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A very piquant observation Sir. Well put.
It really is a very significant contribution to the Bond canon. Amis is a brilliant story teller and he builds on the best of Fleming's work whilst frankly taking the standard of writing to the next level.
The way he develops Bill Tanner and M is intriguing and he really uses Fleming's characters to the best effect.
For me, it is clear that this was a labour of love and stands as a direct contrast to the lacklustre DMC - the only other Bond continuation novel to be written by a supposedly serious literary figure. Albeit, one can question how 'serious' Faulks can be considered after his half baked effort!
I do hope Boyd has had the good sense to read CS and to take it fully into consideration. It would be a big mistake not to. Frankly he could learn as much, if not more, about the development of Bond than from any of Fleming's novels with the exception of FRWL and OHMSS.
CS is not just a must for Bond aficionados, it is also a must for all thriller readers. Hopefully, now that it's available on Kindle it will reach a wider audience
Thank you for that well-written fist punch in the air for Amis' Colonel Sun. I'm still working on a blog article entitled 'The Strange Death of Colonel Sun' on the perceived increased level of violence in the novel for The Bondologist Blog that will appear there amongst other things later in the year. You might like to give it a read when it does, @Villiers53.
Chapter titles, overall structure, and the characters were all very much Fleming. The plot had a feel of Fleming too, and Amis did a competent job of trying to make it feel like a Fleming novel.
We still don't get under Bond's skin like Fleming was able to. Amis hardly ever spends time on Bond's thoughts. We are never treated to any of Bond's cold showers, eating breakfast or what he is about to wear. Instead he focuses on keeping the plot moving - something which the last 2 official Bond novels also fell into the trap of doing.
Colonel Sun himself was quite intriguing as a villain, and I felt a genuine sense of fear when he finally captures Bond, and tells him what he is about to do to him. However, this is all lost after a very harrowing torture scene. Bond very quickly recovers, and springs back into action again - DAD style, which loses all credibility.
And Sun himself seems muddled as a character. On one hand he is telling Bond how much he loves torture, and on the other he tells Bond he is not a barbarian when Bond asks him to shoot the girl quickly. It didn't feel genuine, or plausible. Even Sun's asking Bond's forgiveness seemed a little amateurish in its writing. It didn't really stack up.
Overall I wasn't very impressed actually, and slightly disappointed. No one can write a Bond novel like Fleming could. All the official writers so far have had decent attempts at it, but no one has come even close, mainly because Bond was Fleming. Unless someone can get under the skin of Fleming himself, and what made him tick, then all Bond novels will appear the same - huge emphasis on plot, characters, scenes, action, but not much focus on Bond himself - and this is where they all fail.
How do you know its good if you haven't read it?
Nice to see another City fan on here......... :-bd
Your a Hull fan too?
Yes if we sign Allan McGregor PM me.
@hullcityfan, you are walking on thin ice, sir. We have warned you about making useless posts yet you continue to pile them up.
Sorry we'll PM each other which we have done back on topic please people.
It's fun when a few of us read these at the same time.
Anyone re-reading Live and Let Die anytime soon?
It will be most interesting to hear your views (as always is the case) when you get Colonel Sun completed. As I say, I'm still working on a lengthy piece called 'The Strange Death of Colonel Sun' for The Bondologist Blog so all reviews/thoughts outside my own blinkered views are of course much appreciated. They're all grist to the mill, if you will.
A solid read.
Although I don't agree with @jetsetwilly's assessment of the novel, he makes an interesting point about the lack of branding/lifestyle mentions in CS. Ironically, Kingsley Amis was probably reflecting the times. As the great @Bentley said when he started this thread, by 1967 the thriller world had fragmented and literary Bond had been somewhat outflanked by the likes of Blaise at the glamour end and Quiller and Callan on the realistic side of things. Clearly Amis elected to toughen Bond up and take him on a straight thriller ride and to leave out the brand mentions.
It will be interesting to see what approach Boyd adopts in today's environment were his competition today comes from the fantasy action of Lee Child, at one end of the spectrum, and Le Carre and Cumming at the other.
Indeed, will Boyd acknowlege CS in his novel? Perhaps @Bentley could give us his view - we miss your posts!
I definitely pictured Daniel Craig as bond, Amis' Bond was very tough and physical.
I can relate to the general thrust of your CS report. Having recently re-read it, following a complete Flemingathon, I find it falls somewhat flat compared to the originals, but I think that was to be expected.
That said, it's an excellent continuation effort, so bravo for that. I would have been quite happy to read more.
As it was though, John Pearson did at least step-up 5 years later with his excellent follow-up to the Fleming oeuvre.
The Fleming originals plus the Amis and Pearson efforts, do I think, make for a nice complete set in the original timeline.
I've never read Pearson's book, though I see that as more a novelty than a part of the cannon.
In fact Bond has no adventures until he is about 16.
Pearson also deftly writes in and around the Fleming stories, but is very faithful to the original narratives.
I look at Higson's work as an alternative universe, as Pearson's Bond bio rings much truer, and nicely fleshes out the bare bones of Bond's life pre-Casino Royale, as provided by Fleming.
The premise of course is that Bond lives, and that the books were cover to throw off Smersh from hunting down Bond.
