Alan J. Porter discusses his James Bond Lexicon project

Promo for The James Bond Lexicon

Promo for The James Bond Lexicon

Writer Alan J. Porter is coming out with a new reference work, The James Bond Lexicon. He’s also at work on a similar project concerning The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Porter discussed both projects in an e-mail interview. The Bond project is further along and within a few months of being published.

QUESTION: Please describe the format and organization of The James Bond Lexicon and The Lexicon Affair about U.N.C.L.E. About when will each be published?

PORTER: The Lexicon series from Hasslein Books (http://www.hassleinbooks.com) are encyclopedia style references guides related to various pop-culture franchises. They already have volumes on The Planet of the Apes, Back to the Future, and Red Dwarf. My wife, Gill, and I will be adding volumes on James Bond and U.N.C.L.E.

First up will be “The James Bond Lexicon” which will cover the world of 007 across all media, movies, novels, TV, and comics. The manuscript is currently with the publishers for copy-editing, and given it’s size (about 700 pages in total) we are discussing the possibility that it will be published as a two-volume set. Publication is slated for end of September, early October this year — around the same time that SPECTRE hits the movie screens.

While the Bond book is in production we have started writing “The Lexicon Affair: A Guide to the world of U.N.C.L.E.” This will cover both Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Girl from U,N.C.L.E. in TV, movies, novels, short stories, and comics. As we are relatively early in the writing stage we don’t have a publication date set just yet.

QUESTION: What do The James Bond Lexicon and The Lexicon Affair bring to the table compared with other books such as Raymond Benson’s James Bond Bedside Companion or Jon Heitland’s Man From U.N.C.L.E. Book or Cynthia W. Walker’s Work/Text Investigating The Man From U.N.C.L.E.?

PORTER: I believe that these will be the first books to comprehensively cover the franchises in detail across the full range of media. Plus they will be as up to date as possible. For instance the Bond Lexicon includes entries from the recent Stephen Cole authored Young Bond novel, Shoot to Kill.

The U.N.C.L.E. book will cover the upcoming movie reboot along with the classic series. The book style is more of an encyclopedia reference rather than a critical review style, although there will be a few supporting essays touching on items such as series continuity (or lack of) and the enduring popularity of the two franchises.

QUESTION: Did your encounter any surprises while researching each book?

PORTER: I think the biggest surprise from working on the Bond Lexicon was just how many different officially sanctioned interpretations of James Bond there has been over the years. I’m not talking about between actors, but distinctly different back-stories, ways of operating, time periods etc.

We grouped various Bonds together by loose continuity; for instance we considered that the Connery-Lazenby-Moore-Dalton-Brosnan Bond was a single Bond, while the Craig Bond was a completely new Bond.

Similarly, we counted the Fleming, Gardner, Benson Bonds as being three separate incarnations and so on. In the end we counted 18 different James Bonds. And I’m sure not everyone will agree with the way we defined those different Bonds either.

It’s early days on the U.N.C.L.E work so I can’t say that we’ve discovered any major surprises yet (although I’m sure we will). One initial observation is the appalling lack of consistency, often even within the same story. It’s making for some interesting discussions around how, and where, certain entries will go in the book.

QUESTION: What are the similarities, as you see them, between James Bond and Napoleon Solo? The differences?

PORTER: It’s often been stated that Ian Fleming designed Solo to be “Bond for the small screen” with the same basic traits and attitudes of a “suave sophisticated secret agent” with an eye for the ladies. But I think it’s fair to say that beyond that superficial description the two characters clearly diverged over the years.

Bond has that rougher edge, the underlying truth that he is a violent man, a “blunt instrument,” out to do a dirty job. In many ways Bond is the archetype lone stranger who arrives, sorts out the problem, and leaves.

Solo (ironically given his name) became the opposite of that, he is a team player, and part of double act where the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. Solo is less of the blunt instrument and more of the protector.

QUESTION: Who were you a fan of first? Bond or Solo? How did you become a fan of each? (Or are you a fan of each?)

PORTER: I can clearly date the start of my interest in Bond to the winter of 1965 and playing the Thunderball board game at a friends house, but with U.N.C.L.E. it’s always been more of a case of general awareness that probably started around the same time. I had both the Corgi Aston-Martin DB5 and the THRUSH buster toys, read Bond comics in the newspapers and U.N.C.L.E. comics in TV Tornado each week. Obviously U.N.C.L.E. faded into the background and Bond became more prominent because of the franchise’s continuing presence in the public eye, but I never forgot the guys in the secret headquarters behind the tailor’s shop.

