1970s: Future of the literary Bond?

The Ian Fleming Publications 007 logo

By Nicolas Suszczyk,

Guest Writer

Forever and a Day, the new James Bond novel, came out this week. Based on material Ian Fleming wrote for an unproduced TV series, British author Anthony Horowitz placed Bond in a pre-Casino Royale era, sent to investigate murder of the man who carried the 007 number before him in the Cote d’Azur.

Looking Backwards

It is not the first time that Ian Fleming Publications decided to look backwards.

Devil May Care, published in 2008 to coincide with Fleming’s centenary, put Bond in 1967, after the events of The Man With The Golden Gun. Solo (2013), by William Boyd, saw Bond in 1969 after the events of Kingsley Amis’ Colonel Sun. Horowitz’s first 007 novel Trigger Mortis (2015) was a direct sequel of Goldfinger in 1957, taking as reference the unused Ian Fleming treatment Murder on Wheels.

On the other hand, IFP tried to do the exact opposite in 2011 with Jeffery Deaver’s Carte Blanche, where a rebooted Bond in his early 30s dealt with organized terrorism in the 21st century.

After Ian Fleming and Kingsley Amis, Bond continuation authors John Gardner and Raymond Benson set 007 stories from the early 1980s to the early 2000s without rebooting while escaping the reality that Bond should be an elderly man in those adventures. Much like The Simpsons, 007 remained the same age for years.

Where To Next?

So, what should be next in store for the literary James Bond? The answer seems obvious but not less interesting: the 1970s.

In that decade, three literary Bond pieces were published. In 1973, we had John Pearson’s The Authorized Biography of 007, a fictionalized encounter between the author (Fleming’s biographer) and the “real” Bond, who checked or contradicted facts about the previous novels.

Later in the decade (1977 and 1979) saw the publication of Christopher Wood’s novelizations of the James Bond films he wrote: The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, respectively.

The novelizations were officially titled James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me and James Bond and Moonraker.

Although these were adaptations of the movies, they had few ties with the 1970s.

Between 1968’s Colonel Sun by Kingsley Amis and 1981’s Licence Renewed by John Gardner, there were no original James Bond novels.

That’s why it would be a lucrative and accurate alternative for the post-2018 literary Bond to follow, the possibility of taking an interesting and creative angle.

Volatile Era

The 1970s were a politically convulsed era where a James Bond story could perfectly fit. In 1974, a longtime ally of Great Britain, the United States, was affected by the Watergate scandal that ended with the resignation of President Richard Nixon. Also during the decade, the CIA came under scrutiny by reporters and the U.S. Congress.

Richard Nixon, with Efrem Zimbalist Jr. and Roger Moore, while campaigning for president in 1960. He wouldn’t be elected until 1968 and was forced to resign in 1974.

In the rest of the world, Latin American countries were ruled by dictators: Augusto Pinochet in Chile, Jorge Rafael Videla in Argentina (this junta would lead to the Falklands war with the U.K. in 1982) and Hugo Bánzer Suárez in Bolivia, to name a few.

All these governments had their origins in the early or mid-1970s, something that should serve as the background for an original Bond plot.

The novels have utilized such settings. William Boyd’s novel Solo has Bond dealing with a civil war in a dictatorial African nation of Zanzarim.

Prime Minister of Rhodesia Ian Smith declared the independence of his country in 1970, cutting its last link with the British Crown. This created a conflict with the British PM Harold Wilson, who refused to recognize the new regime of the African nation and was backed by the United States.

IRA Bombings

Also in the 1970s, England was the target of many IRA bombings which could also serve as a background for a more British-oriented plot.

Munich suffered a terrorist attack during the 1972 Olympic Games executed by a Palestinian cell that ended with 11 athletes killed and convulsed the whole world.

The 2005 film Munich, starring Eric Bana and Daniel Craig, dealt with the revenge mission taken by the Mossad years later. Bond may not be related to the Olympic Games but terrorism has been the enemy in John Gardner novels like For Special Services, COLD and Win, Lose or Die and, of course, the recent films like The World Is Not Enough, Casino Royale, Skyfall and SPECTRE where terrorist attacks have played a major role (MI6 being bombed twice).

By the end of the decade, in November 1979, employees of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran were kidnapped by followers of the new leader Ayatollah Khomeini for more than a year.

Some embassy employees managed to escape thanks to the Argo operation executed by the CIA with the aid of Hollywood which faked the production of a film in the region.

