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.