All posts by baconbond@gmail.com

Octopussy (And The Living Daylights)

The book Octopussy is a collection of short stories,written by Ian Fleming, but published, as a collective book, after his death. The book Octopussy contains three short stories. The first is “Octopussy”, the second “The Living Daylights” and the third is “The Property Of A Lady”. “The Living Daylights” was published first in 1962 under the title The Berlin Escape and was first published in Argosy magazine. “Octopussy” and “The Property Of A Lady” were first published in Playboy magazine.

Octopussy The Hero: James Bond; The Villian: Dexter Smythe; Supporting Character: Oberhauser; Location covered: Jamaica

Octopussy isn`t just one of my favorite Ian Fleming stories. It`s one of my favorites stories. Period. It`s a rather unusual story, with Bond actually being a minor character. Also, the “villain” isn`t your typical villain. In Fleming`s hand, Dexter Smythe, is a multi-faceted, complex, weak, guilt ridden man.

The story is set in Jamaica, in particular, a small, out of the way strip of beachfront property where the lonely recluse, Major Smythe, lives. Smythe, once an officer of the Royal Marines, but now retired, spends his lonely days drinking and tending to “his people”. “His people” are actually an assortment of sea life that reside inside the reef right off the beach that Major Smythe owns. His wife is dead, and now he has only the fish to take care of, which he dutifully does everyday. He names every single one of the sea creatures, and even stirs up the sand so that the bottom dwellers will be able to find something to eat.

“He referred to them as “people”, and since reef fish stick to their territories as closely as do most small birds, he knew them all, after two years, intimately, “loved” them, and believed that they loved him in return. They certainly knew him as the denizens of zoos know their keepers, because he was a daily and a regular provider, scraping off algae and stirring up the sand and rocks for the bottome feeders…”—page 13.

You can almost feel a twinge of sadness for the character. Smythe must be desperately sad and a bit senile to believe that fish could love him, yet this bizarre belief makes Smythe a much more tragic character, and thus makes us sympathetic towards him. Major Dexter Smythe may have been loving towards sea life, but he had a secret gnawing away at him.

“…tropical sloth had gradually riddled him so that, while outwardly he appeared a piece of fairly solid hardwood, inside the varnished surface, the termites of sloth, self indulgence, guilt over an ancient sin, and general disguest with himself had eroded his once hard core into dust”— page 12.

“So Major Smythe was bored, bored to death, and, but for one factor in his life , he would long ago have swalloed the bottle of barbituates he had easily acquired from a local doctor”.—page 13

What sin had Dexter Smythe committed that has gnawed away at his conscience for so many years? He murdered a man in cold blood, and stole quite a fortune in gold bars. Bond knows this, and he`s come to Jamaica to give Major Smythe the opportunity to turn himself in. In Jamaica, Smythe recounts the story of what happened and why he killed a man called Oberhauser. He even goes into length describing how he covered up the crime.

“Oberhauser`s sausage was a real moutaineers meal -tough, well fatted, and strongly garlicked. Bits of it stuck uncomfortably between Major Smythe`s teeth. He dug them out with a sliver of a matchstick and spat them on the ground. Then his Intelligence-wise mind came into operation, and he meticulously searched among the stones and grass, picked up the scraps, and swallowed them. From now on he was a criminal…He was a cop turned robber. He must remember that!”—page 34.”

Page 47 holds a neat plot twist, with Smythe finding out why this particularly obscure case was of such interest to Bond. After hearing the why`s and the how`s of the murder tale, Bond tells Smythe the police will be by in a week to arrest him. Is that a hint Smythe wonders? A hint to commit suicide? To spare the court and the taxpayers the time and money of a trial? Bond leaves, and Smythe begins to wonder what his next move will be. Will he try and defend his actions in court? Will he flee the country? Will he kill himself? The choice ends up being made for Smythe. Justice prevails in a bizarre and ironic twist of fate for the Major.

The Living Daylights The Hero: James Bond; The Villain: Trigger; Supporting Characters: “M”, Captain Sender, 272; Location covered: East Berlin

The Living Daylights is yet another of Ian Fleming`s best stories. In this one, Bond is assigned to provide cover for a defector code named 272. 272 will try and make the escape from East Berlin over to the West side and into freedom. However, the KGB have already been put on alert by a double agent, and not only know the escape route 272 will use, but now have one of their best snipers, code named “Trigger”, to assasinate 272 before he can cross the wall. Fans who`ve already seen the movie will certainly suspect a few of the plot points and twists that Fleming provides. However, enough original material remains intact to make this worth your time to read. What`s impressive about the story was the absolute dread that Bond felt in having to murder an enemy agent in cold blood. Even though “Trigger” is the enemy, Fleming does such a wonderful job of portraying Bond`s anxieties about the mission, that we yet again see Bond, not as an all-powerful superhero, but as an ordinary man. A man that could be any one of us. In several passages, Fleming remarks about the sweat pouring off of 007`s body. In order to complete his mission, 007 has a bit to drink, which causes an angry outburst between James and his assistant, Sender.

