IFP teases an announcement for Oct. 5 (err, 5-Oct.)

Ian Fleming Publications today teased an announcement for Oct. 5 (or 5-October, if you prefer).

Early today, U.S. time, the company that controls the literary Bond, said on Twitter there would be an announcement on Oct. 5, 2022. That’s the date of so-called James Bond Day. That matches up with Oct. 5, 1962, when the film adaptation of Dr. No debuted.

But the tweet soon disappeared. The first version used the U.S. version of dates (month-day-year). There was a response (I forget from whom) objecting that it should be the international system (day-month-year).

I have no idea if that was a factor, but a new IFP tweet soon appeared with the international dating system.

“James Bond Day” goes back to 2012 as a way by Eon Productions to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Dr. No’s premiere. Fans have subsequently embraced it. There is often fan speculation each year if there is a big announcement coming related to 007.

IFP has just launched a new trilogy by author Kim Sherwood set in the present day (or near future) featuring new 00-agents. Bond himself is missing and may be dead. Naturally, fans are curious about what IFP has in mind with this upcoming announcement.

As usual, we’ll see.

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.

Reviews arrive for Double or Nothing

Double or Nothing, Kim Sherwood’s novel that expands the James Bond literary universe of 00-agents, is officially published Sept. 1 in the U.K. Reviews already are coming in

What follows are non-spoiler excerpts. James Bond is missing. Sherwood introduces a new cast of agents. They are directly overseen by Moneypenny. After a trilogy of Anthony Horwitz Bond continuation novels in the Ian Fleming timeline, the new Sherwood book timeshifts to the present day (or near future) with a plot related to climate change.

ROBERT CRAMPTON, THE TIMES: “The problem I had with Double or Nothing isn’t Kim Sherwood’s cultural update, it’s that James Bond, missing presumed dead, isn’t in it. So we get a Bond book without Bond. Which means we get a decent but nothing special spy thriller, better than Fleming in one way (because Fleming was a mediocre writer), but far inferior in the only way that matters. Because Fleming had one stroke of genius, namely creating this one fabulous character, the premier fictional star of the late 20th century. And Sherwood chooses to place this star, this legend, this 101-year-old king of cars and costume, coitus and cloak and dagger, not to mention luxury travel, off stage. Weird one.”

DAVID LEIGH, THE JAMES BOND DOSSIER: “The author, Kim Sherwood, is someone I was unfamiliar with but her writing is fast paced and she throws you right into the action from the start. While James Bond is MIA he looms in the background and there are many familiar elements and characters throughout the book…There are a whole host of characters, both from previous Bond books and new Double-O agents. Reflecting the modern world these characters are a much more diverse bunch than those appearing in Ian Fleming’s works. Most of the time they work perfectly well, at times it feels a little forced.”

SAM TYLER, SFBOOK.COM: “This is a thoroughly modern Bond book that brings (Ian) Fleming’s voice into 2022 and promises the future…The young agents also feel fresh, diverse, and deadly…Sherwood plays up the duplicitous nature of the agents. There are few people less trustworthy than someone who lies for a living…Rather than disturbing the legacy of Bond, (Double or Nothing) gives the franchise some new legs.”

In the United States, Double or Nothing won’t be published until April 2023. That follows the pattern of recent Bond continuation novels from Ian Fleming Publications.

An excerpt of Double or Nothing is published

Relatively minor spoilers. But those who are super spoiler adverse should leave now.

The Times today published an excerpt of Kim Sherwood’s Double or Nothing novel, which introduces new 00-agents.

The excerpt is a briefing scene between Moneypenny, now in charge of the 00s, and agent 004, Joseph Dryden.

Dryden is a veteran of the British military. “Moneypenny considered 004 the most experienced of her new generation of Double-0s,” Sherwood writes.

Essentially, the scene covered in the excerpt spells out the stakes of the story. Climate change is a big theme in the story. A tech billionaire “claims he can reverse the climate crisis and save the planet,” according to an Amazon promo of the novel.

Sherwood is introducing new 00-agents, with James Bond missing.

