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.

Bond questions: The new continuation novel

Image for the cover of With a Mind to Kill

So, a third James Bond continuation novel by Anthony Horowitz is scheduled for May 2022. Horowitz’s Bond stories are set in the original Ian Fleming timeline.

According to early publicity material for With a Mind to Kill, “It is M’s funeral. One man is missing from the graveside: the traitor who pulled the trigger and who is now in custody, accused of M’s murder – James Bond.”

While we’ll have to wait until May, naturally the blog has questions.

What kind of security does MI6 have, anyway?

With a Mind to Kill begins after the events of The Man With the Golden Gun, Fleming’s last Bond novel. That book (published in 1965, after Fleming’s death) began with a brainwashed Bond unsuccessfully trying to kill M.

The whole point of the 1965 novel was for Bond to be un-brainwashed and given a suicide mission to show his loyalty. So Bond turns around and tries to kill M, again? And this time it works? That doesn’t say much for MI6 security.

What does this mean for Colonel Sun?

Colonel Sun, written by Kingsley Amis under the name Robert Markham, was the first Bond continuation novel. M gets kidnapped and Bond has to rescue him.

So does that not count now? For that matter, does With a Mind to Kill write off the John Gardner continuation novels?

You have more questions?

Does that mean the Gardner novels are now, officially, their own universe? Does that apply to all the other continuation novels aside from the ones Horowitz has written?

Truth be told, it has been shaping up that way for some time. Gardner and Raymond Benson basically timeshifted Fleming’s Bond. Jeffery Deaver essentially did a hard reboot but that was never followed up. Horowitz and other continuation authors set their stories in the Fleming timeline.

Still, Colonel Sun had been special. It was the first continuation novel. And it’s the only one acknowledged by Eon Productions, which produces the James Bond films. Eon used a torture scene from Colonel Sun in SPECTRE and had a “special thanks” credit to Amis’s estate.

It could be in the new novel that M’s death is a fakeout. It should also be noted that a detailed description of the book surfaced in September on the website of HarperCollins before being taken down. (Don’t click on the link if you don’t want to know.)

Still, there are a lot of questions.

RE-POST: The blog’s obit for Paul Baack from 2017

Paul Baack (1957-2017 ) in 2013, wearing headphones to utilize his voice-activated software.

Paul Baack, co-founder of Her Majesty’s Secret Servant, died four years ago today. I’m re-posting the obituary I published that day. 

Paul Baack, co-founder of the James Bond fan site Her Majesty’s Secret Servant, died today at 60.

Paul and Tom Zielinski began the site, intended as a James Bond “e-magazine,” in 1997. HMSS, according to the founders, was the equivalent of a “toy train” for them.

It was more, of course.

From 1997 until 2011, HMSS presented magazine-length articles about James Bond and related topics. Contributors included Raymond Benson, the 007 continuation novel author from 1997 to 2002.

Benson named a character after Paul in his 1999 Bond novel High Time to Kill.

Normally an obituary refers to its subject by his or her last name. But the Spy Commander, for this obit, will refer to him by his first name.

Paul, from the beginning, designed the HMSS pages. His graphics enhanced the articles. He had a way of prodding the authors to make their contributions just a little bit better. Paul would make suggestions to improve the articles.

Those suggestions came in the form of a gentle nudge, not a dictate. HMSS, after all, was a hobby — the toy train analogy — not life or death. Nevertheless, Paul’s instincts were excellent. He was right far more than he was wrong.

Paul Baack-designed promo for the fall 2011 issue of Her Majesty’s Secret Servant, the e-magazine’s last issue.

Paul led a tough life. In 2003, he was paralyzed after being struck by a car. Despite that, he carried on. He utilized voice-activated software to do his HMSS work and follow his various other interests, which included doing artwork such as THIS and THIS and THIS.

This blog was, in fact, Paul’s idea. He wanted a way for HMSS to have a presence on the internet between “issues.” The Spy Commander was among the HMSS contributors.

Eventually, I took over the blog. But I was always aware he was reading. I was always glad to receive his feedback.

HMSS had a good run. It went offline in 2014.

“Bond and Holly” by Paul Baack

Paul was one of the most memorable people I ever met. I cannot imagine the pain and suffering he endured since 2003. But he endured it with warmth, and grace and humor.

James Bond fandom is richer for what Paul and Tom Zielinski started. This blog, obviously, would not exist without Paul’s encouragement.

