Gardner/Benson Novels?

So, obviously I'm well-acquainted with Fleming's Bond. When I was much younger I remember reading a Benson or two when he was the writer for the series, but I don't remember much.

What is this board's opinions on them? I own License Renewed, and I'm about 20 pages in so far and was just wondering what people thought of Gardner and Benson as the "longer term" Bond writers (i.e not just writing one-offs).

Comments

  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy N.Ireland
    Posts: 11,893
    I really enjoyed the first half dozen Gardner novels, then In my opinion the standard
    fell off, possibly due to ill health in his later years, The Benson Books are, Fan Fiction
    Written very much as movie scripts.
    Although I'd always recommend reading them as even some bad stories have their
    good moments.
  • Posts: 1,512
    @Thunderpussy So your opinion is that the Benson books aren't very good? I don't hold fanfic in very high regard, but I know some people have different opinions. Thanks for the response, btw.
  • edited February 5 Posts: 2,181
    I've read all the Gardners and one of the Bensons.

    Gardner is a capable thriller writer, but none of his books felt like they were cut from the same cloth as Fleming's. They're ersatz pastiche Bond, and though they have moments of enjoyment, your time is better spent reading other thrillers, even if they're non-Bond. Gardner and Fleming's sensibilities were just too far apart.

    Benson's first novel is badly written but feels more like the work of someone who was a genuine fan and is trying to update Fleming with a couple of decent ideas. But again, it's not really worth your time. As others have said, it doesn't escape the fan-fiction trap.

    If you haven't yet read Colonel Sun or Pearson's Bond "biography," try them instead. Horowitz's Forever and a Day (I haven't read his first) is a decent pastiche by a fan. I've heard good things about Boyd's Solo but haven't read it.

    In a way it might be more enriching to read the authors influenced Fleming--Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Eric Ambler, Graham Greene, Georges Simenon, E. Phillips Oppenheim, Sax Rohmer, John Buchan, Dennis Wheatley, Dornford Yates, Peter Cheyney, Leslie Charteris--than the authors who tried imitating him.
  • Posts: 1,512
    I love Hammett.
  • goldenswissroyalegoldenswissroyale Switzerland
    Posts: 2,640
    I haven't read any book from Benson but I read the first two books of Gardner last year. I liked both, the first one was better (imo even better than the weaker Fleming novels). I started Icebreaker a few months ago and couldn't find the motivation to finish it so far. It somehow doesn't appel to me.
  • suavejmfsuavejmf Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England
    Posts: 5,119
    Revelator wrote: »
    I've read all the Gardners and one of the Bensons.

    Gardner is a capable thriller writer, but none of his books felt like they were cut from the same cloth as Fleming's. They're ersatz pastiche Bond, and though they have moments of enjoyment, your time is better spent reading other thrillers, even if they're non-Bond. Gardner and Fleming's sensibilities were just too far apart.

    Benson's first novel is badly written but feels more like the work of someone who was a genuine fan and is trying to update Fleming with a couple of decent ideas. But again, it's not really worth your time. As others have said, it doesn't escape the fan-fiction trap.

    If you haven't yet read Colonel Sun or Pearson's Bond "biography," try them instead. Horowitz's Forever and a Day (I haven't read his first) is a decent pastiche by a fan. I've heard good things about Boyd's Solo but haven't read it.

    In a way it might be more enriching to read the authors influenced Fleming--Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Eric Ambler, Graham Greene, Georges Simenon, E. Phillips Oppenheim, Sax Rohmer, John Buchan, Dennis Wheatley, Dornford Yates, Peter Cheyney, Leslie Charteris--than the authors who tried imitating him.

    Great post. Solo is an ok continuation novel, but no writer can imitate Fleming IMO.

