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.

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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.

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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.

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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!