The return to ‘timeshifting’ with literary Bond

Cover for Kim Sherwood’s Double or Nothing

With this week’s publication of Kim Sherwood’s Double or Nothing, Ian Fleming Publications has, again, decided to embrace “timeshifting.”

Timeshifting is where an established character or universe created in one era is brought forward to the present day (or even near future) without the participants aging in real-time.

James Bond continuation novels began with Kingsley Amis’ Colonel Sun. But that was published in 1968, just three years after Fleming’s final Bond novel, The Man With the Golden Gun. Essentially, Colonel Sun was an extension of Fleming’s original timeline.

Continuation novels of standard Bond adventures wouldn’t resume until 1981 when John Gardner was hired by Glidrose (now IFP) to write new Bond literary adventures. In between, John Pearson wrote a one-shot Bond “biography.”

Gardner’s Bond was somewhat older. But he definitely wasn’t in his 60s (based on the Pearson book). Bond had a bit of gray hair but was still pretty energetic. Gardner would also write novelizations of Bond movies made by Eon Productions.

The Gardner era lasted into the 1990s. Glidrose/IFP then hired Raymond Benson to pen new original continuation novels. Benson would also write novelizations of Eon films. Benson has said he was instructed to make his original stories take place in the (then) present day.

Benson departed in 2002 (with one last original novel and the novelization for Die Another Day).

IFP hired authors such as Sebastian Faulks, William Boyd, and, most successfully, Anthony Horowitz, to write Bond novels as period pieces. Horowitz said his stories were specifically set within Fleming’s original timeline.

The one exception was Jeffery Deaver, whose Carte Blanche in 2011 was a sort of literary Bond reset. But IFP never followed up that that.

With Double or Nothing, Kim Sherwood brings the Bond universe — if not Bond himself — back to either the present day or near-term future. The big plot point is climate change. But Sherwood’s cast also features more diverse 00-agents.

To be clear, timeshifting is not a new technique at all.

Comic book characters such as Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, etc., etc. have been timeshifted. Authors of comic book stories have cherry-picked from stories originally published tens of decades ago. The same applies to newspaper comic strips. Dick Tracy debuted in 1931. He is *not* 100 years old (or older) in recent adventures.

To be fair, even Ian Fleming was slippery when it came to Bond’s age. The author likely didn’t realize how big Bond would become. Bond was in his mid-30s when Fleming wrote Casino Royale. Bond was *still* in his mid-30s when Fleming wrote his later 007 novels.

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