Bond took a stiff drink of the whiskey before he donned the hideous cowl that now stank of his sweat. Captain Sender had tried to prevent him, and when he failed, had threatened to call up Head of Station and report Bond for breaking training.

“Look my friend”, said Bond wearily, “I`ve got to commit a murder tonight. Not you. Me. So be a good chap and stuff it, would you?” —page 86

Also of interest to readers is the relationship between Bond and “M”. There`s some mutual feelings of, dare I say, love, or at least respect for one another. “M” realizes this is going to be a tough assignment for Bond, and tries to shoulder much of the responsibility for it and to take off the weight of dread that 007 must be feeling.

“Where do you come in, 007?” M. looked coldly across the desk. “You know where you come in. You`ve got to kill this sniper. And you`ve got to kill him before he gets 272. That`s all. Is that understood?”. The clear blue eyes remained cold as ice. But Bond knew that they remained so only with an effort of will. M. did`nt like sending any man to a killing. But, when it had to be done, he always put on this fierce, cold act of command. Bond knew why. It was to take some of the pressure, some of the guilt, off the killer`s shoulders. —-page 67

Ian does a fantastic job putting in plot twists and turns, and intermixing them with real, discernible tension. From a beautiful cello player to “strawberry jam”, this story`s got it all!

The Property of a Lady The Hero: James Bond; The Villian: Maria Freudenstein Supporting Characters: Dr. Fanshawe; Kenneth Snowman; Mary Goodnight; Location covered: Sotheby`s

This one is the shortest of the short stories, and consequently has the least amount of character development. Also, too many characters are in this story, in my opinion, for a short story. The plot, in summary, is the investigation into a gift, received by a Miss Maria Freudenstein, working for M.I.6, which may have come from the KGB. Maria is due to receive the proceeds from the auction at Sotheby`s of the Emerald Sphere, and Bond, along with art expert Kenneth Snowman, goes to the auction to see who it is that will be there to bump up the price. The KGB may be sending someone to outbid everyone else at the auction, as a way of repayment for double agent services rendered by Miss Freudenstein. There`s not any surprises in this tale, and it`s much more of a straight forward story than anything else. It`ll give you a nice education in auction ettiquette though.

Nobody Lives For Ever

The Hero: James Bond; The Villain: Tamil Rahani; The Bond Girls: Nanie Norwich, Sukie Tempesta; Supporting Characters: Heinrech Osten, Steve Quinn, Dr. Kirtchum, May, Moneypenny; Locations covered: France, Austria, Key West; First Published: 1986

Nobody Lives Forever picks up almost immediately where Role Of Honor left off. That makes Nobody Lives Forever a sequel of sorts. And like most sequels, it`s not quite as good as the original.

Nobody Lives Forever starts off with 007 on a month`s leave from the service. He`s on his way to Austria to pick up his housekeeper, May, who has been recovering at a convalescence home after a lengthy illness. It`s on the way from England to Austria that 007 begins to notice odd occurences. Strangers suddenly dying all around him. First, it was two men being chewed up in the rotors of a ferry. Then someone blows up a car right behind Bond`s. After that, a man Bond recognizes as a Mafia member is found dead, only yards from the hotel where Bond is staying.

Bond`s intuition tells him something is wrong. There have been too many incidents for it all to be just coincidence. Bond soon learns the horrifying truth: a contest has been created. The prize money is ten million Swiss francs for getting the head of 007 on a silver plate. Tamil Rahani, last seen plummeting from a zeppelin over Lake Geneva in Role Of Honor is on his deathbed. His last dying wish is to see Bond die before he does.

But the contest has several innocent participants in it as well. Miss Moneypenny and May. Both were kidnapped at the convalescence home in Austria, in an effort to limit Bond`s options. Also, there are two beautiful but mysterious women with whom Bond has been forced to join up with. The Principessa Sukie Tempesta and her childhood friend, Nannie Norrich, owner of an all female bodyguard service.

