“. . a literary Bond only works in his own timeline”

edited May 25 in Literary 007 Posts: 1,043
From the Guardian's report on the recent Hay on Wye book festival. . .

Though Horowitz said Jeffery Deaver brought Bond into a 21st-century setting in his 2011 novel Carte Blanche, and the films had similarly updated the character, the author said his personal view was that “a literary Bond … only works in his own timeline” – his Bond books are all set in the 1950s and 60s.

I think that's very interesting, and I can completely understand where he's coming from. I've said on here before that modern-day literary Bond never feels quite right for me, when you have references to mobile phones and social media etc. I don't think this was a problem for the Gardner (and perhaps Benson) era so much. But with all the latest tech, the modern literary Bond inhabits a totally different spying world to Fleming's Bond.
I've seen people say on here that "Fleming's Bond was contemporary, so literary Bond should be contemporary". Which makes sense in way, but you can't get away from the fact that the only true, pure incarnation of James Bond is in the pages of Ian Fleming, his creator. And those novels were set in the fifties and early sixties. So surely the only way of evoking the true spirit and 'world' of the character in print, is to set him in those times.
Horowitz clearly thinks so, anyway.

Comments

  • Posts: 1,707
    Contemporary for the times in which the novels were written. Had mobile phones been available during the period of the first six films, how different would those films have been? Mobile phones and GPS would have significantly impacted the plots of those films.
    For me Carte Blanche might as well have featured James Bond Jr. None of it worked for me. What Sherlock did for Holmes, Deaver was unable to do for Bond.
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    edited May 25 Posts: 15,586
    I don't know really, it depends whether literary Bond has to be Fleming's Bond or not. I'm not sure he does definitely, I think like the films (or comic books I guess) they should perhaps feel a bit freer to put their own spin on it.
    I guess there's two ways of looking at it: that there's not ultimately all that much to Bond as character, so you need to keep it as close to the originals as possible to distinguish it from all the other heroes; alternatively Fleming's prose was clearly one of, if not the, biggest asset the books had, and if we can't have that any more, why not feel free to make it your own a bit? If you try to ape the Fleming style, you're not going to be as good as him, so perhaps it's best to try and do something different.
    I guess you need to keep 007 himself the same, and I think Deaver kind of forgot the character along the way; whereas I'd say Higson managed the updating a lot better, it felt more like Bond in OHisMSS.

    I must admit I wouldn't mind the books putting him in a different setting: I'd quite like to read a Bond in his prime in the 1980s. Feels like it suits him quite well, when the Cold War was hotting up and in some of its tensest situations, when the tech was pretty hi but still analogue, when the world wasn't quite totally connected, when style was fairly brutal.


    https://www.theguardian.com/books/article/2024/may/24/anthony-horowitz-writers-not-told-books-more-diverse
  • Posts: 9,822
    No because even fleming felt Bond should be of the current time

    One only needs to look at On her majesty’s secret service to see him reference ursula andress in the opening bits… again if Fleming wanted to keep bond in the 50’s he woukd have he didnt so in my opinion he would hate bond period pieces and ironically so do I
  • OHiMSS did an alright job to be fair in moving Bond to the present. Sherwood's done a good job with the Double O series as well, and Bond feels like he could slot into that world. And Horowitz's Trigger Mortis reads incredibly modernly. Bond could have easily gotten his start in MI6 out of the Yugoslav wars, out of the Basque situation, or the Russia-Georgia, or Crimea situation.

    I said this in another thread but there's also so much inspiration in the "New Cold War" we're in. Russia made a deal for the return of the "Merchant of Death". China has an industrial espionage unit spanning the world. The Wagner group exists and so on.

    Technology can actually be quite useful to Bond: it might strip the detective aspect from some of the stories but technology could be a good way for an initial kicker. Like MI6 catch stray signals from an embassy somewhere and Bond is sent to find out what's up. Or there's an encryption "mistake" that puts Bond in danger. Beyond that, nobody really cares about technology's use in the spy-game. Deaver went in to heavy handed with things like MASINT or whatever where they tracked a car by its fumes. He also removed a bit of the womanising aspect of Bond and made him a little bit too sensitive to the thoughts of others (specifically the policewoman in South Africa)
  • Posts: 1,707
    I don't have the impression anyone is calling for Bond to remain in the fifties. The sixties, maybe. OHMSS was written in 1962 during the filming of DN, which explains Fleming's mention of Ursula Andress. Setting the literary stories in the 60s keeps Bond at the appropriate age for his line of work.

