In Praise Of Colonel Sun

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  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    Posts: 9,117
    Villiers53 wrote:

    Doubtless Higson would like to do it. It's a natural continuum but will IFP let him?
    It would mean that he would be transitioning into adult Bond mode and normally, post Gardner, IFP reserves that privilege for the unknown and untalented (Benson),the disinterested (Faulkes) or trashy (Deaver).

    A very piquant observation Sir. Well put.
  • Posts: 802
    I have just finished re-reading CS and am more enthusiastic than ever about this novel.
    It really is a very significant contribution to the Bond canon. Amis is a brilliant story teller and he builds on the best of Fleming's work whilst frankly taking the standard of writing to the next level.
    The way he develops Bill Tanner and M is intriguing and he really uses Fleming's characters to the best effect.
    For me, it is clear that this was a labour of love and stands as a direct contrast to the lacklustre DMC - the only other Bond continuation novel to be written by a supposedly serious literary figure. Albeit, one can question how 'serious' Faulks can be considered after his half baked effort!
    I do hope Boyd has had the good sense to read CS and to take it fully into consideration. It would be a big mistake not to. Frankly he could learn as much, if not more, about the development of Bond than from any of Fleming's novels with the exception of FRWL and OHMSS.
    CS is not just a must for Bond aficionados, it is also a must for all thriller readers. Hopefully, now that it's available on Kindle it will reach a wider audience
  • DragonpolDragonpol Writer @ http://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 14,971
    Villiers53 wrote:
    I have just finished re-reading CS and am more enthusiastic than ever about this novel.
    It really is a very significant contribution to the Bond canon. Amis is a brilliant story teller and he builds on the best of Fleming's work whilst frankly taking the standard of writing to the next level.
    The way he develops Bill Tanner and M is intriguing and he really uses Fleming's characters to the best effect.
    For me, it is clear that this was a labour of love and stands as a direct contrast to the lacklustre DMC - the only other Bond continuation novel to be written by a supposedly serious literary figure. Albeit, one can question how 'serious' Faulks can be considered after his half baked effort!
    I do hope Boyd has had the good sense to read CS and to take it fully into consideration. It would be a big mistake not to. Frankly he could learn as much, if not more, about the development of Bond than from any of Fleming's novels with the exception of FRWL and OHMSS.
    CS is not just a must for Bond aficionados, it is also a must for all thriller readers. Hopefully, now that it's available on Kindle it will reach a wider audience

    Thank you for that well-written fist punch in the air for Amis' Colonel Sun. I'm still working on a blog article entitled 'The Strange Death of Colonel Sun' on the perceived increased level of violence in the novel for The Bondologist Blog that will appear there amongst other things later in the year. You might like to give it a read when it does, @Villiers53.
  • edited June 2013 Posts: 2,524
    Well, I picked this up and gave it another read while lying by the beach in Cyprus. My thoughts?

    The Good
    Chapter titles, overall structure, and the characters were all very much Fleming. The plot had a feel of Fleming too, and Amis did a competent job of trying to make it feel like a Fleming novel.

    The Bad
    We still don't get under Bond's skin like Fleming was able to. Amis hardly ever spends time on Bond's thoughts. We are never treated to any of Bond's cold showers, eating breakfast or what he is about to wear. Instead he focuses on keeping the plot moving - something which the last 2 official Bond novels also fell into the trap of doing.

    Colonel Sun himself was quite intriguing as a villain, and I felt a genuine sense of fear when he finally captures Bond, and tells him what he is about to do to him. However, this is all lost after a very harrowing torture scene. Bond very quickly recovers, and springs back into action again - DAD style, which loses all credibility.

    And Sun himself seems muddled as a character. On one hand he is telling Bond how much he loves torture, and on the other he tells Bond he is not a barbarian when Bond asks him to shoot the girl quickly. It didn't feel genuine, or plausible. Even Sun's asking Bond's forgiveness seemed a little amateurish in its writing. It didn't really stack up.

