'On His Majesty's Secret Service' by Charlie Higson (2023)

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Comments

  • edited June 2023 Posts: 2,598
    I’ve taken a break from reading DON. I’m presently reading ‘The Exorcist’. :)
  • edited June 2023 Posts: 3,211
    Just got a copy today and about a quarter of the way through.
    It does romp along. Although I think the writing feels a bit too much like it's a first draft. While I like the fact that it's a story set in the modern world (I fundamentally think Bond stories work better post-Fleming when modernised) my biggest issue so far is that this doesn't feel like a version of James Bond in today's world, but simply an attempt to superficially transpose Fleming's character/world into 2023. At times the writing comes off as something that's clearly been written by a 60-odd year old. M gets antsy because he can't smoke his pipe inside, Marina feels naked without her smartphone. At times it becomes a bit strange to read. Why would James Bond, a well travelled man in his 30s, be surprised that he receives little change from a fiver after entering a specific country? Why would James Bond, a man in his 30s and a womaniser, ever think of the term 'situation-ship' supposedly used by young people when thinking about an affair he's having (by the way as a 20 something year old, this is not a term that young people particularly use to my knowledge). To put it simply it doesn't feel like this James Bond is a man who lives in the modern world.

    There are some interesting ideas for passages that in theory should be introspective and Fleming-esque but come off as a bit cringey. Bond reading about gut bacteria and then linking this to 'gut instinct' is an example for me. Some of the writing in that section feels a bit too on the nose, a bit too 'tell, not show' to use an old writing term (especially where it overtly states that Bond tends to go into a depression when not on assignment. This is technically true of the original novels, but saying it so bluntly lacks that Fleming-esque introspection/use of literary language that I think evokes the way the literary character thinks).

    It's an issue I've admittedly had with other non-Fleming writers, especially the more recent ones. They get Bond's cynicism, his world weariness, his more 'old fashioned' virtues, but without those little Fleming touches, those little embellishments that let you know he's a man who lives in the modern world and legitimately enjoys some of the things in his life, he tends to come off as a bore. An old man almost. I kind of get that sense here.
  • edited June 2023 Posts: 3,211
    Finished the book, here's my thoughts:
    Without a doubt one of the strangest James Bond continuation novels I've ever read.

    I think the obvious needs addressing first. This is a contemporary novel. It's baked into the very concept of the premise. It takes place in the run up to King Charle's coronation, and very often real world events, figures, and indeed politics are evoked. I actually find this interesting on the one hand. It's the first instance, as far as I can tell, of a millennial James Bond, and it's something we're going to see again with Bond 26 and new novels around the corner. This is a man born in the late 80s, a man who's never lived through the Cold War. One may ask if it's even possible to have a version of Fleming's character in this context.

    To be clear, Higson clearly understands certain aspects of Fleming's character. In one passage we get a little aside where Bond recounts an article about gut bacteria and thinks about his own lifestyle - his bouts of depression when not assignment, the trauma his work has on his body. It's a neat and very Fleming-esque idea in concept, but Higson's writing is a little too blunt here. He openly states that Bond has these bouts of depression when his energy levels drop after a mission, that there's a risk agents in his position will lose this 'gut instinct' with age. Many of Fleming's passages contained similar introspection, but they would be much more nuanced and two dimensional. We would get moments where Bond compared killing to the job of a surgeon, where he would look at the body of a man he'd just killed and think of whether they'd had a family or driver's license. Fleming's writing was much more evocative and literary in this sense. For me Higson's passage came off as blunt, rather on the nose, and cringeworthy by comparison.

    Like I said in my previous post it becomes clear during certain sections of this book that these are not the thoughts of a modern James Bond, but a sixty something year old author trying to write such a character. At one point Bond thinks of the term 'situation-ship' (supposedly used by 'younger people') when recounting a personal romance he's having. It makes about as much sense as Bond pondering the term 'Netflix and chill', and is even stranger considering it's not a particularly commonly used phrase amongst young people anyway. Again, it doesn't come off as something that would occur to a relatively young man.

    Aside from this, we get some insight into how this version of Bond thinks politically. Again, this is by design. Much of the villain's introduction involves him spewing hard right rhetoric (it's admittedly a grift) with Bond dismissing it as disjointed nonsense. At one point he notices that the villain's meeting is full of white men with no 'attempt at diversity'. We get brief asides about how Bond believes that the hard left and hard right have much in common than the centre, how the likes of Orban and Trump are crude far right nationalists. It feels like a bit of a cop out if I'm honest. While there's something fundamentally conservative about James Bond (he is, after all, an agent who works to protect the status quo of his country) the literary character is not an unthinking creature either. Often in the Fleming novels Bond's cynicism felt rather subversive. He openly talks about the futility of the Cold War in CR. The term 'prohibition is the trigger of crime' is used to describe the crack down on drug smuggling in GF.