After HMSS went offline, the blog published THIS POST about how it was now on its own. Paul posted this comment:

“‘Upward and onward’ indeed! Heartfelt thanks to you, Bill, for keeping the flame.”

Thanks to you Paul, for lighting the flame in the first place.

Jerry Juroe, one-time Eon publicity man, dies

Cover to Jerry Juroe’s recent book

Charles “Jerry” Juroe, a long-time publicity man whose career included a stint at Eon Productions, has died at 97.

Friends of Juroe, including Doug Redenius of the Ian Fleming Foundation, and Raymond Benson, former Bond novel continuation author, published tributes this week on social media.

Juroe published a book about his career in 2018. Besides Bond, he worked with many others as a publicist including Marilyn Monroe and The Beatles.

In addition, Juroe was a presence on home video documentaries about the Bond film series produced by Eon Productions. His career also included time at United Artists where he worked on non-Bond UA movies such as It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

Jerry Juroe in 1963 working on the UA-released It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

UPDATE: Eon’s official James Bond feed on Twitter acknowledged Juroe’s passing.

1999: TV Guide publishes a Bond special

TV Guide cover to the Nov. 13-19, 1999 issue

In 1999, TV Guide decided to go big on a special James Bond issue.

The Nov. 13-19 edition, with a Pierce Brosnan cover, included a new Bond short story, an interview with Bond actresses and an essay by a conservative icon.

Live at Five by Raymond Benson: This was a five-page short story by the American James Bond continuation author. Bond recalls an assignment in Chicago.

This was part of a big year for Benson’s tenure as a Bond author. 1999 also saw publication of an original Bond continuation novel by Benson, High Time to Kill, and the novelization of the 007 film The World Is Not Enough.

Buckley on Bond: William F. Buckley Jr. (1925-2008), a conservative commentator and sometimes spy author, mused about Bond. “James Bond does it all with that remarkable lightheartedness that attaches to the Just Man,” Buckley wrote. “The Bond films are there to be viewed, popcorn in hand. You’re not to worry about the girl’s emotional problems.”

I wonder what Barbara Broccoli would say if she had a conversation with Buckley.

Bond actresses: The issue has a Q&A with Jane Seymour, Luciana Paluzzi, Maud Adams, Lana Wood, Tanya Roberts, Lynn-Holly Johnson and Lois Chiles.

How writers channel their lives to their work

“Most fiction is shaped by geography and permeated by autobiography, even when it is trying not to be,” Ross MacDonald (Kenneth Millar), in the introduction to Archer in Jeopardy, a 1979 omnibus of three Lew Archer novels, published in 1979.

There’s an old saying you should “write what you know.” But, for many fiction writers, it goes beyond that.

Writers, whether they intend to or not, show what is going on with their lives.

Take, for example, the James Bond novels and short stories by Ian Fleming. “The early novels have an engaging style that concentrates on mood, character development, and plot advancement,” Raymond Benson wrote in The James Bond Bedside Companion. “In the later novels, Fleming injected more ‘pizzazz’ into his writing.”

Toward the end of his run, Fleming had other issues. In April 1961, the author suffered a major heart attack, according to the Ian Fleming Publications website. Fleming stories written after that time reflect a fascination with death, especially the 1964 novel You Only Live Twice.

Nor was Fleming alone. Paddy Chayefsky had a dark outlook about humanity. Characters played by James Garner in The Americanization of Emily, George C. Scott in The Hospital and William Holden in Network are, in effect, alter egos for Chayefsky.

This post began with a quote from Kenneth Miller, aka Ross Macdonald. His Lew Archer often probed troubled families to solve a mystery. Miller himself channeled his own troubled life when writing his Lew Archer stories.

Writing fiction is hard. Doing it well takes talent and effort. Even though who do it well may not be able to make a sale.

Regardless, the authors tell more about themselves than they perhaps intend. As Kenneth Millar observed most fiction “is permeated by autography.”

Does No Time to Die evoke one of Fleming’s last ideas?

New No Time to Die poster

Is this a spoiler? Only if it’s correct. Nevertheless, don’t read any further if that upsets you.

The MI6 James Bond website today published a story about No Time to Die spoilers based on call sheets issued during filming in Italy last year.

The article reveals a number of details. But one in particular would catch the attention of Bond fans who’ve read Ian Fleming’s original novels.

Specifically, such fans would note the end of the author’s You Only Live Twice novel.

