fan, and thus, really trying his best to be faithful to Fleming's creation.

Well, it's been a few years since Benson had his literary license to kill revoked, and this Summer there will be a new Bond novel out, written by Sebastian Faulks, Devil May Care. I'm not familiar with Faulks, but I gather he's a respected literary type in England. I'm looking forward to his novel, which is reportedly set in the Fifties, but I am annoyed that his byline on the book is "Sebastian Faulks writing as Ian Fleming." I mean, c'mon. Fleming was a real guy, not a pseudonymous creation like "Franklin W. Dixon," "Kenneth Robeson," "Maxwell Grant" or "Robert Markham." It's kind of insulting, isn't it?

Anyway, that's the U.S. dustjacket design up above. For once, it looks the the American market finally got a better Bond jacket design than the Brits (at right). Very retro and very cool.

By the way Charlie Higson's "Young Bond" novels are actually worth reading, too. Very faithful to the spirit of Fleming, and very well-written. So far, I've only read Silverfin and Blood Fever, but I'm hoping the others will be released in the States soon.

8 comments:

Andy said...

The annual airings of Bond on the ABC Sunday Night Movie were the original "Must See TV" in my house. Dad and I never missed them.

Charles Gramlich said...

That is kind of ridiculous, "writing as Ian Fleming." It would be better to say writing as James Bond.

NoelCT said...

What, no recommendation for the JAMES BOND JR. tv series? ;)

Christopher Mills said...

James Bond Jr.

I didn't hate it. It was fun for what it was, and I bought all the comic books. If it was on DVD, I'd probably buy it.

Still, the "Young Bond" novels are light years better, and worthy additions to the 007 literary canon.

El Vox said...

Hey Chris, just stumbled upon your blog, and it's very cool. I'd wondered where all the fandom blogs were hiding, and then I found yours and a multitude of links as well to explore. I'll have to pick up something you've written recently. (Maybe the Spider book as a friend of mine, Tom Floyd is also inside that book...) Somehow in the back of my mind I already have something you've written, but I'd have to dig thru my comic boxes to find out what, maybe the Nimoy's Primortals comic? I dunno. At any rate I sure enjoy what you are doing, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and makes me want to check out some of the things you talk about as I'm an obsessive geek as well :) Just thought I'd post as I know sometimes it might feel like you are writing in a vaccum, anywho, good blog. ~Dave

Gerald So said...

I hear DEVIL MAY CARE will be set in 1967 and detail Bond returning for one final mission.

I don't mind Faulks "writing as Ian Fleming." It strikes me that the other Bond authors were trying to do as much without saying so.

Bill Spangler said...

Re James Bond Jr.: I didn't see a lot of episodes, but I remember thinking that Junior wasn't being told the truth; he wasn't Bond's nephew, he was his illegitimate son.

Roland Hulme said...

Hopefully Faulks is up to the task! I always found the Gardner and Benson books to be a bit tiresome.

Charlie Higson's books, on the other hand, are cracking reads and I'll certainly be reading them to my offspring before Harry Potter.

Great post.