    As a result, it's rather odd reading Higson's James Bond. To be clear Higson understands that Bond is essentially politically 'neutral' in practice. He's a blunt instrument after all, a man whose duty is towards his country, but he's also a man who operates outside of the typical government channels and often has doubts about his profession. I imagine a modern Bond with the cynicism of Fleming's character would have much more to ponder about the rise of right wing nationalism, about why people follow such figures, no matter how dismissive he is of them. Remember, this is a Bond whose adult life has been shaped by rather unstable world events, often created by the political 'elites' that Aethelstan superficially denounces. Does Bond think nothing about this? It's difficult to imagine him having such black and white opinions about politics, and I can't imagine him having much love for the political centre nor the modern bureaucrats of his own government. I certainly can't imagine any version of James Bond being surprised about the lack of 'diversity' in a room. It feels like a missed opportunity almost. For me, the most interesting Bond villains are the ones whose qualities in some way mirror those of Bond's, but at the same time lack his own virtues. Silva in SF for instance has a background as an agent and traumatic experience at M's hand which mirrors Bonds own. The difference is Silva resorts to revenge and anarchism, while Bond maintains loyalty and a sense of duty towards MI6. It might of been interesting if Aethelstan's rhetoric was a bit more subtle/convincing, or if Bond even agreed with certain parts of it to his discomfort. The revelation that his rhetoric is a grift isn't all that surprising, but is a nice little satirical point. Overall, it's a concept that's not fully realised for me.

    I understand some people will view this book as a ham fisted attempt to bring 'woke' politics into Bond, but it's actually a rather politically safe novel. At no point does Bond express any opinion about the Monarchy. This is a shame as we currently live in a world where support for the Monarchy, and indeed many of Britain's older institutions, are viewed less favourably by an increasing number of people, particularly Bond's age in this novel. It might have been interesting to read Bond's thoughts about this in such an introspective story, how such a man whose only virtues (to use Fleming's words) are bravery and patriotism negotiates these sentiments in the modern world. I suppose the concept of this book was to be crowd pleaser in the run up to the coronation however, and having such nuanced thoughts about these topics wouldn't have suited the book's purpose.

    With this in mind, my biggest complaint about OHiMSS is that it feels too disposable. The story is tight, and admittedly in the last half romps along at an enjoyable pace, but it lacks that extra substance a longer book would have given. At times I even wondered why Higson included certain things. Why add the subplot about Moneypenny being in a relationship with the late 009? It adds little drama and Bond certainly doesn't feel much towards his fellow agent (by all accounts the man described seems to be a bit of a dick).

    Ragnheiour as a Bond girl is fine. I liked that it wasn't clear where her loyalties lay until towards the end. There were some odd little moments where it seems to be hinted that she's transgender. There's one instance where she smirks during Aethelstan's comment in the banquet about how she's a 'real woman' and there's of course the fact that she's had some sort of facial reconstruction (which Bond assumes to be as a result of a car crash). Again, it's an example of how truly 'safe' this books is when it comes to these matters. Instead of openly having a transgender character, a Bond girl no less, the book cloaks this aspect of her identity. I get the sense she could have been much more interesting.

    There are little touches that I liked and think should be adapted for a future film. I love the fact, for instance, that the book makes clear that this James Bond has little presence on the internet. It's a very modern way of making the character enigmatic to others and cementing the secrecy of his job, as well as making him something of an outsider. Bond having a smartphone gadget that steals the data from other people's phone is also really cool.

    I suspect a short story with a more scaled down plot would have been more appropriate for the event this book is trying to commemorate. Overall this is a strange and frustrating little book. The bare bones story feels too throw-away, and the more introspective passages are hit or miss. I hope going forward more attempts are made to write a modern James Bond adventure. Like I said, with Bond 26 we are going to see a different take on the character, and hopefully one which is able to sufficiently evoke the fundamental qualities of Fleming's creation. For all of Higson's understanding of the literary 007 I feel he falls short in this area.

    5.5/10
  • ImpertinentGoonImpertinentGoon Everybody needs a hobby.
    Posts: 1,351
    007HallY wrote: »
    Finished the book, here's my thoughts:
    Without a doubt one of the strangest James Bond continuation novels I've ever read.

    I think the obvious needs addressing first. This is a contemporary novel. It's baked into the very concept of the premise. It takes place in the run up to King Charle's coronation, and very often real world events, figures, and indeed politics are evoked. I actually find this interesting on the one hand. It's the first instance, as far as I can tell, of a millennial James Bond, and it's something we're going to see again with Bond 26 and new novels around the corner. This is a man born in the late 80s, a man who's never lived through the Cold War. One may ask if it's even possible to have a version of Fleming's character in this context.

    To be clear, Higson clearly understands certain aspects of Fleming's character. In one passage we get a little aside where Bond recounts an article about gut bacteria and thinks about his own lifestyle - his bouts of depression when not assignment, the trauma his work has on his body. It's a neat and very Fleming-esque idea in concept, but Higson's writing is a little too blunt here. He openly states that Bond has these bouts of depression when his energy levels drop after a mission, that there's a risk agents in his position will lose this 'gut instinct' with age. Many of Fleming's passages contained similar introspection, but they would be much more nuanced and two dimensional. We would get moments where Bond compared killing to the job of a surgeon, where he would look at the body of a man he'd just killed and think of whether they'd had a family or driver's license. Fleming's writing was much more evocative and literary in this sense. For me Higson's passage came off as blunt, rather on the nose, and cringeworthy by comparison.