Nobody Lives Forever has it`s good moments. Page 57 makes a reference to Marc-Ange Draco, the father of Bond`s dead wife, Tracy.

Quinn:”…Also practically every known terrorist organization , from the old Red Bridage to the Puerto Rican FALN- the Armed Forces for National Liberation. With ten million Swiss francs as the star prize you`ve attracted a lot of attention.

Bond: You mentioned the underworld.

Quinn: Of course, British, French, German, at least three Mafia families and, I fear, the Union Corse. Since the demise of your ally, Marc-Ange Draco, they`ve been less than helpful…

Bond: All right!

Quinn hits a touchy subject when bringing up the memories of Bond`s past with Marc and Tracy. Unfortunately, there aren`t enough good, solid moments in Nobody Lives Forever to highly recommend it. The story seems to meander, and the Bond girls are the weakest that I can remember in a Bond novel. Much of the dialogue and interplay between Bond and the women is childish, immature and silly. An attempt to be witty that just went plain wrong. I just simply didn`t buy their inclusion in this story, and it would`ve really been better off had Bond had no women in this story at all.

Gardner puts Bond in the middle of all this action and mayhem, but he also becomes a side issue. With so much going on around him, Bond loses focus as the main character. Whatever the reason, Bond in Nobody Lives Forever just seems like a man called James Bond. This man called James is in trouble. He`s got to travel the world to save himself and two friends. You don`t really bond with the character of 007. You can barely recognize it if you`ve read other Bond novels. There just seems to a perpetual set of motions this character goes through, and Gardner leaves it at that.

There`s also the obligatory turncoat character that has become a staple of Gardner`s novels. The problem I have with all of these “twists and turns” is that the story isn`t that strong to begin with. Gardner doesn`t give you that much to go on where details are concerned. In this type of genre, I like to guess who is trying to do what to whom. I want the plot to be sophisticated enough for me to be able to not guess it all outright, yet when the traitor is revealed, I should be able to say “Why didn`t I suspect him/her?” So when Gardner pulls these little twists out of his bag of tricks, you almost feel duped. He`s given you nothing to go on here, and now he`s telling you that everything you felt you knew beforehand wasn`t real. To just forget it. He`s artificially trying to create a “twist” without having to earn it with good, solid writing.

Gardner has always been a good set up man. His premises have always been intriguing and original. What they`ve lacked is follow through.

No Deals, Mr. Bond

The Hero: James Bond; The Bond Girl: Heather Dare; The Villain: Kolya Chernov; Supporting Characters: Ebbie Heritage; Norman Murray, Maxim Smolin; Locations covered: London, Ireland, London, Paris, Hong Kong; First Published: 1987

The grizzly murders of two beautiful young women in London has MI6 in a bind and the authorities on top calling for M’s head. M, in a desperate move asks 007 for help. The job is extremely dangerous, and Bond will not have the precious immunity that he has held in the past. If he gets himself caught, it is his problem and not even the Queen will save him. Hence the title No Deals, Mr. Bond.

The grizzly murders are all connected. Both victims have had their skulls crushed, and their tongues removed. The two girls were part of an operation, called Cream Cake, which Bond assisted with in the first chapter. Cream Cake was to get four “tarts” to be arrainged with four high ranking Russian officials in East Germany. There was also a man who was asked to seduce a high ranking female official.

Bond must move quickly to make sure that Cream Cake doesn’t go sour. He must first save the first agent, Heather Dare, from a GRU assassin that she recognizes. The two then fly off to Ireland, where the second agent, Ebbie Heritage is waiting. She and Heather are still good friends, and must rely on Bond to get them out of harms way. Ebbie is all ready missing, and Bond knows that all isn’t well. Bond hits rock bottom when a KGB mastermind, Colonel Maxim Smolin captures 007, and Heather, Smolin’s former lover.

As it turns out, Smolin is a double and that is working with MI6, and has been for almost 5 years. Smolin tells Bond that Cream Cake has gone terribly wrong and that it isn’t the KGB that is after them, but a newly reformed and recreated SMERSH! It’s leader, Kolya Chernov is on his way, to see the demise of the members of Cream Cake, as well as another man on the list, James Bond.

Bond, Smolin, Ebbie and Heather must escape and they make a daring run for it, with a chopper bound Chernov right after them. They do escape, but Bond, already bitten by a dog, has more damage done to his arm by barb-wire that gets caught around Smolin’s BMW after rolling through a fence.