    Overall I wasn't very impressed actually, and slightly disappointed. No one can write a Bond novel like Fleming could. All the official writers so far have had decent attempts at it, but no one has come even close, mainly because Bond was Fleming. Unless someone can get under the skin of Fleming himself, and what made him tick, then all Bond novels will appear the same - huge emphasis on plot, characters, scenes, action, but not much focus on Bond himself - and this is where they all fail.
  • hullcityfanhullcityfan Banned
    Posts: 496
    It seems like a pretty good book can I read it online or whatever?
  • Posts: 2,524
    It seems like a pretty good book can I read it online or whatever?

    How do you know its good if you haven't read it?
    Nice to see another City fan on here......... :-bd
  • hullcityfanhullcityfan Banned
    Posts: 496
    It seems like a pretty good book can I read it online or whatever?

    How do you know its good if you haven't read it?
    Nice to see another City fan on here......... :-bd

    Your a Hull fan too?
  • Posts: 2,524
    It seems like a pretty good book can I read it online or whatever?

    How do you know its good if you haven't read it?
    Nice to see another City fan on here......... :-bd

    Your a Hull fan too?
    Yup!! What do you reckon to our chances this season? Will Brucie do a better job of keeping us up than Brownie?

    B-)
  • hullcityfanhullcityfan Banned
    Posts: 496
    It seems like a pretty good book can I read it online or whatever?

    How do you know its good if you haven't read it?
    Nice to see another City fan on here......... :-bd

    Your a Hull fan too?
    Yup!! What do you reckon to our chances this season? Will Brucie do a better job of keeping us up than Brownie?

    B-)

    Yes if we sign Allan McGregor PM me.
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 20,022
    @jetsetwilly and @hullcityfan, please stay on topic.

    @hullcityfan, you are walking on thin ice, sir. We have warned you about making useless posts yet you continue to pile them up.
  • hullcityfanhullcityfan Banned
    Posts: 496
    DarthDimi wrote:
    @jetsetwilly and @hullcityfan, please stay on topic.

    @hullcityfan, you are walking on thin ice, sir. We have warned you about making useless posts yet you continue to pile them up.

    Sorry we'll PM each other which we have done back on topic please people.
  • 007InVT007InVT Classified
    Posts: 893
    Reading Colonel Sun while on vacation in the UK. I like it so far, Fleming in tone but we'll see how I feel by the end.

    It's fun when a few of us read these at the same time.

    Anyone re-reading Live and Let Die anytime soon?
  • DragonpolDragonpol Writer @ http://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 14,971
    007InVT wrote:
    Reading Colonel Sun while on vacation in the UK. I like it so far, Fleming in tone but we'll see how I feel by the end.

    It's fun when a few of us read these at the same time.

    Anyone re-reading Live and Let Die anytime soon?

    It will be most interesting to hear your views (as always is the case) when you get Colonel Sun completed. As I say, I'm still working on a lengthy piece called 'The Strange Death of Colonel Sun' for The Bondologist Blog so all reviews/thoughts outside my own blinkered views are of course much appreciated. They're all grist to the mill, if you will.
  • Posts: 76
    Just read it, I must say i really enjoyed it, it's right up there with some of Flemings best work. Wasn't too keen on the middle section on the alter but that's just personal taste. Almost ripped my book apart from the tension of the torture scene towards the end.

    A solid read.
  • Posts: 802
    It's great to see people reading this and enjoying it - CS is definitely up there with FRWL , OHMSS & MR.
    Although I don't agree with @jetsetwilly's assessment of the novel, he makes an interesting point about the lack of branding/lifestyle mentions in CS. Ironically, Kingsley Amis was probably reflecting the times. As the great @Bentley said when he started this thread, by 1967 the thriller world had fragmented and literary Bond had been somewhat outflanked by the likes of Blaise at the glamour end and Quiller and Callan on the realistic side of things. Clearly Amis elected to toughen Bond up and take him on a straight thriller ride and to leave out the brand mentions.
    It will be interesting to see what approach Boyd adopts in today's environment were his competition today comes from the fantasy action of Lee Child, at one end of the spectrum, and Le Carre and Cumming at the other.
    Indeed, will Boyd acknowlege CS in his novel? Perhaps @Bentley could give us his view - we miss your posts!
  • 007InVT007InVT Classified
    Posts: 893
    I found the 1st and 3rd act good but the middle lost my interest a bit. Otherwise excellent but a little overhyped on here.

