25 Years since the publication of Raymond Benson's first James Bond novel, Zero Minus Ten (1997)

DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
edited April 2022 in Literary 007 Posts: 17,782
As Raymond Benson has pointed out today on his Facebook and Twitter accounts, tomorrow, Monday 4th April 2022 marks the 25th Anniversary of the UK publication of his debut James Bond continuation novel, Zero Minus Ten (1997). In total, Benson wrote six original Bond continuation novels, three Bond short stories and three film novelisations from 1997 to 2002. It would be timely to hear from literary Bond fans here about what they thought of Zero Minus Ten and, by extension, their thoughts or retrospectives on the Benson era of Bond novels and film novelisations?


Comments

  • It's been a long time since I read them, but I remember Benson's novels fondly. I read his first three at the time they came out and then his next three not until more recently. I also read TND and TWINE upon release.

    I was a kid at the time, but I recall really enjoying the locations and action sequences in both Zero Minus Ten and The Facts of Death. I know Benson did a good deal of research into real-world settings to make the action sequences read authentically. TND was a great read as well. I revisited that one in the past year or so and thought Benson did a terrific job adapting it.

    I'm certainly due to revisit Zero Minus Ten. There may be no more appropriate time!
  • MajorDSmytheMajorDSmythe "I tolerate this century, but I don't enjoy it."Moderator
    Posts: 13,894
    I know that he got a lot of stick at the time from fans, really like the Benson era, especially High Time To Kill. I know EON don't have the rights to the post Fleming books, but the Benson books were ripe for adapting.
  • MaxCasinoMaxCasino United States
    Posts: 4,102
    I know that he got a lot of stick at the time from fans, really like the Benson era, especially High Time To Kill. I know EON don't have the rights to the post Fleming books, but the Benson books were ripe for adapting.

    I still think that adapting The Union Trilogy would be a great way to get 3 movies out quickly.
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 17,782
    I know that he got a lot of stick at the time from fans, really like the Benson era, especially High Time To Kill. I know EON don't have the rights to the post Fleming books, but the Benson books were ripe for adapting.

    Yes, I know his books have been criticised a lot over the years just like any other Bond continuation author but he does have his fans too and I'm among them.

    Eon actually do retain the rights to potentially adapt the Bond continuation novels though thus far they have very rarely exercised this right. The only overt example of it was the use of the Colonel Sun torture scene with almost verbatim dialogue in the head drilling scene in Spectre. The Kingsley Amis Estate got a credit at the end of the film and were paid for the use of the scene.
  • MajorDSmytheMajorDSmythe "I tolerate this century, but I don't enjoy it."Moderator
    edited April 2022 Posts: 13,894
    MaxCasino wrote: »
    I know that he got a lot of stick at the time from fans, really like the Benson era, especially High Time To Kill. I know EON don't have the rights to the post Fleming books, but the Benson books were ripe for adapting.

    I still think that adapting The Union Trilogy would be a great way to get 3 movies out quickly.

    Now that is an idea I got get behind. And one I think would be appealing to an actor. 3 films, and only 3 films. No long term locked in contract, just 2-3* years between each of the 3 films.


    *I would prefer 2, but if that isn't doable these days, then 3.
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    Eon actually do retain the rights to potentially adapt the Bond continuation novels though thus far they have very rarely exercised this right. The only overt example of it was the use of the Colonel Sun torture scene with almost verbatim dialogue in the head drilling scene in Spectre. The Kingsley Amis Estate got a credit at the end of the film and were paid for the use of the scene.

    I didn't know that. I thought EON didn't own the rights, which put them into a kind of limbo.
  • JustJamesJustJames London
    Posts: 203
    The Benson books were the ones I enjoyed the most to be honest. I just wish I could get the film novelisations on kindle. DAD would be better in my head than on the page, and to me they felt like the sliding continuity of the films more than some of the Gardners. Fleming and Fleming style ones aren’t quite as enjoyable to me — dated in many ways. I also like Carte Blanche at the the time, but it’s been years since I read it, and definitely prefer the nineties flourishes of Benson.
  • Posts: 9,767
    I love Benson’s books and while I love Fleming more because he created bond obviously I reread Benson more often sorry I know… but I love his books
  • MaxCasinoMaxCasino United States
    Posts: 4,102


    I just hope IFP doesn't edit it for the sake of PCness.
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    edited August 2023 Posts: 17,782
    MaxCasino wrote: »
    I just hope IFP doesn't edit it for the sake of PCness.

    Here's hoping that the newer Bond continuation novels such as those by Raymond Benson won't be affected by the censorship the original Fleming Bonds have been subjected to. I see Colonel Sun is being reprinted too along with John Pearson's James Bond, The Authorised Biography of 007. Given the fact they are both now 50 years old and over they may well be at more risk from the so-called "sensitivity readers". Hopefully IFP will leave them all alone.
  • MajorDSmytheMajorDSmythe "I tolerate this century, but I don't enjoy it."Moderator
    Posts: 13,894
    MaxCasino wrote: »


    I just hope IFP doesn't edit it for the sake of PCness.

    Though it is nice to see the Benson books a Benson book back in print (for the first since sine their original publication), that is still a concern. But I don't know what they could sensor from Zero Minus Ten, that one at least, I think is safe.
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    edited August 2023 Posts: 17,782
    MaxCasino wrote: »


    I just hope IFP doesn't edit it for the sake of PCness.

