Is there anyone who thinks that Fleming was not the best Bond author?

edited December 2012 in Literary 007 Posts: 739
Just curious. I think Fleming is the best but does anyone disagree? If so, why?
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  • Agent007391Agent007391 Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start
    Posts: 7,806
    Well, there are things I prefer with Fleming.

    Fleming was best with plots
    Gardner was best with characters and interactions
    Benson was best with emulating the film's atmosphere
    Faulks was best with descriptions of clothing and food

    I've not yet read Amis, Wood or Deaver, so I can't say anything about them.
  • Aziz_FekkeshAziz_Fekkesh Royale-les-Eaux
    Posts: 390
    Well Fleming did create the character and the film canon is based almost exclusively about what he told us about Bond, so I'd say he's seen as a demigod around these parts...
  • But as an author, not because he created Bond.
  • Aziz_FekkeshAziz_Fekkesh Royale-les-Eaux
    Posts: 390
    I don't think you'll get many who prefer Benson or Gardner over Fleming; the latter was basically a perfect combination of prose, plots, characters, and internal dialogue while someone like Benson often reads as movie Bond (not even Fleming Bond) pastiche and Gardner comes across as uninspired, derivative, and repetitive (even though he has some decent books).
  • I know. I'm just interested in how many people actually believe that the continuation authors were better as authors than Fleming.
  • 4EverBonded4EverBonded Dancing at midnight under the BeBop Moon
    Posts: 11,760
    I prefer Fleming. he has set the tome, and I enjoy his writing, I really do. It's fun, brooding, enough atmospheric for me to get into it. I remember Dr. No was one of my favorites. I need to re-read them soon!

    I have not read all the continuation authors, though. I thought Deaver was pretty bad, I have read some Benson and Gardner and liked them okay. And I enjoyed Devil May Care by Faulks, but felt it was not great, just enjoyable (I liked it a good deal better than Carte Blanche).
  • Fleming may not have been the best author, but he was the best Bond author.

    I read all of the Fleming books as a teen, then re-read them when I was in my early 20s. I was at my girlfriend's parents' place a year ago and noticed that her Dad had all of the Fleming Bond books, very early editions. Knowing he was a big fan of the early films I made some comment about how much he must have enjoyed the books. To my surprise, he said "Oh, Fleming was a *terrible* writer. He was garbage!" At first I was taken aback, then a little defensive. But then I thought, you know, it's been 20 years since I read the books. I wonder what I'll think of them now?

    So over the course of a few months I re-read them all and was pleasantly surprised with CR, then aghast at LALD. I thought that MR was an absolutely fantastic book - Bond book or not - but noticed the quality of the books noticeably decreasing after that. Fleming had characters speak in exposition, not dialogue, and increasingly relied on coincidence to drive the plots forward. He repeated scenes and sometimes even the same lines or turns of phrase. And yet all the books were eminently readable and engrossing.

    I read some of the Gardner books and really did not like them - they were okay at best - and I felt that the Benson books (at least the couple that I read) were so bad to be embarrassing. I haven't read Carte Blanche or Devil May Care (best post-Fleming title by a mile IMHO) but I've heard dire things about them.
  • Posts: 1,492
    Benson was best with emulating the film's atmosphere

    Does anyone else see this as contradictory? Surely an author should be creating his ownb atmosphere not a films?
    was best with descriptions of clothing and food.

    Faulks was a tedious writer. I gave up on Carte Blanche half way through because it was so dreary. And Faulks was just copying Fleming in the descriptions. Nothing beats Flemings description of the "butter stone crabs" in GF.

    The only author I have found with the same breathless Fleming sweep is Christopher Wood.
  • 4EverBonded4EverBonded Dancing at midnight under the BeBop Moon
    Posts: 11,760
    Faulks wrote Devil May Care; did you mean Deaver was tedious? It's unclear to me.
  • Posts: 1,492
    Faulks wrote Devil May Care; did you mean Deaver was tedious? It's unclear to me.

    I think it was Devil May Care. To be honest both were forgettable.

  • Posts: 259
    Well when I first read Casino Royale, it was a little confusing because the novel is dated (it was written in 1953, so people who didn't lived in the 50's might find this novel confusing), Fleming style of writing can sometime confuse me and I have to reread that passage to understand what Fleming was tryin to say and there was a lot of 50's slang and lingo (even the british English one) I wasn't familiar with and also there's bunch of historical references I wasn't familiar with like for example in Diamonds are Forever, Bill Tanner mention Kefauver Report, and I had no idea nor ever heard of this historical reference and I had to look that up on Wikipedia to help me understand what was Kefauver Report was.