Here’s an excerpt:

One of the final scenes to be shot Italy back in September was with Nomi (Lashana Lynch) and Madeliene (Lea Seydoux) on the coast near Maratea Port for scene #235. This location is doubling for Safin’s island. Local press caught shots of a rib boat with Nomi in combat gear and Madeline on a radio.

But there is a third character included in these late scenes, and it is not James Bond. Her name is Mathilde and she is 5 years old. She appears in scene #235: “Nomi pilots Madeliene and Mathilde to safety with island in the background.”

Could Mathilde be the daughter of Bond? That would be similar to the You Only Live Twice novel, where Bond, suffering from amnesia and thinking he’s a Japanese fisherman, travels off to the Soviet Union. He’s unaware that Kissy Suzuki is pregnant with his son.

The MI6 article adds this at the end:

Could James Bond become a parent? Regular Bond writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade have for years worked on including elements of unused Ian Fleming material, and aside from Bond’s brainwashed attempt to assassinate M in ‘The Man With The Golden Gun’, one of the most glaring omissions from the film series is how Bond leaves Kissy at the end of ‘You Only Live Twice’.

We’ll see. Eventually.

Footnote: Bond continuation novel author Raymond Benson ran with the idea at the beginning of his 1997-2002 run. James Suzuki, the daughter of Bond and Kissy, figures into the short story Blast From the Past. That story was first published in Playboy.

James Suzuki is killed, bringing Bond into conflict with another old enemy.

1980s: When 007 fandom grew up

Original cover to The James Bond Films by Steven Jay Rubin

Almost 20 years after Sean Connery’s debut as James Bond in Dr. No, 007 fandom began to grow up.

One of the breakthroughs was The James Bond Films by Steven Jay Rubin, first published in 1981. It was one of the first times that the Bond phenomenon got a more dispassionate examination.

Previously, there had been books that examined the films. John Brosnan’s James Bond in the Cinema amounted to a detailed review of the first seven Bond films (a later edition added to that). Kingsley Amis (who would soon write a 007 continuation novel) examined the Ian Fleming novels in The James Bond Dossier.

The Rubin book, though, included details of the behind-the-scenes conflict. In my own case, it was the first time I read how producers Abert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman ended up alternating as the lead force behind each film. It also spelled out details of the conflict between the duo.

“Live And Let Die was Harry Saltzman’s swan song as a full time James Bond film producer,” Rubin wrote at the start of his chapter about The Man With the Golden Gun. “Since that first meeting in Broccoli’s office in the early 1960’s, their partnership had been a stormy one.”

Not the stuff of what the publicity department had turned out for years.

Rubin didn’t get cooperation from Eon Productions, which began making the Bond movies in 1962. With a lack of film stills, Rubin had to turn to other sources to illustrate his book, including photos from news services.

In a way, at least for me, I had a greater appreciation of what the series had accomplished. The reader got an idea of alternate ideas and concepts that had been considered for different films.

Another key 1980s publication was Raymond Benson’s James Bond Bedside Companion, first published in 1984. It examined both the Fleming novels and the films.

Benson first became a fan in the mid-1960s when Goldfinger came out and Bond had become a phenomenon.

He was not (and still isn’t) a fan of the Roger Moore films that came later for the most part. In a video posted Feb. 20 by The Bond Experience, Benson said: “The movies became something else. They became comedies,” he said. “Once got The Man With the Golden Gun, I was just kind of going, ‘This is not the Bond I know.’…They weren’t my cup of tea.”

Nevertheless, Benson’s interest revived in the early 1980s when both the John Gardner 007 novels began and For Your Eyes Only reached theaters. In the interview, Benson said that’s when he got the idea of doing The James Bond Bedside Companion. “I was really back interested again.”

The book analyzed both the Fleming originals and the films up to that time (a later edition updated the films). In the 1990s, Benson was hired to succeed Gardner as the Bond continuation author. He did both original novels and movie novelizations until 2002.

You can see the Benson interview below.

Hilarious 007 ‘reports’ over the past five years

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

The world is a grim place right now and we could all use a laugh. So, in that spirit, here is a partial list of questionable reports involving the James Bond film franchise over the past five years.

The Bond series will be a period piece overseen by the Mad Men showrunner!

In October 2015, the Sunday Express reported that “studio bosses” (it cited an MGM executive who wasn’t identified) had asked Matthew Weiner, the creator/showrunner of the now-defunct TV show Mad Men ” to head a new team to oversee Bond’s return to his heyday 1960s.” This would occur after the departure of star Daniel Craig.

