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.

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.

More details available about new Sherwood novel

More details have been released via Amazon concerning Double or Nothing, Kim Sherwood’s upcoming novel about new Double-O agents.

The novel’s listing on Amazon has some plot details and the names and code numbers of the new agents.

James Bond is missing…
007 has been captured, perhaps even killed, by a sinister private military company. His whereabouts are unknown.
 
Meet the new generation of spies…
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.
 
The fate of the world rests in their hands…
Tech billionaire Sir Bertram Paradise claims he can reverse the climate crisis and save the planet. But can he really? The new spies must uncover the truth, because the future of humanity hangs in the balance.
 
Time is running out.

Johanna Harwood also is the name of a screenwriter on the first two James Bond films produced by Eon Productions, Dr. No and From Russia With Love. She’s kind of the forgotten creative figure of the early Bond movies.

Ian Fleming Publications announced in November that Sherwood would pen three novels featuring new agents. Double or Nothing is scheduled to be published Sept. 1.

Questions about IFP’s new Double O novels

Ian Fleming Publications “Double O” logo.

Ian Fleming Publications has announced a new series of novels by Kim Sherwood intended to expand the James Bond literary universe.

Naturally, the blog has questions.

Who is Kim Sherwood? C&W, which represents her, has a biography.

Kim Sherwood was born in Camden in 1989 and lives in Bath. She pursued her MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, before teaching at UEA and the University of Sussex. Kim is now Senior Lecturer at the University of the West of England, and teaches prisoners. She has written for MslexiaLighthouseGoing Down SwingingThe Telegraph, and elsewhere. Kim makes frequent media appearances, including BBC Radio 4 Front Row, BBC Bristol, and Griefcast. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram at @kimtsherwood

Kim began researching and writing Testament, her first novel, after her grandfather, the actor George Baker, passed away, and her grandmother began to talk about her experiences as a Holocaust Survivor for the first time. Testament won the 2016 Bath Novel Award, was longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Award, shortlisted for the Author’s Club Best First Novel, and won the Harpers’ Bazaar Big Book Award.

In 2018, Kim received support from the Society of Authors’ Authors Foundation Grant for her second novel. Drawing on adventure fiction, the literature of roguery, travel and life writing, A True Relation will explore issues of gender, genre, and place.

Kim is also the author of the forthcoming Double 0 trilogy, and is the first woman to author a 007 novel. 

Her grandfather was George Baker? Yes, the same George Baker who played the real Sir Hilary Bray in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and a Navy officer in The Spy Who Loved Me. Baker also played one of the many Number Twos in the Patrick McGoohan series The Prisoner. Baker enjoyed a long career as an actor.

When will the new Sherwood novels be set?

During the present day, according to the author herself. She disclosed the information in response to a question on Twitter.

The new Sherwood trilogy of novels will come on line just as Anthony Horowitz is wrapping up his three-period-piece Bond novels (one set at the start of Bond’s career, one set in the middle and the upcoming third after the events of The Man With the Golden Gun novel).

How significant is this?

It demonstrates that Ian Fleming Publications continues to be interested in spinoffs. It has previously commissioned Young Bond novels and The Moneypenny Diaries. Meanwhile, Eon Productions, maker of the James Bond films, has said it’s not interested in Bond spinoffs.

IFP announces new series of Double O novels

Ian Fleming Publications today announced a new series of three novels by Kim Sherwood “featuring the next generation of Double O agents.”

“James Bond is missing, presumed captured or even killed,” IFP said in the announcement on its website. “All of Bond’s contemporaries are gone and a new generation of Double O agents has been recruited to replace them and battle a global threat.” Meanwhile, M and Moneypenny are searching for a mole inside MI6, IFP said.

“I’ve dreamt of writing James Bond,” Sherwood said in a statement. “I feel honoured to be the first novelist to expand the Bond universe through the Double O sector.” The author said the novels would bring “new life to old favourites, and fresh characters to the canon.”

The Guardian quoted Corinne Turner, managing director of IFP, as saying the new series will be launched in September 2022.

A third Bond novel by Anthony Horwitz is scheduled to be published in May 2022, according to HarperCollins. Horowitz previously wrote Trigger Mortis in 2015 and Forever and a Day in 2018.