The Times also published an interview with Sherwood. The author says James Bond creator Ian Fleming “has influenced me hugely.”

In the interview, Sherwood said Ian Fleming Publications “wanted to expand the universe, widen it out.”

The Times summarized it this way: “Along the way, it makes Fleming’s cast of MI6 spies less male and less white than before.” Dryden is British-Jamaican. Johanna Harwood (named after a screenwriter of Dr. No and From Russia With Love), 003, has a French-Algerian mother, The Times said. Sid Bashir, 009, is British-Asian.

The excerpt and interview can be found by CLICKING HERE. The stories are behind a paywall.

Without whom, etc. (58th anniversary)

Double or Nothing contest announced

A contest has been announced where 15 winners will get tickets to an event with Kim Sherwood, author of Double or Nothing, the “James Bond novel without James Bond.”

The event will be held on Aug. 31 in London. It is open to U.K. or Irish residents, except for employees of HarperCollins.

A few details from the website.

We are offering 15 lucky readers the chance to win a pair of tickets to join author Kim Sherwood in London to celebrate the publication of her new novel Double or Nothing.

This exclusive event will take place at 6.30pm on Wednesday 31st August at The News Building in London.

Kim Sherwood will be live in conversation with Vipul Patel from the James Bond & Friends podcast, talking all things Bond and discussing the process of writing Double or Nothing.

To enter the competition, simply email fictionmarketing@harpercollins.co.uk with your full name and postal address and use the subject header Double or Nothing Event Competition.

T&Cs apply, see below. You must be over 18 to enter. Travel costs are not included.

The website has more details about deadline for entries. Winners will also get a signed copy of the book.

The book is to be published next month. A number of James Bond fan websites have already received advanced copies to help promote the novel.

Double or Nothing depicts James Bond as missing and new 00-agents are taking up the slack. They are: “Johanna Harwood, 003. Joseph Dryden, 004. Sid Bashir, 009. Together, they represent the very best and brightest of MI6. Skilled, determined and with a licence to kill, they will do anything to protect their country,” according to a promo.

Cover for Double or Nothing unveiled

The cover for Kim Sherwood’s Double or Nothing was unveiled today as marketing for the novel is picking up.

Sherwood shared the image on Twitter.

At the same time, Sherwood hinted the U.S. edition may have a different cover.

“For folks in America, watch this space for more on the US release…” she said in a follow-up post on Twitter.

On June 27, Sherwood said on Substack she has been “pre-recording interviews about Double or Nothing with podcasts and YouTube channels for release in September.”

Double or Nothing is a sort of “James Bond novel without James Bond.” Bond is missing and Sherwood introduces new 00 agents, including one named after one-time 007 screenwriter Johanna Harwood.

A number of James Bond websites have also received advanced copies of Sherwood’s novel with embargoes for when they can write about it.

A few thoughts about With a Mind to Kill

Anthony Horowitz has completed his James Bond continuation novel trilogy. While there’s a lot to recommend it, there are some things to consider.

Horowitz is a pro. He paces his stories well. He’s done his research on Ian Fleming’s original novels and short stories. And, with his first two Bond novels (but not With a Mind to Kill), he got to mine some unpublished Fleming material.

At the same time, Horowitz closely ties his Bond adventures to Fleming’s timeline. Essentially, he provides extended annexes to Fleming. Forever and a Day takes place shortly before Casino Royale. Trigger Mortis occurs shortly after Goldfinger. With a Mind to Kill starts two weeks after The Man With the Golden Gun.

Horowitz’s ending for his final Bond novel builds a wall between it and Colonel Sun by Kingsley Amis, the first Bond continuation novel published in 1968. In fact, Horowitz, in the acknowledgments doesn’t refer to Amis but his pen name, Robert Markham. Horowitz’s ending is intended as the final word on Fleming’s Bond.

Writing a Bond continuation novel isn’t easy. Detractors say some books are James Bond in name only. Other critics will say other Bond continuation books are mere pastiche, a faded copy of an original.

