Which Bond novel are you currently reading?

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  • BirdlesonBirdleson San Jose, CAModerator
    edited January 27 Posts: 30,989
    People spend a lot of time on what isn't there (and there does seem tw\o be a lot of connectivity missing), but big chunks of what we have (the intro, the whore house, the finale, as you've said, are all Fleming at his peak.
  • ImpertinentGoonImpertinentGoon Everybody needs a hobby.
    Posts: 604
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    Just finished YOLT. What a strange, strange book.
    The last three or four chapters really floored me in a way where I am not exactly sure whether it's positive or not.
    What a strange book.
    "Then the sex merchant disconnected the wires and put the toad, which seemed none the worse for its experience, back in its hutch and closed the top."
    What a sentence!

    Strange and weird in a good way, though, I believe. Very Gothic in nature. It's certainly one of Fleming’s most bizarre books and all the better for it in my opinion.

    Yes, I remember being amused by the sex merchant part as a youngster and showing it to a friend. This was before I'd read the novel in full. You've brought back a long repressed memory there! :D

    I was certainly glued to it for those last few chapters and I am sure it will stay in my mind for quite some time. That in itself makes it a successful book in my eyes.
    I'm just still overwhelmed by the amount of "wait, what?" moments at the end there.
    One of the strangest to me being how in the Questioning Chamber, Bond suddenly becomes full on Connery from one paragraph to the next. There I sit, after reading 10 books with this brooding spy at their center, who doesn't really resemble the screen Bonds to a point that I don't see any of the actors in my mind's eye when reading the books and bang! Suddenly he is quipping and giving Shatterhand shit while being in the most dire of circumstances and it is full-on Sir Sean for like two chapters.l!
  • edited January 27 Posts: 2,300
    YOLT was the first book written after Fleming had seen a Bond film (Dr. No), so it makes sense that Bond has more wisecracks in this book. Even Blofeld's self-justifying speech seems partially inspired by the film version of Dr. No. And then there is the controversy about whether Fleming gave Bond Scottish roots as a tribute to Connery or not. (Summary: Fleming had inquired about the possibility of Bond having Scottish roots a few years earlier, but never referred to Bond as anything but English until after Connery was cast, starting in OHMSS.)

    I still remember the shock of first reading YOLT--there are so many unprecedented events in this book, shocking developments that never happened before in any Bond story. Bond falls to pieces and turns into an alcoholic wreck at the beginning, gets shouted at by M, kills Blofeld in a full-on bloodlust, loses his memory and sex drive, gets a woman pregnant, and heads to Russia! And then you more crazy stuff like have Blofeld going insane and shacking up with Irma Bunt, the horrifying and eerie Garden of Death, Bond's obituary, the supernatural elements with the nodding Gods, etc. YOLT seems to exist in a world separate from any other Bond story.
  • DragonpolDragonpol The Crazy World of David Dragonpol
    edited January 27 Posts: 14,718
    Birdleson wrote: »
    People spend a lot of time on what isn't there (and there does seem tw\o be a lot of connectivity missing), but big chunks of what we have (the intro, the whore house, the finale, as you've said, are all Fleming at his peak.

    Put me down as another fan of The Man with the Golden Gun. I love that it's different. Perhaps because it isn't so polished it really breezes along and provides a smaller scale, more localised real world plot. Things are more at the planning stage than the "ticking down to the bomb going off or the missile being fired" stage. I like that kind of change of pace.
  • edited January 27 Posts: 403
    As someone who hasn’t read the later Bond books yet, does The Man With the Golden Gun offer some sort of “conclusion” to the novels, or was it written as if the adventures would continue? From what I’ve heard about it, YOLT sounds almost as if it could have been some sort of grand, fever-dream finale to the books. I don’t know much of anything about TMWTGG novel, but it sounds much smaller scale?
  • BirdlesonBirdleson San Jose, CAModerator
    edited January 27 Posts: 30,989
    As someone who hasn’t read the later Bond books yet, does The Man With the Golden Gun offer some sort of “conclusion” to the novels, or was it written as if the adventures would continue? From what I’ve heard about it, YOLT sounds almost as if it could have been some sort of grand, fever-dream finale to the books. I don’t know much of anything about TMWTGG novel, but it sounds much smaller scale?