    Like I said in my previous post it becomes clear during certain sections of this book that these are not the thoughts of a modern James Bond, but a sixty something year old author trying to write such a character. At one point Bond thinks of the term 'situation-ship' (supposedly used by 'younger people') when recounting a personal romance he's having. It makes about as much sense as Bond pondering the term 'Netflix and chill', and is even stranger considering it's not a particularly commonly used phrase amongst young people anyway. Again, it doesn't come off as something that would occur to a relatively young man.

    Aside from this, we get some insight into how this version of Bond thinks politically. Again, this is by design. Much of the villain's introduction involves him spewing hard right rhetoric (it's admittedly a grift) with Bond dismissing it as disjointed nonsense. At one point he notices that the villain's meeting is full of white men with no 'attempt at diversity'. We get brief asides about how Bond believes that the hard left and hard right have much in common than the centre, how the likes of Orban and Trump are crude far right nationalists. It feels like a bit of a cop out if I'm honest. While there's something fundamentally conservative about James Bond (he is, after all, an agent who works to protect the status quo of his country) the literary character is not an unthinking creature either. Often in the Fleming novels Bond's cynicism felt rather subversive. He openly talks about the futility of the Cold War in CR. The term 'prohibition is the trigger of crime' is used to describe the crack down on drug smuggling in GF.

    As a result, it's rather odd reading Higson's James Bond. To be clear Higson understands that Bond is essentially politically 'neutral' in practice. He's a blunt instrument after all, a man whose duty is towards his country, but he's also a man who operates outside of the typical government channels and often has doubts about his profession. I imagine a modern Bond with the cynicism of Fleming's character would have much more to ponder about the rise of right wing nationalism, about why people follow such figures, no matter how dismissive he is of them. Remember, this is a Bond whose adult life has been shaped by rather unstable world events, often created by the political 'elites' that Aethelstan superficially denounces. Does Bond think nothing about this? It's difficult to imagine him having such black and white opinions about politics, and I can't imagine him having much love for the political centre nor the modern bureaucrats of his own government. I certainly can't imagine any version of James Bond being surprised about the lack of 'diversity' in a room. It feels like a missed opportunity almost. For me, the most interesting Bond villains are the ones whose qualities in some way mirror those of Bond's, but at the same time lack his own virtues. Silva in SF for instance has a background as an agent and traumatic experience at M's hand which mirrors Bonds own. The difference is Silva resorts to revenge and anarchism, while Bond maintains loyalty and a sense of duty towards MI6. It might of been interesting if Aethelstan's rhetoric was a bit more subtle/convincing, or if Bond even agreed with certain parts of it to his discomfort. The revelation that his rhetoric is a grift isn't all that surprising, but is a nice little satirical point. Overall, it's a concept that's not fully realised for me.

    I understand some people will view this book as a ham fisted attempt to bring 'woke' politics into Bond, but it's actually a rather politically safe novel. At no point does Bond express any opinion about the Monarchy. This is a shame as we currently live in a world where support for the Monarchy, and indeed many of Britain's older institutions, are viewed less favourably by an increasing number of people, particularly Bond's age in this novel. It might have been interesting to read Bond's thoughts about this in such an introspective story, how such a man whose only virtues (to use Fleming's words) are bravery and patriotism negotiates these sentiments in the modern world. I suppose the concept of this book was to be crowd pleaser in the run up to the coronation however, and having such nuanced thoughts about these topics wouldn't have suited the book's purpose.

    With this in mind, my biggest complaint about OHiMSS is that it feels too disposable. The story is tight, and admittedly in the last half romps along at an enjoyable pace, but it lacks that extra substance a longer book would have given. At times I even wondered why Higson included certain things. Why add the subplot about Moneypenny being in a relationship with the late 009? It adds little drama and Bond certainly doesn't feel much towards his fellow agent (by all accounts the man described seems to be a bit of a dick).

    Ragnheiour as a Bond girl is fine. I liked that it wasn't clear where her loyalties lay until towards the end. There were some odd little moments where it seems to be hinted that she's transgender. There's one instance where she smirks during Aethelstan's comment in the banquet about how she's a 'real woman' and there's of course the fact that she's had some sort of facial reconstruction (which Bond assumes to be as a result of a car crash). Again, it's an example of how truly 'safe' this books is when it comes to these matters. Instead of openly having a transgender character, a Bond girl no less, the book cloaks this aspect of her identity. I get the sense she could have been much more interesting.

    There are little touches that I liked and think should be adapted for a future film. I love the fact, for instance, that the book makes clear that this James Bond has little presence on the internet. It's a very modern way of making the character enigmatic to others and cementing the secrecy of his job, as well as making him something of an outsider. Bond having a smartphone gadget that steals the data from other people's phone is also really cool.

