Second Raymond Benson anthology in the works

Over at,, 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). 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.

An unofficial James Bond short story

As we’ve discussed before, the British film historian Adrian Turner did a 1998 book on Goldfinger, the 1964 film that made 007 a huge film franchise. But the book also contained something else: a James Bond short story.

The story, The Scarlet Letter, is not an officially authorized Bond story. But, in the U.S. at least, there’s something called “fair use” of copyrighted material, which includes parody. We suspect Turner could make the case his story was a parody of Bond, something that would not be confused with the real thing.

However, the story combines elements of sometimes maligned fanfiction. In this case, Turner tied Goldfinger in with Marnie, the Alfred Hitchock film that starred Sean Connery.

The film historian Adrian Turner wrote what amounted to a piece of fanfiction in his 1998 book on Goldfinger where he, too, tied Bond to Marnie. In the piece, an aging Bond gets a letter from the daughter of Pussy Galore about the demise of her mother.

A few examples follow. First Bond reflecting on his past:

There was that dreadful year of 1978, when the garbage was piled high in the streets, the year when England seemed to go mad. Mrs Thatcher’s revolution brought about further turbulence and the England that Bond loved and defended vanished forever…Bond sold his flat for a song and left for Jamaica, where he bought a small but lovely house in the hills above Ochos Rios.

Bond gets a letter.

Bond studied the letter carefully. It was handwritten and postmarked in Boston a month earlier. None the wiser, Bond slit open the envelope, which contained a long letter and a smaller sealed envelope, which was slightly heavy. There was obviously a small object in it, hard and rectangular, about an inch long. He looked at the signature: Moorea Rutland. The name meant nothing to him.

Well, as it turns out the marriage of Mark Rutland (Connery’s Hitchcock character) to Marnie (the heroine of the Hitchcock film) wasn’t work out. Mark Rutland had an affair with Pussy Galore. Upon hearing this news, Marnie commits suicide. Mark and Pussy marry in 1967.

As it turns out that smaller envelope contains another letter and a couple of objects. The text of the second letter tells you all you need to know about who wrote it (at least if you’ve seen Goldfinger as often as we have.

Hi handsome!
I don’t have the words eo express what I feel. I think of you often and hope you are well and at peace with the world. I am unwell but I have found peace. All I have to remind me of you is this little momento of our time together.
Silly isn’t it?
All my Love, my darling James,

With the second note is the “slightly buckled” homer device that Bond had planted on the gangster Mr. Solo plus a small piece of paper with Mr. Solo’s “dired and faded blood on it.” Again, if you’ve seen the movie, you know what we’re talking about.

The payoff:

Bond held the Homer and the piece of paper for a long time, string into space and not resisting the tears which flooded into his eyes.

(Adrian Turner on Goldfinger, pages 180-187)

Penguin “Quantum of Solace” one of LA Times three favorites of 2008

quantumIn tomorrow’s (December 7, 2008) Los Angeles Times Books section, they have an editorial roundup of their favorite releases of 2008. In the “paperbacks” department, it’s a great pleasure to see the Ian Fleming short story omnibus, Quantum of Solace, listed as one of editor Richard Rayner’s three favorites of the year. recently published by Penguin, Quantum of Solace (ISBN-10: 0143114581) gathers together all the James Bond short fiction into one handy volume.

The tagline of Rayner’s article announces that “James Bond’s adventures in Quantum of Solace is a reminder of Ian Fleming’s talent.”

To which we say “hear, hear!,” and thus direct your attention to the full article.