QUESTION: Both Bond and Solo will have a film adventure in 2015, SPECTRE and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. What are you looking for from each one? What needs to happen for each film to be considered a success?

PORTER: Wow – the answer to that could be an essay all of its own.

I will say I was disappointed that they actually used SPECTRE as the title of the next Bond movie. I would have much preferred that the revelation about the return of SPECTRE would have come from the plot and been a surprise (much like the fate of M in Skyfall). Having said that, like most people I believe, I’m hoping for a return to some of the good old classic Bond movie tropes we’ve been missing for a while. The end of Skyfall hinted at it, I just hope they follow through with something that has the same vibe as movies like From Russia With Love, or On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

With the U.N.C.L.E. movie my underlying hope is that they respect the source material, unlike certain recent Hollywood abominations (Green Hornet for instance). It looks like they have the tone and period right from what we’ve seen in the trailer so far although I was disappointed not to hear the classic TV show theme used. My fingers are crossed that it will be a fun ride and one that reinvigorates interest in the franchise bringing more people back to discovering the TV show. Then maybe I can wear my U.N.C.L.E. logo t-shirt without people asking me what it stands for.

QUESTION: Daniel Craig is now filming his fourth Bond film. What is your analysis of his tenure?

PORTER: I’ll be honest I’m still not sure. I thought Casino Royale was great, and loved his portrayal of Bond in that, although he was too old to be a Double-O at the start of his career. Hated Quantum of Solace, but I think that was more to do with the weak story and the frantic style of direction.

Skyfall left me conflicted, loved it at first but on each rewatch I dislike it more and more. Craig definitely plays the aging agent well, but, to put it bluntly, his Bond in Skyfall is simply incompetent. I’m looking forward to SPECTRE being the movie when the Craig era redeems itself in my eyes.

QUESTION: Henry Cavill, the new Solo, lost out to Craig to play Bond. How do you think he may do as Solo? (Right now, all we have to go on is a trailer.)

PORTER: From the short glimpses of him in the trailer he looks well suited to the part (much more so than he is to the Superman role). He’s an actor I’ve enjoyed watching over the years, although I’m not sure he would have worked as Bond either, and hopefully Solo will be his breakout franchise role.

QUESTION: A book is always hard work, but has either, or both, been fun to do?

PORTER: There is always a point about midway through any book project where you think, “What the hell am I doing this for.” The Bond Lexicon turned out to be a much bigger project than we first thought and ended up taking about three years to find everything and do the research. There was a point when we never wanted to look at anything Bond related again, but it didn’t last long. We’ve had so much support and interest from friends and fellow fans in the Bond community that it’s been a wonderful experience. We can’t wait to share the results of all that work later this year.

The U.N.C.L.E. book is great fun to do, and as we haven’t seen most of the material in decades, and in some cases this is the first time we’ve read many of the spin-off stories, it’s like rediscovering the franchise all over again.

For more about The James Bond Lexicon, CLICK HERE. For more about The Lexicon Affair, CLICK HERE. For Alan J. Porter’s website, CLICK HERE.

 

Book Bond: No U.S. print edition of Young Bond novel

The Book Bond website, IN A POST BY JOHN COX, reports there are no plans for a U.S. print edition of Shoot to Kill, the first Young Bond novel written by Steve Cole.

According to the website, a reader contacted Cole’s literary agent, Curtis Brown. The agent advised there weren’t plans “at the moment” for Shoot to Kill to be published in the United States and that getting a British edition was the best way to proceed.

Cole took on the assignment of writing Young Bond stories after five novels by Charlie Higson. Cole’s story line was described thusly by IAN FLEMING PUBLICATIONS: “Expelled from Eton and determined never to trust again, James Bond’s plans for a solitary summer are dashed by the discovery of a gruesome film reel – a reel someone is willing to kill for.”

To read The Book Bond post, CLICK HERE.

Canada may change copyright laws

"I may not be in the public domain in Canada afterall?"

“I may not be in the public domain in Canada afterall?”

Canada may change its copyright laws as part of trade negotiations, which could squelch publication of new, unauthorized James Bond stories.

Here’s an excerpt from a Feb. 7 story in THE HUFFINGTON POST.