    I suspect a short story with a more scaled down plot would have been more appropriate for the event this book is trying to commemorate. Overall this is a strange and frustrating little book. The bare bones story feels too throw-away, and the more introspective passages are hit or miss. I hope going forward more attempts are made to write a modern James Bond adventure. Like I said, with Bond 26 we are going to see a different take on the character, and hopefully one which is able to sufficiently evoke the fundamental qualities of Fleming's creation. For all of Higson's understanding of the literary 007 I feel he falls short in this area.

    5.5/10

    Very good write-up. Mirrors a lot of my thoughts, although I come out a bit more positive than you.
    One tiny thing: I don't think Bond's comment on a lack of diversity in the room is meant at him being surprised. I read it as more of a sarcastic comment on what a room full of people like this would obviously look like...

    Overall, I think we are still looking for a proper book exploration of what the Milennial version of our brave and patriotic civil servant with a Licence to Kill would actually look like. This has some glimpses, but doesn't really solve the puzzle, I agree.
  • Posts: 3,211
    007HallY wrote: »
    Finished the book, here's my thoughts:
    Without a doubt one of the strangest James Bond continuation novels I've ever read.

    I think the obvious needs addressing first. This is a contemporary novel. It's baked into the very concept of the premise. It takes place in the run up to King Charle's coronation, and very often real world events, figures, and indeed politics are evoked. I actually find this interesting on the one hand. It's the first instance, as far as I can tell, of a millennial James Bond, and it's something we're going to see again with Bond 26 and new novels around the corner. This is a man born in the late 80s, a man who's never lived through the Cold War. One may ask if it's even possible to have a version of Fleming's character in this context.

    To be clear, Higson clearly understands certain aspects of Fleming's character. In one passage we get a little aside where Bond recounts an article about gut bacteria and thinks about his own lifestyle - his bouts of depression when not assignment, the trauma his work has on his body. It's a neat and very Fleming-esque idea in concept, but Higson's writing is a little too blunt here. He openly states that Bond has these bouts of depression when his energy levels drop after a mission, that there's a risk agents in his position will lose this 'gut instinct' with age. Many of Fleming's passages contained similar introspection, but they would be much more nuanced and two dimensional. We would get moments where Bond compared killing to the job of a surgeon, where he would look at the body of a man he'd just killed and think of whether they'd had a family or driver's license. Fleming's writing was much more evocative and literary in this sense. For me Higson's passage came off as blunt, rather on the nose, and cringeworthy by comparison.

    Like I said in my previous post it becomes clear during certain sections of this book that these are not the thoughts of a modern James Bond, but a sixty something year old author trying to write such a character. At one point Bond thinks of the term 'situation-ship' (supposedly used by 'younger people') when recounting a personal romance he's having. It makes about as much sense as Bond pondering the term 'Netflix and chill', and is even stranger considering it's not a particularly commonly used phrase amongst young people anyway. Again, it doesn't come off as something that would occur to a relatively young man.

    Aside from this, we get some insight into how this version of Bond thinks politically. Again, this is by design. Much of the villain's introduction involves him spewing hard right rhetoric (it's admittedly a grift) with Bond dismissing it as disjointed nonsense. At one point he notices that the villain's meeting is full of white men with no 'attempt at diversity'. We get brief asides about how Bond believes that the hard left and hard right have much in common than the centre, how the likes of Orban and Trump are crude far right nationalists. It feels like a bit of a cop out if I'm honest. While there's something fundamentally conservative about James Bond (he is, after all, an agent who works to protect the status quo of his country) the literary character is not an unthinking creature either. Often in the Fleming novels Bond's cynicism felt rather subversive. He openly talks about the futility of the Cold War in CR. The term 'prohibition is the trigger of crime' is used to describe the crack down on drug smuggling in GF.

    As a result, it's rather odd reading Higson's James Bond. To be clear Higson understands that Bond is essentially politically 'neutral' in practice. He's a blunt instrument after all, a man whose duty is towards his country, but he's also a man who operates outside of the typical government channels and often has doubts about his profession. I imagine a modern Bond with the cynicism of Fleming's character would have much more to ponder about the rise of right wing nationalism, about why people follow such figures, no matter how dismissive he is of them. Remember, this is a Bond whose adult life has been shaped by rather unstable world events, often created by the political 'elites' that Aethelstan superficially denounces. Does Bond think nothing about this? It's difficult to imagine him having such black and white opinions about politics, and I can't imagine him having much love for the political centre nor the modern bureaucrats of his own government. I certainly can't imagine any version of James Bond being surprised about the lack of 'diversity' in a room. It feels like a missed opportunity almost. For me, the most interesting Bond villains are the ones whose qualities in some way mirror those of Bond's, but at the same time lack his own virtues. Silva in SF for instance has a background as an agent and traumatic experience at M's hand which mirrors Bonds own. The difference is Silva resorts to revenge and anarchism, while Bond maintains loyalty and a sense of duty towards MI6. It might of been interesting if Aethelstan's rhetoric was a bit more subtle/convincing, or if Bond even agreed with certain parts of it to his discomfort. The revelation that his rhetoric is a grift isn't all that surprising, but is a nice little satirical point. Overall, it's a concept that's not fully realised for me.

