Author discusses Quantum of Silliness

Cover to Quantum of Silliness

If there was ever a time that James Bond fans could use a good laugh, now is it. The new book Quantum of Silliness: The Peculiar World of Bond, James Bond aims to provide such laughs.

There’s a global pandemic and the news is pretty grim. The disease COVID-19 is affecting all aspects of life, including entertainment. No Time to Die, the 25th Bond film, has been postponed (along with a number of other films). Bond fans have time on their hands waiting for November when No Time to Die is now scheduled to be released.

As a result, the blog reached out to author Robbie Sims. The interview was conducted by email.

QUESTION: How would you describe Quantum of Silliness? A James Bond humor book? Or is there more to it?

SIMS: Anyone ill-minded enough to follow me on Twitter (@TheTchaikovsky) will know what to expect… it’s essentially an absurdist take on the world of Bond, so lots of quickfire gags and enough ropey puns to make Tom Mankiewicz blush. But there are several longer-form articles in there too analyzing particular aspects of the movies (e.g. a look at the recurring motif of weddings and funerals across the films; celebrating the franchise’s greatest double-takes; and an examination of just why Die Another Day is so awful).

Q: What prompted you to take on doing a book?

SIMS: This will be frustrating to hear for anyone who’s ever tried to get a book deal (myself included, unsuccessfully about 15 years ago) but it wasn’t actually my idea! I was lucky that a publisher who followed me on Twitter got in touch and suggested putting something together to coincide with the release of No Time To Die.

Obviously, in hindsight we’ve pre-empted the release by eight months, but I’m glad it’s out there now as it hopefully gives Bond fans something to soften the blow of the film’s delay.

Q: How long did you work on Quantum of Silliness?

SIMS: Two or three months, fitting it in around my actual grown-up job as a scriptwriter. Never a chore though – I enjoyed writing it in my spare time. It was a labor of love, but like a really easy labor where the child is small and greased and I’ve had an epidural.

Q: What do you think accounts for the longevity of Bond?

SIMS: Never underestimate the power of nostalgia. Once something becomes ingrained in pop culture, I guess it’s there to stay. This, of course, happened to 007 back in the mid-’60s with Bondmania but I also think we shouldn’t overlook how the Moore era steered the franchise successfully through much of the ’70s and ’80s… then Pierce in the ’90s.

If you were a child during these eras and loved watching the films as a family event (and from my point of view it always WAS an event) either at the cinema or when they came on TV, then you’re likely set up as a Bond fan for life. So it now has this incredible cross-generational appeal, which most film franchises perhaps do not.

Q: Were there any surprises along the way while you were preparing the book? Is there something you found out that you didn’t know?

SIMS: This is the ongoing joy of being a Bond fan – uncovering fresh nuggets. Although I count myself as a bit of a Bond geek, I by no means have an encyclopedic knowledge so it’s nice to discover something new about the franchise.

For example, I hadn’t twigged that General Gogol’s secretary was a recurring character called Rubelvitch (Eva Reuber-Staier plays her in TSWLM, FYEO, and Octopussy); and that General Pushkin’s mistress in The Living Daylights is called Rubavitch – presumably because an earlier draft of the script has Gogol’s character in Pushkin’s place.

This isn’t the sort of trivia that’s going to go down well at dinner parties, but hey: it gets me excited.

Q: Describe the format of Quantum of Silliness.

SIMS: It’s been described as a good toilet book! Much as I hesitate to associate my work with fecal matter, I think that means it’s something to easily flick through and glean amusement from whilst the reader deals with… other tasks.

There are plenty of great Bond books out there that take an academic look at the legacy of Fleming or chart EON’s evolution and the production of the films. Quantum Of Silliness should be considered as a much more light-hearted and playful companion piece.

The gags are grouped into various categories like ‘Elliot Carver’s Fake News’ ‘Sir Godfrey Tibbett’s Titbits’ and ‘Thoughts from the Cubby-hole’, plus I have fun imagining the fantasy fisticuffs between disparate Bond characters in a section called ‘Thunderbrawl’ and compiling a list of the franchise’s best mute henchmen in ‘No Time To Dialogue’ etc. But in between all the daftness, you might learn a thing or two about the films or even get to appreciate them from a fresh perspective.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to add?

SIMS: Just to say that before joining Twitter (which was relatively recently in 2018) I wasn’t engaged with the Bond community at all… never used any forums or belonged to any fan clubs etc.

I was lucky to have a real-life BBF (best Bond friend) to geek out with, so that was all the engagement I needed… but when he moved to Amsterdam I thought I’d see what was going on online.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the wider 007 community, but I’ve been really heartened by how welcoming and encouraging everyone has been, especially in supporting my account and Quantum Of Silliness.

Given the rollercoaster ride the Bond 25 journey has been so far, it’s amazing to be a part of such a fun, supportive and creative community. So thanks, and well-done everybody! Here’s hoping we can all pull through a challenging year ahead and – fingers crossed – collectively enjoy the heck out of No Time To Die come November.

To view the Amazon.com listing for Quantum of Silliness, CLICK HERE. To view the Amazon UK listing, CLICK HERE

Robert Wade speaks at University of Chichester

Robert Wade, left, and Neal Purvis. (Paul Baack illustration)

Robert Wade, a seven-time James Bond film screenwriter with his partner Neal Purvis, spoke at the University of Chichester on Feb. 11.

The university, on the story portion of its Instagram account, provided a summary that didn’t include comments Wade made about No Time to Die.

Meanwhile, people who said they attended the talk took to Twitter.

First, some highlights from the official university summary.

— Wade said he and Purvis worked on Skyfall for a year but it wasn’t until two weeks before they had to submit a script that they came up with the idea of Bond kidnapping M.

— Director Sam Mendes “really leaned towards doing a London centric story.”

— On writing Bond films generally, Wade said he and Purvis “always start quite dark.”

Now, some comments from people who said they were at the presentation.

@TheTchaikovsky, author of the upcoming book Quantum of Silliness (part of the cover illustration is his Twitter avatar and the book’s Amazon.com entry references the Twitter feed), posted these tweets.

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Purvis and Wade were hired to write No Time to Die in 2017. Director Danny Boyle pitched an idea by himself and writer John Hodge, which was reported in 2018.

The film was announced in May 2018 as being written by Hodge and directed by Boyle. But Boyle departed in August 2018 and Hodge left with him. Cary Fukunaga was brought in after that.

The Purvis and Wade team, Fukunaga, Scott Z. Burns and Phoebe Waller-Bridge have all been involved in writing No Time to Die. A press release issued in December listed all but Burns, according to a story by the MI6 James Bond website.

The final writing credit will be determined by the Writers Guild of America.