    The Gardner novels started off ok, but they have an almost ‘Americanised’ tone. I’ll never forgive the Saab either! Ha ha. Totally inappropriate for Bond. The ‘Silver Shed’ on wheels.
  • Posts: 1,512
    I do think Fleming's prose is really fantastic for what is usually a "dime rack" literary genre.
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy N.Ireland
    Posts: 11,893
    I love Fleming's turn of phrase and his descriptive passages are fantastic, Another
    couple of books to look out for are Chris Wood's The Spy who loved me and Moonraker.
    His writing style is similar to Fleming's, Well I enjoyed them anyway ;)
  • edited February 6 Posts: 72
    I read two Gardners a couple of years ago and didn't enjoy them at all. Too many tedious conversations in hotel rooms and long descriptions of 80s tech. I've never read any Benson, but can someone elaborate on why it feels like fan fiction? I know what fan fiction is I'm just curious as to what that means for the books.
  • Posts: 7,625
    I am a big fan of the Fleming novels, he could really bring the story to live and get you interested in things you do not care about, like the cardgame in MR or the golf match in GF.
    Colonel Solo is decent but unsatisfying read.
    Chris Wood delivered two excellent novilizations.
    Gardner delivered some excellent 007 thrillers and some less than interesting books too.
    Benson delivered some excellent movie Bond books, they are fun.
    Jeffrey Deaver delivers an interesting 007 tale which is to twisted for my taste, he remains an excellent writer though.
    Solo the book by Boyd is full of his frustrations about post colonial Britain, great start and then a long slide down.
    Devil may care by Sebastian Faulks stalks the same area as dr. Jason Love only his book is better and more fun.
    Higsons young Bond is good fun and at times close to brilliant.
    Horowitz 007 is twice well written and looking forward to no. 3.
    Samantha Weinberg as Kate Westbrooks Moneypenny diaries are bloody awesome, did not expect these three books to be so good.
  • suavejmfsuavejmf Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England
    edited February 6 Posts: 5,119
    suavejmf wrote: »
    Revelator wrote: »
    I've read all the Gardners and one of the Bensons.

    Gardner is a capable thriller writer, but none of his books felt like they were cut from the same cloth as Fleming's. They're ersatz pastiche Bond, and though they have moments of enjoyment, your time is better spent reading other thrillers, even if they're non-Bond. Gardner and Fleming's sensibilities were just too far apart.

    Benson's first novel is badly written but feels more like the work of someone who was a genuine fan and is trying to update Fleming with a couple of decent ideas. But again, it's not really worth your time. As others have said, it doesn't escape the fan-fiction trap.

    If you haven't yet read Colonel Sun or Pearson's Bond "biography," try them instead. Horowitz's Forever and a Day (I haven't read his first) is a decent pastiche by a fan. I've heard good things about Boyd's Solo but haven't read it.

    In a way it might be more enriching to read the authors influenced Fleming--Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Eric Ambler, Graham Greene, Georges Simenon, E. Phillips Oppenheim, Sax Rohmer, John Buchan, Dennis Wheatley, Dornford Yates, Peter Cheyney, Leslie Charteris--than the authors who tried imitating him.

    Great post. Solo is an ok continuation novel, but no writer can imitate Fleming IMO..

    The Gardner novels started off ok, but they have an almost ‘Americanised’ tone. I’ll never forgive the Saab either! Ha ha. Totally inappropriate for Bond. The ‘Silver Shed’ on wheels.

    I forgot to add, even Colonel Sun was a step down in quality from Fleming’s apparently ‘rough drafted’ TMWTGG
  • edited February 6 Posts: 5,463
    I've never read any Benson, but can someone elaborate on why it feels like fan fiction? I know what fan fiction is I'm just curious as to what that means for the books.

    Following an innuendo about "rising" in the middle of the night:
    "Well, if you ever find that you are up and can't sleep, Mr. Bond, I have a very nice herbal tea that is very relaxing."

    "I avoid tea at all costs," Bond said. "You should know that by now."

    "As a matter of fact, I have noticed. You don't drink tea at all, James? How un-English of you!"

    "I'd as soon drink a cup of mud." He shrugged. "And besides, I'm half Scots, half Swiss." He smiled warmly at her, then stepped into his office.
  • FatherValentineFatherValentine England
    Posts: 599
    I like the Gardner books, but you have to approach them with the right mindset because they are bat shit insane at times, utterly crass at others, and just plain awful quite frequently. But I was a kid when they were coming out and so I like them for affectionate reasons.

    I mean, throughout Gardner's novels Bond drives a Saab, lives in a country cottage, shags Leiter's daughter, gets married, becomes a captain, goes to Disney land, fights in the Falklands conflict, tosses the caber, saves M, May, and pretty much everyone else from being kidnapped at some point, and fights a vampire bat...what else? Oh yeah, because it all takes place in Fleming's universe, in the LTK novelisation, the shark bites off Felix's false leg (that he got from the identical shark attack in LALD).

    Like I said, approach with caution. But they are often so nuts that I can't help but like them. Definitely not cannon though.

    Benson I wasn't a fan of at all. In fact I thought they were really bad fan fiction. Doesn't Bond become a sperm donor at some point? The thought of 007 in a clinic knocking one out...