    I understand some people will view this book as a ham fisted attempt to bring 'woke' politics into Bond, but it's actually a rather politically safe novel. At no point does Bond express any opinion about the Monarchy. This is a shame as we currently live in a world where support for the Monarchy, and indeed many of Britain's older institutions, are viewed less favourably by an increasing number of people, particularly Bond's age in this novel. It might have been interesting to read Bond's thoughts about this in such an introspective story, how such a man whose only virtues (to use Fleming's words) are bravery and patriotism negotiates these sentiments in the modern world. I suppose the concept of this book was to be crowd pleaser in the run up to the coronation however, and having such nuanced thoughts about these topics wouldn't have suited the book's purpose.

    With this in mind, my biggest complaint about OHiMSS is that it feels too disposable. The story is tight, and admittedly in the last half romps along at an enjoyable pace, but it lacks that extra substance a longer book would have given. At times I even wondered why Higson included certain things. Why add the subplot about Moneypenny being in a relationship with the late 009? It adds little drama and Bond certainly doesn't feel much towards his fellow agent (by all accounts the man described seems to be a bit of a dick).

    Ragnheiour as a Bond girl is fine. I liked that it wasn't clear where her loyalties lay until towards the end. There were some odd little moments where it seems to be hinted that she's transgender. There's one instance where she smirks during Aethelstan's comment in the banquet about how she's a 'real woman' and there's of course the fact that she's had some sort of facial reconstruction (which Bond assumes to be as a result of a car crash). Again, it's an example of how truly 'safe' this books is when it comes to these matters. Instead of openly having a transgender character, a Bond girl no less, the book cloaks this aspect of her identity. I get the sense she could have been much more interesting.

    There are little touches that I liked and think should be adapted for a future film. I love the fact, for instance, that the book makes clear that this James Bond has little presence on the internet. It's a very modern way of making the character enigmatic to others and cementing the secrecy of his job, as well as making him something of an outsider. Bond having a smartphone gadget that steals the data from other people's phone is also really cool.

    I suspect a short story with a more scaled down plot would have been more appropriate for the event this book is trying to commemorate. Overall this is a strange and frustrating little book. The bare bones story feels too throw-away, and the more introspective passages are hit or miss. I hope going forward more attempts are made to write a modern James Bond adventure. Like I said, with Bond 26 we are going to see a different take on the character, and hopefully one which is able to sufficiently evoke the fundamental qualities of Fleming's creation. For all of Higson's understanding of the literary 007 I feel he falls short in this area.

    5.5/10

    Very good write-up. Mirrors a lot of my thoughts, although I come out a bit more positive than you.
    One tiny thing: I don't think Bond's comment on a lack of diversity in the room is meant at him being surprised. I read it as more of a sarcastic comment on what a room full of people like this would obviously look like...

    Overall, I think we are still looking for a proper book exploration of what the Milennial version of our brave and patriotic civil servant with a Licence to Kill would actually look like. This has some glimpses, but doesn't really solve the puzzle, I agree.
    Thanks. Perhaps surprised wasn’t the right word (although I got the sense it was played more straight than Bond simply being sarcastic, a kind of ‘oh I’ve just noticed this’ type moment). Again, it’s one of the little things that feels a bit ham fisted to me, and reminds me that Higson is a 64 year old man trying to get into the mind of a man half his age. This not to say a modern Bond can’t be written by an author of any age, it’s just what it feels like to me reading this book.

    But yes, I agree. There are encouraging glimpses at a millennial James Bond in this novel, and Higson is clearly invested in maintaining the broad features of Fleming’s character. He just misses the mark for the reasons I stated. Obviously it’s new territory for the Bond series. [\spoiler]
  • Posts: 1,034
    Thanks for taking the time to write that up HallY, I enjoyed reading it and agreed with a good many points. I think the political 'safeness' of the book is probably to be expected, given that it was published for charity and kind of had a duty not to make political statements on the monarchy. I was glad it didn't get into a lot of flag waving on Bond's side really.
  • Posts: 2,161
    Bounine wrote: »
    I’ve taken a break from reading DON. I’m presently reading ‘The Exorcist’. :)

    Read it back in the '70s when I was in junior high (my friend and I snuck into the theater to see the movie when I was 12 years old, he was 11 and his dad had already taken him once). I loved the book back then, but I obviously need to revisit it.
  • VenutiusVenutius Yorkshire
    edited June 2023 Posts: 2,976
    I was 12 when I read the book - and I really wished I hadn't! :-SS
    My favourite Exorcist yarn is when Black Sabbath went to see the film in New York and they were so scared afterwards that they all spent the night in the same hotel room! :))
  • DoctorNoDoctorNo USA-Maryland
    Posts: 754
    Just finished Higson's OHMSS and thoroughly disappointed. Hard to be overly critical given his time constraints and being for charity, but still not great. He was better with young JB, all of which were much better then they had any right to be.
  • Posts: 1,632
    Is Higson the new continuation author, or is his Bond novel a one off?
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 17,932
    CrabKey wrote: »
    Is Higson the new continuation author, or is his Bond novel a one off?