    As to the films, leaping forward 60 years essentially erases Bond's history. But I'm okay with that, as setting a film in the 60s would be expensive and not add much. Nonetheless, I like to imagine Craig's Bond had encounters with Doctor No, Red Grant, Goldfinger etc. We just didn't see them during the Craig era.
  • edited May 26 Posts: 904
    mtm wrote: »
    I must admit I wouldn't mind the books putting him in a different setting: I'd quite like to read a Bond in his prime in the 1980s. Feels like it suits him quite well, when the Cold War was hotting up and in some of its tensest situations, when the tech was pretty hi but still analogue, when the world wasn't quite totally connected, when style was fairly brutal.
    I would love to see this.

    I have so far been happy with this dichotomy between cinema and literature: on the one hand, the films adapt the character of Bond to contemporary times, on the other the novels keep the character in his original era. This dichotomy was particularly enjoyable in the last ten years and seeing Bond back in the 50s and 60s after Benson was refreshing. That being said, since we don't have any films currently, I'm not sure how relevant this dichotomy is and would be happy if Ian Fleming Publications would give its authors more freedom. @mtm 's idea of putting Bond in different settings is good and would be as refreshing as going back to the 60s was in the mid-2000s.

    Although I liked what Anthony Horowitz did, I won't mind if IFP returns to its previous format by inviting a different author to write its Bond novel. We could then have a novel set in contemporary times, then a new one set in the 1980s, yet another returning to the 1950s, and so on.
  • edited May 26 Posts: 990
    mtm wrote: »

    I must admit I wouldn't mind the books putting him in a different setting: I'd quite like to read a Bond in his prime in the 1980s. Feels like it suits him quite well, when the Cold War was hotting up and in some of its tensest situations, when the tech was pretty hi but still analogue, when the world wasn't quite totally connected, when style was fairly brutal.


    https://www.theguardian.com/books/article/2024/may/24/anthony-horowitz-writers-not-told-books-more-diverse

    I don't know. We have the Gardner novels for that. Is a Gardner pastiche better than a Fleming pastiche?
  • Posts: 1,043
    Risico007 wrote: »
    No because even fleming felt Bond should be of the current time

    I don't think that automatically means book Bond should always be current. You could apply the same logic to lots of novels that were written contemporarily, but are now period pieces.
    For me, a novel will always engage me more than a movie, because a movie kind of does everything for you. I can enjoy a good movie, but I always feel spoon-fed when compared to a good book.
    A book will have a special relationship with the reader, and your own imagination fills in the gaps. When I read a Horowitz Bond, I feel much more like I'm reading about the same man Fleming wrote about, because his circumstances are the same. When I read a Bond book set in modern times, I'm constantly aware that it's a writers' spin on Fleming's creation. I can't lose myself in the world of James Bond if he's googling something, or using his mobile phone. It jumps out at me, and takes me out of the book a bit. I think it's because I re-read all the Fleming Bonds in the last few years, and feel comfortable with him as an almost 'historical' figure.
    I'll always buy and read any book sanctioned by the IF estate, and I enjoyed Deaver's book, (Boyd's not so much), and I can lose myself in a Benson easily enough. But the Horowitz books I think, have been the true treats for lovers of the Fleming Bond. And that obviously to do with the quality of the writing, but it's also - for me - because of the way they're entwined within the Fleming timeline. They're true tributes, I think.
  • Risico007 wrote: »
    No because even fleming felt Bond should be of the current time
    I can't lose myself in the world of James Bond if he's googling something, or using his mobile phone. It jumps out at me, and takes me out of the book a bit. I think it's because I re-read all the Fleming Bonds in the last few years, and feel comfortable with him as an almost 'historical' figure.

    I do get this, but I would enjoy trying to see Bond using his phone for work, trying to track villains, reading briefings and things like that. It adds a degree of realism and relatability: the Fleming Effect that Amis mentions
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    edited May 26 Posts: 15,586
    Although I liked what Anthony Horowitz did, I won't mind if IFP returns to its previous format by inviting a different author to write its Bond novel. We could then have a novel set in contemporary times, then a new one set in the 1980s, yet another returning to the 1950s, and so on.

    Yeah this is fun. That's kind of why I'd like to see a short story collection written by different authors, to allow them to do something like that and have a variety of little stories approaching Bond in different ways, different periods maybe like you say etc. I think the Christie estate did one for Miss Marple a couple of years ago, you'd think a Bond one would do well.

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