1970s: Future of the literary Bond?

The Ian Fleming Publications 007 logo

By Nicolas Suszczyk,

Guest Writer

Forever and a Day, the new James Bond novel, came out this week. Based on material Ian Fleming wrote for an unproduced TV series, British author Anthony Horowitz placed Bond in a pre-Casino Royale era, sent to investigate murder of the man who carried the 007 number before him in the Cote d’Azur.

Looking Backwards

It is not the first time that Ian Fleming Publications decided to look backwards.

Devil May Care, published in 2008 to coincide with Fleming’s centenary, put Bond in 1967, after the events of The Man With The Golden Gun. Solo (2013), by William Boyd, saw Bond in 1969 after the events of Kingsley Amis’ Colonel Sun. Horowitz’s first 007 novel Trigger Mortis (2015) was a direct sequel of Goldfinger in 1957, taking as reference the unused Ian Fleming treatment Murder on Wheels.

On the other hand, IFP tried to do the exact opposite in 2011 with Jeffery Deaver’s Carte Blanche, where a rebooted Bond in his early 30s dealt with organized terrorism in the 21st century.

After Ian Fleming and Kingsley Amis, Bond continuation authors John Gardner and Raymond Benson set 007 stories from the early 1980s to the early 2000s without rebooting while escaping the reality that Bond should be an elderly man in those adventures. Much like The Simpsons, 007 remained the same age for years.

Where To Next?

So, what should be next in store for the literary James Bond? The answer seems obvious but not less interesting: the 1970s.

In that decade, three literary Bond pieces were published. In 1973, we had John Pearson’s The Authorized Biography of 007, a fictionalized encounter between the author (Fleming’s biographer) and the “real” Bond, who checked or contradicted facts about the previous novels.

Later in the decade (1977 and 1979) saw the publication of Christopher Wood’s novelizations of the James Bond films he wrote: The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, respectively.

The novelizations were officially titled James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me and James Bond and Moonraker.

Although these were adaptations of the movies, they had few ties with the 1970s.

Between 1968’s Colonel Sun by Kingsley Amis and 1981’s Licence Renewed by John Gardner, there were no original James Bond novels.

That’s why it would be a lucrative and accurate alternative for the post-2018 literary Bond to follow, the possibility of taking an interesting and creative angle.

Volatile Era

The 1970s were a politically convulsed era where a James Bond story could perfectly fit. In 1974, a longtime ally of Great Britain, the United States, was affected by the Watergate scandal that ended with the resignation of President Richard Nixon. Also during the decade, the CIA came under scrutiny by reporters and the U.S. Congress.

Richard Nixon, with Efrem Zimbalist Jr. and Roger Moore, while campaigning for president in 1960. He wouldn’t be elected until 1968 and was forced to resign in 1974.

In the rest of the world, Latin American countries were ruled by dictators: Augusto Pinochet in Chile, Jorge Rafael Videla in Argentina (this junta would lead to the Falklands war with the U.K. in 1982) and Hugo Bánzer Suárez in Bolivia, to name a few.

All these governments had their origins in the early or mid-1970s, something that should serve as the background for an original Bond plot.

The novels have utilized such settings. William Boyd’s novel Solo has Bond dealing with a civil war in a dictatorial African nation of Zanzarim.

Prime Minister of Rhodesia Ian Smith declared the independence of his country in 1970, cutting its last link with the British Crown. This created a conflict with the British PM Harold Wilson, who refused to recognize the new regime of the African nation and was backed by the United States.

IRA Bombings

Also in the 1970s, England was the target of many IRA bombings which could also serve as a background for a more British-oriented plot.

Munich suffered a terrorist attack during the 1972 Olympic Games executed by a Palestinian cell that ended with 11 athletes killed and convulsed the whole world.

The 2005 film Munich, starring Eric Bana and Daniel Craig, dealt with the revenge mission taken by the Mossad years later. Bond may not be related to the Olympic Games but terrorism has been the enemy in John Gardner novels like For Special Services, COLD and Win, Lose or Die and, of course, the recent films like The World Is Not Enough, Casino Royale, Skyfall and SPECTRE where terrorist attacks have played a major role (MI6 being bombed twice).

By the end of the decade, in November 1979, employees of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran were kidnapped by followers of the new leader Ayatollah Khomeini for more than a year.

Some embassy employees managed to escape thanks to the Argo operation executed by the CIA with the aid of Hollywood which faked the production of a film in the region.

It is known that British diplomats aided in the mission, despite being written out of the 2012 Ben Affleck movie. Bond, known for bearing a diplomatic passport on occasions, could have been directly or indirectly involved in this operation.

In a decade shaken by social, racial and political events there could surely be a place for the literary Bond. The decade of the 1970s was not a part of any of the 40 James Bond novels published to date (not counting the novelizations or Young Bond series).

The ’70s could serve for a series of stories set year by year, resulting in 10 James Bond book written by Anthony Horowitz or whoever who follows him and, perhaps, adapting more unused Ian Fleming material.

The 1970s, done right, would be a perfect gold mine for any creative storyteller to place James Bond in.

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One Response

  1. I think James Bond belongs in the early 50’s the same way Sherlock Holmes belongs in the late 1800’s. When the placid Sherlock Holmes in WW2 and had him out witting Nazi spies it seemed ridiculous.

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