    There's no word on that as yet. Higson has said in interviews that he doesn't know if he'll be asked to do more and that he was just asked to do this one for now. It was all rather last minute so I doubt if very much thought was given to more novels by IFP at the time of asking. It still remains to be seen what they're going to do next with the adult Bond continuation.
  • QBranchQBranch Always have an escape plan. Mine is watching James Bond films.
    Posts: 14,168
    I welcome anyone who's read this book to have a go at solving the current game I'm hosting of 'Odd One Out'. What's the coinnection?

    https://www.mi6community.com/discussion/10118/odd-one-out/p104
  • MaxCasinoMaxCasino United States
    Posts: 4,201


    I'm a bit surprised that IFP hasn't announced a USA hard or soft cover version for OHissMSS.
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    Posts: 15,355
    This review from right wing magazine The Spectator is hilariously insane and mouth-foaming. Weirdly late too.
    https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/the-terribleness-of-a-progressive-bond/

    They actually criticise Bond for not having a full English breakfast at one point, showing they don't know anything about 007, and don't seem to realise they sound like a ridiculous Farage parody. Also apparently, you can't be vaguely progressive and still like cars, good to know.

    (Credit to LicenceToQueer on Twitter for plucking it from the bin)
  • edited September 2023 Posts: 3,211
    I mean, the use of politics in OHiMSS is worth talking about and I'd say it's done in a rather flawed way. I actually don't necessarily disagree with the idea that Bond is made into some sort of 'centrist' in this novel, which to me doesn't feel organic to the character, and the use of politics in the novel is very much a part of what it is. But I have to say the article feels a bit lazy. They could have gotten someone who at least knew a bit about the original novels to write it (if they had I don't think they would have criticised things like Bond reading about gut health or thinking abut sweat shops, and would certainly have pointed out how subversive the Fleming character's cynicism could be).
  • MaxCasinoMaxCasino United States
    edited September 2023 Posts: 4,201




    With Charlie Higson showing up at all these Bond events, do you think he might have a new Bond book on the way?
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    Posts: 15,355
    He does seem to be more engaged; fingers crossed.
  • edited September 2023 Posts: 2,161
    Well, I finally got it, and I started reading it. This is so poorly written, the prose so clunky and cliche-ridden, I’m sadly stopping on page 13. I’ll put up with some garbage in the name of Bond, but this is just bad. I have no idea what the story is, I have no idea what the plot is, doesn’t matter to me. This is just poorly written.
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    edited September 2023 Posts: 17,932
    Birdleson wrote: »
    Well, I finally got it, and I started reading it. This is so poorly written, the prose so clunky and cliche-ridden, I’m sadly stopping on page 13. I’ll put up with some garbage in the name of Bond, but this is just bad. I have no idea what the story is, I have no idea what the plot is, doesn’t matter to me. This is just poorly written.

    Its rather rushed conception and writing are no doubt the cause of this. However, I blame IFP (and not the author) for not giving Charlie Higson enough time to write it and for a proper and thorough editing process to then be conducted. If they had been thinking what they were doing they'd have contacted Higson shortly after the Queen died in order to give him enough time to write his short story or book and have it ready for King Charles III's coronation in May 2023. As others have said, I hope that the typos and missing words etc. can be fixed for any future paperback edition that may come along.
  • Red_SnowRed_Snow Australia
    Posts: 2,500
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    Birdleson wrote: »
    Well, I finally got it, and I started reading it. This is so poorly written, the prose so clunky and cliche-ridden, I’m sadly stopping on page 13. I’ll put up with some garbage in the name of Bond, but this is just bad. I have no idea what the story is, I have no idea what the plot is, doesn’t matter to me. This is just poorly written.

    Its rather rushed conception and writing are no doubt the cause of this. However, I blame IFP (and not the author) for not giving Charlie Higson enough time to write it and for a proper and thorough editing process to then be conducted. If they had been thinking what they were doing they'd have contacted Higson shortly after the Queen died in order to give him enough time to write his short story or book and have it ready for King Charles III's coronation in May 2023. As others have said, I hope that the typos and missing words etc. can be fixed for any future paperback edition that may come along.

    Other than a nice marketing ploy, would it really have made that much difference if they held off and published it after the coronation when everyone's properly had time to write it, edited it, design the cover, etc.?

  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 17,932
    Red_Snow wrote: »
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    Birdleson wrote: »
    Well, I finally got it, and I started reading it. This is so poorly written, the prose so clunky and cliche-ridden, I’m sadly stopping on page 13. I’ll put up with some garbage in the name of Bond, but this is just bad. I have no idea what the story is, I have no idea what the plot is, doesn’t matter to me. This is just poorly written.

    Its rather rushed conception and writing are no doubt the cause of this. However, I blame IFP (and not the author) for not giving Charlie Higson enough time to write it and for a proper and thorough editing process to then be conducted. If they had been thinking what they were doing they'd have contacted Higson shortly after the Queen died in order to give him enough time to write his short story or book and have it ready for King Charles III's coronation in May 2023. As others have said, I hope that the typos and missing words etc. can be fixed for any future paperback edition that may come along.