    It certainly does offer a conclusion. Bond's gradual breakdown and self-doubt, which began all the way back in CR, and is hinted at throughout (we start to really see it begin to take shape in GF, and it is a fairly direct line after that), comes full circle. Things are wrapped almost too tightly, but we (and Bond) get a nice final Fleming goodbye (not meaning death, meaning a fitting last exchange with Bond, or some such) to a few longtime supporting characters.

    Definitely smaller scale, and it benefits from it, I feel.
  • BirdlesonBirdleson San Jose, CAModerator
    Posts: 30,989
    And you will find quite a few COLONEL SUN fans on here, me being one. It is the only non-Fleming novel that I consider canon. It does have some pedigree; Kingsley Amis was an established and lauded writer (not of fan fiction, not of cheap genre paperbacks, but a substantial author of contemporary fiction), and it shows in the prose. Not Fleming, but he wasn't a hack hired to imitate anyone. He was a fine writer. He also had at least some working relationship with Fleming himself (the degree is up to debate, I can leave that to those who know, @Dragonpol and @Revelator ), and having previously written a novelty Bond book, gives the man some legitimacy, to us traditionalists at least. And the fact that it was both written in its' own time, and was, in real time, congruent with Fleming's timeline, gives it a natural feel and sense of setting that could not be replicated in later decades with later authors. That time had passed.
  • Very cool, thanks for the rundown. For some reason I was expecting it to just be an open ended adventure, but I’m glad Fleming was able to put some sort of a stamp on the series.
  • MajorDSmytheMajorDSmythe Still waiting for the Jena Malone Batwoman movie that's never going to be made.Moderator
    Posts: 11,942
    Colonel Sun is fairly highly regarded, though I must admit to feeling cold towards it, both times I read it. I remember taking to my dad about it, he read back when it was first published, and he didn't like it much either.

    Finished Wood's The Spy Who Loved Me, earlier. Being honest, I sort of lost momentum, for a few days, so I decided to restart the book.

    I think Wood took a good stab at dropping Fleming's Bond into this TSWLM. Was Christopher Wood never given the option to write his own Bond? He did an admirable job in capturing the Fleming Bond.
  • BirdlesonBirdleson San Jose, CAModerator
    Posts: 30,989
    Though you seem a bit less enthusiastic about Wood than I am, I'm glad you liked it somewhat.
  • MajorDSmytheMajorDSmythe Still waiting for the Jena Malone Batwoman movie that's never going to be made.Moderator
    Posts: 11,942
    No, no, I thought he did a good job. I would have liked him to have written more, maybe even his own Bond story.
  • BirdlesonBirdleson San Jose, CAModerator
    Posts: 30,989
    I would have love to see that.
  • echoecho 007 in New York
    Posts: 4,455
    I wonder why Wood was (presumably? unceremoniously?) dumped after MR which, despite its excesses, had some very good moments. Was it because MGW wanted to write?
  • DragonpolDragonpol The Crazy World of David Dragonpol
    edited January 28 Posts: 14,718
    echo wrote: »
    I wonder why Wood was (presumably? unceremoniously?) dumped after MR which, despite its excesses, had some very good moments. Was it because MGW wanted to write?

    I suppose it was because they wanted a more down to Earth film (quite literally after Moonraker) with For Your Eyes Only and Christopher Wood was not exactly synonymous with that type of writing in his prior two Bond films.

