Should James Bond novels have real people characterizations?

edited July 2013 in Literary 007 Posts: 686
This is a follow up posting to @drangonpol Never Send Flowers discussion. Should James Bond novels include characterization (dialog and interactions) of real people? I am not opposed to real people being mentioned such as JFK or David Nivens. I know that Tom Clancy and Frederick Forsyth do. Sax Rohmer did not. I am wondering if it is appropriate for the James Bond genre to include real people. I am generally opposed in doing so because writers are not generally good in doing so. I did not like the Prince of Wales in Patriot Games.

Any thoughts on this matter?

Comments

  • Posts: 5,745
    I see no difference between the following:

    President Kennedy ensured the best amenities were made available for Bond, but he politely refused.

    and

    The President ensured the best amenities were made available for Bond, but he politely refused.

    One of the only times Fleming does it is to describe Bond as looking familiar to Hoagy Carmichael, an actual actor. Outside of that I'd say it isn't necessary.
  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    Posts: 9,117
    I'd say Fleming gets it about right mentioning the likes of Gary Powers, Allen Dulles and Khoklov in passing to give a bit of depth and reality but not actually involving them in the story at all.
  • CommanderRossCommanderRoss The bottom of a pitch lake in Eastern Trinidad, place called La Brea
    Posts: 7,216
    Aren't Beria and Abakumov mentioned somewhere as well by Fleming when he talks about SMERSH? Tbh i prefer it if real people are mentioned, like Thatcher was shown in FYEO as the prime minister. Bond should always be pretty close to the real world, so to make the threats he fights more dangerous. The problem is that modern day writers write too much in formula's, and Bond doesn't fit into them, and neither do existing people.
  • DragonpolDragonpol Writer @ http://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    edited July 2013 Posts: 15,481
    Well, of course Princess Diana is mentioned as the target of my namesake David Dragonpol's major hit in Never Send Flowers (1993). I do love that novel, though Ladty Diana does not actually feature as a character therein. She was of course tragically killed in a Paris tunnel some four short years later in August 1997, showing how using a well known figure can sully a novel and give it a "time-capsule" effect. Though as Frederick Forsyth used President Charles de Gaulle in The Day of the Jackal (1971) and he had actually died just before the novel was even published ("General de Gaulle est mort" was the official announcement on the occasion of his death in November 1970) and that didn't seem to affect in one iota the suspense generated in that early docu-thriller. It helped that the novel was sert in 1963 when de Gaulle was very much alive, of course. A modern setting may have been more problematic. Including a famous figure or celebrity does tend top date a modern-day narrative, so perhaps it is best avoided in Bond's world. John Gardner had form in including real figures in his Bond continuation novels of the 1980s and 1990s. It was all part of his brief to make his Bond novels more gritty and more realistic.

    On the other hand, the suspense in Never Send Flowers is rather removed by Gardner when he has Princess Diana and her sons cancel their proposed trip to Euro Disney where Dragonpol had planned to blow them up with a keg of high explosives. Even the filmic tagged-on ending of having his equally insane sister Maeve Horton trying to finish off the job buy blowing up Princess Diana at a press conference or something with a truly huge grenade happens off-stage post-Dragonpol and is only related by Flicka von Grusse, Bond's assistant in the latter Gardner Bonds. So suspense is sadly mishandled in that novel, but a few tweaks wiould have made all the difference. Having said all of the above, I still love Never Send Flowers intensely and few other continuation Bonds come near it for successful experimentation and a fresh take on the literary James Bond at a time when there were no new films. John Gardner deserves much more credit than he gets.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 17,245
    I would resist doing so myself. No need to 'time-capsulize' a Bond story. I like the timeless feel.
  • DragonpolDragonpol Writer @ http://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 15,481
    JWESTBROOK wrote:
    I see no difference between the following:

    President Kennedy ensured the best amenities were made available for Bond, but he politely refused.

    and

    The President ensured the best amenities were made available for Bond, but he politely refused.

    One of the only times Fleming does it is to describe Bond as looking familiar to Hoagy Carmichael, an actual actor. Outside of that I'd say it isn't necessary.

    With all due respect, I don't think a passing reference is what @Perdogg really means here in this thread. No doubt he will correct me if I have misinterpreted this thread!
  • oo7oo7
    edited July 2013 Posts: 1,068
    <object width="420" height="315"><param name="movie" value="//www.youtube.com/v/td4fza3UrE8?hl=en_US&version=3&rel=0"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="//www.youtube.com/v/td4fza3UrE8?hl=en_US&version=3&rel=0" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="420" height="315" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>

    I think its for the best he remains a secret agent. when you start doing up his obituary in the papers and getting phone calls from maggie and taking the queen to the Olympics he comes into the silly side of things again. Moore bond or Adam west batman.
  • Posts: 686
    Dragonpol wrote:
    JWESTBROOK wrote:
    I see no difference between the following:

    President Kennedy ensured the best amenities were made available for Bond, but he politely refused.

    and

    The President ensured the best amenities were made available for Bond, but he politely refused.

