If the literary James Bond were on Twitter

Part of the Twitter home page for @JB_UnivEX

Ever wonder what it would be like if the literary James Bond had been on Twitter? Well, @JB_UnivEx on Twitter has one interpretation.

The Twitter account debuted March 13, as Mr. Bond makes his first post.


Of course, Bond knows that Twitter is not a secured form of communication. That’s part of the fun of the @JB_UnivEX feed as Bond uses code names and euphemisms in his tweets.



Bond’s image on the Twitter handle is Hoagy Carmichael, keeping with Ian Fleming’s description. The blog doesn’t want to give too much away. But the events in France have concluded and he’s on his way home, expressing himself in a Twitter sort of way.


We’ll have to see how the literary Bond in the Twitterverse unfolds. The blog suspects this would qualify as fair use for being a parody (an obviously affectionate one).

Ian Fleming Responds to Concerned Fan Over the Death of 007 (1957)

Ian Fleming caused quite a stir in 1957 with the release of From Russia with Love, due in no small part to what seemed to be the death of James Bond at the novel’s close. In fact, so concerned were 007 fans that the author quickly amassed thousands of worried letters. Ever the storyteller, Fleming responded by way of charming letters similar to the one linked below.

HMSS found this to be particularly fascinating. Fleming writing as Sir James Molony? Genius!

Whither the literary 007?

Today’s Guardian carries a rather snidely-worded essay about the “surprisingly long list of authors who have written official 007 sequels.”

While taking time out to individually slag Kingsley Amis, John Gardner*, Raymond Benson, Sebastian Faulks, and Jeffrey Deaver, the article does hint at some corporate-level kibitzing — with the James Bond character and the individual continuation novels — by the Fleming family and the UK and US publishers. (This is something we’ve heard about [albeit secondhand] from John Gardner, and [directly] from Raymond Benson. Much like the Eon films, it would appear that the literary James Bond is also a factory-built product.)

You can read the post by James Harker, (the Guardian Student Writer of the Year 2010, whatever that means), JAMES BOND’S CHANGING INCARNATIONS , at the Guardian website. There is a “comments” section available for readers to chime in with their own opinion on the matter.

* To give the devil his due, the piece says Gardner’s 007 novels are “readable.”

UPDATE: And the Carte Blanche reviews continue to roll in…

(UPDATED JUNE 5, 2011)

The much-anticipated new James Bond novel Carte Blanche, by American thriller writer Jeffery Deaver, sees print today in the UK and Europe. A terrific publicity campaign, lasting for almost the previous year, has pushed the publication of this book to the level of a media event — something James Bond fans can be excited about, regardless of their personal reaction to the story.

The reviews are coming in. As with any James Bond vehicle, critical views are hugely leavened by subjectivity, depending on the critic’s personal experience(s) with 007’s fictional exploits in their own lives.

  • Jeremy Jehu, in the May 26 Telegraph gives the novel a very nice four-star review.
  • That same day, the Guardian‘s Stephen Poole was’nt, um… quite as happy with it.
  • Mark Sanderson of the London Evening Standard said, on May 26, Carte Blanche Is Another Fine Mr. Bond Yarn, in a positively glowing review.
  • In the May 27 Independent, Boyd Tonkin has a thoughtful, knowledgeable, and quite positive review.
  • Jennifer Selway, in the May 27 Scottish Daily Express, said it’s a “slightly mischievous take on Ian Fleming” in her 5/5 review.
  • May 29’s Sunday Guardian‘s Stephanie Merritt said “fans will approve of Jeffery Deaver’s James Bond” in her glowing review, a much different opinion from her colleague above.
  • The Independent‘s Alexandra Heminsley concurred with her colleague on May 29, saying “It’s hard to imagine anyone not being impressed by this novel” in her review from last Sunday.
  • Peter Millar, writing in Sunday’s the Times, states “Carte Blanche is a worthy homage to the myth, but it is hard to see how much longer publishers can go on making silk purses from a franchise that is a bit of a sow’s ear” in his three-star review of May 29.
  • In the June 3 Financial Times, Ludovic Hunter-Tilney tells us the history of the post-Fleming James Bond, in a knowledgeable piece that fans would do well to take in. The article culminates in a rather unenthusiastic review of Carte Blanche: “[Deaver’s] Bond is truer to today’s culture of managerial efficiency, but he has also lost much in the translation. 007 fans might have to face an unpalatable truth: their man is a shadow of himself in the 21st century.” Read Relicensed to kill, and think for yourself.
  • The June 4 issue of Ireland’s Independent carries an anonymously-written review that sings Deaver’s praises but has reservations about Carte Blanche: “It’s pretty entertaining, but it’s not a great Bond novel — nor a great Deaver one.” You can read the whole review here.
  • The Sunday Express of June 5 carries its second review. This time, critic Angela McGee says: “…Carte Blanche is excellent fun, a great read and Jeffrey Deaver has breathed new life into an old favourite.” Read the rest of her enthusiastic review here.

Keep watching this space, as we’ll update it with further reviews as they come in. If you haven’t read it yet, check out The HMSS Interview with Carte Blanche author Jeffrey Deaver!

Author Jeffrey Deaver and James Bond's Bentley Continental GT

Ian McKellen to Play “Goldfinger” in New Radio Production

Ian McKellen to Play “Goldfinger” in New Radio Production

Toby Stephens will voice James Bond and Rosamund Pike will play Pussy Galore in this BBC Radio 4 production that is to be a faithful dramatization of the Fleming novel.

Interesting concept with some major talent involved. Though “Goldfinger” was really one of Fleming’s weaker novels, I’m very interested to hear this version.