It is known that British diplomats aided in the mission, despite being written out of the 2012 Ben Affleck movie. Bond, known for bearing a diplomatic passport on occasions, could have been directly or indirectly involved in this operation.

In a decade shaken by social, racial and political events there could surely be a place for the literary Bond. The decade of the 1970s was not a part of any of the 40 James Bond novels published to date (not counting the novelizations or Young Bond series).

The ’70s could serve for a series of stories set year by year, resulting in 10 James Bond book written by Anthony Horowitz or whoever who follows him and, perhaps, adapting more unused Ian Fleming material.

The 1970s, done right, would be a perfect gold mine for any creative storyteller to place James Bond in.

IFP adjusts strategy with 2nd Horowitz 007 novel

The Ian Fleming Publications 007 logo

The Ian Fleming Publications 007 logo

Ian Fleming Publications has tweaked its strategy for James Bond continuation novels after it was announced today a second Anthony Horowitz 007 story will be published in 2018.

Horowitz penned Trigger Mortis, published last year. With the new, as yet untitled story, Horowitz becomes the first Bond continuation novel to have more than one Bond tale published since Raymond Benson wound up his 1997-2002 run.

Benson wrote six novels and three 007 movie novelizations. The author exited after new Ian Fleming family management took command of IFP. Following Benson’s final original novel, The Man With the Red Tatoo, and his final novelization, Die Another Day, the “adult” literary 007 took a hiatus. IFP developed a series of Young Bond novels and other projects, such as The Moneypenny Diaries series.

Since 2008, the 100th anniversary of Fleming’s birth, IFP has published Bond novels as “events,” penned by a name author. Sebastian Faulks, Jeffery Deaver and William Boyd all took turns, each doing a one-off and each taking place in different time periods.

Horowitz’s Trigger Mortis initially appeared to follow that pattern. Trigger Mortis had something the others didn’t — some Ian Fleming material developed for a never-made 007 television series. It also tied into Fleming’s Goldfinger novel.

However, Horowitz was asked back. His new effort “will again feature previously unpublished material by Fleming,” according to the announcement.

“I was thrilled when the Ian Fleming estate asked me to come back,” Horowitz said in a statement that was part of the announcement. “How could I refuse? I can’t wait to return to the world of James Bond.”

The most prolific 007 continuation novel author was John Gardner, who wrote 14 original novels and two movie novelizations published from 1981 to 1995. The first non-Fleming Bond novel was 1968’s Colonel Sun, written by Kingsley Amis under the pen name Robert Markham.

1982: Kingsley Amis rags on Gardner, 007 films

Kingsley Amis

Kingsley Amis

Kingsley Amis, a novelist who enjoyed more prestige than Ian Fleming, was a fan of the latter’s James Bond novels.

Amis (1922-1995) wrote  The James Bond Dossier , a 1965 book that seriously analyzed Fleming’s 007 works. Of course, Amis wrote the first James Bond continuation novel, 1968’s Colonel Sun, under the pen name Robert Markham.

The Times Literary Supplement unearthed  and posted Amis’s 1982 review of John Gardner‘s For Special Services. It was Gardner’s second 007 continuation novel in which Gardner brings SPECTRE back into the picture.

In taking a look at that review, Amis comes across as crabby not only with his Bond continuation novel successor but with the world of 007 in general.

First, an except about For Special Services:

(T)he present offering is an unrelieved disaster all the way from its aptly forgettable title to the photograph of the author – surely an unflattering likeness – on the back of the jacket.

Meow! Still, Amis is just getting warmed up.

Here, Amis unloads on the James Bond films:

Over the last dozen years the Bond of the books must have been largely overlaid in the popular mind by the Bond of the films, a comic character with a lot of gadgets and witty remarks at his disposal.

Still, Amis mostly writes about For Special Services. Here, Amis is a golfer and For Special Services is the golf ball. Here he describes Gardner’s women characters:

The first is there just for local colour, around at the start, to be dropped as soon as the wheels start turning. She is called Q’ute because she comes from Q Branch. (Q himself is never mentioned, lives only in the films, belongs body and soul to Cubby Broccoli, the producer.)

Nor is Amis impressed with the novel’s main female character.

Bond scores all right with the third of the present trio, Nena Bismaquer, née Blofeld and the revengeful daughter of his old enemy, a detail meant to be a stunning revelation near the end but you guess it instantly.

In this regard, Amis was rather prescient. In 2015’s SPECTRE, it was supposed to be a “big reveal” that the head of SPECTRE would be revealed to be Ernst Stavro Blofeld, a “reveal” that surprised nobody. The more things change, the more they stay the same, and all that.

