James Bond vs. Dr. Evil

The Austin Powers movie series is well known for lovingly spoofing the Bond series. It`s whole premise is virtually based on every well known cliche about 007. But it may come as a surprise to some that James Bond actually did do battle with Dr. Evil in a very short story published in a Chicago-based magazine circa 1975. Nick Kincaid rummages through 25 years of archived material to unearth this gem:

“Exclusive – Four unpublished early masterpieces

Now that it`s becoming the fashion to dig out the juvenile works of famous writers, MILES KINGTON jumps on the bandwagon with a quartet of previously unknown works of genius.

Other titles:
The Case of the Missing Navy, by Conan Doyle aged 13
Death at Tea Time, by Ernest Hemingway aged 14
Lord Arthur Wentworth`s Blackboard, by Oscar Wilde aged 15

Dr Evil
By Ian Fleming, aged 14 1/2

James Bond strode into the hallway of Dr Evil`s house, wearing an immaculate school blazer which had been made for him by Jacob Schneider of Lucerne, which I think is in Switzerland, and asked the receptionist to tell Dr Evil that James Bond had come to see him.

“Dr Evil?” she said into the phone. “There is a boy called Bond to see you.”

“Who is almost 17,” said James.

“Who is only 17,” she said. “Yes, sir. Will you take the lift to the third floor?”

When Bond left the lift at the third floor he found himself face to face with Dr Evil, a squat, ugly, horrible little man who was uncannily like a certain schoolmaster.

“What can I do for you, Master Bond?” he said leering.

Bond felt in his pocket casually to check that his 2 1/2 lb catapult, made of choice elm wood by a master craftsman in Bond Street, which is a very important street near Piccadilly, was loaded. He only used the very best conkers, imported from his aunt in Ireland, which was better than most aunts who only sent you book tokens.

“I think you know what I have come for, ” he said coolly, no, icily.

“You have my replica authentic Japanese destroyer which fires real hara-kiri aeroplanes, which you confiscated for your own devilish ends. Sir.”

The face of Dr Evil went pale and he reached for his poison gun, but before he could pull it out Bond had pounced. At lightning speed he fastened the evil man in a half-Nelson, gave him a Chinese burn, did a quick knuckle-crusher and punched him in the nose. Dr Evil sank lifeless to the ground, only he wasn`t really dead. Like a flash, Bond entered the nearest room. There, on the bed, was the most fantastic blonde, really smashing, with no clothes on at all, if you know what I mean, like in books. There, on the table was his authentic Japanese destroyer.

“Who are you?” she gasped huskily gazing at the handsome stranger.

“I am James Bond and I am 16 3/4,” he said in as low a voice as possible. “I have just killed your friend Dr Evil, but he will live.”

He strode to the table and picked up the destroyer. Before he left the room he turned to the girl, well, woman, and said:

“You will get cold lying around with no clothes on, anyway it looks silly, whatever they say in books. I would get a dressing gown on if I were you.

Moments later there came the distinctive sound of Bond`s super three-speed-gear Raleigh as he pedalled away down the drive.”

[This first appeared in The Critic, Fall 1975, copyright (c) 1975 by The Thomas More Association]

Frederick Forsyth Not Bonding

Bestselling author Frederick Forsyth has often been compared to Ian Fleming so it’s not surprising that Forsyth’s publisher Patrick Janson-Smith recently got together with Forsyth for lunch on September 4th (2001) and, among other things, discussed the idea of Forsyth writing a James Bond novel. Patrick Janson-Smith’s surname should be familiar to 007Forever readers: his father, Peter, is chairman of Glidrose, which controls the James Bond book copyright.

Forsyth is often mentioned as the popular choice to write Bond novels. According to one insider, “He [Forsyth] could certainly write a classy, racy British thriller that sells copies, which is what the Bond book franchise needs these days.” Unfortunately as Patrick Janson-Smith reports, “Alas, he told me that he has, and has had, absolutely no desire to follow in the footsteps of Ian Fleming.”

According to Nick Kincaid, 007Forever literary expert: “It’s a shame he’s not interested. His novels The Devil’s Alternative and Icon could have easily been Bond novels. Both men share similar backgrounds in journalism, they’ve both been foreign correspondents and Forsyth is the only other writer I’ve come across who, like Fleming, wrote in such a dry, clinical and yet droll and occasionally lugibrious manner.”

At 19, Forsyth was the youngest pilot in the RAF. As a foreign correspondent for Reuters and then the BBC, he worked throughout Europe and Africa. Forsyth burst onto the publishing scene with the thriller The Day of the Jackal. His latest book, The Veteran, a collection of five stories, has just been published.

Forsyth, who is one of former British PM Margaret Thatchers favourite authors, is also well-known to British radio listeners for his regular attacks against Tony Blair’s Labour government on Radio Four’s Saturday essay. “If you disagree with this government,” says Forsyth referring to current British PM Tony Blair, “you’re not just wrong, you’re a bad person. Because you chase foxes, because you want to save the pound, you are not treated as a mistaken person, you are bad.”

For more, see:



Fleming Steel Dagger To Be Awarded

The CWA is delighted to announce an exciting new annual prize for the year’s best thriller, adventure novel or spy fiction novel. The Ian Fleming Steel Dagger has been suggested and sponsored by Ian Fleming (Glidrose) Publications Ltd., to celebrate the best of contemporary thriller writing.

CASINO ROYALE, Ian Fleming’s first novel, was completed in 1952, and so this year marks fifty years of James Bond. Penguin Books will be reissuing the complete Ian Fleming backlist in April this year and the twentieth Bond movie will be released in November 2002.

Eligible books can come from authors of any nationality but must have been first published in the UK in English between 1st September and 31st August in each judging year. The first prize of £2,000 and a Steel Dagger will be awarded this year. Judging will be administered by the Crime Writers’ Association (who already run the Gold & Silver Dagger, the Short Story Dagger, the Non-fiction Dagger, the Creasey Dagger and the Ellis Peters Prize for Historical Crime Fiction).

The first panel of judges are Ian Fleming’s former literary agent, Peter Janson-Smith, crime critic and author Peter Guttridge, Cambridge bookseller Richard Reynolds, and the current chairman of the CWA, Russell James. The judging panel will be chaired by Kate Jones, formerly an editorial director of Penguin Books, and now literary consultant to Ian Fleming (Glidrose) Publications Ltd. A short list will be announced at the end of September and the winner will be announced at an awards ceremony in London this November.

Russell James commented, “We’ve deliberately framed the rules to attract writers from all over the English speaking world. It’s a very inclusive competition and we’ll welcome entries of all kinds of adventure fiction, whether aimed at adult or younger age groups. I think the prestige of being the first winner of this major new prize, closely associated with the Ian Fleming name, will draw a host of entries.” Kate Jones said, “Ian Fleming (Glidrose) Publications Ltd are delighted to inaugurate this award. Fifty years ago, Ian Fleming redefined thriller writing and his character James Bond is a twentieth century icon without peer. We wanted to mark Ian Fleming’s achievements by celebrating the best of contemporary thriller writing.”

—Article ©2002 The Crime Writers Association

Death Leaves An Echo (Plomer’s Memorial Service)

007Forever is honored to present these two items written by one of Ian Fleming`s closest friends, the author William Plomer. Though it`s likely there would have been a James Bond without Plomer, it`s unlikely that either Fleming or Bond would have been as successful.

Special thanks to Duff Hart-Davis, the William Plomer estate, Ms Elizabeth Rainey, Durham University, and Peter F. Alexander for his book William Plomer: A Biography.


We have come together today to commemorate a man whose absence we can`t yet begin to get used to. Ian Fleming was decidedly a man of our time, but in any age such an uncommon personality, such varied gifts and high spirits, would make a strong impression. He made one feel one had to try and live up to his standard of alertness, to keep tuned up, and to move at his own quick tempo. He seemed always to take the shortest distance between two points in the shortest possible time, and although he didn`t suffer bores gladly, his appetite for life, his curiosity and quick understanding, and his admiration of what was well done used generally to bring out the best in other people. We miss him, and we shall go on missing him.

Because he was most widely known as a writer, let us think of that aspect of him first. Although his books made him world-famous, he was modest about them to the end. He took a proper pride in his inventiveness and skill, yet never pretended that his books were more than popular entertainments. After his faithful secretary, I happened to be the person who always had the privilege of being the first to read them. He was pleased when one praised him and always good-humoured when one proposed corrections or teased him: he had a way of thanking one, even for small services, which added to the pleasure of being able to help him.

His head was never turned by his enormous popular success. But popular success often rankles with the unsuccessful, and in the natural course of things he was exposed to envy: this was sometimes to be seen in print, but I never heard him take any notice of it. Of course not everybody could be expected to like his books. “They`re not my cup of tea,” one has heard people say, to which the obvious answer is that they are not cups of tea at all – they are something much more stimulating. It was a little distasteful when some persons who had read Ian`s books with enjoyment proceeded to speak too patronizingly of them or to run them down. Perhaps it is a residual puritanism that makes some people feel guilty when they have enjoyed anything: then, instead of blaming themselves for ingratitude, they find fault with the source of their pleasures. Let those who take too high a moral tone about the dream world of James Bond take note of the cheerful reactions of film audiences to his adventures, and I think they will find the atmosphere anything but corrupt.

Isn`t it possible that Bond and his adventures became world-famous, not only because of their excitingly realistic detail, but because they constitute a thoroughly romantic myth, a series of vivid fairy-tales, which seems to fulfil a persistent need? Isn`t it perhaps the simple, age-old need to escape from dullness by identifying oneself with a dragon-slaying and maiden-rescuing hero, who wins battle after battle against devilish forces of destruction, and yet continues indestructible himself?

What a feat to have re-created, in a new idiom, a myth of such universal appeal! And unprecedented in its way. Something near 20 million copies of Ian`s books have up to now been sold, and they have been translated so far into 18 languages, including Catalan and Turkish. They are read in Iceland and Thailand, in Japan and Brazil, and widely in America and Western Europe. They were appreciated by the late President Kennedy; they don`t go quite unnoticed in the curtained-off countries; in some places admirers have formed James Bond clubs; and vast new publics respond to James Bond films.

Although Ian`s health had been troubling him, he managed to complete an exciting new book that shows no least sign of a falling off. And we shan`t have to wait long for the publication of an entertaining and sympathetic appreciation of his work by a famous younger writer, Kingsley Amis. Also, Ian had completed three engaging books for the young. These show a happy, playful side of his character quite unfamiliar to the public. In the public eye, he was quite simply a pre-eminent writer of thrillers, Bond-like, with a supposedly sensational naval background; but the public eye is myopic, and can only take in one thing at a time. I have heard it said that there were several different Ians, and that he kept different parts of his life quite separate. If this is true, it is one more proof that the popular image of him is far too crude and flat.

Only since his death has it begun to be more generally understood that he had done well in several different careers, and that he was a character of some complexity. But those who were at school with him, or who used to work with him in the City, or in Reuters, or in the Admiralty, or in the newspaper world, or who had watched him creating his original and important library, or who saw him enjoying life in Jamaica, or who at any time travelled or played cards or golf with him, can confirm that he was a man who touched life at many points. And of how many men can one say, as one can of him, not only that he had much to give but gave all he had got? One is reminded of James Bond`s saying: “I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”

Ian`s energy must have been already apparent at Eton. I think it is not generally known what an athlete he was as a boy. At Eton he was twice Victor Ludorum, but even before he was sixteen he had won, I believe, every single athletic event except the high jump, and this caused him to be featured in the newsreels of those distant days. His bodily feats didn`t prevent him using his head. For instance, he pounced appreciatively at that time upon the first book of a then unknown writer – a book which in its season was probably an outstanding worst-seller, but which has turned out to have a lasting influence. This was nothing like a half-baked schoolboy of the flannelled-fool variety but already a young man with a mind searching for facts, pressing forward to discover what the world was like, and already using his valuable gift, so evident in his later career, of recognizing, and therefore encouraging, other men`s abilities.

His later education and experience were pretty varied – Sandhurst, Munich, Moscow, the City – and then, from 1939, seven years of his life were absorbed by his work in the Naval Intelligence Division. Just before the War, Admiral Godfrey, the Director of Naval Intelligence, who had long shown a more elastic understanding of the world and of his own profession than was likely to be discernible in more conventional sailors, recruited Ian from the City. This was on the recommendation of no lesser persons than Sir Edward Peacock and Sir Montague Norman, the Governor of the Bank of England.