But it was Fleming himself who introduced this angle in M's YOLT obit, in which M talks about how "a series of popular books came to be written around him by a personal friend and former colleague of James Bond.........." and he goes on for a whole paragraph about the books.
Pearson grabbed this thread dangled by Fleming, and built a book around it.
It's a great read, chalk with new 007 adventures. It perfectly complements the Fleming canon.
In fact I don't think there is any mention of Colonel Sun in it at all, but it doesn't clash with anything in CS either, so CS can be slipped in between.
I've always enjoyed Pearsons biog and there's a case to be made that it is canon (although if you go down this route then I suppose you must say Devil May Care is also canon).
What I really hate about it though is this idea started by Fleming in YOLT (presumably as a bit of a piss take or maybe because he knew he hadnt long left so was past caring) that the books actually exist in the Bond universe. I find it rather bizarre that Fleming's editor let it pass and even more preposterous that Pearson ran with it. OK I guess the conceit of the biog is to pretend Bond was actually real so this is part of the suspension of disbelief but I find it all rather ridiculous.
Major - don't do it!
Even the most ardent completist should not be obliged to read this balderdash (DMC).
Faulkes should be flayed to within an inch of his life with an elephant's foreskin for defiling our hero - CB was even worse. IFP should have resigned on mass for producing that rubbish.
I prefer to think of those two, along with Benson's entire output as canon fodder rather than part of the canon.
The under mentioned Moneypenny Diaries, on the other hand, are absolutely fabulous and are certainly worth space on your bookshelf (great cover art too on the first edition hard backs).
I also suspect that Pearson was a big fanboy too, like most of us, and fantasized about actually meeting the legend that is James Bond, so he seized on the opening that Fleming had provided, and arranged for himself to meet the actual Bond, thus affording us "dear reader" the same fanboy opportunity.
Pearson's initial meeting with Bond is quite dramatic, spooky even. Caused chills, as here we were, in on a secret, actually meeting the "real" James Bond.
But all this nonsense aside, Pearson did focus the book on fleshing out Bond's actual bio, by working with the scraps that Fleming had provided, and concocting a credible history and background for the iconic agent.
Pearson's work is by far my favourite continuation effort, as it basically I think finishes Fleming's work and brings Bond up to date in the Fleming timeline to roughly age 52, circa 1972-73.
As for canon, the author decides canon, but once the author is gone, I think we have to respect anything that is actually approved by the copyright holder and that authors should respect what came before them.
As far as the Fleming timeline, I think Amis, Pearson and Samantha Weinberg's work all jive together as canon. I don't think Weinberg stepped on anything Pearson wrote and even Faulkes can be squeezed in. I don't think Faulkes directly conflicts with any of Amis, Pearson or Weinberg, and Boyd should probably fit as well.
Mind you, Faulkes I'm sure didn't care one way or the other.
Higson on the other hand went fully off reservation, and completely trampled all over Pearson's work of 30 years earlier. I give the canon nod to Pearson, simply because he came first.
Higson chose to build a different backstory for Bond, which I guess he had to do, in order to sell his adolescent thrillers.
Gardner and Benson I guess are canon too, but have to be seen from a re-boot perspective due to Bond being artificially moved forward in time, although both authors do try to connect with the Fleming continuity, even if we have to suspend disbelief due to the passage of time.
Benson even picks up on Pearson's Bond-off-to-Australia dangled thread, to do battle with Bunt.
Deaver of course is a full 2011 re-boot not connected to anything.
I would say post-Fleming canon in the Fleming timeline is Amis and Pearson most notably, along with Weinberg, Faulkes and presumably Boyd, as long as they don't conflict with what came before, and I don't think they do, at least not in a brazen way.
But I do think Pearson trumps Higson, as he established his work long before.
Higson is a fanciful alternative take on the Young Bond.
Sorry, but even the most ardent Flemingista must acknowledge that CS is head and shoulders above TMWTGG, YOLT & DAF - to name but three?
I thought Pearson's 'James Bond: The Authorised Biography' an interesting ruse albeit it is a little rogue as it wasn't commissioned by Gildrose and Pearson only got it published because he was a friend of their then chairman.
For me, the book itself was a novelty and didn't thrill, partly because - as the great 'wizard' said - the basic premise was more than a tad ridiculous and this detracted considerably from my enjoyment.
Conversely, I thought the set up behind the Moneypenny Diaries to be quite brilliant.
That said, it's interesting that this great site doesn't even consider Pearson to be a Bond author when ne'er-do-wells like Benson, Faulks and Deaver get the full salute!
Anyway, for my money only Amis, Higson and Weinberg have pulled it off completely. Albeit, the late great John Gardner, made a reasonable fist of it with his first five offerings
Hopefully friend Boyd will give us something good and I for one would love to know if he has read 'Colonel Sun'?
Not a bit of it. YOLT is a very good Bond novel, and if not the best, certainly the most fascinating. DAF, while hardly Fleming's best, is probably a bit underrated and certainly tops a good 95% of thrillers ever published by anybody. Gun is the weakest of the lot, but was still livelier than CS, and with far more interesting characters. The section at Sav la Mer alone blows CS out of the water. IMO, of course.