    One of the only times Fleming does it is to describe Bond as looking familiar to Hoagy Carmichael, an actual actor. Outside of that I'd say it isn't necessary.

    With all due respect, I don't think a passing reference is what @Perdogg really means here in this thread. No doubt he will correct me if I have misinterpreted this thread!

    Right, what I mean is when real people are turned into characters like in Patriot Games where Prince Charles has a conversation with Jack Ryan.
  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    Posts: 9,117
    Dragonpol wrote:
    Well, of course Princess Diana is mentioned as the target of my namesake David Dragonpol's major hit in Never Send Flowers (1993). I do love that novel, though Ladty Diana does not actually feature as a character therein. She was of course tragically killed in a Paris tunnel some four short years later in August 1997, showing how using a well known figure can sully a novel and give it a "time-capsule" effect. Though as Frederick Forsyth used President Charles de Gaulle in The Day of the Jackal (1971) and he had actually died just before the novel was even published ("General de Gaulle est mort" was the official announcement on the occasion of his death in November 1970) and that didn't seem to affect in one iota the suspense generated in that early docu-thriller. It helped that the novel was sert in 1963 when de Gaulle was very much alive, of course. A modern setting may have been more problematic. Including a famous figure or celebrity does tend top date a modern-day narrative, so perhaps it is best avoided in Bond's world. John Gardner had form in including real figures in his Bond continuation novels of the 1980s and 1990s. It was all part of his brief to make his Bond novels more gritty and more realistic.

    On the other hand, the suspense in Never Send Flowers is rather removed by Gardner when he has Princess Diana and her sons cancel their proposed trip to Euro Disney where Dragonpol had planned to blow them up with a keg of high explosives. Even the filmic tagged-on ending of having his equally insane sister Maeve Horton trying to finish off the job buy blowing up Princess Diana at a press conference or something with a truly huge grenade happens off-stage post-Dragonpol and is only related by Flicka von Grusse, Bond's assistant in the latter Gardner Bonds. So suspense is sadly mishandled in that novel, but a few tweaks wiould have made all the difference. Having said all of the above, I still love Never Send Flowers intensely and few other continuation Bonds come near it for successful experimentation and a fresh take on the literary James Bond at a time when there were no new films. John Gardner deserves much more credit than he gets.

    Draggers finally sees the light and admits that NSF is a shambles. Never thought I'd see the day.
  • DragonpolDragonpol Writer @ http://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 15,481
    Dragonpol wrote:
    Well, of course Princess Diana is mentioned as the target of my namesake David Dragonpol's major hit in Never Send Flowers (1993). I do love that novel, though Ladty Diana does not actually feature as a character therein. She was of course tragically killed in a Paris tunnel some four short years later in August 1997, showing how using a well known figure can sully a novel and give it a "time-capsule" effect. Though as Frederick Forsyth used President Charles de Gaulle in The Day of the Jackal (1971) and he had actually died just before the novel was even published ("General de Gaulle est mort" was the official announcement on the occasion of his death in November 1970) and that didn't seem to affect in one iota the suspense generated in that early docu-thriller. It helped that the novel was sert in 1963 when de Gaulle was very much alive, of course. A modern setting may have been more problematic. Including a famous figure or celebrity does tend top date a modern-day narrative, so perhaps it is best avoided in Bond's world. John Gardner had form in including real figures in his Bond continuation novels of the 1980s and 1990s. It was all part of his brief to make his Bond novels more gritty and more realistic.

    On the other hand, the suspense in Never Send Flowers is rather removed by Gardner when he has Princess Diana and her sons cancel their proposed trip to Euro Disney where Dragonpol had planned to blow them up with a keg of high explosives. Even the filmic tagged-on ending of having his equally insane sister Maeve Horton trying to finish off the job buy blowing up Princess Diana at a press conference or something with a truly huge grenade happens off-stage post-Dragonpol and is only related by Flicka von Grusse, Bond's assistant in the latter Gardner Bonds. So suspense is sadly mishandled in that novel, but a few tweaks wiould have made all the difference. Having said all of the above, I still love Never Send Flowers intensely and few other continuation Bonds come near it for successful experimentation and a fresh take on the literary James Bond at a time when there were no new films. John Gardner deserves much more credit than he gets.

    Draggers finally sees the light and admits that NSF is a shambles. Never thought I'd see the day.