    I definitely pictured Daniel Craig as bond, Amis' Bond was very tough and physical.
  • edited July 2013 Posts: 4,622
    @jetsetwilly
    I can relate to the general thrust of your CS report. Having recently re-read it, following a complete Flemingathon, I find it falls somewhat flat compared to the originals, but I think that was to be expected.
    That said, it's an excellent continuation effort, so bravo for that. I would have been quite happy to read more.
    As it was though, John Pearson did at least step-up 5 years later with his excellent follow-up to the Fleming oeuvre.
    The Fleming originals plus the Amis and Pearson efforts, do I think, make for a nice complete set in the original timeline.
  • MajorDSmytheMajorDSmythe Still waiting for the Jena Malone Batwoman movie that's never going to be made.Moderator
    Posts: 12,100
    I wasn't that keen on Colonel Sun, it just scrapes through into being one of the better books (it's place in my ranking can be seen in the 'What Bond book are you reading currently?' thread). That said, it does have a torture sequence that rivalled anything Fleming came up with. Just thinking about it makes me shift in my seat.

    I've never read Pearson's book, though I see that as more a novelty than a part of the cannon.
  • edited July 2013 Posts: 4,622
    I've never read Pearson's book, though I see that as more a novelty than a part of the cannon.
    I would say its more part of the canon. Most of the book is concerned with fleshing out Bond's early life and adventures but not as sensationally as Higson's Young Bond.
    In fact Bond has no adventures until he is about 16.
    Pearson also deftly writes in and around the Fleming stories, but is very faithful to the original narratives.
    I look at Higson's work as an alternative universe, as Pearson's Bond bio rings much truer, and nicely fleshes out the bare bones of Bond's life pre-Casino Royale, as provided by Fleming.
    The premise of course is that Bond lives, and that the books were cover to throw off Smersh from hunting down Bond.
    But it was Fleming himself who introduced this angle in M's YOLT obit, in which M talks about how "a series of popular books came to be written around him by a personal friend and former colleague of James Bond.........." and he goes on for a whole paragraph about the books.
    Pearson grabbed this thread dangled by Fleming, and built a book around it.
    It's a great read, chalk with new 007 adventures. It perfectly complements the Fleming canon.
    In fact I don't think there is any mention of Colonel Sun in it at all, but it doesn't clash with anything in CS either, so CS can be slipped in between.
  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    Posts: 9,117
    timmer wrote:
    I've never read Pearson's book, though I see that as more a novelty than a part of the cannon.
    I would say its more part of the canon. Most of the book is concerned with fleshing out Bond's early life and adventures but not as sensationally as Higson's Young Bond.
    In fact Bond has no adventures until he is about 16.
    Pearson also deftly writes in and around the Fleming stories, but is very faithful to the original narratives.
    I look at Higson's work as an alternative universe, as Pearson's Bond bio rings much truer, and nicely fleshes out the bare bones of Bond's life pre-Casino Royale, as provided by Fleming.
    The premise of course is that Bond lives, and that the books were cover to throw off Smersh from hunting down Bond.
    But it was Fleming himself who introduced this angle in M's YOLT obit, in which M talks about how "a series of popular books came to be written around him by a personal friend and former colleague of James Bond.........." and he goes on for a whole paragraph about the books.
    Pearson grabbed this thread dangled by Fleming, and built a book around it.
    It's a great read, chalk with new 007 adventures. It perfectly complements the Fleming canon.
    In fact I don't think there is any mention of Colonel Sun in it at all, but it doesn't clash with anything in CS either, so CS can be slipped in between.