It wasn`t only his quick and resourceful brain that Ian brought to the service of his country, but administrative ability. He was an unfailing source of brilliant and constructive ideas, and he had the faculty of knowing how to apply them in a practical way. Also, in a service traditionally silent, and sometimes tongue-tied, he was notably articulate both in conversation and on paper; and, like most capable officers, he felt that there were times when the risk of giving offence was nothing compared with the importance of being, if necessary, blunt. He was never ready to defer to pomposity, incompetence and red tape. As right-hand man to the Director of Naval Intelligence, Ian was inevitably tied down to the Admiralty, but he did make a number of necessary sorties, with or without his chief. No doubt it was his anxiety to take his own share in active service (though his own kind of service could hardly be called inactive) that caused Admiral Godfrey to send him to sea as an observer during the assault on Dieppe, with strict instructions to take care that he didn`t get lost in France.

I wish to emphasize, because it may not be fully understood even among many who knew him, or thought they knew him, that long before he began to write his first book, Ian was one of those whose services to his country, during those menacing years, made it possible for us to survive and to be here together indulging in reminiscence today. That may seem to you too obvious a remark, a kind of memorial cliche, but it isn`t. When I was lately talking over with Admiral Godfrey the nature of Ian`s wartime services, he summed it all up in a most memorable phrase, better I think than any laurel wreath or shining medal. “Ian”, he said, “was a war-winner.”

It was Admiral Godfrey who introduced him to the delights of under-water swimming, when it was much less familiar than it is now. It seemed an activity exactly made for him. It was athletic, it was not without its hazards, and it offered the discovery of a hidden world of fascinating mysteries. Discovery, I think, is a key-word: Ian was a great finder-out. And this predominant trait in his character helped to fit him for his valued association, after the War, with the Sunday Times, as its foreign manager. His ability and enterprise as a journalist can be seen in what may almost be called his instant travel-book, Thrilling Cities. That inquiring mind of his and that retentive memory would often surprise one. He was just as liable to reveal a knowledge of tropical birds or rare seashells, as of first editions or motor engines or the night life of Hamburg. What never surprised one, because one knew them to be constant, were his truthfulness and directness, his loyalties, and that restless, high-spirited independence which must sometimes have made him feel like a surf-rider alone with the speed of a tremendous wave.

Don`t let us indulge in vain regrets that he didn`t live longer, but let us be glad that he lived so intensely. Even that strong constitution began to feel the strain, and the last months of his life were anything but easy for him, as the prospect of a return to his usual courses, and then even the prospect of recovery, dwindled away. He was obviously quite unused and unadaptable to physical handicaps and restrictions, and he seemed quite incapable of learning to slow down or of giving in: he fought for life like a wounded tiger. In that fight the odds against him were too great, but he was sustained by his wife`s devotion and by her patience with his perfectly understandable impatience about his condition. In health and in sickness she gave his life a special significance, and nothing in it was more important than his feelings for her and for his son Caspar, to whose future we hopefully look forward.

I can`t step down from this place, and you wouldn`t wish me to, without reminding his widow and their son, and his other near and dear relations and friends, not all of whom are able to be here today, that our sympathy with them is unanimous. Remembering Ian, we share their bereavement; and when we think of him, with what his wartime associate Robert Harling has well described as his “sad, bony, fateful face”, let us remember him as he was on top of the world, with his foot on the accelerator, laughing at absurdities, enjoying discoveries, absorbed in his many interests and plans, fascinated and amused by places and people and facts and fantasies, an entertainer of millions, and for us a friend never to be forgotten.





Ian Fleming Remembered

IAN FLEMING made my acquaintance before I made his. It happened nearly forty years ago, when he was a boy at school. “I have a natural love of action,” he wrote many years later, and at Eton this was already plain: he as an athlete of exceptional power, and was twice Victor Ludorum. In fact before he was sixteen he had won every single athletic event except the high jump. This made news of more than Etonian interest and caused him to be featured in the newsreels of those pre-television days. But he was no small-brained muscle-boy; all through his life his physical energy ran, or jumped, neck and neck with intellectual curiosity. He evidently wanted to know all about life and a good deal about literature, and especially about its impact on life. It so happened that while Fleming was still at school my first novel made its appearance; he got hold of it, read it, and was excited by it. He had almost certainly never heard of me before, and I can`t remember what put him on to the book. He might have been guided by his sharp flair, like that of a mine-detector, for a new threat to dullness and complacency. Or possibly the use by reviewers of words like “volcanic” had aroused his interest. (There is evidence that the tremors set up by this book have continued in Africa until now, and it is at present being reprinted.) The thought occurs to me for the first time that Fleming may just conceivably have been a little influenced by Turbott Wolfe. It cannot be called a thriller, but many people found it disturbing. They were meant to. It recognised and asserted that life includes the head-on collision and struggle of violent forces.

I first met Fleming some years later, when I had returned to live in London. He asked me to a party in Chelsea given by his handsome mother. He was youthfully handsome himself, wearing a well-cut dark blue suit and with very good manners, easy, cheerful and welcoming. After Eton he had been at Sandhurst and in Munich, and was now in Reuters, which sent him at various times to Berlin and Moscow. He seemed to me to have good luck on his side – youth, health, strength, money, general eligibility, a social status taken for granted, work that interested him, and a consciousness of his powers. At that first encounter he struck me as no mere conventional young English man-of-the-world of his generation; he showed more character, a much quicker brain, and a promise of something dashing or daring. Like a mettlesome young horse, he seemed to show the whites of his eyes and to smell some battle from afar.

If I had been anything like an ambitious young man-of-the-world myself, or if I had been enjoying life less, I can imagine that I might have thought how pleasant it would be to be him. In fact such a thought could hardly have occurred to me, because our ways of life were quite different. Some of his keen interests – fast cars, golf, gambling – were as immeasurably far from mine as some of mine from his. But his liveliness and curiosity were congenial to me, and we were responsive to each other`s jokes, anecdotes, and opinions.

DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR our paths began to converge. We were in the same service and for some of the time under the same roof. Myself embattled as that marginal anomaly, a civilian officer on the Naval Staff, I was an inconspicuous but diligent auxiliary o the Naval Intelligence Division, in which Fleming`s role was important. His responsibilities at the Admiralty gave him scope for some of his best abilities and he enjoyed exercising them. They were most efficiently applied to defeating the enemy; and Admiral Godfrey, at that time Director of Naval Intelligence, looks back upon him as a “war winner.”

Fleming`s private self – or selves, because he was not a man of a single interest or a single aspect – seemed to some to be hidden, or withdrawn. There were persons near him during the War who felt that they never really knew him except as an active functionary, polite and often cheerful with those who seemed to him properly tuned up, and capable of being abrupt with others. I suppose his inmost self to have been strongly fortified, and I should guess that some who were much attracted by him, and believe themselves attractive to him, may have found to their disappointment or even sorrow that any right of way through the fortifications, or tenancy within, was denied to them. He was perhaps too self-possessed a man to tolerate possessiveness aimed at him by others. In those strenuous wartime days he did not give, or give so clearly, the sense he occasionally conveyed of being alone when not alone. His wartime associate Robert Harling has written of Fleming`s “sad, bony, fateful face.” There were moments, as he grew older, when with its heavy eyelids and mixed look of determination and abstraction, it looked like a sculptured mask of melancholy.

I have heard it said of him that he kept his life in separate compartments. So he did, but surely that is quite usual for persons with many different activities and interests, who touch life at various levels that do not overlap and may have nothing in common with one another.

Once during the War, when some of its worst phases were past, we were feeding alone together and found time to speak of what we intended to do when it was over. With a diffidence that came surprisingly from so buoyant a man, he said he had a wish to write a thriller. He may not have used exactly that word, but made it quite plain that he had in mind some exciting story of espionage and sudden death. I at once made it equally plain how strongly I believed in his ability to write such a book, and in its probable originality. “But,” I said, “it`s no good writing just one. With that sort of book, you must become regular in your habits. You must hit the nail again and again with the same hammer until it`s driven into the thick head of your potential public.” He gave me a long and thoughtful look.

It as not until he was at his Jamaican house at the beginning of 1951 that he sat down to write Casino Royale. I knew nothing about it.

“When I got back to London,” he wrote some years later, “I did nothing with the manuscript. I was too ashamed of it. No publisher would want it, and, if one did, I would not have the face to see it in print.” He went on to explain how one day he had been lunching with me, and had asked me “how you got cigarette smoke out of a woman once you`ve got it in.”

Always, I hope, alert to the caprices of the human race, and generally expectant that they are likely to be grotesque, I must have speculated rapidly about this intimate-sounding injection. He went on to explain that one couldn`t use a world like “exhales,” and “puffs it out,” he thought, sounded silly. And then – “William looked at me sharply: “You`ve written a book.””

Of course I asked to see it. He felt that I would “tell the horrible truth about the book without condemning me or being scornful.”

I read, I applauded, he conquered.

THE BEST AND MOST entertaining analysis of his thrillers ever likely to be written is to be found in Kingsley Amis` forthcoming book. My own summary view of them is that they are brilliant, romantic fairy-tales in which a dragon-slaying maiden-rescuing hero wins battle after battle against devilish forces of destruction, and yet is indestructible himself: an ancient kind of myth skilfully re-created in a modern idiom. They are, like life, sexy and violent, but I have never thought them corrupting. Compared with some of the nasty stuff that gets into print, they have a sort of boyish innocence.

In the popular imagination Fleming is confused with or thought to have been identical with James Bond. There may be something Flemingish about Bond, but I didn`t see much of Bond in Fleming, who was more perturbable. Let us admit, as Fleming himself did, that Bond and his adventures are something of an adolescent fantasy. Is there anything wrong in that? Not at the box office. At the time of his death some 20 millions copies of his books had been sold and they had been translated by then into eighteen languages. The films have already captured vast audiences.

Fleming`s attitude to his own books was perfectly straightforward. He was pleased that they did so well (who, in his place, wouldn`t have been?), took a proper pride in his skill in composing them, and was delighted that they pleased readers worth pleasing – President Kennedy, for instance. But there was never any sign that he pretended to himself or to anybody else that the literary value of what he wrote was underestimated. It did please him to pretend that I was a sort of only begetter of his books, which was nonsense. Or was it just an indication of his characteristic capacity for gratitude? As somebody who knew him well reminded me lately, “Ian always said thank you.” Some of the inscriptions in the copies of his books he gave me repeated the unearned but recurrent compliment – for example, in my copy of Goldfinger, “To William, who started these balls rolling.”

In fact I used to be the first person to whom his books were shown, partly for professional reasons. When I found things to praise, he seemed pleased; when I suggested emendations, he was attentive – sometimes too attentive. I once said to him, just after reading a new James Bond typescript, that although the persons in it often made exclamatory remarks, these were never followed by a point of exclamation. I said this half-teasingly, but he took it so seriously that when the book came out, the New York Times took him to task for peppering his pages, like a schoolgirl, with exclamation marks.

I thought it admirable and dignified in him that he appeared to take no notice whatever of the envy he naturally provoked. This envy showed itself sometimes in spiteful or patronising reviews or gossip. Ungenerous natures, without a tenth of his vitality, brains, or experience, would sometimes try and mask their envy by disapproval or by affecting a high moral tone about his books, calling them sadistic (understandably) or “snobbish” – by which I suppose they meant status-conscious or something. To some people, naturally, the books could not and cannot appeal. “Not my cup of tea,” I have heard some say: the answer to that is that the Bond book are not cups of tea at all, but something more stimulating. In any case, what on earth would be the character of a book that was everybody`s cup of anything? Though to some the books are distasteful, I have never heard them called boring.

ONE COULD HARDLY CALL Fleming a bookish man, which suggests somehow an untidy, bespectacled, bible-backed, pedantic half-recluse. But he had an active interest in book-collecting and had built up a remarkable library, concerned with the impact of literature, of new ideas in literature upon life. An assiduous reader of The Times Literary Supplement, he had a sharp eye and good memory for critical or bibliographical details.

If a biography of him is ever written, competently written, he will be seen as a man who was successful in several different spheres of action, and who made full use of his lease of life. When his health was no longer good, it was impossible to imagine him settling down to the existence of a prudent invalid obsessed with trying to make it last as long as possible. I think he knew he had, as they say, “had it.”

In his will he generously left me and two or three other friends some money to be spent within a year on some “extravagance.” I would rather he had survived me. No extravagance by us can disguise though it may commemorate his absence. Whatever the money is spent on I shall think of him looking over my shoulder, curious to see how it is being used, a little ironic and (I hope) pleased.

Wililam Plomer

[The article first appeared in the January 1965 Encounter]


William (Charles Franklyn) Plomer (whose surname rhymes with “rumour”), a respected poet and novelist, was born December 10th, 1903 in Pietersberg, South Africa, to English parents. Spending most of his life in England, he didn`t consider himself South African. “I once had a cat [that] had kittens in the oven, but no one mistook them for biscuits.”

