Bond questions: The new continuation novel

Image for the cover of With a Mind to Kill

So, a third James Bond continuation novel by Anthony Horowitz is scheduled for May 2022. Horowitz’s Bond stories are set in the original Ian Fleming timeline.

According to early publicity material for With a Mind to Kill, “It is M’s funeral. One man is missing from the graveside: the traitor who pulled the trigger and who is now in custody, accused of M’s murder – James Bond.”

While we’ll have to wait until May, naturally the blog has questions.

What kind of security does MI6 have, anyway?

With a Mind to Kill begins after the events of The Man With the Golden Gun, Fleming’s last Bond novel. That book (published in 1965, after Fleming’s death) began with a brainwashed Bond unsuccessfully trying to kill M.

The whole point of the 1965 novel was for Bond to be un-brainwashed and given a suicide mission to show his loyalty. So Bond turns around and tries to kill M, again? And this time it works? That doesn’t say much for MI6 security.

What does this mean for Colonel Sun?

Colonel Sun, written by Kingsley Amis under the name Robert Markham, was the first Bond continuation novel. M gets kidnapped and Bond has to rescue him.

So does that not count now? For that matter, does With a Mind to Kill write off the John Gardner continuation novels?

You have more questions?

Does that mean the Gardner novels are now, officially, their own universe? Does that apply to all the other continuation novels aside from the ones Horowitz has written?

Truth be told, it has been shaping up that way for some time. Gardner and Raymond Benson basically timeshifted Fleming’s Bond. Jeffery Deaver essentially did a hard reboot but that was never followed up. Horowitz and other continuation authors set their stories in the Fleming timeline.

Still, Colonel Sun had been special. It was the first continuation novel. And it’s the only one acknowledged by Eon Productions, which produces the James Bond films. Eon used a torture scene from Colonel Sun in SPECTRE and had a “special thanks” credit to Amis’s estate.

It could be in the new novel that M’s death is a fakeout. It should also be noted that a detailed description of the book surfaced in September on the website of HarperCollins before being taken down. (Don’t click on the link if you don’t want to know.)

Still, there are a lot of questions.

With a Mind to Kill is title of new Bond novel

With a Mind to Kill is the title of author Anthony Horowitz’s third James Bond continuation novel, Ian Fleming Publications announced today.

The book, to be published in May 2022, takes place after the events of The Man With the Golden Gun, Ian Fleming’s final Bond novel. IFP provided a cover image and brief synopsis on Twitter.

Horowitz’s two previous Bond continuation novels were Trigger Mortis (set following the events of Fleming’s Goldfinger novel) and Forever and a Day (set before the events of Casino Royale).

In connection with the title reveal, The Express ran a feature story on Horowitz. The writer, Matt Nixson, tweeted out an image of the article.

Author discusses her James Bond fashion book

Llewella Chapman, author of Fashioning James Bond

Film historian and academic Dr. Llewella Chapman is out with a new book, Fashioning James Bond.

For a character with a license to kill, fashion in the form of suits, dinner jackets, etc., has always been important. The new book examines the costumes and the fashions of the James Bond film franchise, starting with 1962’s Dr. No and running through 2015’s SPECTRE.

According to the book’s listing at Amazon, Fashioning James Bond “draws on original archival research, close analysis of the costumes and fashion brands featured in the Bond films, interviews with families of tailors and shirt-makers who assisted in creating the ‘look’ of James Bond, and considers marketing strategies for the films and tie-in merchandise that promoted the idea of an aspirational ‘James Bond lifestyle.'”

The blog interviewed Dr. Chapman by email. It was edited to go with “American” English rather than English English.

THE SPY COMMAND: There are various books about James Bond. What makes yours different?

LLEWELLA CHAPMAN: There are! And one of my favorites is Dressed to Kill: James Bond the Suited Hero (authored by Jay McInerney, Nick Foulkes, Neil Norman, and Nick Sullivan (1995). I also really enjoyed Peter Brooker’s and Matt Spaiser’s co-authored book From Tailors With Love: An Evolution of Menswear through the Bond Films (2021). The key difference with Fashioning James Bond is that I not only analyze Bond’s costumes but also the costumes worn by the villains, the “Bond girls,” the henchmen, and many others besides.