The U.S.’s controversial “Mickey Mouse Protection Act” — the name given by critics to a particularly strong copyright term law — may be coming to Canada thanks to a new trade deal.

There’s plenty we don’t know about what’s been agreed to in the negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership, largely because of a monolithic veil of secrecy surrounding the talks (although many of Canada’s lobbyists have reportedly been given access).

But according to a news brief from Japan’s NHK, negotiators working on the 12-country TPP trade area have come to an agreement on the copyright chapter of the trade deal. Under the agreement, copyright terms would be extended to the life of the creator plus 70 years.

You can view view the NHK item BY CLICKING HERE. It’s short and vague, referring to how trade negotiators “are a step closer” to change.

The literary 007 is controlled by Ian Fleming Publications, managed by the heirs of James Bond creator Ian Fleming.

In Canada, the literary Bond entered public domain on Jan. 1. Under copyright law there, protection lasts 50 years after the author’s death. That prompted the announcement of AN UNAUTHORIZED ANTHOLOGY OF JAMES BOND STORIES CALLED LICENCE EXPIRED to be published in that country. The copyright law may endanger that project. For more, you can view THIS STORY on the MI6 James Bond website.

A couple of questions, though, to keep in mind: If Canada changes its copyright laws, when would it take effect? (Immediately? Some future date?) Depending on that answer, is still possible the unauthorized Bond stories could see print before the law changes? If the answer to that question is yes, the anthology could become a bit of a Bond collector’s item.

Our modest proposal for the title of the newest 007 novel

Jim Murray, ace Los Angeles Times columnist

Jim Murray, ace Los Angeles Times columnist

So, Anthony Horowitz, the author hired to write the newest James Bond continuation novel, let it be known this month he’s delivered his manuscript and he approves of the cover for the U.K. edition.

It’s probably too late to make this modest suggestion for the title. It’s based on the previously disclosed information the novel is based on an Ian Fleming idea for a never-made James Bond television series and it involves a setting in the world of auto racing.

The Fleming story idea was titled Death on Wheels, but Horowitz has previously said that won’t be the title of the novel.

But what would be a good title? Well, one of the best U.S. sports writers of the 20th century provides something worth considering.

“Gentlemen, start your coffins,” Jim Murray, sports columnist of the Los Angeles Times, wrote in a column about the Indianapolis 500 published in 1966.

At the time Murray penned those words, the Indy 500 was at its height as the pre-eminent auto race in the world. In the 1960s, the 500 was so big, the stars of Formula One and NASCAR came to Indianapolis to compete in the event. In 1965 and 1966, Formula One stars won the race.

But the 500 could also prove deadly. As late the as the 1980s, The Associated Press news service would send to member newspapers a list of all fatalities that occurred during the race over the years. Meanwhile, Murray’s line for his Indy 500 column was just one of many memorable comments he wrote over a long career. Murray died in 1998.

Raymond Benson observations on 007 and other topics

Raymond Benson's Die Another Day remains the most recent 007 film novelization. Photo copyright © Paul Baack

Raymond Benson, circa late 1990s. Photo by Paul Baack.

Raymond Benson, 007 scholar and one-time James Bond continuation novel author, granted an interview to the SIRENS OF SUSPENSE WEBSITE.

Here are a few of his observations.

About writing his 007 continuation novels and short stories:

“I grew up with Bond and (Ian) Fleming. I knew the universe inside-and-out…and I believe that’s why the people at the Fleming Estate hired me.”

On his favorite Bond actor:

Sean Connery will always be my favorite: he’s the iconic Bond, the guy against everyone else will be measured. That said, I feel the most accurate portrayal of Fleming’s literary Bond was that of Timothy Dalton.

On the chances Idris Elba will ever play 007:

As for the Elba discussion, it’s a moot point. Mr. Elba is a fine actor and could certainly do the role, but he’s aleady too old.

When the computers of Sony Pictures were hacked, one disclosure that emerged was that Sony executive Amy Pascal voiced a preference for Elba (born Sept. 6, 1972) to succeed Daniel Craig (b. 1968) in the role. Craig is currently filming SPECTRE, due for release in November and his contract calls for one more 007 film after that.

On whether Benson might every get the chance to do another 007 novel:

The Estate has never re-hired an author, just as the film producers are never going to re-hire Brosnan or Dalton.

Benson’s last Bond novel and 007 movie novelization were both published in 2002.

To view the entire interview, CLICK HERE.