    I suppose they wanted to return to the Bond films of old (From Russia With Love was cited as the main influence). In that regard, Richard Maibaum was a tried and tested Bond writer who could write in various styles of Bond film. Changing from Wood as the main writer signalled a complete break with what had went immediately before.
  • edited January 28 Posts: 2,300
    I'm ashamed to say I still haven't read either of the Wood novels, primarily because Wood was very snotty about Fleming's TSWLM (and to a slight extent Fleming's MR) in his memoir James Bond, the Spy I Loved. The book is also disappointing in detailing who-contributed-what to the screenplay of TSWLM. Ditto for the genesis of the MR script. All that said, I should put aside my disappointment and read his Bond novels.
    echo wrote: »
    I wonder why Wood was (presumably? unceremoniously?) dumped after MR which, despite its excesses, had some very good moments.

    I don't think there were any good reasons to keep him. MR is a retread of TSWLM, whose screenplay likely owed more good qualities to Maibaum and the thousand other people who worked on it than Wood (even Mankiewicz did an uncredited pass!). Maibaum came back for FYEO and probably wouldn't have been happy to work with Wood.
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy My Secret Lair
    Posts: 13,384
    I've always enjoyed the Wood novels, He had a way of writing very close to
    the style of Fleming himself. Also I'm a fan of Col Sun, a great continuation
    Novel.
  • CommanderRossCommanderRoss The bottom of a pitch lake in Eastern Trinidad, place called La Brea
    Posts: 6,951
    Revelator wrote: »
    YOLT was the first book written after Fleming had seen a Bond film (Dr. No), so it makes sense that Bond has more wisecracks in this book. Even Blofeld's self-justifying speech seems partially inspired by the film version of Dr. No. And then there is the controversy about whether Fleming gave Bond Scottish roots as a tribute to Connery or not. (Summary: Fleming had inquired about the possibility of Bond having Scottish roots a few years earlier, but never referred to Bond as anything but English until after Connery was cast, starting in OHMSS.)

    I still remember the shock of first reading YOLT--there are so many unprecedented events in this book, shocking developments that never happened before in any Bond story. Bond falls to pieces and turns into an alcoholic wreck at the beginning, gets shouted at by M, kills Blofeld in a full-on bloodlust, loses his memory and sex drive, gets a woman pregnant, and heads to Russia! And then you more crazy stuff like have Blofeld going insane and shacking up with Irma Bunt, the horrifying and eerie Garden of Death, Bond's obituary, the supernatural elements with the nodding Gods, etc. YOLT seems to exist in a world separate from any other Bond story.
    And still people complain it's too much of a travelogue... Strange world this is...


    Put me down as another tmwtgg fan, for the same reasons. If anything it takes you even more into the atmosphere of what's going on than fleming-usual. I love the setting, Bonds decisions (sitting in the back of the car) etc. The end is epic as well.

  • BirdlesonBirdleson San Jose, CAModerator
    Posts: 30,989
    I think they're very good. And if the novels are closer to his original screen treatments, then I wish we had veered closer to his original vision. MR would have been far less silly.
  • ImpertinentGoonImpertinentGoon Everybody needs a hobby.
    Posts: 604
    Revelator wrote: »
    YOLT was the first book written after Fleming had seen a Bond film (Dr. No), so it makes sense that Bond has more wisecracks in this book. Even Blofeld's self-justifying speech seems partially inspired by the film version of Dr. No. And then there is the controversy about whether Fleming gave Bond Scottish roots as a tribute to Connery or not. (Summary: Fleming had inquired about the possibility of Bond having Scottish roots a few years earlier, but never referred to Bond as anything but English until after Connery was cast, starting in OHMSS.)

    I still remember the shock of first reading YOLT--there are so many unprecedented events in this book, shocking developments that never happened before in any Bond story. Bond falls to pieces and turns into an alcoholic wreck at the beginning, gets shouted at by M, kills Blofeld in a full-on bloodlust, loses his memory and sex drive, gets a woman pregnant, and heads to Russia! And then you more crazy stuff like have Blofeld going insane and shacking up with Irma Bunt, the horrifying and eerie Garden of Death, Bond's obituary, the supernatural elements with the nodding Gods, etc. YOLT seems to exist in a world separate from any other Bond story.
    And still people complain it's too much of a travelogue... Strange world this is...


