It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!
^ Back to Top
The MI6 Community is unofficial and in no way associated or linked with EON Productions, MGM, Sony Pictures, Activision or Ian Fleming Publications. Any views expressed on this website are of the individual members and do not necessarily reflect those of the Community owners. Any video or images displayed in topics on MI6 Community are embedded by users from third party sites and as such MI6 Community and its owners take no responsibility for this material.
James Bond News • James Bond Articles • James Bond Magazine
My flatmate expressed interest in reading the novel (we watched the film together after Diana Rigg's death) so I lent her a copy. She immediately skipped to the last page to get it over with so she wouldn't have it hanging over her for the whole book!
If she doesn't like OHMSS, I'm afraid she's a lost cause....
GoldenEye (John Gardner)
...or an exercise in how to take an exciting film with interesting characters and reduce it to the blandest, most joyless version of itself. This was the second to last book Gardner wrote for Bond and he was clearly well over writing for the character at this point. The fact that it was a novelization only compounded his disinterest I'm sure. The tank chase unfolds over a narcolepsy-triggering fourteen pages during which Bond gradually learns the controls of the tank with all the excitement of preparing for one's driving exam and Orumov receives a fairly ridiculous and wholly unnecessary backstory involving a tank encounter in some skirmish that's meant to explain his excessive flask swilling (as if anyone needs a reason to be terrified of being run down by a tank!). I actually am a fan of much of Gardner's output for Bond, but GoldenEye was unexpectedly a low point in his Bond oeuvre. Given the "let's get this over with" spirit with which the novel reads, I suspect Gardner himself probably would agree.
Tomorrow Never Dies (Raymond Benson)
Conversely, this might actually be the best thing Benson wrote for Bond. Now don't get me wrong, we're not dealing with Fleming here. Nor even Wood nor Amis nor Boyd. But there's an excitement that perhaps comes from Benson's lifelong fandom and from being fresh and new to fiction writing, and his prose seems to read better here than in his later novels. He does precisely what a good novelization should do: he captures the spirit of the film on page while expanding and enriching the story with better developed characters, new scenes, and alternative routes through and outcomes for scenes in the film. Unlike his novelization for TWINE, you're not simply reading a rote translation of what's on the screen. Rather, it's the same story but a whole new experience. Much like Wood's novelizations actually, only Benson's prose is nowhere in the same league and some of his own tics like writing characters' thoughts in a rather juvenile and exclamatory manner are unfortunately here from the outset. Stamper and Carver, particularly the former, are rather too cartoonish at times, too. But it's a pleasure to see Benson combine Eon's Bond with Fleming's, adding some nice touches like a sly explanation for YOLT's Oriental Languages at Cambridge guffaw and even providing Tanner (who replaces Robinson here) a nice long passage where he reflects on his relationship with Bond. Among the changes, the stealth boat climax in particular is quite different from that seen in the film. I suspect some of this may be serendipitously due to the film's haphazard production—new pages of the script being written as they went. The novelization is therefore an interesting combination of the finished film, early ideas that were dropped, and Benson's own inventions. It's been a long time since I've read any of Benson's other books, but I strongly believe this might be the best of his work for Bond.
And the Bond reading recommendations I've received so far for 2021 are Gardner.
The book really kicks off with the Ouroboros bait shop setpiece which is a brilliantly tense setpiece, and really never lets up from there. Mr. Big is an excellent villain and his meticulous plans and his own bored artisty add the perfect amount of colorful flair to this pulpy entry. Despite being perhaps more low-brow than its predecessor, Live and Let Die does engage in more of a broad theme, as it’s preoccupied with fate and death.. Imagery of death persists throughout, from Mr. Big’s own zombified appearance, down to the oldsters that come down to Florida to live out their final days. There are omens that can help guide one through life, like Solitaire’s supposed premonitions or the undertaker’s wind, but as Bond notes there’s not much use in trying to decipher fate but rather live in the moment. It’s not a particularly deep bit of subtext, but it adds a solid thematic layer to an at times uneven adventure. Overall I really enjoyed this though and it’s last third is pretty much ideal for a grizzly and tense Bond thriller. Up next is Moonraker, which I have very fond memories of as a much more tightly paced and structured novel that may be lacking in the globetrotting and exotic atmosphere but more than makes up for it with good characterization and some real intrigue.
Yup! I’d like to pick that and the Casino Royale adaptation as well.
Lovecraft's racism, much like his sexism, was the product of an isolated upbringing. In fact, rather than as a misogynistic white supremacist, I think of him as an extreme introvert whose anti-social tendencies were an unfortunate side-effect of the tragedies of his youth. His xenophobia was much more universal and less race-related than one is often inclined to think. Lovecraft wasn't a people person in any way. His characters are almost no characters at all but rather, they are mere receivers of horrific truths. Lovecraft couldn't write good or interesting people but he sure could dream up the wildest fantasies, as if originating from psychotropic substance abuse. He treasured endless realms of dreams filled with mostly dormant gods who don't care whether we exist or not. A few of his short stories, 'poems' and essays do smell of a clear dissatisfaction with the forces of migration "taking over" certain local streets, and his words rarely cover up his anger, fear and loathing, but overall, I think he really did not like what was unknown to him, and his mother had made sure that very little was not unknown to him.
Fleming's case was entirely different. And when I read LALD, I read the book from the POV of a white male in the '50s, and I also allow myself a little of that British chauvinism that Fleming definitely perpetuated. But ultimately, LALD doesn't suggest that we hunt down coloured people, return to the days of slavery, suppress or discriminate others. I can definitely have problems with the book's inherent aversion to the coloured lifestyle if I wanted to, but find it almost non-existent at the core of the spy/adventure story that the book ultimately is. That said, I know I'm a biased Fleming fan, so I can't help not being too offended by either LALD or GF (with its somewhat twisted attitude towards lesbianism.)
Me feelings on the matter are close to yours, I think, but I would frame it slightly differently.
It is pretty evident from Fleming's writing that he believed that there are inherent and general differences in let's say quality between the races, the sexes and the classes. The overarching sense is that the pinnacle of human evolution on average is a white, heterosexual, upper-middle class man from Great Britain who has served in the military. Everyone else is very likely to be inferior. That is the world Fleming lived in and the world he wrote. In the most simple definition of the terms, that makes him a racist, a sexist and a classist.
But there is one very, very important part of Fleming's writing (and I believe thinking) that counter-acts this: Not only does he not advocate stripping people who aren't white, heterosexual, upper-middle class men from Great Britain of their humanity as you already said, he takes the time to look at the individual person and judge them according to their character and their actions. Yes, the entry-point to Bond's thought on someone is usually one of prejudice (which arguably, is something everyone does) but he is always open to getting to know someone and what they are made of. So then you can have upper-class white people Bond despises and actively fights, and working class people of colour who are great friends and allies to him. Women who he starts out thinking to be "silly bitches" who he then hopelessly falls in love with only to be rebuffed or lesbians he finds weird, but still respects as people. And so on. Granted, there isn't a main villain in the Fleming books I can think of who is British, but everyone has their foibles.
Edit: I've said this before, but I just find the patois he gives the Black characters in LALD and other books to be hard to understand, because it is so strange.
I just now stumbled across this great section in YOLT:
Damn, Ian. Tell us what you really think, why don't you. :))
lol that’s amazing
Well, it's not like he lets the UK off easily:
Well Fleming was literally dying at the time so that might explain his low mood.
That would certainly do it.
Yes, that's why the novel is his darkest and it explains the morbid obsession with death which permeates it.
It's one of his best Bond novels. You'll like it I am sure. :)