Educated mostly in England, Plomer and his family moved back to South Africa in 1914, where he spent three miserable years at a British boarding school. Plomer`s father – a ne`er-do-well who domineered his family and drifted from one job to the next, eventually becoming a minor civil servant – had wanted to avoid service in WWI. Plomer began writing poetry in 1920, and that same year, he left school and his father forced him into sheep farming. Plomer subsequently admitted that he wasn`t much good at it, however, life on the farm and the South African racial strife he witnessed first-hand provided much background material and characters for his first novel, Turbott Wolfe, which he began when 19. Plomer also drew – this is a neglected aspect of his life – and for many years wasn`t sure whether he would paint or write.

After Plomer`s father suffered a nervous breakdown and was retired from the civil service, the two took over a run-down native trading station in a desolate Zulu reserve. Unlike some of their white neighbours, father and son developed a rapport with the Zulus but were disliked by the other whites, also for having a higher standard of living.

Plomer began contributing poems to the Zulu paper Ilanga lase Natal in 1924 under the pseudonym “PQR”, and took details of his life in the trading station and those around him, as he did with life on the sheep farm, for his novel Turbott Wolfe, about a white painter who runs a store and encourages miscegenation (“race mixing”, which at this stage wasn`t outlawed).

Only 21, he submitted the manuscript to Leonard and Virginia Woolf`s Hogarth Press. One front-page headline review read “A NASTY BOOK ON A NASTY SUBJECT”. Cyril Connolly (noted author, Ian Fleming friend and author of the Bond story Bond Strikes Camp) considered it one of the “key books” of modern literature. Literary critic Martin Seymour-Smith subsequently wrote that Plomer “was the first modern South African writer of English fiction to try to see Africans as they actually are. His first novel […] bears obvious signs of its author`s youth; but it remains a passionate demonstration that a human way for South Africa would be through miscegenation.” By the 1960`s, the South African library system supposedly had to keep its copy under lock and key.

In June 1925 he met the young poet Roy Campbell, editor of the new magazine Voorslag (“Whiplash”) who hired Plomer on as sub-editor. Plomer in turn arranged for South African writer Laurens van der Post to join the magazine. All three opposed anti-black sentiments and the magazine was controversial from the start. Campbell bumped heads with the magazine`s backers before the first issue appeared in June 1926, and resigned by the third issue (effectively taking Plomer with him).

Much of what Plomer now wrote attacked whites and praised blacks: “such a direct onslaught on this vast mass of crawling filthiness called South Africa… It is a lovely country […] and I know it and love it, and I know the nobility of the natives and their unsurpassable human qualities, but the whites are unspeakable… a man doesn`t go against his countrymen without reason.”

At about this same time a Japanese ship captain (Mori) arranged for Van der Post and Plomer to visit Japan. Though Van der Post returned to South Africa, Plomer stayed on for three years, which gave him much material for his wonderful second novel Sado. Plomer taught at a “not especially exalted teachers` training college” since “Native speakers of English were in short supply in Tokyo.” He suffered financial and housing difficulties, cold weather, ill health, and was unable to properly learn the language except for understanding the most rudimentary spoken phrases. His prospects however soon improved and he got a better paying job teaching at a Japanese high-school, and took a small village house with a male Imperial University student, the first of two students he was to live with in Japan. Plomer was open to his students, even inviting them to visit him at home. Friends remarked on the austerity of his surroundings – he owned few material possessions, a trait he kept for the rest of his life. One night while visiting Hiroshima, he saw a “curious domed cloud of smoke floating over the city” at a fireworks display, which he subsequently used for his brilliant story Thy Neighbour`s Creed (published in his 1949 collection Four Countries) about an elderly Japanese man who has premonitions of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (Plomer, unlike many others, was quite sympathetic to the Japanese both during and after WWII.)

However, Plomer was too much the outsider (which was true no matter where he went most of his life), and didn`t feel at home in Japan. He left before his ties with the country and current mate got any stronger, and also because he feared his life might be in danger; his short story collection Paper Houses, in which he mercilessly attacked Japanese life and nationalism (in the story Mother Kamchatka) was about to be published. (Plomer was later offered the chair of English literature at Imperial University in Tokyo, which would have paid very well, but declined, determined not to return to Japan.) Back in England, he lived with his parents – his father still just as difficult – and worked on his Japanese novel Sado. Through Virginia Woolf, Plomer met and was embraced by the Bloomsbury set and Bohemian literary London, including Lytton Strachey, TS Eliot, and many others, some of whom got him book reviewing assignments with prestigious journals. He also met Somerset Maugham, Herbert Read, and, in 1931, John Lehmann who then had begun working at the Hogarth Press. During the mid 1930`s, Plomer became a regular contributor to publications where his friends worked.

Much is made elsewhere about the fan letter Ian Fleming sent Plomer (then still in Japan) about Turbott Wolfe – arguably a crucial moment in Fleming`s life and James Bond`s future. At approximately the same time, Anthony Butts, a dilettante painter and playwright also wrote praising Turbott Wolfe; the two men were to grow close. In 1929, after Plomer had returned to England, EM Forster (A Passage To India) wrote praising Plomer`s short story Ula Masondo. The two remained friends until Forster`s death in 1970. Forster even asked Plomer to be his official biographer, though nothing came of it. In 1955, when reviewing A Shot In The Park, Forster wrote that Plomer is “my favourite living contemporary poet… [his work is] full of colour, feeling, distinction, character-drawing, epigram, and mischievousness.” Elizabeth Bowen, whom he also subsequently met, also wrote at the end of 1933 complimenting him on his novel The Invaders.

Unhappy living with his parents (which he never regarded as a “home”), he moved to London in September 1929. His books made him little money, so occasional reviews, and a regular article he wrote for the Cape Times (thanks to Van der Post`s intervention) gave him enough money to move into a large, cheerful mid-Victorian house in Bayswater, run by a pretty young woman, whom Plomer liked. Her husband, though, was violent and terrified her. Early one Sunday morning, the man, wrongly figuring that she and Plomer were romantically involved, slashed his wife to death with a razor in front of their 6 year old daughter. He then went looking for Plomer, who was away that weekend. When Plomer got back he had to clean the place up, including picking scraps of flesh from the carpet. At his birthdary party, which he held in the murder-house several days later, he told Virginia Woolf that while murders were not his line as a novelist, he had been fascinated by crimes of violence from childhood. Plomer brooded on the matter for two years and based his subsequent novel The Case Is Altered very closely on the incident.

Plomer`s friendship with the hot-headed Roy Campbell drifted apart and finally ended for good in 1933 when Campbell`s wife kissed Plomer in the back seat of taxi. Campbell was more offended than Plomer. He however made new friends, including the young, still unknown poet Stephen Spender early in 1930, and through him, the poet WH Auden and the author Christopher Isherwood (whose novel Goodbye To Berlin became the film Cabaret). Plomer found these friendships useful in that he got reviewing work and outlets for articles and poems out of them. He now also published his poetry in important journals and magazines almost immediately after writing it.

By Plomer`s own admission, he led a rather lazy life during the 1930`s which he never made up for after. He wrote less, content to drift, living mostly on his earnings as a regular fiction reviewer for the Spectator, and any paying publication. By 1935, his income had dropped to 386 pounds, and that was mostly spent on young men. Troubled by not belonging anywhere, Plomer once wrote to Virginia Woolf saying, “I don`t suppose you know how separate I feel myself from all my contemporaries.”

Plomer and Anthony Butts, who had become close friends, also became travelling companions by the end of 1929 and travelled through Europe in 1930. They settled in Greece, where Plomer wrote stories and an unfinished novel Memoirs of an Emigrant. The trip was cut short when Butts, who was footing the trip, heard from his mother that she could send no more money because the family finances were shaky. Worse, Plomer heard that his mother had been operated on for cancer (both of Plomer`s parents were to die from cancer: his mother in October 1939, and his father in January 1955). Moreover Nicky, the blond sailor Plomer had been involved with grew bored, left him for another moneyed foreigner, taking Plomer`s savings, giving him a venereal disease. Some have said that Plomer never outgrew this traumatic experience. “If one is conscious of intense happiness, one is a fool to trust it.” He returned to England in November 1930, his mother sick, though recuperating and his father even more difficult and domineering. Unable to live with them, Plomer moved to Herefordshire, on the Welsh border, and wrote 170,000 words of his autobiographical novel, which dealt with his move from Africa to Japan and then on to Europe. Its hero, Plomer was later to say, “made the awful discovery that love, to come into being, may even need something more than the wonderful coincidence of the time and the place and loved one.” Unlike Turbott Wolfe, Plomer struggled long and hard with this novel, having already destroyed 50,000 words of it in August 1929. (Later, after he became Cape reader, Plomer wrote to fellow novelist Elizabeth Bowen, “of course it takes up nearly all my time, and as I still do a certain amount of reviewing I seldom have a moment. It`s annoying, as I feel a novel ripening.” Plomer wrote 25,000 words before destroying it – an extremely annoying habit of his that he did several times throughout his life.)

The Woolfs and their reader thought the novel episodic and Plomer reluctantly agreed to rewrite it and cut it in half. He believed that his difficulties resulted from his frustrated attempts to get to grips with what he called his “real nature”, and wrote to Van der Post, “I am trying to learn to conduct my life & work in accordance with my real nature, & although I am nearer to it than I was, I have still difficulties to surmount.”

His health deteriorating, and on a 10 pound advance, he moved into a sleazy bed-sitting-room in London. Van der Post found him one of many down-and-nearly-outs in England at that time; during a late long-night walk, Plomer talked of suicide. “It was the only time I really saw William completely vulnerable and exposed and finished and he didn`t care who knew it – there was no pose about it.” He believed the affair with Nicky was a turning-point in Plomer`s life – Plomer had put everything for the first time in his life into his love for Nicky. It`s been said that Plomer was always attracted what he considered his social inferiors, whether they be Zulus or his Japanese students, because it gave him control over the relationship. (It`s also been claimed that to many, the lower-classes “reeked” of sex.)

By May 1931, Plomer had salvaged the Japanese section from his long autobiographical novel and published it that autumn as Sado (They Never Come Back in the US); the remaining South African, Greek and English sections were either scrapped or used as short stories in his 1933 collection The Child Of Queen Victoria. Set in Japan, the novel is about an Englishman, loved by an exiled Englishwoman, who becomes involved with the title character – this particular aspect of the book was clearly modelled on Plomer`s own relationship with a Japanese student. The novel was generally well-received, though Virginia Woolf herself didn`t like it, finding it too episodic, and Spender thought the characters effete. Forster enjoyed it and it`s my personal favourite Plomer novel. Very subtle, and a lightning-paced read, the brilliant first half gives way to a confused, slightly inert, second half.

At Anthony Butts` invitation and urging, Plomer moved into Butts` spacious house in December 1931. Unlike Plomer, Anthony Butts was happy to live in chaos. Some had said of Butts, “his behaviour was eccentric, extravagant, and self-destructive.” He travelled, gambled, drank, and lavished money on friends. He and his mother – who had taken a lobster to a chemist to be chloroformed – once wealthy, were by now almost broke. Plomer would say (ironically, given Butts` death), “My God, Tony, you`ll end in the gutter if you aren`t careful,” but Butts would laugh. His disorder pulled Plomer`s life into disorder; gradually, under his influence, Plomer`s own life slipped once more into disorder.

Plomer spent the beginning of 1932 working quickly to write The Case Is Altered, the factual novel about his murdered landlady, which “brought together Britons of different classes and backgrounds, assembled them under a single roof”. Plomer`s publishers rightly saw the book as a potential bestseller, and were proven correct, though I consider it Plomer`s weakest novel, and somewhat padded. However, he earned 1051 pounds that year, nearly 900 pounds more than in 1931. His next poetry work, though, Fivefold Screen, published in April 1932, lost money. Plomer explained that poetry was “a handful of semi-precious stones, which came in for the admiration of others, but were not much in demand,” and almost completely stopped writing verse until after the war.

Plomer moved out of Butts` house in September 1932, and took up with Bernard Bayes, a Royal Guard, though this relationship subsequently proved unsatisfactory. Plomer considered getting married, but the woman in question turned him down – partly because she was involved with Van der Post. Though Plomer`s friendship with her remained intact, his friendship with Van der Post faltered; he even downplayed Van der Post in his own autobiography. It`s been said that “Another side-effect of this rejection was a harshness in some of his comments about women, and a growing dislike of them.” He was occasionally hostile and rude to them and his poetry in the late 30s and early 40s became more satirical, more grotesque, emphasizing the sleazier aspects of sexual transactions in London, and occasionally quite graphic about violence against women. Women disgusted him sexually, and during his voyage to Japan in 1926 was at his wits` end when the unwitting Captain Mori nearly took him to a brothel.