    Put me down as another tmwtgg fan, for the same reasons. If anything it takes you even more into the atmosphere of what's going on than fleming-usual. I love the setting, Bonds decisions (sitting in the back of the car) etc. The end is epic as well.

    I still think that is a valid point. Or rather, I didn't find the first half of YOLT - the travelogue part - as engaging as Fleming's previous writing on destinations. With this one I got much more of a feeling of "this is a tour of the country I did and things I have seen and I will tell you my thoughts on it" and less of the lived in feeling that other books have. Which is logical, because that is exactly the way it was for Fleming (and come to think of it Bond). He visited Japan once (I think) whereas he had many more experiences in the Caribbean, the US and of course continental Europe. Accordingly, both Fleming and Bond have f.e. a favourite place to eat and an opinion on the way one should drink in Paris, whereas in Japan it's more that someone presents him with something and he either likes it or doesn't, but usually at least thinks it's strange.
    It certainly pales in comparison to the wild ride that is the second half.
  • CommanderRossCommanderRoss The bottom of a pitch lake in Eastern Trinidad, place called La Brea
    Posts: 6,951
    Revelator wrote: »
    YOLT was the first book written after Fleming had seen a Bond film (Dr. No), so it makes sense that Bond has more wisecracks in this book. Even Blofeld's self-justifying speech seems partially inspired by the film version of Dr. No. And then there is the controversy about whether Fleming gave Bond Scottish roots as a tribute to Connery or not. (Summary: Fleming had inquired about the possibility of Bond having Scottish roots a few years earlier, but never referred to Bond as anything but English until after Connery was cast, starting in OHMSS.)

    I still remember the shock of first reading YOLT--there are so many unprecedented events in this book, shocking developments that never happened before in any Bond story. Bond falls to pieces and turns into an alcoholic wreck at the beginning, gets shouted at by M, kills Blofeld in a full-on bloodlust, loses his memory and sex drive, gets a woman pregnant, and heads to Russia! And then you more crazy stuff like have Blofeld going insane and shacking up with Irma Bunt, the horrifying and eerie Garden of Death, Bond's obituary, the supernatural elements with the nodding Gods, etc. YOLT seems to exist in a world separate from any other Bond story.
    And still people complain it's too much of a travelogue... Strange world this is...


    Put me down as another tmwtgg fan, for the same reasons. If anything it takes you even more into the atmosphere of what's going on than fleming-usual. I love the setting, Bonds decisions (sitting in the back of the car) etc. The end is epic as well.

    I still think that is a valid point. Or rather, I didn't find the first half of YOLT - the travelogue part - as engaging as Fleming's previous writing on destinations. With this one I got much more of a feeling of "this is a tour of the country I did and things I have seen and I will tell you my thoughts on it" and less of the lived in feeling that other books have. Which is logical, because that is exactly the way it was for Fleming (and come to think of it Bond). He visited Japan once (I think) whereas he had many more experiences in the Caribbean, the US and of course continental Europe. Accordingly, both Fleming and Bond have f.e. a favourite place to eat and an opinion on the way one should drink in Paris, whereas in Japan it's more that someone presents him with something and he either likes it or doesn't, but usually at least thinks it's strange.
    It certainly pales in comparison to the wild ride that is the second half.