    Now, I wouldn't go that far. Just a little mild criticism there.
  • Posts: 13,739
    Perdogg wrote:
    Dragonpol wrote:
    JWESTBROOK wrote:
    I see no difference between the following:

    President Kennedy ensured the best amenities were made available for Bond, but he politely refused.

    and

    The President ensured the best amenities were made available for Bond, but he politely refused.

    One of the only times Fleming does it is to describe Bond as looking familiar to Hoagy Carmichael, an actual actor. Outside of that I'd say it isn't necessary.

    With all due respect, I don't think a passing reference is what @Perdogg really means here in this thread. No doubt he will correct me if I have misinterpreted this thread!

    Right, what I mean is when real people are turned into characters like in Patriot Games where Prince Charles has a conversation with Jack Ryan.

    I would avoid it like the plague. Thatcher in fyeo was a funny tongue in cheek Moore era moment, Fleming mentioning Ursula Andress was merely a nod, but having public figures taking part to the plot doesn't quite work for Bond I think.
  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    Posts: 9,117
    Perdogg wrote:
    Right, what I mean is when real people are turned into characters like in Patriot Games where Prince Charles has a conversation with Jack Ryan.

    Hmm speaking of Jack Ryan heres an idea:

    Wouldnt it be cool if Bond interacted with the likes of Ryan and Bourne a la the Avengers? Harrison Ford sort of taking an elder statesman role and Craig and Damon teaming up to kick ass together to stop a massive terror attack on the west or something?

    Would that be great or would it, as I privately suspect, be monumentally shite?
  • 007InVT007InVT Classified
    edited July 2013 Posts: 893
    There's always that tipping point when a subtle reference mutates into a cabaret show.

    Richard Branson's cameo in QOS (right?) was fine. It dates the movies more so than the books of course, because you inhabit the world of the 50s or 60s, whereas it's pure nostalgia in the movies and modern day sensibilities seem to make a joke of a lot them. Look at all the bloody references to Beetles, Land Rovers etc in Skyfall by that awful Moneypenny and Dench! Ruined the opening sequence for me in what was an otherwise exciting scene.

    Wouldn't it be nice if SOLO and Bond 24 played it pretty straight?
  • pachazopachazo Make Your Choice
    Posts: 7,253
    Hmm speaking of Jack Ryan heres an idea:

    Wouldnt it be cool if Bond interacted with the likes of Ryan and Bourne a la the Avengers? Harrison Ford sort of taking an elder statesman role and Craig and Damon teaming up to kick ass together to stop a massive terror attack on the west or something?

    Would that be great or would it, as I privately suspect, be monumentally shite?

    It would be like a train wreck. Absolutely terrible but I wouldn't be able to keep my eyes off of it!
  • DragonpolDragonpol Writer @ http://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 15,481
    Perdogg wrote:
    Right, what I mean is when real people are turned into characters like in Patriot Games where Prince Charles has a conversation with Jack Ryan.

    Hmm speaking of Jack Ryan heres an idea:

    Wouldnt it be cool if Bond interacted with the likes of Ryan and Bourne a la the Avengers? Harrison Ford sort of taking an elder statesman role and Craig and Damon teaming up to kick ass together to stop a massive terror attack on the west or something?

    Would that be great or would it, as I privately suspect, be monumentally shite?

    That would definitely be the latter, Ice...
  • Posts: 6,396
    Perdogg wrote:
    Right, what I mean is when real people are turned into characters like in Patriot Games where Prince Charles has a conversation with Jack Ryan.

    Hmm speaking of Jack Ryan heres an idea:

    Wouldnt it be cool if Bond interacted with the likes of Ryan and Bourne a la the Avengers? Harrison Ford sort of taking an elder statesman role and Craig and Damon teaming up to kick ass together to stop a massive terror attack on the west or something?

    Would that be great or would it, as I privately suspect, be monumentally shite?

    I need a shower after reading that idea. I suddenly feel dirty (and not in a good way)
  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    Posts: 9,117
    Perdogg wrote:
    Right, what I mean is when real people are turned into characters like in Patriot Games where Prince Charles has a conversation with Jack Ryan.

    Hmm speaking of Jack Ryan heres an idea:

    Wouldnt it be cool if Bond interacted with the likes of Ryan and Bourne a la the Avengers? Harrison Ford sort of taking an elder statesman role and Craig and Damon teaming up to kick ass together to stop a massive terror attack on the west or something?

    Would that be great or would it, as I privately suspect, be monumentally shite?

    I need a shower after reading that idea. I suddenly feel dirty (and not in a good way)

    Well if the studio ever gets the rights to Bond off EON some genius would come up with it as a great idea.
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