Frustrated with how the Hogarth Press promoted his books, Plomer jumped at the chance to join his friend Rupert Hart-Davis at Jonathan Cape. Hart-Davis liked Plomer`s writing and would become Plomer`s literary executor. Discussing The Child Of Queen Victoria, Cape`s reader, Edward Garnett wrote “Plomer is certainly about the most original and keenest mind of the younger generation.” Somerset Maugham wrote to Cape praising the book, “Plomer has brought it off wonderfully.” However only 87 copies had sold by October 1933.

Cape pushed Plomer for a novel, and the result, The Invaders, published in October 1934, about young adults and their experiences in London, is probably his easiest to read and, expectedly, his most superficial. Plomer found the book a struggle because he knew little about young women, though he based one of the male characters on Bernard Bayes, the Royal Guard with whom he`d lived. It seems to have been Plomer`s least well-received novel. Virginia Woolf felt that Plomer had lost his punch, which may be why she let him go to Cape; Christopher Isherwood initially disliked it and Peter Quennell criticized the work for its ambiguity, though EM Forster gave Plomer qualified support.

Even Plomer`s biographer Peter Alexander argues, “It may be that Plomer had succeeded a little too well in turning himself into an Englishman; in the pursuit of balance and moderation, he had lost his South African fire[.] The aspects of English life about which he felt strongly, such as the official attitude to homosexuality, his by now impenetrable mask prevented him from addressing openly. The result was increasing paralysis of his creative powers. Nor were the laws or even the conventions of the period to blame for his reticence; [other] writers had dealt explicitly with homosexuality, and Plomer`s publishers actually encouraged him to be more open about the matter in The Invaders[.]

From August 1933 to February 1935, Plomer struggled with a new novel, writing 25,000 words before ultimately scrapping it. In a rut, and on Hart-Davis`s suggestion, he jumped at the chance of writing a biography about Albanian warlord Ali Pasha. A painting of one of Pasha`s massacres of the Suliot women and children had drawn Plomer`s attention during Corfu visit, and the image had haunted him. Plomer enjoyed writing the book, which was well-received when it was published in March 1936. Plomer`s biographer Peter F Alexander writes that “the result was one of his most careful and readable books, a scholarly production that drew compliments from professional historians[.]” Historian AJP Taylor wrote “Mr Plomer`s name is sufficient guarantee for the force and brilliance of Ali`s biography. No one could have told better the barbaric story”.

In early 1937, Plomer and EM Forster did a BBC radio broadcast, which went over well; Plomer would be invited back to broadcast regularly on literary topics thereafter. These apperances and his book reviews were often his main source of income.

Also that year, Plomer became Jonathan Cape`s part-time (on Rupert Hart-Davis` suggestion) when their reader Edward Garnett died. Plomer never really got along with Cape – few people did – but he respected him. Plomer and Hart-Davis nicknamed Cape “the Giant Bore”, seemingly because of Cape`s monologue rolling. To Cape, a conversation, meant he talked, you listened. Plomer was also later to write that “Jonathan Cape`s name was not exactly a byword for spendthrift exuberance”.

Plomer waded through mostly ill-typed manuscripts, many of them unsolicited and devoid of merit, hoping to find that rare gem, which is how he discovered parish curate Francis Kilvert`s diaries (1870-1879). Plomer edited the original 22 volumes down to a three volume selection published from 1938 to 1944. Much to everybody`s surprise, the first volume was a smash success, perhaps as some have suggested because it was a contrast to Europe`s pre-war tensions.

As Cape reader, Plomer discovered John Fowles (The Collector, The Magus, The French Lieutenant`s Woman), Alan Paton (Cry The Beloved Country), Arthur Koestler (Darkness At Noon), Stevie Smith, Derek Walcott, poet laureate John Betjeman and Lolita author Vladimir Nabokov – both of whom Cape rejected – and Ian Fleming.

Those who read Plomer`s reports often marvelled at the care he took, though Malcolm Lowry wasn`t taken with Plomer`s reasons for rejecting Under The Volcano. Plomer objected when Lowry`s literary executors attempted to publish it, and the report was subsequently removed.

It was through Ian Fleming, Admiral Godfrey`s personal assistant, that Plomer joined Naval Intelligence in July 1940 during the war. Plomer prepared written reports of incoming intelligence, occasionally appending his own witty comments which weren`t always appreciated. (Fleming used his massive powers as Admiral Godfrey`s personal assistant to recruit many of his own friends into the NID, including Alan Ross, whom Fleming named the unfortunate station head in The Man With The Golden Gun after. Years later Plomer and Ross were brought together not only by London Magazine, which Ross edited, but also when Ross joined Plomer on the Cholmondeley award committee.)

During the war, a passing enemy airplane shot at and almost killed Plomer, which helped prompt him write his autobiography, Double Lives. The book sold well and EM Forster and Christopher Isherwood praised it. Plomer also worked on other projects; his friend Anthony Butts who had killed himself in May 1941 after struggling against terminal cancer, had left behind a manuscript consisting of anecdotes and stories about Butts` own family, which Plomer edited and revised (crediting himself as “William D`Arfey”). The subsequent book, Curious Relations, sold well when published in 1945.

In early 1943, Plomer was arrested for propositioning a sailor whom he thought obliging. (Homosexuality was then still illegal in Britain.) He was spared prosecution when Fleming intervened, claiming that Plomer was of national importance. After this close call, Plomer, who had always been private, often compartmentalizing his personal life (he often kept his various friends apart), became obsessively secret and destroyed many of his letters to friends such as the poets Steven Spender, John Lehmann, writer Christopher Isherwood and even some of his letters to EM Forster. After a bad depression and on the verge of a nervous breakdown, Plomer, eager to settle down and find a permanent partner, met Charles Erdmann, a London-born German immigrant, living off restaurant tips in a cellar. Plomer invited Erdmann to move into his home, figuring the relationship would only be temporary. It lasted until Plomer`s death – their last 21 years spent living quietly in Sussex.

After the war, he returned to Cape, disappointed that he would now only be junior reader. Thanks to Ian Fleming, Plomer had gotten an inside look at the war effort and by war`s end, had the foresight to realize that “far from relaxing into peace, Britain should be preparing for another extended war, with Russia this time.”

In December 1947, Fleming introduced himself to Plomer`s friend Edith Sitwell at a luncheon in London where her brother Osbert was awarded the Sunday Times prize for his writing. She treated Fleming coldly, later telling Plomer, “I thought at first, from his manner with her, that he was Lady Cunard`s social secretary, but realized afterwards that she would scarcely have employed him in that capacity.” To break the ice, Fleming had told Sitwell he knew Plomer and was very amused that Plomer had listed Sitwell`s Shadow Of Cain among his favourite books in an article in Horizon. Sitwell was enraged by his use of the word amused. Plomer promised to speak to Fleming about it, who in turn apologized. Sitwell subsequently invited Fleming to a June 1948 luncheon that Plomer, TS Elliot, Lehmann, and Maurice Bowra also attended. Fleming, horrified by the “array of talent” present, said, “Please let me sit in the shadow of William.”

Fleming considered Plomer his closest friend in the publishing world and on Plomer`s advice, Cape sent Fleming books that the latter might mention favourably. Plomer also believed that Fleming could write a first-rate thriller if he chose, and as is explained elsewhere, on May 12th 1952, during lunch, Fleming mentioned how difficult it was to describe a woman exhaling smoke. Plomer looked at him sharply: “You`ve written a novel.” A rather sheepish Fleming admitted that he had, and after a postcard reminding Fleming of his own promise, he reluctantly let Plomer read Casino Royale. Plomer found the manuscript exciting, predicting that it would have enormous sales, and used his tremendous influence at Cape as senior part-time reader to assure publication (against Jonathan Cape`s and several Cape directors` own objections). Years later, Plomer wrote:

“Fleming`s books appealed directly and almost universally to a prevalent mood of their time. There had generally been hardly more than one such author in a generation, and such an author is what a publisher needs – and needs, incidentally, if he is to allow himself to publish, for pleasure, prestige, or prospects, books on which he won`t make or may lose money.”

Plomer`s biographer Peter F Alexander writes, “Only Plomer made nothing from the venture in which he had played such a part, although he continued to read each of Fleming`s [manuscripts before publication] and suggest detailed improvements. Plomer`s only financial reward was the sum of 500 pounds which Fleming left him when he died in 1964, stipulating that Plomer was “to commit some extravagance” with it.”

Of Fleming`s next novel Live And Let Die, Plomer wrote, “The new book held this reader like a limpet mine & the denouement was shattering… If I`m any judge, this is just the stuff – sexy, violent, ingenious, & full of well-collected detail of all kinds.” Plomer however disliked the title to Fleming`s next Bond novel, suggesting that Hell Is Here would be better than Moonraker. He also said of that same book that Fleming had “a tendency as the climax approaches to increase the strain on the reader`s credulity.” Fleming dedicated his 1959 Bond novel Goldfinger “To my gentle Reader, William Plomer”. Plomer (unsuccessfully) cautioned Fleming against allowing a James Bond newspaper comic strip fearing a “falling off” of standards. Fleming complained to Plomer about Thunderball, a “giant Bond”, he had “got thoroughly bored with after a bit”, been unable to reread and which required “drastic rewriting.” He told Plomer that he had almost killed Bond off in The Spy Who Loved Me and when that particular novel was savaged in the press, Plomer took it upon himself to comfort Fleming`s wife Ann. Fleming wrote thanking him, adding that he`d had “an uncomfortable two or three weeks having to digest a second breakfast every morning of these hommany grits – well deserved though they may be.” Though usually supportive, Plomer criticized Fleming`s introduction to All Night At Mr Stanyhurst`s. “Ian seems to be saying, `You see, although I write thrillers, I read serious literary criticism.` Of course he does; but to say so in this way and place might irritate readers – and reviewers.” As mentioned elsewhere, Plomer once told Fleming that he ought to use more exclamation marks. Fleming blindly followed his friend`s advice. The result was the hysterically over-exclamated On Her Majesty`s Secret Service. “I put in exclamation marks like pepper. And my publishers stupidly left them in. Then I get a fierce review from The New York Times saying not only is Ian Fleming a very inferior writer but he has the girlish trick of putting in exclamation marks all over the place.” Fleming later wrote to Plomer, “I am feeling tremendously stuck in an over mink-lined rut and I need to be booted off across the world in old style.” When Fleming left for Tokyo to research You Only Live Twice, Plomer gave him several books about Japan. Plomer attended the From Russia With Love film premiere, and Fleming, “looking sadly lost on the fringes”, amused himself with Plomer`s quiet humour, admitting, “I can`t bear these Fests. I get claustrophobia and a face that aches with insincere smiles.” In fact, it`s been said that Plomer seemed to have been the only person in whose company Fleming could relax. Fleming complained to Plomer that he was “terribly stuck with James Bond. What was easy at 40 is very difficult at 50. I used to belive – sufficiently – in Bonds & Blonds & Bombs. Now the keys creak as I type & I fear the zest may have gone. Part of the trouble is having a wife and child. They knock the ruthlessness out of one. I shall definitely kill off Bond with my next book – better a poor bang than a rich whimper!” Plomer assured him that what proved to be Fleming`s last novel, The Man With The Golden Gun, was up to snuff. Fleming added, “This is, alas, the last Bond and, again alas, I mean it, for I really have run out of both puff and zest.” When Kingsley Amis later suggested that Fleming had made short-shrift of the homosexual sub-plot, Plomer replied, “I can`t think that Ian had any qualms about `prudence` or that he ever had any intention of developing a homosexual pursuit of Bond by Scaramanga.”

Plomer had said that it was unimaginable Fleming dying first and would have much preferred that it had been the other way. Writing to Michael Howard in July 1964, Plomer remarked, “I see no reason to be hopeful about his physical condition, but he is up and to some extent about and doesn`t expect to be at the Dudley [hotel] for more than a few days.”

Fleming would later say that Plomer was one of his three favourite living novelists. One day a serious study will have to be done showing Fleming`s literary debt to Plomer:

Perhaps Fernandez` indifference could be accounted for by the fact that when a man is suspicious he sometimes tends to think so much of remoter possibilities that he overlooks what is right under his nose – like a golfer who searches anxiously for a lost ball in the rough when it is all the time lying quietly on the fairway – or it may have been simply that Carol, harum-scarum as he was, had a very frank and disarming manner with Fernandez; a respectful, confidential manner which he had from the first maintained towards one who was nominally his master. [The Case Is Altered, Chapter 7.]