    I agree wholeheartedly, and am amazed that the first half would have such a prominent effect on people.
  • BirdlesonBirdleson San Jose, CAModerator
    Posts: 30,989
    I love the entire novel, no drop off or spurt in my enjoyment.
  • Finished Moonraker. In many ways this is Fleming’s best novel thus far in the series; it’s confidently structured (rather than splitting up the acts by location ala LALD, here they are broken up almost by style: the social intrigue of the first part, the second part is a mystery, and the third becomes a thriller), the plotting is very tight as multiple hints and strands are carefully woven together until the reveal, and Fleming’s writing has further improved offering more insight and development into all the major characters but done in a more organic way than the philosophical pontifications that came towards the end of Casino Royale. And yet, despite all that, I hesitate to call this one my favorite of the bunch. The first part, which details more of Bond’s office and personal life than we’ve ever seen yet, as well as his and M’s opulent and tense evening in Blades, is probably the best stretch of writing out of the three books. It’s just captivating stuff; the location is fascinating, the card game is incredibly tense, and I loved seeing M and Bond on a mission together. Unfortunately this section is, in my eyes, easily the peak of the novel. Moonraker is a bit like a reverse LALD; where that book got better with each passing act, Moonraker diminishes. Which is not to say Moonraker is poor by any stretch of the imagination, it’s just that by the time we get to the third act’s car chase that results in Bond’s capture, and subsequent torture and escape, it can’t help but feel just a little like a a rehash of the action beats of prior books only set in a less exotic setting. I admire Moonraker a lot for setting itself apart with its setting and more intrigue driven premise, but I think I might prefer the jet-setting and adventure of the typical Bond story more. Still though, I had a blast with this (so much so that I don’t think I could even rank just these first 3 books in terms of preference, they all excel in different ways). Next is Diamonds are Forever: this one I haven’t read before and from what I gather is another SMERSH-less entry in the series that takes Bond back to America, leaving FRMWL to get the series back to its Cold War vendetta.
  • CommanderRossCommanderRoss The bottom of a pitch lake in Eastern Trinidad, place called La Brea
    edited February 1 Posts: 6,951
    Personaly I find it more Biggles than Bond. Especially the ending. I find it rather odd that M would approve of the damage done to the Netherlands by the impact of the Moonraker. Does Britain really not care about it's allies and their people, especially just after the horrendous floods of 1953?
  • echoecho 007 in New York
    Posts: 4,455
    I think there was a much lesser understanding of environmentalism in the '50s than there is now. Silent Spring was when, 1963?
  • ImpertinentGoonImpertinentGoon Everybody needs a hobby.
    Posts: 604
    Just finished TMWTGG.

    Don't think I have a lot to add about it. It is a smaller book and parts of it feel a bit like re-hashes of previous story beats.
    Bond becoming the villain's assistant.
    The Group is kind of a less interesting mix of SPECTRE and the consortium of crooks in Goldfinger.
    The train showdown.
    And I have to say I was more preoccupied with trying to find the seams of the book and reflecting on Fleming's death then I was with enjoying the story, which is sad.
  • Posts: 1,585
    I'm about 1/3 of the way through Licence Renewed, which is my first Gardner novel. I must say I'm enjoying it so far. I have minor quibbles, but it is sturdy enough. The prose is certainly not as atmospheric or strong as Fleming's, but it is keeping me engaged
  • MajorDSmytheMajorDSmythe Still waiting for the Jena Malone Batwoman movie that's never going to be made.Moderator
    Posts: 11,942
    Finished Wood's Moonraker earlier. I feel as if I detected a little more of the movie Bond at times, but on the whole, an improvement on the film. I likes the way the Gondola chase plays out. In the film, Bond is just sitting back, enjoying the sights, before he sees the funeral boat making its way down the waterway. In the book, there a building sense of foreboding that is absent in the film.

    I might start Licence Renewed later, just to keep my momentum going.
  • BirdlesonBirdleson San Jose, CAModerator
    Posts: 30,989
    I assume Wood's adaptations were closer to the original, more grounded, screenplays. I wish that the films had remained similar in tone.
  • CommanderRossCommanderRoss The bottom of a pitch lake in Eastern Trinidad, place called La Brea
    Posts: 6,951
    Reading Octopussy & The Living Daylights now. Those short stories fit ln my work-home travels (for the one day a week I'm still going to the office).
  • Reading Casino Royale again, it’s been a while.

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