What would Ian Fleming have thought of the James Bond Continuation Authors and Novels?

DragonpolDragonpol Schloss Drache
edited June 2019 in Literary 007 Posts: 14,032
I've been thinking about this subject recently and as it hasn't come up here before for discussion I thought that I'd create a new thread on it. I just wanted to know other members' views on what Ian Fleming would have thought of the literary James Bond continuation project initiated by the Board of Glidrose Publications in the 1960s, by his brother Peter Fleming, ostensibly to counter the rise of unofficial Bond novel publications in the Eastern Bloc at that time. It was decided that the commissioning of a "Continuation Bond" would extend the copyright and take away the market for the inferior unofficial Bond novels being published by filling the market with an official product, namely Kingsley Amis' Colonel Sun, published in the UK on 28 March 1968.

Ian Fleming himself is said to have had the idea of auctioning off the literary rights to the James Bond character towards the end of his life, so the concept of the continuation Bond surely wouldn't have been an alien or objectionable idea to him. I can't recall where I read the idea about Fleming auctioning off the literary rights to James Bond but I believe it to be factual. If anyone can point me in the direction of the source for this auction idea I'd be most grateful! For one example, I know that in the 1960s Leslie Charteris eventually had a few of 'The Saint' books towards the end of his writing career written by others under his name, so that was his approach to extending his legacy.

With all of this in mind, what do you think Fleming would have made of the Bond continuation project which has now lasted for over fifty years from the first entry, Amis' Colonel Sun (1968) to the present day with Anthony Horowitz's Forever and a Day (2018). I'd be interested in hearing your views on what Fleming would have made of all of the Bond continuation novels and their respective authors too. I imagine he'd be both surprised and flattered that so many different famous authors had taken on his mantle as Bond author, to say nothing of the massive success that the EON-produced Bond films have been for over fifty years.

I know that wondering what a dead author would have thought of his literary heirs requires a certain amount of educated guesswork and suspension of disbelief (as opposed to psychic ability and stopping far short of a séance) but I think that the idea is sufficiently fascinating enough to engender an interesting discussion. :)

Comments

  • thedovethedove hiding in the Greek underworld
    Posts: 3,561
    I think this is very interesting topic @Dragonpol and very worthy of discussion.

    I have read in numerous places that Fleming had a few times attempted to kill off Bond. Which either says he thought he had taken the character as far as it could go. Or maybe he was trapped by the fame and wanted to write other types of novels? Either way I think if he had lived past 1964 he might have either done what you suggest and auction off the rights to the character. Or maybe those that have pushed for the death of double-o-7 would have gotten their wish.

    From all that I have read and heard about Ian I don't think he was as hands on with Bond as say Travers was with Mary Poppins. In fact after Connery was in the role Fleming created a Scottish heritage to the literary Bond. The humour of the series is also seen within the literary character after the movies debuted.

    Based on the above, I would guess that he would obviously want his character respected. The Ian Fleming Foundation certainly has done that. Admittedly I haven't read Colonel Sun but I have read all the others. The authors have respected what Fleming did and how Fleming wrote. I might argue that a few tried too hard to be like Fleming. But I don't think you can say that any one author mucked it up.

    As for the films, I think he would have approved of Roger Moore taking the role. He wanted someone more British for the role. I am not sure he'd like the humour and over the top stuff that some of the films pushed. When you think about it, although GF was big and OTT it was still plausible. In fact it was more plausible then Fleming's plot where GF was going to haul off with the gold. Someone in a Facebook group I belong to asked the group this question "You are Ian Fleming. You survived the heart attack. You have just exited the theatre after seeing MR. What's your reaction?" This question you pose is similar.

    I love this question as it really makes one think differently about the literary Bond.
  • edited June 2019 Posts: 15,079
    Great topic, @Dragonpol! I wouldn't know where to start really, as I've only read a few continuation novels. Having his creation survive so long, and expanding into all forms of mediums might have made Fleming proud at least. I mean, who wouldn't if they had created something that has had as big an impact on popular culture?

    Would he have enjoyed all the continuation novels? Maybe not, but I'd imagine he'd enjoy some of them. I like to think he'd enjoy the two novels by Anthony Horowitz, but I'm a Horowitz fan and biased when it comes to his writing. ;-)
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