  • HASEROTHASEROT has returned like the tedious inevitability of an unloved season---
    Posts: 4,399
    i was on a mission for years to obtain all of the Gardner and Benson novels, so i could read them from start to finish... i just nabbed Zero Minus Ten, The Facts Of Death, and High Time To Kill off eBay.. all hardcovers in great condition, for roughly $18 for all 3 combined.. the only Benson novel I read, was the novelization for The World Is Not Enough.... i read it back in 9th grade before the film came out, so i walked in spoiled to everything that was going to happen lol.. i remember liking it though.. but then again, i was 14 years old lol.... but in terms of literature, i'm not hard to impress lol...so i'm curious to read his other Bond works..

    but with those 3 purchased, that means outside a couple of the novelizations i still need to track down, like TSWLM, MR and TND.. i am complete on all original Bond novels, from CR thru FAAD.
  • FatherValentineFatherValentine England
    Posts: 599
    HASEROT wrote: »
    i was on a mission for years to obtain all of the Gardner and Benson novels, so i could read them from start to finish... i just nabbed Zero Minus Ten, The Facts Of Death, and High Time To Kill off eBay.. all hardcovers in great condition, for roughly $18 for all 3 combined.. the only Benson novel I read, was the novelization for The World Is Not Enough.... i read it back in 9th grade before the film came out, so i walked in spoiled to everything that was going to happen lol.. i remember liking it though.. but then again, i was 14 years old lol.... but in terms of literature, i'm not hard to impress lol...so i'm curious to read his other Bond works..

    but with those 3 purchased, that means outside a couple of the novelizations i still need to track down, like TSWLM, MR and TND.. i am complete on all original Bond novels, from CR thru FAAD.

    The Christopher Wood novelisations of TSWLM and MR are terrific, especially the former.
  • echoecho 007 in New York
    edited February 14 Posts: 4,210
    I like the Gardner books, but you have to approach them with the right mindset because they are bat shit insane at times, utterly crass at others, and just plain awful quite frequently. But I was a kid when they were coming out and so I like them for affectionate reasons.

    I mean, throughout Gardner's novels Bond drives a Saab, lives in a country cottage, shags Leiter's daughter, gets married, becomes a captain, goes to Disney land, fights in the Falklands conflict, tosses the caber, saves M, May, and pretty much everyone else from being kidnapped at some point, and fights a vampire bat...what else? Oh yeah, because it all takes place in Fleming's universe, in the LTK novelisation, the shark bites off Felix's false leg (that he got from the identical shark attack in LALD).

    Like I said, approach with caution. But they are often so nuts that I can't help but like them. Definitely not cannon though.

    Benson I wasn't a fan of at all. In fact I thought they were really bad fan fiction. Doesn't Bond become a sperm donor at some point? The thought of 007 in a clinic knocking one out...

    Great summary, hilarious. I seem to recall the second book being particularly bat*** crazy with the ice cream plot?

    Gardner's books felt like the late Moore era in which I read a lot of them--diverting, but lacking substance. I seem to recall Bond getting married, fake-married, and betrayed an awful lot in these books...to the point where it became soap opera. And you're right: everyone kept getting kidnapped.
  • FatherValentineFatherValentine England
    Posts: 599
    echo wrote: »
    I like the Gardner books, but you have to approach them with the right mindset because they are bat shit insane at times, utterly crass at others, and just plain awful quite frequently. But I was a kid when they were coming out and so I like them for affectionate reasons.

    I mean, throughout Gardner's novels Bond drives a Saab, lives in a country cottage, shags Leiter's daughter, gets married, becomes a captain, goes to Disney land, fights in the Falklands conflict, tosses the caber, saves M, May, and pretty much everyone else from being kidnapped at some point, and fights a vampire bat...what else? Oh yeah, because it all takes place in Fleming's universe, in the LTK novelisation, the shark bites off Felix's false leg (that he got from the identical shark attack in LALD).

    Like I said, approach with caution. But they are often so nuts that I can't help but like them. Definitely not cannon though.

    Benson I wasn't a fan of at all. In fact I thought they were really bad fan fiction. Doesn't Bond become a sperm donor at some point? The thought of 007 in a clinic knocking one out...

    Great summary, hilarious. I seem to recall the second book being particularly bat*** crazy with the ice cream plot?

    Gardner's books felt like the late Moore era in which I read a lot of them--diverting, but lacking substance. I seem to recall Bond getting married, fake-married, and betrayed an awful lot in these books...to the point where it became soap opera. And you're right: everyone kept getting kidnapped.

    Haha. Yes he did get fake married and then married. And then his wife dies of cancer if I remember correctly. You say it sounds a lot like the late Moore era (nothing wrong with that, I don't think!!!), but to me it seems more like the SP/NTTD era! We'll see on that one...

    Seriously, that Leiter's daughter subplot...They should have pulled the contract from him as soon as he suggested it. Not sure how that went down at the time.
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