This story, of course, appeared shortly before the debut of 2015’s SPECTRE, the most recent James Bond film.

Mad Men was set in the 1960s. One episode referred to both the 1967 Casino Royale and You Only Live Twice (as well as a 1965 episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.)

Left unanswered by the story: What happens to Eon Productions and its producers, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson? Reading the story in 2020 also is unintentionally hilarious given the soap opera surrounding the production of the next Daniel Craig Bond film.

Daniel Craig was being offered $150 million to stay as Bond!

In September 2016, an outfit called Radar Online said that Sony Pictures was offering Craig $150 million to play Bond in two more movies.

Problem: Sony’s involvement with the franchise ended with SPECTRE. The studio sought to continue the relationship but that didn’t happen.

Second problem: Paying Craig $75 million per film? Really? Some Daniel Craig fans contacted the blog to claim this made perfect financial sense. Later, Variety reported Craig’s paycheck for Bond 25/No Time to Die was $25 million.

Studio bosses want Bond 25 out by November 2018!

In December 2016, the tabloid Mirror chimed in with a story saying MGM was getting nervous and Bond 25 was supposed to be out by November 2018. (Oops).

Bond 25 will be called Shatterhand but be based on a Bond continuation novel!

There has been a long-held fan theory that Shatterhand (a Blofeld alias in the You Only Live Twice novel) would be a great title for a Bond film. But in July 2017, the Mirror had a novel twist on this.

This version said Bond 25 would be called Shatterhand but be based on a Bond continuation novel, Never Dream of Dying, by Raymond Benson. Benson said nobody from the Mirror had contacted him about the story. This was a few weeks before Craig finally announced he was coming back to play Bond in one movie.

Danny Boyle’s haunting laugh!

By now, Bond fans know the Danny Boyle saga. The director had suddenly become a contender, in early 2018, to direct Bond 25. Then, in May 2018, he was announced as the director. And then in August 2018, he was out because of “creative differences.”

In March 2018, Boyle talked briefly about the prospect of directing Bond. At that point, he was working with scribe John Hodge on a script. But around the 25-second mark of this Associated Press video, Boyle lets out with a laugh that comes across as haunting given subsequent events.

Bond 25: Tabloid spoiler, new clapperboard shot

Eon’s Bond 25 logo

Like it says in the headline, spoiler. So scram if you’re spoiler adverse.

After a short respite, the tabloids are back, this time with the Mirror saying it knows part of the Bond 25 plot.

James Bond will return with a tear-jerking storyline – as his new wife is murdered and he struggles to cope with depression and grief.

New writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge – hired to refresh the script after her huge hit with Killing Eve – is said to be exploring the spy’s mental health for the franchise’s 25th instalment.

“There have been a lot of changes with the script but one angle they want to pursue is showing Bond’s more emotional side,” an insider revealed.

First things first. The Mirror has had a rocky record with accuracy. In 2017, for example, it claimed Bond 25 was based on the 007 continuation novel Never Dream of Dying by Raymond Benson. The author said on Twitter he was never contacted by the Mirror and “can only assume that article is fabrication. Would be wonderful if it were true.”

Even if the basic premise is correct, I suspect you can’t give Waller-Bridge the sole responsibility.

Eon has been at least flirting with the idea going back to the later script drafts of SPECTRE. A draft dated Dec. 1, 2014 — one week before filming began — ended with Bond saying, “We have all the time in the world.”

That, of course, was the line Bond (George Lazenby) says after marrying Tracy (Diana Rigg) in 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, where the Tracy ends up dead.

It was taken from the end of Ian Fleming’s 1963 novel. The line was snipped from the final version of SPECTRE. However, the notion of turning Ley Seydoux into Tracy 2.0 has been there for a while.

Also, in the 1964 novel You Only Live Twice, Bond goes to pieces. Bond also went to pieces in 2012’s Skyfall but that was seven years ago. So even though it was just two Bond movies ago, it wouldn’t be a shock for Eon to follow that path once more.

One more thing: In May, Seydoux told Variety she hadn’t started work on Bond 25 and was working on another movie. Presumably, that means she’s not part of the sequences filmed in Jamaica during May.

We’ll see.

Meanwhile, Eon’s official social media accounts put out a clapperboard shot. It was for a sequence in London that takes a while into the movie based on the scene number (152).

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UPDATE (5:45 p.m.): Eon’s official Twitter account posted this photo, which some fans comment is the best Bond 25 promotional still they’ve seen.

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