Hopefully, there will be something in there for everyone! Everyone has a favorite character, of course, and so I’m sorry if yours isn’t analyzed in my book. Unfortunately, I had a word limit and had to stop somewhere!

In many ways, of course, and as Julie Harris, the costume designer for Casino Royale (1967) and Live and Let Die (1973), summarized the key difference between fashion and a costume designer’s role to The Times in 1967: “fashion is the big pitfall in costume design. Not only because the time lag between drawing the designs and the film’s showing averages a year, time enough for anything to have happened in fashion … film designers have to keep a sharp and beady eye on fashion. They have to develop a flair for fashion futures, for the average time between starting designs and the actual appearance of the film can be anywhere between nine months and a year.”

In direct relation to Bond, the character’s suits evolved depending on need and not just fashion. From Sean Connery until the end of Roger Moore’s tenure, Bond wore bespoke tailored suits. From Timothy Dalton onwards, we see Bond dressed the majority of the time in made-to-measure and off-the-peg suits. The main reason for this was the sheer amount of suits needed for the films, particularly since Dalton’s, and the timescale required to make them.

TSC: As you researched your book, were there any surprises? If so, what were they?

CHAPMAN: I compiled my research for this book from many different archives, libraries, and repositories, and one of the surprises and rather fun anecdotes was discovering a connection between Bond and the multiple menswear firm Montague Burton. The company attempted to capitalize on the “Bond mania” of the mid-1960s following the release of Goldfinger in the U.K. by briefly hiring Anthony Sinclair as a consultant, and producing a small range of 007 suits.

However, Montague Burton quickly realized that ‘young people, although they may like Bond, do not want to dress like him, and middle-aged men don’t want a coat that has pockets for hand grenades, and so the range was swiftly dropped before the release of Thunderball in the U.K. You can find out more about this story in Chapter 3 of my book.

TSC: Who had the biggest influence with the style of James Bond? Anthony Sinclair and his suits? Someone else?

CHAPMAN: I think that it mainly depends on who made the decision to go with a particular tailor or menswear firm to dress Bond in his suits. With Sean Connery, Terence Young recommended his personal tailor, Anthony Sinclair, and similarly with George Lazenby, Peter Hunt elected to dress George Lazenby in Dimitrov “Dimi” Major’s suits.

Roger Moore is the first actor to play Bond who had his own agency over the way the character was dressed, owing to his interest in menswear and him being an established television star. It is somewhat appropriate that he also had three tailors dress him over the course of his Bond films: Cyril Castle, Angelo Vitucci, and Douglas Hayward.

With Timothy Dalton, he particularly influenced Bond’s style, wanting a more casual look for the films, and for Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig’s first film, Casino Royale (2006), it was Lindy Hemming, the costume designer, who elected to dress Bond in Brioni. For Quantum of Solace, costume designer Louise Frogley explained that she chose Tom Ford to provide Bond’s suits owing to “needing to solve a problem,” and from Skyfall until No Time To Die, we see Craig possess more agency over the way his Bond was dressed.

TSC: How would you characterize the James Bond style?

CHAPMAN: In three words, I think that the “James Bond style” should be: classic, elegant, and timeless. Though ultimately, Bond should be a chameleon in any situation in which he finds himself: fitting into the scene seamlessly and in order to obtain what he needs.

TSC: What do you think accounts for Bond’s continuing popularity?

CHAPMAN: Good question! I think because the films aim to not only present a fun, often humorous, and thrilling story for audiences worldwide with the money “spent on the screen,” but also because over the past 60 years the films have continuously evolved to reflect the political, social and cultural contexts during the time they were made.

Cover to Fashioning James Bond

You can order Fashioning James Bond at Amazon’s U.S. site by CLICKING HERE. Or you can order from the U.K. Amazon site by CLICKING HERE. Another option is ordering through the website of Bloomsbury (the book’s publisher) by CLICKING HERE. I’ve been advised this may be a quicker method for customers in the U.S.

What’s left of Fleming for future Bond films?

Ian Fleming, drawn by Mort Drucker, from the collection of the late John Griswold.