    Fleming was very smart of making Bond and his adventure, but that doesn't mean he's the greatest, he had his up and down.

    For the other Bond authors:

    John Gardner: I bought 3 of Gardner's Bond books, I haven't read them yet but from reading couple of spoilers, it looks like Gardner had his up and down when writing the Bond novels.

    Raymond Benson: Now I praise him for keeping Fleming Bond with a modern touch, I read 2 of his Bond novels and I don't find it confusing like when I read Fleming's Bond novels.

    Jeffrey Deaver: I think he did his best as a author. He had some flaws but I like the plot for Carte Blanche.
  • Just bought all the Gardners, got through "icebreaker", had some great moments but certainly didn't flow like fleming. Starting "licence renewed tonight". I feel everyone was a little harsh on Faulkes, i enjoyed "devil may care" had some great fleming-esque touches in the style of description (Gardner is a little too boringly detailed at times) did not mind the plot in "devil" either. Still i have yet to read any bensons.
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 19,349
    Fleming was a superb author. I couldn't possibly cite anything wrong with his writings, instead I adore his writings.
  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    Posts: 9,117
    alphaagent wrote:
    Just bought all the Gardners, got through "icebreaker", had some great moments but certainly didn't flow like fleming. Starting "licence renewed tonight". I feel everyone was a little harsh on Faulkes, i enjoyed "devil may care" had some great fleming-esque touches in the style of description (Gardner is a little too boringly detailed at times) did not mind the plot in "devil" either. Still i have yet to read any bensons.

    On the contrary I don't think people are harsh enough. DMC is an appallingly lazy piece of work (especially considering the amount he was paid) by a bloke who arrogantly thought he could emulate Fleming in his sleep but who ended up delivering the DAD of Bond novels.

    If DMC had been fan fiction posted here I still would have rated it as distinctly average. To think someone got paid for it is frightening.

    Fleming might not have been the greatest author in history but, as thelordflasheart succinctly put it above, he was the best Bond author and for all Faulkes thinks he's better than Fleming with his awards it will be Ian who is remembered long after Sebastian is gone and forgotten.
  • I cannot really comment much on this subject - yet. I've only read the Fleming books so far. About to start Kingsley Amis. What I will say though is that Ian Fleming is a great writer. Really enjoy his style. I'll have to revisit once of read a few others.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    edited December 2012 Posts: 16,245
    Fleming sculpted; others draw.
    Neither is bad, but Fleming made you feel Bond's world.
  • Posts: 13,081
    I only ever read Fleming's Bond novels. And, to be honest, I don't care about the others.
  • echoecho 007 in New York
    edited December 2012 Posts: 4,297
    Well, there are things I prefer with Fleming.

    Faulks was best with descriptions of clothing and food.

    Oh, really? (Moore raised eyebrow.)

    For me, Fleming's strength is those very descriptions, above character and certainly above plot.
  • Ludovico wrote:
    I only ever read Fleming's Bond novels. And, to be honest, I don't care about the others.

    I too have only read the Fleming novels thus far but I'm intrigued as to the others and their interpretations of the character and his world. As a Bond fan I can't ignore them without at least giving them a go.
  • I rather enjoyed Devil May Care - it at least gave the impression that Sebastian Faulks had read and enjoyed Fleming, made an effort to emulate his style and set the book some time after The Man With the Golden Gun. Deaver is a pretty good thriller writer, but gave every impression of dashing off any old thing and calling the hero James Bond. I really thought Carte Blanche was an extremely lazy piece of work - it's the only Bond novel I actually regret buying.

    Gardner was a very capable writer, but the Bonds aren't his best work, though I still retain some affection for Licence Renewed. I haven't tried Raymond Benson, though I own a few of his. Any recommendations of his work?

    Fleming is the only author who has, for me, written really satisfying James Bond novels. Whether that makes him a better professional author is another matter.
  • Agent007391Agent007391 Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start
    Posts: 7,806
    actonsteve wrote:
    Benson was best with emulating the film's atmosphere

    Does anyone else see this as contradictory? Surely an author should be creating his ownb atmosphere not a films?

    I say this because it's easier, for me, to marry the film Bond to the book Bond when reading Benson.
    was best with descriptions of clothing and food.

    Faulks was a tedious writer. I gave up on Carte Blanche half way through because it was so dreary. And Faulks was just copying Fleming in the descriptions. Nothing beats Flemings description of the "butter stone crabs" in GF.

    The only author I have found with the same breathless Fleming sweep is Christopher Wood.
    [/quote]

    Well, the clothing and food were very well described in Devil May Care, that's why I said that.
    echo wrote:
    Well, there are things I prefer with Fleming.