007 Tweets of note from Jeremy Duns, Anthony Horowitz

On Sunday, Jan. 25, two rather interesting posts on Twitter emerged related to the world of James Bond.

The first was from journalist and author Jeremy Duns. He came across a 1963 story in the Daily Express indicating that, at one time, Bond co-producer Harry Saltzman was interesting in having actor-playwright Robert Shaw script a 007 film.

Shaw, of course, played Red Grant in 1963’s From Russia With Love. There are no details about what Bond project this might have been for.

Generally speaking, screenwriter Richard Maibaum was close to Albert R. Broccoli, the other Bond co-producer. Saltzman was always on the lookout for other scribes, including Len Deighton (who did uncredited work on From Russia With Love), Paul Dehn (Goldfinger) and John Hopkins (Thunderball).

Duns previously has detailed the work screenwriter Ben Hecht did for producer Charles K. Feldman’s ill-fated 1967 Casino Royale film. Duns researched how Hecht had a more serious take in mind. Duns has a e-book on the subject, ROGUE ROYALE.

The other Tweet came from Anthony Horwitz, writer of the next James Bond continuation novel coming out this fall.

The author, as it turns out, was watching the 1974 movie on television. On Jan. 15, HE TWEETED he had delivered his Bond novel. On Jan. 22, HE TWEETED that he had seen the cover, calling it “perfect.”

UPDATE: Horowitz later engaged in a dialogue with other Twitter users.

One commented to Horowitz that the Golden Gun novel isn’t one of Fleming’s best novels. Horowitz’s reply: “True. But that rubber nipple? Oh dear.” In a separate response, he said of the 1974 movie’s car jump: “Great stunt. But the sound and the sheriff? Oh dear.”

He was then informed by freelance writer and author Jeffrey Westhoff, “Slide whistle was John Barry’s choice, which he later regretted. But director, etc. could have nixed it.” Horowitz’s reply: “That’s a very interest piece of movie trivia!”

New book with unauthorized 007 stories to be published

"I'm in the public domain in Canada? Really?"

“I’m in the public domain in Canada? Really?”

The literary James Bond — at least the original Ian Fleming stories — is now public domain in Canada, 50 years after the death of the author. Thus, a new 007 anthology book is being published in that country that’s not commissioned by Ian Fleming Publications.

Here’s an excerpt from a PRESS RELEASE BY CHIZINE PUBLICATIONS:

TORONTO, Ontario (January 19, 2015) — Independent Toronto publisher ChiZine Publications announces they will be publishing a new anthology of short stories featuring James Bond now that Ian Fleming’s work has entered the public domain in Canada. The anthology, titled Licence Expired: The Unauthorized James Bond, will be edited by Toronto authors Madeline Ashby (vN, iD; Company Town) and David Nickle (Knife Fight and Other Struggles,The ’Geisters, Eutopia).

“We want to feature original, transformative stories set in the world of Secret Agent 007,” says Nickle. “We’re hoping our contributors will combine the guilty-pleasure excitement of the vintage Fleming experience with a modern critique of it.”

“This is an opportunity to comment on the Bond universe from within it,” adds Ashby. “We’re specifically looking for writers and stories that would make Fleming roll in his grave.”

Earlier this month, the Io9 website HAD A POST explaining what this means. The literary Bond still is under IFP copyright in the United States and the European Union (it’s the author’s life plus 70 years). But, in Canada, you can write and publish a James Bond story.

Licenced Expired is due out in November. Its publication comes as IFP is preparing a new continuation 007 novel by Anthony Horowitz scheduled to debut in September. Licenced Expired, of course, will have more limited distribution.

For more details, you can view posts in THE DEVIL’S EXERCISE YARD and BOINGBOING.

UPDATE (Jan. 22): THE BOOK BOND website passed along the URL of A POST BY MADELINE ASHBY, one of the co-editors of this venture.

Ashby already caught the eye of Bond fans when she said in the press release the goal would be to generate stories to make Ian Fleming “roll in his grave.”

In the Jan. 19 post, Ashby adds some additional anti-Fleming comments, saying 007’s creator “seemed to despise gay people, people of colour, people without money, his mother…the list goes on. Wouldn’t an anthology be a better way of collecting those voices in a chorus? Doesn’t the public domain mean that the public now has an opportunity to make this story — this overwhelmingly white, straight, English story about maintaining the strength of Her Majesty’s empire — their own?”

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