Tom Zielinski

2002: Turning point for the film and literary 007

Sometimes, you’re not really aware you’ve hit a turning point until well after the fact. For the world of James Bond — in both his cinema and literary incarnations — one such turning point was 2002.

At the time, the year seemed to be normal for 007. The 40th anniversary of the film series hit and included Die Another Day, the 20th film in the series produced by Eon Productions. Box office receipts certainly seemed good (the film had two straight weeks as No. 1). Meanwhile, another continuation novel, The Man With the Red Tatoo was published. It seemed liked everything would continue.

However, the seeds for change were already being sown. Despite Pierce Brosnan saying publicly he had been asked back by Eon, the film makers were again talking about how exhausting the Bond series was and not being sure where the Bond films would go next. Within 18 months, Brosnan was out as 007 and Eon began a search that would end with the casting of Daniel Craig.

On the literary side, a new regime had taken over at the former Glidrose, now calling itself Ian Fleming Publications. Raymond Benson’s run as author of 007 continuation novels was over after six novels. In an interview on the Commander Bond site, Benson said the change was by mutual agreement.

Bond fans are still feeling those chanes today. There hasn’t been a “regular” Bond movie since Die Another Day. Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace essentially were a two-part “Bond Begins” reboot.

Despite the recent announcement about a Bond 23 screenwriting team, there hasn’t been a firm release date disclosed. 2011 would seem to be the earliest date possible. Over on the literary side, there has only been one adult Bond novel since 2002: Devil May Care, published last year — and published as a one-shot, with author Sebastian Faulks saying he won’t do a second. What’s more, Devil May Care reflected one major change of course, having the story be a period piece instead of a timeshifted tale, a la the continuation novels of John Gardner and Raymond Benson.

Where all this is leading remains to be seen. But what is clear is that 2002 was the last year of business as ususal for 007, something that wasn’t readily apparent at the time.

Happy 101st, to Ian Fleming and Ernst Stavro Blofeld

May 28th marked the 101st anniversary of the births of Ian Fleming (real) and Ernst Stavro Blofeld (fictional, as disclosed in the Thunderball novel).

What the hell — happy birthday gentlemen!

More about 007’s alcohol intake

After recovering from our hangover re-reading James Bond’s impressive drinking in Goldfinger, we had to go back over some our old copies of Ian Fleming novels.

For example, there’s the first page of Thunderball:

He had a hangover, a bad one, with an aching head and stiff joints…The one drink too many signals itself unmistakably. His final whisky and sode and in the luxurious flat in Park Lane had been no different than the ten preceding ones, but it had done down reluctantly and had left a bitter taste and an ugly sensation of surfeit.

ELEVEN whisky and sodas? We hope he didn’t try driving home.

Anyway, let’s go a few novels ahead and look at the first chapter of You Only Live Twice. He’s with Tiger Tanaka, head of Japan’s secret service, and some women companions. The two men are having a contest of sorts. Bond remarks:

“All right, Tiger. But first, more sake! And not in these ridiculous thimbles. I’ve drunk five flasks of the stuff and its effect is about the same as one double martini.”

Yeah, just one double martini. What a wuss that Tanaka was.

How much booze did 007 consume, anyway?

Short answer: a lot. Slightly longer answer: an impressive amount. One of our favorite examples from the literary Bond:

Golfinger: Ian Fleming’s seventh 007 begins with James Bond in the Miami airport “with two double bourbons inside him” and nursing a third. Bond is rather moody, thinking about life and death, in particular how quickly death can arrive. Then, Bond’s flight to New York is delayed until the next day.

Bond had forgotten his drink. He picked it up, and, tilting his head back, swallowed the bourbon to the last drop.

(Goldfinger, page 11, Macmillan Company edition)

OK, that’s three double bourbons. Now, Bond has decided to get drunk. (We hope he’s not planning on renting a car around this time.) Then, he runs into Junius Du Pont (not one of the chemical Du Ponts), who had been a gambler the secret agent encountered in Fleming’s first novel, Casino Royale.

Du Pont suggests they share a drink. Bond orders another bourbon on the rocks. Since Bond has to stay the night, Du Pont suggests they go out to dinner. After arriving, Du Pont suggests a cocktail “to start.” Bond orders a vodka Martini and Du Pont likes the idea and orders one himself. When the drinks arrive, Du Pont instructs that another two more be brought in TEN minutes.

When dinner arrives, the men consume pink champagne along with crabs for dinner.

The champagne seemed to have the faintest scent of strawberries. It was ice cold. After each helping of crab, the champagne cleared the palate for the next.

(Goldfinger, page 19, Macmillan edition)

There’s probably more here, but we’re getting hungover just re-reading this.

Second Raymond Benson anthology in the works

Over at CommanderBond.net,, the Web site is reporting that a second Raymond Benson anthology has been announced.

The tentative title, according to the site, is Choice of Weapons. Included: the novels Zero Minus Ten, The Facts of Death and The Man With the Red Tattoo plus the short stories Midsummer Night’s Doom and Live at Five.

Of the short stories, Midsummers Night Doom first appeared in Playboy and features Bond at the Playboy Mansion and we learn that Hugh Hefner, well…read it for yourself. Live at Five first ran in TV Guide.

The first Benson anthlogy, The Union Trilogy consisted of three novels utilizing a villainous group called the Union plus an unabridged version of the short story Blast From the Past (about a third longer than the version that ran in Playboy).

CommanderBond.net says there’s no firm publishing date for Choice of Weapons but it may come out in 2010.

Benson’s 007 continuation novels, movie novelizations and short stories were published from 1997 through 2002. His final year at the helm for Ian Fleming Publications included Red Tattoo and the novelization of Die Another Day.