    I've always enjoyed Pearsons biog and there's a case to be made that it is canon (although if you go down this route then I suppose you must say Devil May Care is also canon).

    What I really hate about it though is this idea started by Fleming in YOLT (presumably as a bit of a piss take or maybe because he knew he hadnt long left so was past caring) that the books actually exist in the Bond universe. I find it rather bizarre that Fleming's editor let it pass and even more preposterous that Pearson ran with it. OK I guess the conceit of the biog is to pretend Bond was actually real so this is part of the suspension of disbelief but I find it all rather ridiculous.
  • MajorDSmytheMajorDSmythe Still waiting for the Jena Malone Batwoman movie that's never going to be made.Moderator
    Posts: 12,100
    Now Devil May Care I do consider cannon, but that doesn't mean it's a good addition to the cannon. When DMC was published, I tried to read it, but I just had to give up. In my Bondathon, i'm due to finish NLFE tonight, and i'm determined to see DMC through to the end when I come to it.
  • Posts: 802
    Now Devil May Care I do consider cannon, but that doesn't mean it's a good addition to the cannon. When DMC was published, I tried to read it, but I just had to give up. In my Bondathon, i'm due to finish NLFE tonight, and i'm determined to see DMC through to the end when I come to it.

    Major - don't do it!
    Even the most ardent completist should not be obliged to read this balderdash (DMC).
    Faulkes should be flayed to within an inch of his life with an elephant's foreskin for defiling our hero - CB was even worse. IFP should have resigned on mass for producing that rubbish.
    I prefer to think of those two, along with Benson's entire output as canon fodder rather than part of the canon.
    The under mentioned Moneypenny Diaries, on the other hand, are absolutely fabulous and are certainly worth space on your bookshelf (great cover art too on the first edition hard backs).

  • Posts: 278
    Devil May Care for me read just like some of these one man books churned out by other authors, albeit a little more grounded and written in 1968 and with the exception that most of the books in those authors library are actually readable and enjoyable which is more than I can say for DMC.
    Mitch Rapp
    Ben Hope
    Ryan Lock
    Joe Hunter
    Jack Reacher
    Dirk Pitt
  • Posts: 4,622
    I've always enjoyed Pearsons biog and there's a case to be made that it is canon (although if you go down this route then I suppose you must say Devil May Care is also canon).

    What I really hate about it though is this idea started by Fleming in YOLT (presumably as a bit of a piss take or maybe because he knew he hadnt long left so was past caring) that the books actually exist in the Bond universe. I find it rather bizarre that Fleming's editor let it pass and even more preposterous that Pearson ran with it. OK I guess the conceit of the biog is to pretend Bond was actually real so this is part of the suspension of disbelief but I find it all rather ridiculous.
    I think you are right about Fleming. He was "taking the piss", having some fun with his creation, by inserting himself and his "popular books" into the narrative.
    I also suspect that Pearson was a big fanboy too, like most of us, and fantasized about actually meeting the legend that is James Bond, so he seized on the opening that Fleming had provided, and arranged for himself to meet the actual Bond, thus affording us "dear reader" the same fanboy opportunity.
    Pearson's initial meeting with Bond is quite dramatic, spooky even. Caused chills, as here we were, in on a secret, actually meeting the "real" James Bond.
    But all this nonsense aside, Pearson did focus the book on fleshing out Bond's actual bio, by working with the scraps that Fleming had provided, and concocting a credible history and background for the iconic agent.
    Pearson's work is by far my favourite continuation effort, as it basically I think finishes Fleming's work and brings Bond up to date in the Fleming timeline to roughly age 52, circa 1972-73.