Or, in a letter to his parents in January 1931, Plomer wrote:

“People of a complex nervous organization absolutely need variety. One must not allow money troubles or indifferent health to force one into a rut. One has to make an effort, however hard, and have even a small change of diet, society & scene. Nothing is so tonic as being forced to grapple – if only for a few hours – with new surroundings.”

Plomer`s last novel, Museum Pieces – generally accepted as his mature masterwork – was published in 1952; he wrote comparatively little afterwards. Loosely based on the life of his friend, the painter Anthony Butts, whose stories, Curious Relations, Plomer had polished (crediting himself as “William D`Arfey”), it`s about a widow and her middle-aged son who outlive the Edwardian period and fail to find their niche in life – the son even resorts to fashion designing, but to little good. Their riches dwindle away; they die. British literary scholar Martin Seymour-Smith wrote, “After three relatively minor books, Plomer produced his best novel […], a study of a man who cannot find a place for himself in the modern world. [It] is a sad novel, about a failure; but it affirms and even comes near to defining certain elusive personal values of the past that might be forgotten.”

During the fifties and sixties, Plomer began a “new career” as composer Benjamin Britten`s lyricist. After two aborted attempts to write a children`s opera, the pair collaborated on the Coronation Opera Gloriana (for Queen Elizabeth II`s coronation). The opera, though a financial success, was dismissed at the time, which brought about Plomer`s angry denunciation, Let`s Crab An Opera published in the October 1963 London Magazine, later republished in his posthumous collection Electric Delights. The pair collaborated on three other operas (“Parables For Church Performances”), and tried composing a children`s opera several times; one would have been about spacemen and spaceships.

In 1958, Plomer was lauded as Poet of the Year at the Stratford Festival of Poetry. He received many invitations and sat on committees awarding literary prizes including the Arts Council, and was even Cholmondeley Award chairman. He won awards including the Queen`s Gold Medal for Poetry in 1963 and during the early 60`s was elected President of the Kilvert Society. He was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 1968.

When asked why he`d not written more, Plomer wrote, “Literature has its battery hens, I was a wilder fowl.” Some believe that Plomer`s inability to confront his own homosexuality (which he was defensive and insecure about) in print was one of the reasons he wrote comparatively little. His biographer Peter F Alexander writes, “His uncertainty about his identity showed in such outward signs as his insistence on the importance of wearing a social mask, his careful handwriting, which he intended as a mask of his character, and even his alteration of the pronunciations of his surname: all these divisions he was now trying to work out in [Sado].” Plomer also found surrogates; his cousin Richard Rumbold, a schizophrenic homosexual, had killed himself in 1961 and Plomer edited Rumbold`s diary.

Plomer`s posthumous 1978 collection Electric Delights – edited by his executor, the late Rupert Hart-Davis – features a wickedly delicious article entitled On Not Answering The Telephone, first published in, of all places, The Listener, explaining why he didn`t own a telephone. This subsequently proved fatal. Plomer had written, “Besides, you will say, isn`t it important to have a telephone in case of sudden emergency – illness, accident, or fire? Of course you are right, but here in a thickly populated country like England one is seldom far from a telephone in case of dreadful necessity.” Having previously been warned to take it easy, he suffered several coronary thromboses in September 1973. On September 20th, (and not the 21st as is sometimes claimed), Plomer suffered yet another heart attack and, having no phone, his companion had to travel to the nearest phonebox which, having been vandalized, was out of service. A further thirty minute delay ensued, in part because their own doctor was on vacation, and the substitute doctor, who wasn`t pleased at being woken at 4am, refused to come, claiming he wasn`t on-duty. He did however agree to call an on-duty doctor who lived 5 km away. When that doctor arrived, Plomer had already lapsed into unconsciousness and died several minutes later in Erdmann`s arms.

Plomer`s talent was a light and delicate one, his writing sometimes had a childlike innocence to it, often remarkable for his mischievous wit. During WWII, he described “a near miss” as “une demi-vierge”, which is French for “half-marriage”. In his 1952 novel Museum Pieces, a character describes chattering Indians as “much Urdu about nothing.”

From his poem Mews Flat Mona (Collected Poems, 1960):

On a sofa upholstered in panther skin

Mona did researches in original sin.

Martin Seymour-Smith wrote, “There is no one like him in the world in [comic extravaganza]; as a light poet he is infinitely preferable to John Betjeman[.] [H]is choice of words is subtler, funnier, and altogether sharper. In his other vein Plomer is fastidious, reticent, elegant and the author of some memorable and moving lines.”

Plomer thought more of himself as a poet – which is a loss for those of us who wished he`d written more novels. I have little use for poetry and consider it linguistic self-abuse – but there are some gems:


Green evening light shines in his face

As he paces his balcony to and fro.

All cognisance of time and space

Are lost in the modulationary flow

Of his perpetual meanderings to and fro.

A green trout swimming in a tank

Glassy-green, inclining his fins ribbed and slow,

A green weed waving on a bank

In a desultory wind, to and fro,

Have the same subtle dignity

As this man who walks a balcony, to and fro,

Lost to fear and affection and malignity

In a promenade mechanically slow.

His being is absorbed in a green electric glow

As he paces back and forward, to and fro.

The Boer War from Collected Poems (1960)

They took the hill (Whose hill? What for?)

But what a climb they left to do!

Out of that bungled, unwise war

An alp of unforgiveness grew.

Wish You Weren`t Here from Electric Delights:

Having repulsive time,

glad you aren`t here.

Rushing from place to place,

now in a sterile room

In another airport hotel

(Or is it the one before last?),

unable to read tonight,

unwilling to listen to news

of cruelty and lies,

glad you aren`t here.

Plomer was also a famous and voluminous letter writer and a much sought after dinner-guest. He was famous for his amusing stories and his sharp wit; when a female apologized for her retarded brother`s behaviour, Plomer said, “Oh please don`t apologize. It was so nice to meet a professional idiot after knowing so many amateurs.” He collected Victorian and Edwardian postcards and loved sending them to friends, especially ones that the Victorians would have deemed “improper”. Keenly interested in graphology, Plomer`s own handwriting was immaculate. Virginia Woolf noted that he had “wild eyes” which she took to be a true index of what went on inside.

A writer acquaintance, James Stern, wrote, “With his clipped moustache, dark hair brushed straight back, the thick-lensed horn-rimmed spectacles, the considerate, enquiring, courteous manner, he struck me as a cross between a doctor and an army chaplain with a sense, a surprising sense, of humour… I don`t think I have known any writer inspire affection so quickly. It was not simply charm. When William was with you he gave you, like a good doctor, all of himself. And so, unlike most good talkers, he could listen. Indeed he was such a good listener (how rare a gift!) that he seemed to know what one was thinking, before one spoke. Which can be disconcerting.” [London Magazine, October/November 1973, p 9-10]

The Works of William Plomer:


Turbott Wolfe (1925/1926)

Sado (1931, published in US as “They Never Come Back”, 1932)

The Case Is Altered (1932)

The Invaders (1934)

Museum Pieces (1952)

Short stories:

I Speak Of Africa (1927)

Paper Houses (1929, republished in 1943 with an introduction by Plomer)

The Child Of Queen Victoria And Other Stories (1933)

Curious Relations (1945; as “William D`Arfey”; co-written by Anthony Butts)

Four Countries (1949)


Electric Delights (collection of essays, poems, stories and travel sketches; edited and introduced by Rupert Hart-Davis) (1978)


Notes For Poems (1927)

The Family Tree (1929)

The Fivefold Screen (1932)

Visiting The Caves (1936)

Selected Poems (1940)

In A Bombed House, 1941: Elegy In Memory Of Anthony Butts (1942)

The Dorking Thigh And Other Satires (1945)

A Shot In The Park (1955; published in the US as “Borderline Ballads”)

A Choice Of Ballads (1960)

Collected Poems (1960)

Conversations With My Younger Self (1963)

Taste And Remember (1966)

The Planes Of Bedford Square (1971)

Celebrations (1972)

Collected Poems (1973)

Poetry For, , Children:

The Butterfly Ball And The Grasshopper Feast (1973; illustrated by Alan Aldridge)


Cecil Rhodes (1933)

Ali The Li, o, n: Ali Of Tebeleni, Pasha Of Jannina (1936) (as “The Diamond Of Jannina”, 1970)

Double Lives: An Autobiography (1943)

At Home: Memoirs (1958)

The Autobiography Of William Plomer (1975)


Gloriana: Opera In Three Acts (1953)

Curlew River: A Parable For Church Performance (1964) (Based on Sumidagawa By Juro Motomasa)

The Bruning Fiery Furnace: Second Parable For Church Performance (1966)

The Prodigal Son: Third Parable For Church Performance (1968)

Memorial Addresses:

Jonathan Cape (1960)

Ian Fleming (1964)


Haruko Ichikawa, “A Japanese Lady In Europe” (1937) (and introduction)

Francis Kilvert, “Kilvert`s Diary, 1870-1879”, three volumes, (1938-1940, abridged edition 1944, revised edition 1961, selections 1986)

Herman Melville, “Selected Poems” (1943)

“New Poems”, Transatlantic (1961) (with H. Corke and A. Thwaite)

Richard Rumbold, “A Message In Code: The Diary Of Richard Rumbold, 1932-1961” (1964) (and introduction)

Burn These Letters (unpublished)


Selected Poems, Ingrid Jonker, (1968) (with Jack Cope; also introduction)

Introductions (and year of edition):

LM Nesbitt, Gold Fever (1936)

Bradford Smith, To The Mountain (1936)

Herman Melville, Redburn (1937)

Herman Melville, Billy Budd (1946)

George Gissing, In The Year Of Jubilee (1947)

George Gissing, A Life`s Morning (1947)

John Hampson [JH Simpson], Saturday Night At The Greyhound (1950)

Pauline Smith, The Little Karoo (1950)

Herman Melville, White Jacket (1952)

Camara Laye, The Dark Child (1955)

Jospeh Conrad, Victory, (1957)

Hans Reich, South Africa (1961)

HC Bosman, Unto Dust (1963)

Richard Freislich, The Last Tribal War (1964)

Eric Walter White, 15 Poems For William Shakesepeare (1964)

Guy Butler, South Of The Zambesi: Poems From South Africa (1966)

Zelda Friedlander, Until The Heart Changes: A Garland For Olive Schreiner (1967)

Francis Kilvert, Collected Verse (1968)

Rose Macaulay, The World My Wilderness (1968)

Contributor (partial list only):

Ilanga lase Natal (1924, as “PQR”)

Voorslag (1926, as “Pamela Willmore”)

The Gothic Arch The Old School (1934, edited by Graham Greene)

Penguin New Writing (1939-1945, as “Robert Pagan”, edited by John Lehmann)

Through Siberia In A Trance, Choice (1946, edited by William Sansome)

“Preface” to Benjamin Britten`s War Requiem (1963; pamphlet accompanying sound recording)

Aspects Of EM Forster (1969, edited by Oliver Stallybrass)

A Brutal Sentimentalist and Other Stories (1969, edited by Eiichi Sano)

Colonel Sun II: Bond Had Never Liked Acapulco

Despite what some may think or have been told, Kingsley Amis did contemplate a follow-up to Colonel Sun. 007Forever is proud to present more info about Amis`s involvement with the world of 007… According to the New York Times, “While the English notices weren`t so good, the advance sales there indicated that Mr. Amis, may not regard “Colonel Sun” as a mere one-shot, but may go on. If so, the new Bond will be set most likely in Mexico, which Amis visited in January. “I was immediately stimulated by it,” he said at his London home, “and couldn`t help thinking of Bond. It was just his sort of place.””

“Mr. Amis never moves about by air, and cultivated his own deficiencies – his phrase – he went from St. Louis to Mexico City by train. En route, he remembered that “Bond loved trains” (From Russia, With Love) and found himself plotting an assassination on a train. Then as his train moved on, there occurred the inevitable sentence, “Bond had never liked Acapulco.” From that point the next adventure of James Bond seemed to be just a matter of writing time.”

[NK`s note: if Amis had gone ahead with it, the book couldn`t have been published any earlier than 1970. The powers that be at Cape`s, Tom Maschler and Tony Colwell, were keen on Amis writing another Bond novel, but the decision not to proceed seems to have been Amis`s.]

Many years later, Amis approached Glidrose with an idea for a short story. Bond would come out of retirement at age 70 to rescue a kidnapped US Senator from a Russian Colonel-General. Bond presumably dies at the end when he falls down a waterfall. Glidrose blanched and ordered Amis not to write one word of it.