    Faulks was best with descriptions of clothing and food.

    Oh, really? (Moore raised eyebrow.)

    For me, Fleming's strength is those very descriptions, above character and certainly above plot.

    Fleming was good at them, but it was easier for me to imagine the clothing and food in Devil May Care than in any Fleming book.
  • edited December 2012 Posts: 11,175
    I'm actually reading Silverfin (the first "Young Bond" book) at the moment. Its ok but certainly not as well written as most of Fleming's work. However there are some nice little touches like Bond refusing to take up smoking after seeing how it affected his Uncle Max and Bond learning to drive for the first time.

    Unfortunately some of the attempts to "pay homage" to Fleming's way of writing feel clumsy and don't quite work IMO.

    Which sounds better?

    "'The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are quite nauseating at three in the morning"

    Or:

    "the smell and noise and confusion of a hallway full of schoolboys can be quite awful at twenty past seven in the morning".
  • Agent007391Agent007391 Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start
    edited December 2012 Posts: 7,806
    BAIN123 wrote:
    Which sounds better?

    "'The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are quite nauseating at three in the morning"

    Or:

    "the smell and noise and confusion of a hallway full of schoolboys can be quite awful at twenty past seven in the morning".

    How about "The scent and smoke and sweat and noise and confusion of a hallway full of schoolboys at a casino can be quite awful and nauseating at twenty past three in the morning"?
  • I should mention that I went right into Colonel Sun after finishing off all of the Flemings and it's head and shoulders above any of the other post-Fleming books (or should I say "streets ahead" as to seem modern?). It's Fleming but tweaked; you're aware that it's a different author but it seems like an evolution of Fleming's style rather than either copying or going for something entirely different. I would feel completely comfortable listing CS as canon along with Fleming's stories.
  • BAIN123 wrote:
    I'm actually reading Silverfin (the first "Young Bond" book) at the moment. Its ok but certainly not as well written as most of Fleming's work. However there is some nice little touches like Bond refusing to take up smoking after seeing how it affected his Uncle Max and Bond learning to drive for the first time.

    Unfortunately some of the attempts to "pay homage" to Fleming's way of writing feel clumsy and don't quite work IMO.

    Which sounds better?

    "'The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are quite nauseating at three in the morning"

    Or:

    "the smell and noise and confusion of a hallway full of schoolboys can be quite awful at twenty past seven in the morning".

    Good god that's terrible. I get the noise and confusion of schoolboys but the smell first thing in the morning? Did they have Axe back then when Bond was a schoolboy?
  • edited December 2012 Posts: 11,175
    To make it work they needed to shorten the sentence.

    Something more like:

    "the noise and rush and confusion of a school hallway can be crushing at seven in the morning".

    That's not great either though.
  • Agent007391Agent007391 Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start
    Posts: 7,806
    Well, it's quite difficult to homage Fleming's descriptions. The man was a unique writer.
  • doubleoegodoubleoego #LightWork
    Posts: 11,090
    I don't see the point in trying to credibly compare Higson's descriptive writing with Fleming's. Their respective target audiences are different. Fleming himself said his books were written for adults and not school boys. Higson's books are children's books, although, extremely well written and can be thoroughly enjoyed by anyone of any age.
  • Posts: 5,767
    Among the Bond writers, Fleming clearly stands out. He might not be the best overall author in the world, but his distinctive way of describing things or places is quite remarkable. Amis was the closest as far as writing quality is concerned, in fact, as far as I remember, his novel was the only non-Fleming Bond novelthat was really fun to read. Gardner didn't make the mistake to try emulating Fleming's descriptive genius, but Gardner didn't describe anything much, which makes the novels I read seem a bit sterile. Plus, I don't like his consideration of the film Bond. Benson was better at literary Bond, but he wasn't that good at everything else. No that's not true, but he was far from being consistent.
  • Posts: 2,090
    Well, there are things I prefer with Fleming.

    Fleming was best with plots
    Fleming was best with characters and interactions
    Fleming was best with emulating the film's atmosphere
    Fleming was best with descriptions of clothing and food

    I've not yet read Amis, Wood or Deaver, so I can't say anything about them.

    I edited your post slightly so it made more sense. Hope you don't mind.

    Other than Amis, none of the other writers came anywhere close to capturing the brilliance of Fleming. The last 2 official novels were dreadful, and I've tried on numerous times to read a Benson, Gardner and Wood novel, and I can get about 3 chapters through before throwing the books down in utter disgust.

    Anyone who thinks there were better writers than Fleming to write a Bond novel should leave this forum right now, and follow another franchise.

    This is Bond blasphemy of the highest order!!!

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