Before he ends the review, Amis really, really makes it clear he’s not a fan of the films.

Amis writes the 007 movies “cover up any old implausibility or inconsistency by piling one outrage on another. You start to say to yourself ‘But he wouldn’t –’ or’“But they couldn’t –’ and before you can finish Bond is crossing the sunward side of the planet Mercury in a tropical suit or sinking a Soviet aircraft-carrier with his teeth.”

Amusingly, years after his death, a portion of Amis’s Colonel Sun novel was used in 2015’s SPECTRE — specifically the torture scene. Amis got a backhanded credit, deep in the end titles, where “The Estate of Kingsley Amis” got a “special thanks” credit.

It was the first time Eon Productions utilized the continuation novels in any way, shape for form. Previously, Michael G. Wilson, Eon’s co-boss, has criticized certain continuation novels (Gardner’s in particular).

As for Amis’s 1982 article, you can judge for yourself by CLICKING HERE and reading it for yourself..

Our modest proposals for Bond 25

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Since the British tabloids are stirring the pot, what better time for this blog to weigh in with some Bond 25 ideas? So here goes.

Consider adapting one of the better continuation novels: For years, Eon Productions has resisted this path. Michael G. Wilson, Eon’s co-boss, has bad mouthed the John Gardner novels.

However, Eon itself opened the door with SPECTRE. The 24th James Bond film includes a torture scene based on the one in 1968’s Colonel Sun novel. So much so, there’s a “special thanks” credit for “The Estate of Kingsley Amis” in the end credits.

Generally speaking, it’s easier to use a novel as a starting point. The movie You Only Live Twice didn’t have much in common with its namesake novel, but characters, names, situations, etc. did figure into the movie. Given the soap opera of SPECTRE’s scripting process, any step to simplify the process would be a help.

At this point, there are plenty of continuation novels to choose from.

Worry about the script first, actor second: Various “making of” documentaries about 007 films discuss how scripts are tailored to their lead actor.

How about this? Write a James Bond story first, tweak it later after your actor has been cast. James Bond is the star. The series has seen six different actors play Bond. Some day, there will be a seventh.

Albert R. Broccoli, co-founder of Eon, always felt 007 was the star, the rest came later. Words to live by.

Or, put another way: story, story, story.

If you have a good story but it conflicts with continuity, go with the story: Let’s be honest. Continuity isn’t a strong point for the Bond film series. Michael G. Wilson said Quantum of Solace took place “literally an hour” after Casino Royale.

Yet, Quantum couldn’t be bothered with the slightest effort to tie together with Casino. Casino took place in 2006. Quantum in 2008. Did it really take Bond *two years* to track down Mr. White? Only if Bond and Mr. White are idiots.

Continuity isn’t in Eon’s wheelhouse. If you have a great Bond story but it doesn’t match up with earlier films? Go with the story. If fans exit the theater thinking, “That was one of the best Bond movies I’ve ever seen,” nobody will really care about the continuity.

Have a great Bond 25 idea that doesn’t immediately tie in with SPECTRE? Go with the great idea. You can always bring Blofeld back later, even if he’s not played by Christoph Waltz.

But what about the “Blofeld Trilogy”?: That ship has sailed. It was a lost opportunity. Meanwhile, you might find the part of the You Only Live Twice novel that Albert R. Broccoli, Harry Saltzman and their cohorts didn’t use might make for difficult filming. Don’t twist yourself into a pretzel trying to recapture the past.

Put yet another way: How many people leaving the theater after seeing SPECTRE really thought Daniel Craig’s Bond loved Lea Seydoux’s Madeleine as much as George Lazenby’s Bond loved Diana Rigg’s Tracy in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service? This blog’s guess: Not many.

IFP hires writer for new 007 novel, Book Bond Says

Ian Fleming Publications has hired William Boyd to write a new James Bond novel, to be set in the 1960s, according to A POST on The Book Bond Web Site.

Here’s an excerpt, including part of an IFP statement:

Wednesday, April 11, 2012WILLIAM BOYD TO WRITE THE NEXT JAMES BOND NOVEL

Huge news today! Ian Fleming Publications has announced that William Boyd will write the next James Bond novel. Boyd’s yet untitled novel will take Bond back to the 1960s and will be published in Fall 2013 by Jonathan Cape in the UK and HarperCollins in the U.S and Canada. Here is the full press release:

William Boyd to write new James Bond novel
Boyd takes Bond back to the Sixties with all the style and flair of Ian Fleming

William Boyd, the award-winning and bestselling author of Restless and Any Human Heart, is to write the next James Bond novel.