The Letters of Kingsley Amis edited by Zachary Leader (HarperCollins) features a fascinating look into Amis`s life and even includes several fascinating Bond tidbits:

A film producer hired Amis to write a treatment based on an original Fleming idea:

Letter to Theo Richmond, December 20th, 1965:

“I have been having a rather horrible time writing a story outline for one George Willoughby. Based on an original Fleming idea. Willoughby and the script-writer change everything as I come up with it. I gave W. the completed outline five days ago and he has been too shocked and horrified and despairng to say a word since. However, he has already paid me. (Not much.)”

Rumours persist that Kingsley Amis wrote, or rewrote MGG. Amis`s own comments clearly disprove this.

To Tom Maschler – 5 October 1964

Dear Tom [Jonathan Cape managing director],

[…]”Have been driving hard at The Man with the Golden Gun.* I forget what, if anything, we arranged about this. Anyway, you may care to glance at the enclosed list of errors, etc. My own feeling in general is that, while some kinds of error could easily be spotted by a competent reader (repetitions of words, the omission of question-marks – though I may say that none of Fleming`s previous books has been thoroughly corrected for this – the “Adams” mantelpiece, etc), there are on other hand several passages that need to be rewritten by someone with a feeling and flair for style; this is especially true of the 2 1/2 pages of dialogue that will have to be entirely re-drafted (pp 127-129). Anyways, forgive me if some of the errors listed seem insultingly obvious.

My greatest discovery has been to stop what it is that has done most to make the book so feeble. As it stands, its most glaring weaknesses are:

I. Scaramanga`s thinness and insipidity as a character, after a very lengthy though pretty competent and promising build-up on pp 26-35;

II. The radical and crippling implausibility whereby Scaramanga hires Bond as a security man (p 67) when he doesn`t know him and, it transpires, doesn`t need him. This is made much worse by Bond`s suspicions, “There was the strong smell of a trap about” and so on.

Now I am as sure as one could be in the circumstances that as first planned, perhaps as first drafted, the reason why Scaramanga asks Bond along to the Thunderbird is that he`s sexually attracted to him, which disposes of difficulty no. Ii right away and gives a strong pointer to the disposal of no. I. I wouldn`t care to theorise about how far Scaramanga was made to go in the original draft; far enough, no doubt, to take care of no. I.

At some later stage, Fleming`s own prudence or that of a friend induced him to take out this element, or most of it: see p 33-34, which as things are have no point whatever. He as unable to think of any alternative reason for Scaramanga`s hiring of Bond, and no wonder, since the whole point of this hiring in the first version was that it had to be inexplicable by ordinary secret-agent standard. And there he was forced to hold on to the stuff about Bond`s suspicions because Bond would have looked such a perfect nit if he hadn`t been suspicious, and it`s always better to leave an implausible loose end than make your hero look a nit.

There are no doubt all sorts or reasons why we can`t have the book in its original version, the most telling of which is that it probably doesn`t exist any more, if it ever did. I could re-jig it for you, but there are all sorts of reasons against that too. But if you think you could initiate a discreet inquiry about whether there was a buggery thread at some stage, I should be most interested to learn of any confirmation for my brilliant flash of insight.**

I`m sending the typescript back under separate cover.

* Ian Fleming died after correcting only half the final manuscript of The Man with the Golden Gun, and Amis, among others, was enlisted by Cape, Fleming`s publisher, to look the manuscript over for errors and inconsistencies.

** Maschler reported back to Amis that “the resident experts (Fleming, not buggery) don`t occur with your theory” (Maschler to Amis, 9 October 1964). Amis alludes to his theory in The James Bond Dossier (1965), in which he deplores “the ordinariness of Scaramanga, who entirely lacks the physical presence of Bond-villain at his best and remains a mere trigger-man whatever his (undemonstrated) deadliness, the promising hints of homosexuality and pistol-fetishism in him left undeveloped” (p 67).

To Tom Maschler – 19 October 1964

Dear Tom,

[…] PS: Do I get 25gns for work on Man with Golden Gun? Or more? Or less?*

* Maschler was planning to pay Amis with drink: “I had in mind half a dozen bottles. Or more. Or less.” (Maschler to Amis, 27 October 1964)

Colonel Sun though a cult favourite, remains unfilmed:

Letter to Elizabeth Jane Howard (Amis`s novelist 2nd wife) – 15th September 1976

Dear Piney,

[…] Before that I`d been to Pinewood Studies[sic] to be talked to about the new James Bond film,* which they want me to write an article on. Don`t know that I will, but it was fun to go, meet Roger Moore, etc.

*The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

Dear Piney, [16th Sep, 1976]

Meant to tell you that while I was at Pinewood I mentioned Col Sun to the PR chap, saying quite innocently that I`d heard long ago that Sal[t]zman had more or less specifically rejected the idea of filming it. PR chap said well, you know Sal[t]zman has left the organisation now and, er, let`s say I`ve heard people mentioning Col Sun. So there may be something in store for us there.

[NK`s note: Elsewhere it`s been said that Saltzman`s embargo against Colonel Sun had much to do with 1.) Having to pay royalties to Amis 2.) Glidrose rejecting the Jenkins Bond novel Per Fine Ounce, which Saltzman had been involved with. Glidrose instead published Colonel Sun which Saltzman had nothing to do with.]

Amis loathed John Gardner`s Bond novels, trashing For Special Services in print. Here, he`s slightly kinder to Licence Renewed:

To Philip Larkin – 9 June 1981

Dear Philip,*

[…] I didn`t know, or had forgotten, that you were such a Bond fan. I agree with everything you say about him AND about Gardner`s book. Glidrose didn`t show me it or even tell me it existed till it was in proof, possibly because I`d have told them it was piss. So sodding tame. Bond tells Murik`s men to stand down an they stand down. Peter Janson-Smith of Glidrose said the present text is Gardner`s souping-up of an original draft they`d sent back as too boring. Imagine what that can have been like. He just can`t write exciting stories.

You are an ole bugar about the rose.** I don`t like it either, but Bond did. He drank a well-iced pint of it in Goldfinger, p 170 (Cape edn.), admittedly with a sole menniere, but if rose goes with anything it goes with anything, right? Funny thing, the day I read your piece I got Who`s Who in Spy Fiction from the local remainder shop (want a copy? p/b, 30p) and read the following piece of bubbling dogs— from the pen of John le Carre:

“The really interesting thing [phrase that shows a lie is coming up] about Bond is that he would be what I would call the ideal defector. Because if the money was better, the booze freer and women easier over there in Moscow, he`d be off like a shot. Bond, you see, is the ultimate prostitute.”

Not true, not the case. That`s what le C`s dull f—–`s are like. He is the most frightful pisser, as I will explain to you at greater length when I see you.

* Larkin had reviewed LR in the Times literary, Supplement, 5 June 1981, pp 625, 627 ** “Amis was both a first-class writer and a Bond fan, and what he produced [Colonel Sun] was a workmanlike job, though one reader at least blanched to find Bond drinking rose with his cold beef, or with anything else for that matter”.

In a letter to Philip Larkin, dated December 31st 1963, Amis mentions that he was already writing The James Bond Dossier

To Victor Gollancz – 1 May 1964 (Amis`s then publisher)

My dear Victor,

I am just completing a book called The James Bond Dossier, the contents of which are probably indicated sufficiently by its title, although perhaps I should add that its approach is that of a Fleming addict and its verdict largely a favourable one.

I don`t think that this is at all your sort of book, in several ways. I`m pretty sure in my own mind that you have very little time for Fleming and the Fleming cult: at the very least, your heart wouldn`t be in it. And this is the sort of book people`s hearts have got to be in, I feel, if it`s to sell more than four or five thousand copies, which, having spent five months on the damn thing, I couldn`t afford.

The hearts of Jonathan Cape would be very much in this venture and, as you will know, they have an immense Fleming distribution and publicity machine already functioning. I have decided, after some not altogether comfortable ponder, that they shall public this effort.

But you are still “my publisher” (if you still want me). My future novels, and any other kind of book I can foresee writing, will be yours. I hope very much that you and Cape`s will be able to come to some arrangement which will satisfy everybody that I am not “going over” to them.*

*Gollancz was not pleased, but agreed to release Amis “subject only to this: namely that Jonathan Cape should agree with me a form of words that will make it absolutely clear, both in the trade press and the general press, that this book is an exception, that Cape publishes it by arrangement with us, and that your future work will be published by us” (Gollancz to Amis, 4 May 1964, in Gollancz).

To Tom Maschler – 28 September 1967

“There is a snag in the proof of Colonel Sun at page 187. I wrote a revised version of this passage and included it in the final copy I dropped at Cape`s or was it Janson-S`s? just before leaving. What appears in the proof is the earlier version. I imagine that the written corrections on that draft were all duly noted and incorporated, but that this, being a properly typed page, slipped through the mesh. I could re-do the thing: the snag would be that I did the revision from notes supplied by Mike K* that I haven`t got here, or probably anywhere. Meantime I will plug ahead with proof-correction. By the way, what about proofs of the maps? I must see them, to ensure that everything that should be on them is on them.

* Keely taught English, creative writing and modern Greek studies at Princeton; most of Colonel Sun is set in Greece, hence Keely`s notes.

In a letter to Philip Larkin May 21st, 1967, Amis mentions that Colonel Sun is finished.

Excerpts copyright (c) Kingsley Amis estate

Book Bloopers: The Eye That Never Sleeps

“The Eye That Never Sleeps” is more than a chapter designation in Ian Fleming’s novel, “Diamonds Are Forever”. It is an expression we coin at 007Forever to refer to the watchful eyes of line producers, directors, script editors, etc. who are vigilant to check on their films in progress for “bad matches,” moments when movie continuity or logic goes awry.

It stands as a great testimony to the staff of EON Productions these last 35-plus years that the Bond films are as outstanding as they are, with few goofs, though fanatics who have seen the movie 97 times always manage to catch something…

If you see bugaboos not reported here send them along to us online.

Cheers and happy viewing!

-it takes place the year after *Casino Royale*, yet in Chapter 2, Bond wonders, “Who controlled it [SMERSH] now that Beria was gone?”, suggesting that the story is set in 1954.

-Chapters 22 and 25 imply that it`s set in 1954, even though it occurs shortly after “Live And Let Die”, which took place in 1952 (the chapters mention, respectively, the Coronation, and Malenkov being none-too-firmly in the saddle over in Russia). (See the similar note under “From Russia, With Love”. The dating in the early novels is extremely poor).

… says that Bond`s Bentley was purchased almost new in 1933 (Live And Let Die says that it`s a 1933 model), yet “Moonraker” claims that it`s from 1930 (Chapter 1).

-Chapter 19: “But Bond had never killed in cold blood[.]” This seemingly contradicts how Bond got his double-0 number.
-The novel seems to take place in 1955, yet Chapter 11 gives the date Thursday August 12th. Thursday August 12th occurred in 1954. Bonus points for those who want to sound smart: Fleming might have looked at the 1956 calendar – the year he wrote the book – saw that August 12th was a Friday and accordingly backdated it by one day, forgetting that 1956 was a leap year (leap years are also always US Presidential election years). If you subtract the same amount of days that separate two years – go double days for leap years – you`ll know when in the week a particular date occurred (i.e. Friday August 12th, 1955; Thursday August 12th, 1954; Wednesday August 12th, 1953, etc; since 1956 is a leap year, August 12th falls on Sunday, not Saturday).
-Chapter 6 claims that Moonraker took place in 1952, when in fact it took place in 1954 (however, see similar note under “Moonraker”).

-Bond`s facial scar is on the right side, not the left side as Vivienne Michel notes (Chapter 10).

-Tiger Tanaka claims in Chapter 11 that Sumo wrestlers can make their testicles re-enter the inguinal canal in order to avoid injury. Other sources dispute this. The only organisms known to do this are shrews, and hedgehogs.
-“Moonraker” suggests that Bond was born in 1916, yet “You Only Live Twice” says 1924 (Chapter 21).
-Chapter 21 claims that Bond won his CMG in 1954, when “From Russia, With Love” (Chapter 6) says 1953. Mind you, both these dates are wrong if “Moonraker” occurred in 1952.

-Though this story was officially published before the short story “The Property Of A Lady”, we`ll count this book as carrying the error. The double agent was Maria Freudenstein, not Freudenstadt (Chapter 1).
-Mary Goodnight had blue-black hair in “On Her Majesty`s Secret Service”. Now she`s blonde.
-From Chapter 16: “The two men had never shaken hands in their lives.” Not true. Bond and Leiter shake hands in “Live And Let Die”, Chapter 1: “The tall, thin young man came forward with a wise grin, his hand outstretched, to where Bond stood rooted with astonishment. “Felix Leiter! What the hell are you doing here?” Bond grasped the hard hand and shook it warmly.”

