What's your own preferred Bond literary canon?

Here is a pic of my James Bond literary canon. Having read most of the Bond novels by all of the continuation authors I've synthesized it down to absolute favourite novels. To me the only novels that came close to Fleming in feel are Colonel Sun and Licence Renewed. I've put in a fictional biography of my Bond as someone who retired to his Surrey cottage after the events of Licence Renewed in the year 1980. So it means I cut out the "never-endingness" of the many authors and varying alternate universes. Also on the right you can see who I imagine in that the main people look like as I am reading. What is your personal James Bond book canon?


  • Posts: 3,367
    It's a bit like the '62-'02 films I guess. Each author's era is its own thing. To be honest, the Bond of Gardner, Benson, and Horowitz for me doesn't come across as the same character from Fleming. That's not necessarily a criticism by the way. Bond is a character who's been informed by many different things when it comes to these books - the films, the author's own personality/interests, the timeframe in which they were written etc. While some of the continuation novels stray a bit further from the core traits of Fleming's Bond than the films do, there's still that recognisability there. But still, if I'm looking to read a series of books about one consistent version of this character I'll stick to Fleming and in the order they were released in (including reading the short story collections on their own).

    The only continuation novel I'd read alongside Fleming if I wanted to get a consistent Bond is Colonel Sun. It has differences with Fleming's novels (the Russians/Communists are depicted a bit too sympathetically) but it's the only one where I find Bond is the same character we've seen from Fleming, and it follows on organically from TMWTGG. I'd completely leave out Devil May Care and With a Mind to Kill in that regard (neither I think are particularly strong novels).
  • edited June 28 Posts: 180
    I mean if there's a limit to the amount of things you can pack in to be honest. Bond is most likely born in 1920 or 1921 (the 1924 birth date doesn't really make sense and would make Bond in his 20s for CR, which of course doesn't make sense).

    0. Bond gets OO status in 1950, after 12 years in the service ("Highsmith" file) in Stockholm, and does the events of FAAD.
    1. CR, 1951, Bond is 30.
    2. LALD, winter (Jan/Feb) 1952
    3. MR, spring 1953
    4. DAF, late summer 1953
    5. FRWL, mid-late summer 1955 (the novel mentions the year 1955 3 times, and Bond quotes around 18 months-2 years since DAF)
    6. DN, spring 1956 (or 1957). Interestingly, the novel mentions Bond using his Beretta for 15 years, which would back YOLT's 1941 date more than FRWL's 1938 one. Of course Bond could have used another weapon prior to the Beretta. However, the novel quotes 5 years since LALD, which was January/February, and Dr No takes place in March
    Of course this can be addressed by the simple rounding that other do, and the Governor says four or 5 years, which explains the gap. Dr No also says 14 years ago was 1942
    7. Goldfinger, early summer 1957. Bond has been a double O for 6 years, since 1950 according to FRWL, but early summer 1956 is too close to Dr No for the gap that would be in between (Bond's holiday, the drugs job, etc.) So Bond just became 007 in late 1950 (overruling FAAD)
    8. Trigger Mortis, midsummer/fall 1957. Some battle referenced occurred round then I think
    9. FYEO (the anthology) is interesting because I can't just do a control-F and figure out a lot. In FYEO the story, M was best man in 1925, and the daughter would be about 25. If this story comes after all the others, that suggests at least five years of marriage before conception (assuming M was rounding down from 27). Also Bond dismisses Vesper as a non-personal loss. In Risico, the story happens after GF due to the Mexican drug job being mentioned. The rest, I can't really find out.
    10. Thunderball, early summer 1959. Mentioned in the novel
    11. The Spy who Loved Me, 1960
    12. Octopussy short stories fill the gap for the most part I think.
    13. OHMSS, Sept 1962, Jan 1963: Blofeld is 54 and born in May 1908.
    14. YOLT, over a long period in 1964
    15. TMWTGG, summer 1965 (Bond is 44, and close to retirement)
    16. CS or DMC, spring/summer 1966 or WAMTK in Fall/winter 1965 (they cannot all exist at the same time). Solo would come after them on Bond's birthday in 1966, where Bond turns 45 (ignoring the 1924 birthdate)
    17. LR mentions a 3 year gap, until 1969 (Bond is 48, but since the OO section no longer exists, the retirement age is removed). Also in LR, everything is moved 10 years forward, so Bond was born in 1931 and he became a OO in 1960 (LR is then in 1979).

    From this point any attempt at chronology is impossible due to the impracticality of Bond going on another 13 missions of Gardner, another 6 of Benson, and another few years under capture from Sherwood even at 3 adventures a year. I think the plausibility maybe extends all the way to No Deals Mr. Bond (Win Lose or Die has Bush as the president, which would put Bond at 58.) Publication dates would mean that Bond would be 55/56 which I think is probably when enough means enough.

    Anyway, ordering this sort of thing is a bit pointless because they won't make sense: Benson refers to Gardner and Gardner refers to Fleming but even so the ages and times don't make any sense to a point. And I agree that Bond changes as a character dramatically from author to author in some good and bad ways, and just Fleming is the most reasonable route to understand Bond as a character (although Horowitz and Amis have gotten close). I actually also think FSS is better Bond novel and Bond characterisation of Bond than LR is though, personally
  • I mean if there's a limit to the amount of things you can pack in to be honest. Bond is most likely born in 1920 or 1921 (the 1924 birth date doesn't really make sense and would make Bond in his 20s for CR, which of course doesn't make sense).

    0. Bond gets OO status in 1950, after 12 years ......
    Wow this timeline you made is fantastic! Pretty much sums up all my thoughts on how it all fits together.
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