The novel, which is yet to be titled, will be published in the UK and Commonwealth in autumn 2013 by Jonathan Cape – Ian Fleming’s original publisher and an imprint of Vintage Publishing – and simultaneously by HarperCollins Publishers in USA & Canada. Rights were sold in the English language by Jonny Geller of Curtis Brown, on behalf of Ian Fleming Publications Ltd.

William Boyd is the third author in recent years to be invited by the Ian Fleming estate to write an official Bond novel, following in the footsteps of the American thriller writer Jeffery Deaver, who wrote Carte Blanche in 2011, and Sebastian Faulks, whose Devil May Care was published to mark Ian Fleming’s centenary in 2008.

The key phrase is “in recent years.” IFP, formerly known as Glidrose, “invited” Kingsley Amis, John Gardner, Christopher Wood and Raymond Benson to write either new 007 novels or novelizations of James Bond films between 1968 and 2002. IFP changed management about a decade ago and, not uncommon a phenomenon, the current regime tends not to recognize the work of its predecessors.

The last new “adult” Bond novel was Jeffery Deaver’s Carte Blanche, published last year, which rebooted the literary 007 to the 21st Century, just like the film 007’s reboot starting with 2006’s Casino Royale with Daniel Craig. Now, IFP has switched gears back to going with the period piece approach the way it did with Sebastian Faulks’s Devil May Care in 2008.

Our speculation: it may be a sign that IFP has realized there’s no way Eon Productions will ever opt to use a continuation novel as the basis of a movie. Or maybe not.

As of 10 p.m. New York time, there was no press release on the official IFP Web site. So credit John Cox, who runs The Book Bond site, with a scoop (at least among the fan Web sites).

UPDATE: The BBC in A STORY on its Web site, quotes the new 007 author as saying his story will be set in 1969. It also says first-week sales of Deaver’s Carte Blanche novels were a fraction of Faulks’s Devil May Care.

James Bond Bedside Companion returns in 2012

The James Bond Bedside Companion is returning the “first or second week of January” in e-reader form, author Raymond Benson announced on his Facebook page. An audiobook and print edition will be out “in the coming weeks,” Benson said, without providing specifics. Presumably, the book is becomng available again because of next year’s 50th anniversary of 007 film series.

The book was originally published in 1984 and updated in 1988, years before Benson was hired to write James Bond continuation novels by Glidrose, now Ian Fleming Publications. The book examined the Bond films up until that time, plus Ian Fleming’s original stories and the continuation novels written by Kingsley Amis and John Gardner.

CLICK HERE to see a post on The Book Bond Web site that includes an image of the new cover.

UPDATE: If you CLICK HERE, you can view a 2004 interview on the Commander Bond Web site that John Cox, now webmaster of The Book Bond Web site, did with Benson. The subject of Bedside Companion comes up, including how Benson’s views toward Gardner’s work evolved after the original 1984 publication of the 007 reference book.

PRESS RELEASE: Ian Fleming Publications Ltd Appoints Curtis Brown As New Agents For Bond

1:17 PM Friday 24 Jun 2011

Ian Fleming Publications Ltd has appointed Jonny Geller and Curtis Brown to represent the Ian Fleming James Bond novels and future James Bond literary works, worldwide.
Following the great success of Carte Blanche by Jeffery Deaver, Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks and the Young Bond series by Charlie Higson, Ian Fleming Publications looks forward to providing further enjoyment for the millions of James Bond fans, both young and old, and for future generations.

Corinne Turner, MD of IFPL, said:

“In these changing times, it is important that there is a co-ordinated representation of the Ian Fleming Bond novels and our new 007 projects worldwide, and we are very excited by the prospect of working with a literary agency that combines over one hundred years of experience with such a bright, enthusiastic and forward-thinking team.”

Jonny Geller, MD of Curtis Brown books division, said:

“This is a huge honour for our agency.  Ian Fleming is quite simply one of the world’s most successful and well –managed literary estates. The aim for us is clear: to marshall all of Curtis Brown’s resources to bring a new generation of readers to Ian Fleming’s work. By using the specialist skills of different agents within Curtis Brown we intend to build on the wonderful work that the Fleming company has already achieved.”

Curtis Brown will also look after the James Bond novels written by Kingsley Amis, John Gardner and Raymond Benson as well as translation rights in the Young Bond series by Charlie Higson.