The other day, the blog published a post about whether Ian Fleming content matters much anymore for James Bond movies. Still, how much “Fleming content” is left?

Bond screenwriters (most likely Neal Purvis and Robert Wade) have added scraps and bits over the past two decades. The first half of Die Another Day was a de facto adaptation of Fleming’s Moonraker novel. Skyfall, SPECTRE and No Time to Die have mined the novels On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and You Only Live Twice.

What follows is a partial list of what’s left. Consider this a starting point for a broader conversation.

–A brainwashed Bond tries to kill M: The Man With the Golden Gun novel is uneven because Fleming was in bad health. But the start of the novel includes a memorable set-piece where Bond, brainwashed by the Soviets, attempts to assassinate M.

Playboy magazine, when it serialized the novel, led off with an illustration of Bond (drawn, understandably, like Sean Connery) immediately after the failed attempt. It included an M drawn like Bernard Lee and a Moneypenny drawn like Lois Maxwell.

–Gala Brand: At one point, the lead female character of Fleming’s Moonraker novel was going to be named Gala Brand in Die Another Day. But the name was changed to Miranda Frost (a traitor) when the movie was filmed

–Bond vs. a giant squid: In the novel Dr. No, the villain sends Bond through an obstacle course. The agent eventually has to take on a giant squid. This never appeared in the first Bond film made by Eon Productions.

-The Spang Brothers: Jack and Seraffimo Spang were the villains of Diamonds Are Forever, Fleming’s fourth novel. One of the brothers owns an old western ghost town called Spectreville.

-Stuffing a fish down somebody’s throat: The character Milton Krest, from the short story The Hildebrand Rarity, has already been used in 1989’s Licence to Kill. But Krest’s literary demise, having a rare fish stuffed down his throat, still is out there.

Separately, a late friend of mine, Paul Baack, once designed a make-believe movie poster of an Alfred Hitchcock adaptation of The Hildebrand short story.

Bond films: Does ‘Fleming content’ matter anymore?

Some guy who had something to do with James Bond

I watched an entertaining video about the future of James Bond films. One of the issues it raised was do we really want to rehash Ian Fleming’s original texts anymore.

Go to the 12:19 mark of this video:

An excerpt:

I also know there are a lot of Bond fans out there who want to see them go back to the Ian Fleming source material and do super-faithful adaptations of those books. This is something I’m really unexcited about. Largely, I feel because I feel a good chunk of those books have already been adapted quite faithfully.

As noted in the video, Goldfinger’s screenplay improved upon Fleming’s novel. Also, check out the comments section of the video.

Regardless, Ian Fleming (1908-1964) has been dead longer than he was alive. Sherlock Holmes has gone on far longer than his creator Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930). In that regard, Bond and Holmes have something in common.

To be clear, I know the creator of the YouTube video. He’s a great guy and he produces wonderful Bond-related videos.

Also, for the sake of clarity, I have done an article updated three times that attempted to put a value on the “Fleming content” of the Eon film series.

Finally, for a character to be long-lived, that character goes beyond his or her creator. Holmes and Tarzan fall into the category. Others, not so much.

Bond is approaching his 60th anniversary as a film character. Changes take place.

Once upon a time, Batman was created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane. Batman is a lot different than those days. But the Finger-Kane imprint still is present. And Batman is one of the most popular characters in the world.

The same thing may be happening with Bond.

John Pearson, Fleming biographer, dies

John Pearson (1930-2021)

John Pearson, a British journalist whose works included a biography of Ian Fleming, has died at 91. His death was announced on Pearson’s Instagram page, maintained by his granddaughter, Lydia Pearson.

Pearson worked at The Economist, BBC and The Sunday Times, according to his biography on his website. At The Sunday Times, Pearson worked with Fleming on the Atticus column, described by Ian Fleming Publications as a “pseudonymous weekly column for publishing society gossip.”

Pearson, in a message on the home page of his website, said working with Fleming “was my springboard to becoming a writer.”

What followed was a series of non-fiction works and novels. They included the biography The Life of Ian Fleming in 1966 and the fiction work, James Bond: The Authorized Biography of 007 in 1973.

Pearson’s biography of the James Bond author was an early example of “Fleming scholarship.” According to his website, Pearson traveled almost 100,000 miles and interviewed 150 people for the project.