    As for canon, the author decides canon, but once the author is gone, I think we have to respect anything that is actually approved by the copyright holder and that authors should respect what came before them.
    As far as the Fleming timeline, I think Amis, Pearson and Samantha Weinberg's work all jive together as canon. I don't think Weinberg stepped on anything Pearson wrote and even Faulkes can be squeezed in. I don't think Faulkes directly conflicts with any of Amis, Pearson or Weinberg, and Boyd should probably fit as well.
    Mind you, Faulkes I'm sure didn't care one way or the other.
    Higson on the other hand went fully off reservation, and completely trampled all over Pearson's work of 30 years earlier. I give the canon nod to Pearson, simply because he came first.
    Higson chose to build a different backstory for Bond, which I guess he had to do, in order to sell his adolescent thrillers.

    Gardner and Benson I guess are canon too, but have to be seen from a re-boot perspective due to Bond being artificially moved forward in time, although both authors do try to connect with the Fleming continuity, even if we have to suspend disbelief due to the passage of time.
    Benson even picks up on Pearson's Bond-off-to-Australia dangled thread, to do battle with Bunt.
    Deaver of course is a full 2011 re-boot not connected to anything.
    I would say post-Fleming canon in the Fleming timeline is Amis and Pearson most notably, along with Weinberg, Faulkes and presumably Boyd, as long as they don't conflict with what came before, and I don't think they do, at least not in a brazen way.
    But I do think Pearson trumps Higson, as he established his work long before.
    Higson is a fanciful alternative take on the Young Bond.



  • Posts: 2,483
    CS is the only continuation novel I've read. I rate it a decent thriller, but hardly a patch on Fleming's work. And if Kingsley Amis cannot pull off Bond, then it's likely nobody can.
  • Posts: 4,622
    I would say Pearson's work is the most Fleming worthy of the bunch.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 16,663
    timmer wrote:
    I would say Pearson's work is the most Fleming worthy of the bunch.
    I don't know, I still think Christopher Wood's Novelization of TSWLM was the closest thing to a Fleming novel I've read... even though I liked CS immensely.
  • Posts: 802
    CS is the only continuation novel I've read. I rate it a decent thriller, but hardly a patch on Fleming's work. And if Kingsley Amis cannot pull off Bond, then it's likely nobody can.

    Sorry, but even the most ardent Flemingista must acknowledge that CS is head and shoulders above TMWTGG, YOLT & DAF - to name but three?
  • edited July 2013 Posts: 802
    timmer wrote:
    I would say Pearson's work is the most Fleming worthy of the bunch.

    I thought Pearson's 'James Bond: The Authorised Biography' an interesting ruse albeit it is a little rogue as it wasn't commissioned by Gildrose and Pearson only got it published because he was a friend of their then chairman.
    For me, the book itself was a novelty and didn't thrill, partly because - as the great 'wizard' said - the basic premise was more than a tad ridiculous and this detracted considerably from my enjoyment.
    Conversely, I thought the set up behind the Moneypenny Diaries to be quite brilliant.
    That said, it's interesting that this great site doesn't even consider Pearson to be a Bond author when ne'er-do-wells like Benson, Faulks and Deaver get the full salute!
    Anyway, for my money only Amis, Higson and Weinberg have pulled it off completely. Albeit, the late great John Gardner, made a reasonable fist of it with his first five offerings
    Hopefully friend Boyd will give us something good and I for one would love to know if he has read 'Colonel Sun'?
  • Posts: 2,483
    Villiers53 wrote:
    CS is the only continuation novel I've read. I rate it a decent thriller, but hardly a patch on Fleming's work. And if Kingsley Amis cannot pull off Bond, then it's likely nobody can.

    Sorry, but even the most ardent Flemingista must acknowledge that CS is head and shoulders above TMWTGG, YOLT & DAF - to name but three?

    Not a bit of it. YOLT is a very good Bond novel, and if not the best, certainly the most fascinating. DAF, while hardly Fleming's best, is probably a bit underrated and certainly tops a good 95% of thrillers ever published by anybody. Gun is the weakest of the lot, but was still livelier than CS, and with far more interesting characters. The section at Sav la Mer alone blows CS out of the water. IMO, of course.

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