    Though it is nice to see the Benson books a Benson book back in print (for the first since sine their original publication), that is still a concern. But I don't know what they could sensor from Zero Minus Ten, that one at least, I think is safe.

    Yes, I think it should be safe enough as it's still relatively recent as far as Bond novels go. Sadly, I'm not so sure about the two novels I mentioned above published in 1968 and 1973 respectively. A lot has changed in the intervening years but I really hope that they leave them "as is". :)
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    Posts: 14,927
    ZMT probably has some of Benson's better ideas but isn't really written terribly well. It'll be interesting to see the new covers for these though.
    I re-read Colonel Sun recently: it's a very decently written book, although has shades of being way more pro-Russian than I think Fleming would ever have been. The new forewords will be nice to have a look at.
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    edited September 2023 Posts: 14,927
    I missed that the new covers for these were revealed.
    https://www.ianfleming.com/new-editions-cover-reveal

    They're okay, I'm not blown away.

    ColonelSun_FinalCover.jpg

    ZeroMinusTen_FinalCover.jpg

    The fire is very poorly comped in here. Fire doesn't get darker towards the ends of the flame.

    Pearson_FinalCover.jpg

    The last one seems a bit odd: the drop shadows are pretty poor and not consistent; but the props chosen seem even odder. That's a Rolex Explorer II GMT; although Bond wore a Rolex I thought it was generally held to be an Explorer like Fleming's, which is quite a different watch. Also that looks a modern model to me, and not correct for period. The gun: I'm not an expert but I'm not sure that's a PPK is it? I think it's a PP..? And Bond most famously carried a Ronson lighter, and that doesn't look like a Ronson to me. And what relevance does a pen hold..?
  • QBranchQBranch Always have an escape plan. Mine is watching James Bond films.
    Posts: 13,892
    Yeah, some odd choices there for props - PP, and even the Minox isn't the same one. Looks like a Bond newbie's collection, before they learn to do proper research. But that's a little harsh, I think that's what they were going for - general; alternative.
  • Posts: 5,801
    Well, from what I gather, during his days as a secret agent, Ian Fleming was given a pen that could shoot tear gas. Said pen sees a little bit of action in the Stuart Kaminsky Toby Peters novel You Bet Your Life. Maybe it's a reference to that.
  • Posts: 1,511
    @mtm - Having seen some of your excellent graphic work, briefly what direction might you have gone. (I am not asking you create anything. Time is too valuable.)
  • MajorDSmytheMajorDSmythe "I tolerate this century, but I don't enjoy it."Moderator
    Posts: 13,894
    Those are some of the dullest Bond covers I have ever seen.
  • thedovethedove hiding in the Greek underworld
    Posts: 4,938
    Very minimalistic aren't they. I'd prefer a bit more flash and a bit more graphics. I wonder why Colonel Sun isn't available for pre-order in North America?
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    edited September 2023 Posts: 17,782
    The only cover out of the three that I think works and has some imagination used is Zero Minus Ten. It ties in well to the story too. The nuclear bomb on the cover looks like the one in the film Octopussy. I've pre-ordered a copy of it signed by Raymond Benson. The Colonel Sun cover is puzzling as Bond's head torture by Sun was carried out using meat skewers and not an ordinary thread needle. The skewers can be seen on the Jonathan Cape first edition and the British Book Club edition so there's really no excuse for getting that wrong. The Authorised Biography cover is a kind of smorgasbord of stock items associated with Bond and is pretty generic as a result. I'm especially looking forward to the new introductions to each book as they will hopefully offer something more substantive than the covers.
  • Posts: 9,767
    If i am going to be honest Benson is my favorite of the authors …. Yes fleming is important and yes i love his creation and books but i reread the benson novels on a semi annual basis i don’t do that for any other author… and when i read a bad Gardner book for the first time or when i read one of those Horowitz books that i couldn’t stand i would always pick up one of the Benson books to get the bad taste out of my mouth….

    I might pick up this copy of zero minus ten as my copy has vanished
  • JustJamesJustJames London
    edited September 2023 Posts: 203
    mtm wrote: »
    I missed that the new covers for these were revealed.
    https://www.ianfleming.com/new-editions-cover-reveal

    They're okay, I'm not blown away.

    ColonelSun_FinalCover.jpg

    ZeroMinusTen_FinalCover.jpg

    The fire is very poorly comped in here. Fire doesn't get darker towards the ends of the flame.

    Pearson_FinalCover.jpg

    The last one seems a bit odd: the drop shadows are pretty poor and not consistent; but the props chosen seem even odder. That's a Rolex Explorer II GMT; although Bond wore a Rolex I thought it was generally held to be an Explorer like Fleming's, which is quite a different watch. Also that looks a modern model to me, and not correct for period. The gun: I'm not an expert but I'm not sure that's a PPK is it? I think it's a PP..? And Bond most famously carried a Ronson lighter, and that doesn't look like a Ronson to me. And what relevance does a pen hold..?

    I think pretty much every item there is slightly wrong in some fashion tbh. Intern has been on their Canva app to save em money on a graphic designer. (The match book is so bad you can see where they painted over the logo)

    I have bought the benson, but the cover is really a bit naff.
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