Pearson also wrote “true crime” books, including three books on the Kray twins described by Wikipedia as “the foremost perpetrators of organized crime in the East End of London from the late 1950s to 1967.”

Questions about IFP’s new Double O novels

Ian Fleming Publications “Double O” logo.

Ian Fleming Publications has announced a new series of novels by Kim Sherwood intended to expand the James Bond literary universe.

Naturally, the blog has questions.

Who is Kim Sherwood? C&W, which represents her, has a biography.

Kim Sherwood was born in Camden in 1989 and lives in Bath. She pursued her MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, before teaching at UEA and the University of Sussex. Kim is now Senior Lecturer at the University of the West of England, and teaches prisoners. She has written for MslexiaLighthouseGoing Down SwingingThe Telegraph, and elsewhere. Kim makes frequent media appearances, including BBC Radio 4 Front Row, BBC Bristol, and Griefcast. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram at @kimtsherwood

Kim began researching and writing Testament, her first novel, after her grandfather, the actor George Baker, passed away, and her grandmother began to talk about her experiences as a Holocaust Survivor for the first time. Testament won the 2016 Bath Novel Award, was longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Award, shortlisted for the Author’s Club Best First Novel, and won the Harpers’ Bazaar Big Book Award.

In 2018, Kim received support from the Society of Authors’ Authors Foundation Grant for her second novel. Drawing on adventure fiction, the literature of roguery, travel and life writing, A True Relation will explore issues of gender, genre, and place.

Kim is also the author of the forthcoming Double 0 trilogy, and is the first woman to author a 007 novel. 

Her grandfather was George Baker? Yes, the same George Baker who played the real Sir Hilary Bray in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and a Navy officer in The Spy Who Loved Me. Baker also played one of the many Number Twos in the Patrick McGoohan series The Prisoner. Baker enjoyed a long career as an actor.

When will the new Sherwood novels be set?

During the present day, according to the author herself. She disclosed the information in response to a question on Twitter.

The new Sherwood trilogy of novels will come on line just as Anthony Horowitz is wrapping up his three-period-piece Bond novels (one set at the start of Bond’s career, one set in the middle and the upcoming third after the events of The Man With the Golden Gun novel).

How significant is this?

It demonstrates that Ian Fleming Publications continues to be interested in spinoffs. It has previously commissioned Young Bond novels and The Moneypenny Diaries. Meanwhile, Eon Productions, maker of the James Bond films, has said it’s not interested in Bond spinoffs.

IFP announces new series of Double O novels

Ian Fleming Publications today announced a new series of three novels by Kim Sherwood “featuring the next generation of Double O agents.”

“James Bond is missing, presumed captured or even killed,” IFP said in the announcement on its website. “All of Bond’s contemporaries are gone and a new generation of Double O agents has been recruited to replace them and battle a global threat.” Meanwhile, M and Moneypenny are searching for a mole inside MI6, IFP said.

“I’ve dreamt of writing James Bond,” Sherwood said in a statement. “I feel honoured to be the first novelist to expand the Bond universe through the Double O sector.” The author said the novels would bring “new life to old favourites, and fresh characters to the canon.”

The Guardian quoted Corinne Turner, managing director of IFP, as saying the new series will be launched in September 2022.

A third Bond novel by Anthony Horwitz is scheduled to be published in May 2022, according to HarperCollins. Horowitz previously wrote Trigger Mortis in 2015 and Forever and a Day in 2018.

British broadcaster claims Bond is not a fantasy

Spoilers for No Time to Die.

Last month, British broadcaster Simon Mayo in a broadcast had a spoiler discussion with film critic Mark Kermode about No Time to Die. Mayo, as part of the chat, claimed that James Bond is not a fantasy.

MAYO: Batman’s fantasy, isn’t it?…Bond isn’t fantasy and Batman is fantasy.

Kermode attempted to talk Mayo down from that notion. “Daniel Craig in Casino Royale is not playing the same character that Sean Connery was playing in Dr. No.”

Of course, back in 2006, Eon Productions said it was starting the Bond series over with Daniel Craig. Most Bond fans got that and Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson of Eon made clear the series had begun all over.