Even a gifted writer such as Horowitz, in With a Mind to Kill, felt the need to use footnotes. It’s a more restrained version of the editor’s notes that Stan Lee used in Marvel comic books to clue new readers into the events of prior issues.

Is With a Mind to Kill worth a reader’s time? If the reader is a fan of the literary Bond, certainly.

Still, after completing this new novel, I was reminded of how Ian Fleming was an original. Fleming crammed 90 years of living into a little more than 56.

Horowitz himself acknowledges this.

“Bond is a unique creation,” he writes in the acknowledgments. “The books have had an extraordinary impact all over the world. It makes me proud to think that from now on I may be a footnote in his history.”

That won’t stop Ian Fleming Publications. Kim Sherwood’s upcoming “James Bond novels without James Bond” are coming up.

Still, I think of a friend of mine. He tells me he re-reads the Flemings every year. He calls it rereading the Scriptures.

A sampling of With a Mind to Kill reviews

With a Mind to a Kill, the third James Bond continuation novel by Anthony Horowitz, is out.

The new novel is set after the events of Ian Fleming’s last novel, The Man With the Golden Gun. Here are some excerpts from reviews. Some spoilers follow. So go no further if you don’t wish to view them.

JAMES OWEN, THE TIMES (LONDON): Horowitz’s novel “has Bond pretending that he succeeded in shooting M, for whom a fake funeral is staged. The plan is for 007 to ‘escape’ to Moscow, like the real-life traitor George Blake.”

“Bond in the USSR is a neat conceit, but it’s not an escapist one. Although some of the quite short novel takes place in a swish hotel, shabby Moscow in the 1960s has little of the glamour that distinguishes the character (and not just in the films) from what George Lazenby might have termed ‘the other guys’. “

KIRKUS REVIEWS: “Horowitz completes his James Bond trilogy—begun in Trigger Mortis (2015) and Forever and a Day (2018)—by providing what would be the nonpareil British spy’s final adventure if only all those other earlier scribes hadn’t preceded him at the feast….Not nearly as ingenious as Horowitz’s meta-whodunits but well above average among post–Ian Fleming Bonds.”

AJAY CHOWDHURY, MI6 HQ.COM: “We live in an age where the tale of the movie Bond wags the dog of literary Bond. For the person given carte blanche to renew Bond’s literary licence for a solo mission every few years, they must conceive of a genuinely novelistic conceit that surprises and delights the wizened reader. It can be a thankless mission….Horowitz’s tale is dense with detail on period Moscow and the verisimilitude of psychological warfare.”

The Times provides a preview of Horowitz’s new Bond novel

Cover for With a Mind to Kill

The Times, one of publisher Rupert Murdoch’s “respectable” U.K. publications (as opposed to his trashy tabloids), has provided a preview of Anthony Horowitz’s third James Bond continuation novel, With a Mind to Kill. The novel is scheduled to be published at the end of this month.

Horowitz’s new story begins with a funeral. After a botched attempt to kill M by a brainwashed 007 in Golden Gun, M’s “burial” is now arranged and faked to fool the Russians, allowing Bond, who has now got his patriotic senses back, to go back behind the Iron Curtain to collect intelligence.

Bond must ingratiate himself with evil Colonel Boris, an expert in mind control with a place called “the magic room” in his lair, where 007 has already endured isolation, psychedelic drugs and torture.

Horowitz told The Times he penned the tale “long before the invasion [of Ukraine] began. And I’m just aware that I don’t want to be, as it were, promoting it on the back of what’s happening. It’s difficult, but it is timely, that’s for sure.” 

Russian leader Vladimir Putin is a former official in the KGB. He is suspected of ordering the murders of his opponents.

Horowitz’s continuation novels are based on the timeline of Ian Fleming’s original Bond novels. Trigger Mortis took place in the middle of the Fleming timeline (after the events of Goldfinger) while Forever And a Day took place before Fleming’s debut novel Casino Royale.

With a Mind to Kill occurs toward the end of the Fleming literary timeline. Various Bond websites have already received their advance copies so expect a surge of reviews at the end of this month.