-Chapter 15 claims that Vivienne Michel (from Fleming`s “The Spy Who Loved Me” ran a motel outside of Toronto. Not only did she not “run” a motel, but the motel itself was in the Adirondacks in upstate New York.
-Pearson gets the Moonraker plot synopsis wrong. It was not about “holding London to ransom – either the British Government would give in, or the Moonraker, complete with atomic warhead, would be fired directly at the heart of London.” (Chapter 11)
-Chapter 2 contradicts birth dates implied in Fleming`s “Moonraker” (1916) and given in “You Only Live Twice” (1924). Pearson claims 1920 (Chapter 22).
-Pearson gives him an older brother (Chapter 2), even though Fleming`s “You Only Live Twice” claims that Bond had no known surviving family (Chapter 21).
-Moreover he claims that Bond`s older brother`s name is Henry (Chapter 2). RD Mascott`s “The Adventures Of James Bond Junior – 003 1/” claims it`s David.
-Pearson says that there are only “13” Bond books, though by this time there had been 12 Fleming novels, two collections of short stories and the Amis novel (Chapter 1)
-“From Russia, With Love” was 9th on John F Kennedy`s list, after “Byron in Italy” by Ann Fleming`s friend Peter Quennell, and just beating out Stendhal`s “Scarlet and Black”. Not 6th after “Charterhouse of Parma” (Chapter 14). (I`d like to think for Pearson`s sake that he made this error on purpose.)
-Blofeld shot Tracy, not Bunt (Chapter 15).

The Bond he met is not the Bond that Fleming wrote about. Flemings Bond is described more than once as being six feet tall with blue eyes, with a scar down the right cheek. The person Pearson “met” is described as being six foot two inches tall, grey blue eyes, and a scar down the left cheek. ( If you think about it – this person sounds more like Lord Greystoke than James Bond.)
– It is mentioned that Bond went to Geneva University, which he did not. The year is all wrong and not in keeping with what Fleming wrote in You Only Live Twice`s obituary. The reference to the University comes from a passage in From Russia With Love .when Bond remembers mountain climbing at age seventeen “with friends from the Univeristy of Geneva”. That doesn`t mean he went to the University, only that his friends did. Also note that this same reference implies that Bond did not have his scar at age seventeen;something that Pearson has Bond getting at sixteen in an auto accident.
– Pearson really screws up on when the action occurs in some of the books. Including: Casino Royale. Happened in May to June of 1951 (chapter 2); Pearson has it occurring in July of 1951. Live and Let Die: Happens in January, 1952 (chapter 1) Pearson has it happening in November, 1951. Moonraker – happens in May, 1952 ( click here for my reasoning on this date ) which means the 1952 reference in FRWL IS NOT a continuity error! According to Pearson, this was a fictional story dreamed up by Fleming, (Sorry, you buy one story, you buy them all.)
– TSWLM is moved from upstate New York in mid October by Pearson to “that Christmas” and “a motel she ran outside Toronto”. Another geographic switch is OHMSS, where Blofeld is holed up in Piz Gloria above Pontresina, in south eastern Switzerland. Pearson places Blofelds` “mountain hideaway above Geneva” which is about as far southwestern Switzerland as you can get. In YOLT, Pearson has Blofelds` Castle near Kyoto. Fleming has it “in Kyushu, our southern island”.
– A minor note – Pearson states that Bonds` son is “ten,now”. This was written in 1973, which meant that Bonds` son was born in 1963. He must have been born very late in the year, then, since Kissy did not even know she was expecting until April of that year. And if he was born late in the year, then he would still only be nine when the interview with Bond takes place ……..

Mis – “namers”:
In chapter six, Pearson is introduced to “Mrs Schultz” the former “Honeychile Ryder” . Two things: If we take what Fleming wrote in “The Man With The Golden Gun” as true, Honeychiles` married name is “Wilder”, not Schultz, and the Honeychile that Bond adventured with in Dr. No was Honeychile RIDER, not Ryder. Also in chapter eight, Pearson mentions that Bonds weapon of choice in the early days was a .38 Beretta. It was a .25 Beretta until Dr. No.

It`s Auric Goldfinger that is the man who loves gold, not ARNO. (chapt. 14 ). Pearson also states in chapt 10., after the events of “LALD” but before the events of “Dr. No.” that M., angry at Bond and considering taking off the Double O list, tells Bond that “Strangeways needs to be replaced”. Why? The man is alive and well in Jamacia at the time! He also confuses which Station belongs where. I shall not go into detail. But Station C. is the Carribean, not Station K.—Walter VonTagen

-Chapter 19 ends when Sigmund Stromberg says “I want to destroy the world.” and Chapter 20 begins with Anya saying, “Create a new world?”. Text might have been removed or it may have just been written this way, but regardless, it`s a clumsy transition and essentially a continuity error.

-In Chapter 5, Cedar says that Bismaquer`s estate is 15,000 square miles, then, two paragraphs later, says it`s 150 square miles (UK edition only).

-In Chapter 8, when Flicka stays over for the night, “For the first time, a woman slept in the apartment[.]” Not true. Tiffany Case from “Diamonds Are Forever” lived with him. This is mentioned in both “From Russia, With Love”, and “James Bond – The Authorized Biography”.

In chapter 3 the villain is introduced as `Maxwell Tarn`. By chapter 13, his name`s changed to Maximilian. (John Gardner also calls The Man From Barbarossa`s Pete Natkowitz `Steve` and has Honey Rider`s surname as `Ryder`.) Getting names from other books wrong is careless, but getting the name wrong in the same book…? R. Dobson contributed to this report.

-In Chapter 13, Bond remembers a girl covered from head to toe in gold paint, but I don`t believe that he saw this in the book “Goldfinger”, just the film. Bond didn`t see the bullets ripping into Tracy in the book “OHMSS” either. (How did Glidrose let these errors through?)
-Gardner also contradicts himself: in Chapter 5, Luigi threatens divorce or something worse, yet in Chapter 10, Eddie Rhabb says that Luigi could care less about Guilliana`s infidelities.
-M supposedly has a thing about bad language, after Bond says “bloody”, yet in “Never Send Flowers”, Bond says “balls” to M.

-it contradicts information given in “James Bond – The Authorized Biography” about Irma Bunt. “A report claiming that the woman had been seen in Australia received some attention shortly after the Japanese affair, but this information proved to have been false.” Bunt had already given the Australian government an ultimatum otherwise her genetically advanced rats would wreak havoc. Moreover “shortly” seems to be an understatement since a decade has passed (mind you, trying to reconcile time in the series is a no-win situation).

-Moneypenny`s eyes are brown, not blue (Chapter 3).

TOMORROW NEVER DIES (novelization)
-In Chapter 10, “He [Bond] imagined that he would feel the same way about space-walking.” Since the novelization reconciles Bond`s Cambridge claim from the film “You Only Live Twice” (yet ignores the one in the film “The Spy Who Loved Me”), this counts as a genuine continuity error: Bond has walked in space (in both the film “Moonraker” and Christopher Wood`s novelization.)

-When discussing May (Chapter 2): “The way she pronounced the word “Sir” came out as “Suh”. Apart from Bond she would never call anyone else “Sir” except for royalty and men of the cloth.” Actually, according to “From Russia, With Love”: “To Bond, one of May`s endearing qualities was that she would call no man “sir” except – Bond had teased her about it years before – English kings and Winston Churchill. As a mark of exceptional regard, she accorded Bond an occasional hint of an “s” at the end of a word.”

Benson makes a minor error – he brought a character back from the dead! It is mentioned that Station G. was stillrun by Stuart Thomas – who, in the last chapter of “Colonel Sun” was given up for dead by M.! (I asked Benson about this and he said “Well, that`s what I get for not re-reading “Colonel Sun” all the way through and not just part-way! I knew about Stuart Thomas being head of the station there, but didn`t know he met his demise… or forgot, rather. Oh well.” ) Of course, the argument could be made that being an ex – 00 agent gave him the training to survive almost anything! : )–Walter Von Tagen

graphic novel – The Quasimodo Gambit

(Dark Horse Comics. 1994 Script Don MacGregor; Art-Gary Caldwell) The Reverend Elias Hazelwood and his church, the Disciples of the Heavenly Way, are actually a religious fanatic group plotting to set an example for all the world to follow. They`re planning to blow up a building in New York with the street address of 666 – “The Beast”, as they refer to it.

The number one thug is Maximillian “Quasimodo” Steel, a ruthless mercenary who`ll stop at nothing to cleanse the world of its sins. From negotiations with arms dealers and drug cartels to a climactic elevator shaft fight, this Bond story is exciting, believable, and well-written. A unique feature of this series is the fact that we can read all of Bond`s thoughts; very enlightening and insightful.

Bond fans will recognize Felix Leiter, references to Honeychile Ryder (Dr. No), even Bond`s flashback to his very first licensed killing, which has been alluded to in several mainstream Bond books, as well as the Authorized Biography of 007 by John Pearson. However, this series has two drawbacks: the artwork, aside from the covers, is poor – it looks like spray painting; and the books are simply too long. They include a lot of unnecessary filler material that slows down the plot substantially. Overall, though, a very good read.

graphic novels – The Illustrated James Bond

First printing, published by The James Bond 007 Fan Club in February 1981. This is a 90-page soft-cover collection of black and white comic strips that were originally printed in various newspapers in the late 1950`s to early 1960`s.

“Illustrated” contains “Diamonds Are Forever” (August 1959-Jan 1960), “From Russia With Love” (Feb 1960-May 1960), and “Dr. No” (May 1960-Oct 1960). All three stories are written by Henry Gammidge and illustrated by John McLusky with introduction by Richard Schenkman. Cover art by Tom Sciacca and Rich Buckler.

graphic novel – The Barbi Twins: Virtual Phony

This comic book is actually three stories in one. The first one, “Prelude to a Mission”, has the Barbi Twins – Sia and Shane – being kidnapped by their arch-enemy, Betty Blodryed. Apparently, the Twins work for an agency that foiled Blodryed`s plans one time and left her to be horribly scarred in an explosion. Now she wants revenge by dropping the twins into a vat of acid and ruining their looks forever. The next chapter – “Virtual Phony” – continues their story and includes a guest appearance by James Bond himself! The third chapter – “The Barbi Twins and Razor versus the Queen City Mob” – has nothing to do with the other two.

In “Virtual Phony”, the Twins use Bond-like gadgets to try to escape from Blodryed. However, they end up falling out of a helicopter and right into the acid vat. Just before they hit the acid, though, they are magically whisked away to another dimension – a dimension of virtual reality! There, they are immediately captured by the hoods of the master of the realm: a dragon with eyeglasses! In prison, they stumble upon an old man in chains with a beard down to his chest. One of them states, “Hey, we KNOW you! Aren`t you Ja–“. Yes, that`s the only clue we have that James Bond is involved in the story! Apparently, he was also captured in this alternate dimension and forced to entertain the “master”. He outlived his usefulness; now, the Twins have been brought in to take his place!

I have included this story in the James Bond Comics section because I collect any and all stand-alone stories that James Bond is somehow involved in. However, if you want a true Bond adventure set in the real world, this is definitely NOT worth adding to your collection! It is a comic set in a fantasy realm, starring two real people, with a cameo of someone we can only assume to be James Bond. The artwork is wonderful, but still not worth the $2.50 I paid for the book.

graphic novel – Shattered Helix

(Dark Horse Comics.June 1994 Script-Simon Jewett; Editor Dick Hansom; Design-Fuentes) This two-issue series wasn`t earth-shattering – no pun intended – but it was a good read in its own right. We are once again introduced to Cerebrus – from A Silent Armageddon – who is being led by a Mr. Barclay and a thug named Bullock, a man with surgically-implanted body armor. Cerebrus kidnaps a scientist from an experimental biosphere, a scientist who knows about a secret research center in the Antarctic. This center is the remainder of a failed experiment which ultimately produced a killer virus – a DNA mutagen.

Not a great deal of characteristic Bondisms in this story. Bond`s female partner is an Arctic researcher named Serena Mountjoy, someone he has had dealings with in the past (although the name doesn’t seem familiar from any of the books, comics, or movies). The plot is well-written, and the action is great. The story winds up with a preachy poetic note on the abuse of our environment – a bit campy. Overall, though, a very good series.

graphic novel – Serpent`s Tooth

(Dark Horse Comics 7/92 Story-Doug Moench) A 3 issue set from Dark Horse Comics, Serpent`s Tooth is a hybrid mixture of futuristic Bond with some traces of The Spy Who Loved Me thrown in. Bond has to go to South America and take on an unusual villian named Indigo, who has a blood/skin condition due to genetic expirementing that makes him look like a reptile. Lots of explosive action; the best illustrated of all the 007 Comic Books. Thrilling climax. If you only buy one series, buy this one.