Casino Royale’s “Bond begins” approach came a year after director Christopher Nolan helmed a Batman movie where the Dark Knight began again. By now, the approach is old hat for Batman.

Still, Mayo said that notion doesn’t apply for Bond.

Still, Bond isn’t fantasy?

A few examples:

–Casino Royale (novel): Bond smokes 70 cigarettes a day and consumes a lot of alcohol.

–Dr. No (novel): Bond kills the villain by burying him in bird guano.

–Goldfinger (novel): The villain actually intends to steal all the gold from Fort Knox. When the novel was turned into a movie, the plot became detonating an atomic bomb inside Fort Knox. That’s much more realistic, I guess.

–You Only Live Twice (novel): The villain constructs a “garden of death” to entice suicide-inclined Japanese to kill themselves.

–You Only Live Twice (film): A villain’s base inside a volcano and a giant magnet used by the Japanese Secret Service to whisk enemy cars away and drop them in the bay. Don’t forget the “intruder missile” that captures space capsules.

–Live And Let Die: Gas pellets that cause an opponent to expand and explode.

–The Spy Who Loved Me: A tanker that can capture submarines.

— Moonraker: A space station that can launch deadly globes that can wipe out millions of people.

But Bond, a fantasy? Of course not.

This all began when I put a few tweets referring to Mayo as Kermode’s “sidekick.” I stand corrected. But few, if any, who objected to my referring to Mayo as a sidekick defended his actual position. They mostly were upset about use of the term sidekick.

Anyway, the video of the Kermode-Mayo exchange is below. The “fantasy” debate starts after the 3:00 mark.


RE-POST: The blog’s obit for Paul Baack from 2017

Paul Baack (1957-2017 ) in 2013, wearing headphones to utilize his voice-activated software.

Paul Baack, co-founder of Her Majesty’s Secret Servant, died four years ago today. I’m re-posting the obituary I published that day. 

Paul Baack, co-founder of the James Bond fan site Her Majesty’s Secret Servant, died today at 60.

Paul and Tom Zielinski began the site, intended as a James Bond “e-magazine,” in 1997. HMSS, according to the founders, was the equivalent of a “toy train” for them.

It was more, of course.

From 1997 until 2011, HMSS presented magazine-length articles about James Bond and related topics. Contributors included Raymond Benson, the 007 continuation novel author from 1997 to 2002.

Benson named a character after Paul in his 1999 Bond novel High Time to Kill.

Normally an obituary refers to its subject by his or her last name. But the Spy Commander, for this obit, will refer to him by his first name.

Paul, from the beginning, designed the HMSS pages. His graphics enhanced the articles. He had a way of prodding the authors to make their contributions just a little bit better. Paul would make suggestions to improve the articles.

Those suggestions came in the form of a gentle nudge, not a dictate. HMSS, after all, was a hobby — the toy train analogy — not life or death. Nevertheless, Paul’s instincts were excellent. He was right far more than he was wrong.

Paul Baack-designed promo for the fall 2011 issue of Her Majesty’s Secret Servant, the e-magazine’s last issue.

Paul led a tough life. In 2003, he was paralyzed after being struck by a car. Despite that, he carried on. He utilized voice-activated software to do his HMSS work and follow his various other interests, which included doing artwork such as THIS and THIS and THIS.

This blog was, in fact, Paul’s idea. He wanted a way for HMSS to have a presence on the internet between “issues.” The Spy Commander was among the HMSS contributors.

Eventually, I took over the blog. But I was always aware he was reading. I was always glad to receive his feedback.

HMSS had a good run. It went offline in 2014.

“Bond and Holly” by Paul Baack

Paul was one of the most memorable people I ever met. I cannot imagine the pain and suffering he endured since 2003. But he endured it with warmth, and grace and humor.

James Bond fandom is richer for what Paul and Tom Zielinski started. This blog, obviously, would not exist without Paul’s encouragement.

After HMSS went offline, the blog published THIS POST about how it was now on its own. Paul posted this comment:

“‘Upward and onward’ indeed! Heartfelt thanks to you, Bill, for keeping the flame.”

Thanks to you Paul, for lighting the flame in the first place.