    Other than a nice marketing ploy, would it really have made that much difference if they held off and published it after the coronation when everyone's properly had time to write it, edited it, design the cover, etc.?

    Certainly it wouldn't have made much difference for US readers as they got it a bit later I think or it at least took longer to get to them post publication day. It was a bit of a marketing gimmick but I still think forward planning by IFP some time after the Queen's death would have avoided a lot of the problems that beset the book during its rushed writing, editing and publication.
  • Posts: 1,034
    I think it was kind of an 'event book', and it worked for me in that way. I doubt it;ll have a paperback version. Perhaps as part of an anthology.
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    Posts: 15,355
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    Red_Snow wrote: »
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    Birdleson wrote: »
    Well, I finally got it, and I started reading it. This is so poorly written, the prose so clunky and cliche-ridden, I’m sadly stopping on page 13. I’ll put up with some garbage in the name of Bond, but this is just bad. I have no idea what the story is, I have no idea what the plot is, doesn’t matter to me. This is just poorly written.

    Its rather rushed conception and writing are no doubt the cause of this. However, I blame IFP (and not the author) for not giving Charlie Higson enough time to write it and for a proper and thorough editing process to then be conducted. If they had been thinking what they were doing they'd have contacted Higson shortly after the Queen died in order to give him enough time to write his short story or book and have it ready for King Charles III's coronation in May 2023. As others have said, I hope that the typos and missing words etc. can be fixed for any future paperback edition that may come along.

    Other than a nice marketing ploy, would it really have made that much difference if they held off and published it after the coronation when everyone's properly had time to write it, edited it, design the cover, etc.?
    It was a bit of a marketing gimmick but I still think forward planning by IFP some time after the Queen's death would have avoided a lot of the problems that beset the book during its rushed writing, editing and publication.

    Maybe they're not immediately looking at every world event and major death as a book opportunity?
  • MaxCasinoMaxCasino United States
    edited September 2023 Posts: 4,201
    mtm wrote: »
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    Red_Snow wrote: »
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    Birdleson wrote: »
    Well, I finally got it, and I started reading it. This is so poorly written, the prose so clunky and cliche-ridden, I’m sadly stopping on page 13. I’ll put up with some garbage in the name of Bond, but this is just bad. I have no idea what the story is, I have no idea what the plot is, doesn’t matter to me. This is just poorly written.

    Its rather rushed conception and writing are no doubt the cause of this. However, I blame IFP (and not the author) for not giving Charlie Higson enough time to write it and for a proper and thorough editing process to then be conducted. If they had been thinking what they were doing they'd have contacted Higson shortly after the Queen died in order to give him enough time to write his short story or book and have it ready for King Charles III's coronation in May 2023. As others have said, I hope that the typos and missing words etc. can be fixed for any future paperback edition that may come along.

    Other than a nice marketing ploy, would it really have made that much difference if they held off and published it after the coronation when everyone's properly had time to write it, edited it, design the cover, etc.?
    It was a bit of a marketing gimmick but I still think forward planning by IFP some time after the Queen's death would have avoided a lot of the problems that beset the book during its rushed writing, editing and publication.

    Maybe they're not immediately looking at every world event and major death as a book opportunity?

    IFP is starting to become like Rockstar Games. Not giving the fans what they want more often than not. Also, when they do release a new product, there's usually backlash, fair or not. They just release a product as is, hoping that patches will help them in the future.
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 17,932
    mtm wrote: »
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    Red_Snow wrote: »
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    Birdleson wrote: »
    Well, I finally got it, and I started reading it. This is so poorly written, the prose so clunky and cliche-ridden, I’m sadly stopping on page 13. I’ll put up with some garbage in the name of Bond, but this is just bad. I have no idea what the story is, I have no idea what the plot is, doesn’t matter to me. This is just poorly written.

    Its rather rushed conception and writing are no doubt the cause of this. However, I blame IFP (and not the author) for not giving Charlie Higson enough time to write it and for a proper and thorough editing process to then be conducted. If they had been thinking what they were doing they'd have contacted Higson shortly after the Queen died in order to give him enough time to write his short story or book and have it ready for King Charles III's coronation in May 2023. As others have said, I hope that the typos and missing words etc. can be fixed for any future paperback edition that may come along.

    Other than a nice marketing ploy, would it really have made that much difference if they held off and published it after the coronation when everyone's properly had time to write it, edited it, design the cover, etc.?
    It was a bit of a marketing gimmick but I still think forward planning by IFP some time after the Queen's death would have avoided a lot of the problems that beset the book during its rushed writing, editing and publication.

    Maybe they're not immediately looking at every world event and major death as a book opportunity?