Additional commentary by Jon Raker

Indigo`s main goal is to set off nuclear devices in the deep-sea crevices of the world`s oceans so as to create tidal waves large enough to wipe out the powerful coastal cities of the world – then move in and take over. The first agent to try and take him down – 009 – is captured and genetically engineered into a brutish servant named Goliath. Very interesting plot, and by far the best artwork of ANY James Bond comic series. However, some parts of the story are farfetched and totally unbelievable. Bond gets into a life-or-death, hand-to-hand scuffle with a genetically-engineered dinosaur, reminiscent of the raptors in Jurassic Park. Then Indigo`s base of operations suddenly sprouts a dome covering and motorized wheels and drives itself right out into the ocean. Aside from the few plot flaws, it was a very unique and enjoyable Bond story.

graphic novel – Plunder Down Under

Plunder Down Under Volume One Number Four April 1992 (Adaption:Cal Hamilton; Inks: Bambos Georgioli; Colors: Euan Peters)

Summary: An armada of the worlds biggest cargo ships have been disappearing, and it`s up to Bond and the kids to find out who is behind it, wha they want, and stop it. Locations Covered: The Greek Coast; The Parthenon Villain: Walker D. Plank; Action sequnces: a cargo ship is dragged down below the surface of the ocean, the gang is swallowed by a mechancial shark, escape from the plexiglass cage.

graphic novel – permission To Die

(Eclipse Comics 1989 Writer and Artist: Mike Grell) Even in comic book form, some things remain the same…In Permission To Die, Bond still has an eye for the ladies, Martini`s , gambling and dangerous missions. Permission To Die is a three part series first printed back in 1989 and concerns the idea that in the future, war will be fought, not on the ground, but in space. Looking to protect Britian`s network of space based satellites and intelligence gathering networks from future attacks, “M” enlists the aid of Dr. Erik Widzialdo. It seems the Dr. Widzialdo has developed a program that can help Britian from just such a scenario. What will it cost Britian? Possibly Bond`s life. His mission is to infiltrate Communist Hungary and bring back Dr. Widzialdo`s niece, Miss. Edain Gayla, alive and safe.

Additional reporting by Jon Raker

The artwork for this series looks more like sketches than final drafts, but if you like the old-fashioned type of Bond story, you`ll love this one! Full of flashbacks; you`ll see Bond`s thoughts as he is remembering his adventures from Goldfinger, Thunderball, Dr. No, On Her Majesty`s Secret Service, etc.

Felix Leiter is back, as is a new ally – Luludi “Botanee” Bey, daughter of Kerim Bey (From Russia With Love). Bond has another shootout in the gypsy camp from that same movie. In addition, other aspects of this series are reminiscent of past Bond stories: the use of a minichopper (like the movie You Only Live Twice), a Dr. No-type fortress built by Widzialdo, and an assasin similar to Scaramanga (The Man With the Golden Gun) named the Wolf. He only uses silver-jacketed bullets. There`s even a scene very similar to the Golden Gun movie in which the assassin shoots another target right next to where Bond is standing.

As it turns out, Dr. Widzialdo is determined to cause a catastrophe to remind the world of the horrors of nuclear devices; this is actually in the hopes that it will finally bring world peace. His organization, as we find out, has already caused the disasters at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. The plot is excellent and, for the most part, very believable. All in all, one of my favorite Bond comic book series.

graphic novel – Minute of Midnight

(Printed in issue 25 of Dark Horse Comics) This one-shot comic story has a nameless terrorist organization led by a gentleman named Lexis plotting to blackmail the superpowers of the world. They are going to aim Stinger missiles at nuclear power plants and threaten to blow them up unless they are well paid. Bond gets a recording of their meeting, with the help of Harlan Sykes of the CIA, and has to fly with it back to London.

On the plane, his CIA guide – Robert Nagell – tries to kill him. Bond has a mid-air fight outside of the plane, parachutes for a spell, then lets go of the chute, lands on the plane, and pulls it up just before hitting the water – the pilots, of course, are out cold. Aside from this ridiculous scene, the story is really good. Bond finishes up by delivering the goods to a fellow agent – Nigel Redditch – and proceeding to sneak onto Lexis`s estate that night to assassinate him. Here we see the tortured side of James Bond, the assassin, who remebers every cold-blooded bullet, every woman`s scream. An excellent insight into a complex character.

Interestingly enough, we find out on the last page of the story that Harlan Sykes and Nigel Redditch are actually stealing the evidence handed over by Bond and replacing it with false evidence, for reasons that are not made known to us. They finish up by preparing to discuss their plans “for the abduction of M”! Apparently, there was supposed to be quite a bit more to this story. However, issue #25 was the last issue of Dark Horse Comics ever printed. We may never know what eventually happens! However, it is very much worth the read.

graphic novel – Light of My Death

(Printed in issues 8-11 of Dark Horse Comics) This story kept jumping around, thereby producing a plot that was hard to follow and somewhat dreary. A crime boss named Amos is trying to cover up a scheme that has Swiss bankers as a front for arms trading between Hong Kong and Moscow, still during the Cold War. When a British agent – Denis Rogers – is killed investigating the crime ring, 007 is called in. His efforts to reveal Amos`s plot and nab the nameless assassin working for Amos are accentuated by the help of his partner – Tatiana Romanova of From Russia With Love fame.

Tatiana, unfortunately, is the only endearing thing about this story, which really dies without even starting. The assassin is nailed at the end, but Amos is never captured and brought to justice. Not worth the effort to collect all four comics.

graphic novel – License To Kill

This 1989 comic book adaption of the film of the same name is a great item for any casual to serious Bond collector. Faithfully adapted from the film, this book appeared as an oversized comic, with a glossy front cover captured from the film.

Eclipse Comics was the distributor and Mike Grell was the author, who went on to create Permission To Die.

James Bond Junior Overview

Six JB Junior novels differed from the “A View To A Kill Find Your Fate” series, as these were based upon the James Bond Jr. television cartoon and comic book. It was a six book series, with such titles as: A View To A Thrill, The Eiffel Target, Live and Let`s Dance, Sandblast, Sword of Death and High Stakes.


There was also a 12-issue series of comics from Marvel, which ran from Jan-Dec 1992 and was based on the children`s cartoon series that appeared on TV at about the same time. The stories center around Bond`s nephew; though he`s not Bond`s actual son, he is still named James Bond, Jr. According to the Fleming novels, after Bond`s father – Andrew Bond – died, he went to live with his aunt, Charmaine Bond. Thus, James Bond, Jr., must be her son.

Bond, Jr., is attending the Warfield Academy, run by the headmaster, Mr. Milbanks. There, Jr. associates with several friends who are related to various Bond characters. Horace Boothroyd, grandson of Major Boothroyd (“Q”), is one such friend. His nickname is “I.Q.”, and he invents all sorts of gadgets and devices to help out Jr., just like his grandfather does for 007. Another familiar name is Leiter; Gordo Leiter, the surfing son of Felix. Then there are new names: Phoebe Farragut, who has a huge crush on Jr.; Trevor Noseworthy, III, whose arrogance and nerdiness contrast with Jr.`s suave “coolness”; and Tracy Milbanks, daughter of the headmaster, who just happens to have the same first name as 007`s only wife.

Although Jr. is supposed to be concentrating on his studies, he and his friends seem to be the only force able to stop the various sinister plots of the international crime organization known as S.C.U.M. – Saboteurs and Criminals United in Mayhem. Various enemies new to the world of Bond comprise this organization: the Scumlord himself, Walker D. Plank, Skullcap, Doctor DeRange, Von Skarin, and others. However, some familiar names can also be found: Goldfinger and Odd Job, Dr. No, and Jaws. If one were to try and place these stories chronologically within the Bond literary cycle, they would have to place them before the books Dr. No and Goldfinger due to the fact that these two criminals are alive and well in the world of James Bond, Jr.

The series is definitely geared toward children, with campy plots and even campier lines and character names. For example, in issue #2, Jr. works with a French girl named Marci Beaucoup. She kisses him at the end, and when one of his friends states that he looks shaken from the kiss, Jr. replies, “Shaken . . . AND stirred!”, reminding us of Bond`s martinis of old. However, in trying to introduce the world of Bond to the younger generation, I feel that the stories do a credible job. The plots are intricate enough without being too complicated, and they follow along the grand schemes and action sequences that audiences have come to expect from James Bond stories. However, if you`re looking for adult realism and plotlines, this series is definitely not for you!

Each of the plots are outlined in this section of Forever. With exceptions that are mentioned, the issues are written or adapted by Dan Abnett, with inks by Bambos Georgiou, colors by Sophie Heath, and letters by Stuart Bartlett.

graphic novel – James Bond, Jr.: The Eiffel Missle

The Eiffel Missile -Volume 1 Number 2 February 1992 (Writer: Doug Molitor; inks: Adolfo Buylla; colors: Euan Peters)

Summary: Skullcap and Dr. DeRange have built a missile silo under the Eiffel Tower and plan to use the missile to start a “world conflict”. Jr., aided by the beautiful Marci Beaucoup and several of I.Q.`s gadgets, must stop them before the missile can be launched. Locations covered: Paris, Calais, London; Villains: Dr Derange and Skullcap; Action sequnces: Jr. climbs aboard a plane in midflight, hovercraft is shot at by laser wielding goons from high above a helicopter, Jr. pilots hovercraft through downtown Calais, avoids deadly and flammable menucart; escapes being chained to launching missle.

graphic novel – James Bond, Jr.: The Beginning

The Beginning Volume 1 Number 1 January 1992 (pictured left)(Writers: T. Pederson/F. Moss; pencils: Mario Capaldi; inks: Colin Fawcett; colors: Euan Peters)

Summary: In this issue, we meet the important characters and start to learn about Bond, Jr. Meanwhile, Scumlord and Jaws try to steal Jr.`s flying Aston Martin and accidentally kidnap Tracy in the process! Locations covered:English countryside; Villain:Scumlord; Action sequences: car chase in English countryside, hand to hand combat in cargo plane

graphic novel – GoldenEye

(Topps Comics.1995) The comic book adaption of Goldeneye is every bit as fun as the movie. It was planned for the series to be developed in three issues, but only issue number one ever went to press. The book contains dialogue and situations cut from the final film. Nice artwork and crisp writing (from Don McGregor) highlights the spirit and fun of the movie.

graphic novel – For Your Eyes Only

(Marvel Comics.1981) The comic book adaption of For Your Eyes Only is a somewhat tedious read.

The adaption was divided into two parts, with issue one covering everything from the helicopter showdown with Blofeld to Bond`s escapade on the ice rink after Bibi leaves. It`s notable mostly for Stan “SPIDERMAN” Lee`s involvement.

Oddly enough, they left the character of “M” in the comic even though he was removed from the film due to Bernard Lee`s death.

graphic novel – Earth Cracker

Earth-Cracker – Volume One Issue Three; March 1992 (Writer: Cal Hamilton; inks: Adolfo Buylla; colors: Euan Peters)

Summary: Goldfinger and Odd Job kidnap a student from the Warfield Academy – Lotta Dinaro, whose father may have found the lost city of gold, El Dorado. Locations covered: London, Peru; Villains: Goldfinger and Oddjob; Action sequences: Bond and gang try to avoid a battle tank, Bond mountain climbs and survives and earthquake; Bond`s swing into action is cut short by Oddjob`s bowler; Bond, Lotta and her father swing down 200 ft and overtake the Earth-Cracker.

graphic novel – Dance of the Toreadors

Dance of the Toreadors Volume One Issue 5; May 1992 (Colors: Euan Peters)

Summary: The Flamenco dancer Dulce Nada is kidnapped by Von Skarin, who needs the “memory crystals” hidden on her dress to activate the Siegfried Supercomputer and take over the world`s communications systems. Locations covered: England, Spain (Pamplona and San Sebastian) Villain: Von Skarin; Action sequences: Bond and IQ chase a woman on a motorcycle in their sportscar, a beautiful cat burglar escapes from a laboratory with crystals, Bond attaches a magnet dangling from the villains helicopter to a tractor trailer, Bond is chased on an ATV through the streets of Pamplona; Bond gets caught up in the Running of the Bulls, Bond has to outsmart a wild bull.