    No, I'm sure they're not but some extra time wouldn't have gone amiss either. The pressure they put Charlie Higson under to deliver something was rather unfair.
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    edited September 2023 Posts: 15,355
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    mtm wrote: »
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    Red_Snow wrote: »
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    Birdleson wrote: »
    Well, I finally got it, and I started reading it. This is so poorly written, the prose so clunky and cliche-ridden, I’m sadly stopping on page 13. I’ll put up with some garbage in the name of Bond, but this is just bad. I have no idea what the story is, I have no idea what the plot is, doesn’t matter to me. This is just poorly written.

    Its rather rushed conception and writing are no doubt the cause of this. However, I blame IFP (and not the author) for not giving Charlie Higson enough time to write it and for a proper and thorough editing process to then be conducted. If they had been thinking what they were doing they'd have contacted Higson shortly after the Queen died in order to give him enough time to write his short story or book and have it ready for King Charles III's coronation in May 2023. As others have said, I hope that the typos and missing words etc. can be fixed for any future paperback edition that may come along.

    Other than a nice marketing ploy, would it really have made that much difference if they held off and published it after the coronation when everyone's properly had time to write it, edited it, design the cover, etc.?
    It was a bit of a marketing gimmick but I still think forward planning by IFP some time after the Queen's death would have avoided a lot of the problems that beset the book during its rushed writing, editing and publication.

    Maybe they're not immediately looking at every world event and major death as a book opportunity?

    No, I'm sure they're not but some extra time wouldn't have gone amiss either. The pressure they put Charlie Higson under to deliver something was rather unfair.

    I guess, but they could hardly get The King's Coronation put back a few months...? Sometimes you spot an opportunity and go for it.
    I liked it, I don't see why we're treating it as a failure.
    MaxCasino wrote: »
    mtm wrote: »
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    Red_Snow wrote: »
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    Birdleson wrote: »
    Well, I finally got it, and I started reading it. This is so poorly written, the prose so clunky and cliche-ridden, I’m sadly stopping on page 13. I’ll put up with some garbage in the name of Bond, but this is just bad. I have no idea what the story is, I have no idea what the plot is, doesn’t matter to me. This is just poorly written.

    Its rather rushed conception and writing are no doubt the cause of this. However, I blame IFP (and not the author) for not giving Charlie Higson enough time to write it and for a proper and thorough editing process to then be conducted. If they had been thinking what they were doing they'd have contacted Higson shortly after the Queen died in order to give him enough time to write his short story or book and have it ready for King Charles III's coronation in May 2023. As others have said, I hope that the typos and missing words etc. can be fixed for any future paperback edition that may come along.

    Other than a nice marketing ploy, would it really have made that much difference if they held off and published it after the coronation when everyone's properly had time to write it, edited it, design the cover, etc.?
    It was a bit of a marketing gimmick but I still think forward planning by IFP some time after the Queen's death would have avoided a lot of the problems that beset the book during its rushed writing, editing and publication.

    Maybe they're not immediately looking at every world event and major death as a book opportunity?

    IFP is starting to become like Rockstar Games. Not giving the fans what they want more often than not. Also, when they do release a new product, there's usually backlash, fair or not. They just release a product as is, hoping that patches will help them in the future.

    I don't really follow. I don't think they're going to release any patches to their books.
  • RichardTheBruceRichardTheBruce I'm motivated by my Duty.
    Posts: 13,234
    I'd rather have it than not.

    A distinct part of Bond history regardless I'm glad they did it. Bond is very well-represented in recent times.

    review-on-his-majestys-secret-service1.jpg
  • QBranchQBranch Always have an escape plan. Mine is watching James Bond films.
    Posts: 14,168
    I'm still about 2/3 - 3/4 through this novel, but enjoying it. Certainly not a failure.
  • JustJamesJustJames London
    Posts: 205
    I think anyone with a moderate attachment to politics, or of a more centrist attitude, and ideally with a sense of humour, would find it easier going than anyone with an attachment (particularly to the right) to more… emphatic politics.
    It’s a decent enough book, but I wouldn’t pander too much to the further left either — Bond is not a loved figure there, representing things that are at the very least out of vogue, so any writer would really be on a hiding to nothing, or have to warp the character almost beyond recognition.

    This is just about right, in that space inhabited by the works of Mick Herron — slightly cynical, and wary of populist politics. (Boris Johnson was satirised to the hilt in the Slough House novels, until real world events led to that being a little unwise)It isn’t quite as daft with its modern progressive spin as Horowitz got in his books even.

    It lands, if I am honest, in roughly the same space as Flemings own work — carefully progressive, within taste and reason, and fairly subtle about it. No time for the swivel-eyed or the frothing-at-the-mouth types, and using exaggerated real-world concerns to flesh out its borderline comedy villains.

    I’d read more, and quite liked the Icelandic witch, whatever she turns out to be.

    Though next time, in the interest of fair play and balance, I suggest eco-protestors as the satirised villain group. Bond has form there, for a start.
  • George_KaplanGeorge_Kaplan Not a red herring
    Posts: 576
    JustJames wrote: »
    Though next time, in the interest of fair play and balance, I suggest eco-protestors as the satirised villain group. Bond has form there, for a start.

    I wouldn't advise that. That'd be opening Bond up to real controversy.
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