Bond senses that anyone involved with Cream Cake could be a double crosser, and has been the reason that Bond is so skeptcal about everything, even when he goes to meet the man who is the head of Cream Cake. A man called Swift. Swift is killed within seconds of Bond leaving, with two .38’s and soon, Bond gets a note and tells Bond where he can find Chernov. “Dummbell” Island.

The climax is on the island, and with tons of red herrings, double crosses, mistaken identities, and everything else under the sun. All of this is the best climax in John Gardner’s novels, and is set up perfectly. The action is plentiful and is well written and is among some of Gardner’s best work.

There are too many characters in this novel to be effective, like “The Robinsons” who are in the climax, Richard Han (one of Swift’s men), Jungle Baisley, Bond’s pal in Ireland named Mick and Swift himself. All of these guys are hard to keep track of. No Deals, Mr.Bond is amazing with it’s action, and is very well organized, but the conversations and characters aren’t very well done. Still, do not walk away from this one. It is one of Gardner’s very best.

Never Send Flowers

The Hero: James Bond; The Bond Girl: Flicka Von Grusse; The Villain: David Dragonpol; Locations covered: London, Paris, Washington D.C., Switzerland, Milan, Athens, EuroDisney; First Published: 1993

Plot: MI5 and MI6 tangle webs when Bond is sent to investigate the death of a British operative named Laura March. Her boyfriend is the prime suspect in a string of serial killings, and Princess Diana and her sons are the next intended victims.

My Enemy`s Enemy Is My Friend (Fleming’s Notebook)

Fleming`s 128 page notebook contained his personal and creative thoughts, details of proposed Bond exploits and even brief outlines of plots that he had prepared for future use. The notes themselves were either typed or jotted down, sometimes under such headers as “people”, or “crime” or even “food”.

In February 1964, shortly before Fleming died, he allowed a reporter from the Daily Expressto have a look. The reporter copied several entries:

“There was a notation of the name “Mr. Szasz,” which Fleming thought would be ideal for a villain. He had somehow come across the Bulgar proverb “My Enemy`s Enemy (is my friend),” and if he had lived, it would probably have turned up on the lips of some inscrutable villain.” (Quoting from Henry Ziegler`s The Spy Who Came In With The Gold)

Many of Fleming`s later titles feature pronouns, i.e. For *YOUR* Eyes Only, The Spy Who Loved *ME*, On *HER* Majesty`s Secret Service, *YOU* Only Live Twice, so it`s possible that “My Enemy`s Enemy” was a prospective title. Kingsley Amis had previously used it for a short story, and this may have been Fleming`s way of repaying Amis`s literary respect.

Fleming had also outlined prospective Bond work(s):

“Bond, as a double agent, has to shoot his own assistant in order to keep his cover…”

“A battle under Niagara Falls”

Some of the ideas even had a touch of Hitchcock:

“A masquerade ball in which the benign clown is the Russian killer and the crowd thinks that a real fight is part of the buffoonery.” (Which satisfies those of us who believed that the political 1983 film Octopussy was Fleming-like.)

“Fight in a fun fair with a man on the rollercoaster being shot at by another on the Big Wheel.”

The notebook shows that Fleming first came up with the name “Blofeld” for a villain in 1958, thereby disproving Kevin McClory`s claim to have invented the character. Elsewhere Fleming writes that the Japanese word for “top secret” is gokuhi, which translated into English means You Only Live Twice.

The notebook also features descriptions, which Fleming admirers will immediately recognize:

“She had a blunt, short-lipped mouth, proud like a half-healed wound.”

“You won`t have a lover if you don`t love,” presumably spoken by a future heroine.

“Most people are unconcious up to 17, dreaming until 25, awake to 39, mad after 40, dead after 60.”

There are florid, almost laughable passages, yet Fleming`s aplomb just about saves them: “Pain is a private address. Only those who have been that way before know the unlisted number.”

Fleming even contemplated branching out from Bond. The book contains a synopsis for what might have been another Quantam of Solace style story: A story of revenge is contained in a sample nutshell synopsis: “Millionaire wants baby. Kidnaps girl. Rapes her. Keeps her prisoner until baby is born. Makes huge settlement on baby. She signs. He throws her out. She gets her revenge by proving the baby started a week before he kidnapped her.”

Fleming intended to expand the Octopussy collection with at least two other stories that he was at work on shortly before he died. In the first, Bond met the real-life card dealer, whom Fleming had met:

…”It was like this, Mr Bond.” Zographos had a precise way of speaking with the thin tips of his lips while his half-hard half-soft Greek eyes measured the reaction of his words on the listener… “The Russians are chess players. They are mathematicians. Cold machines. But they are also mad. The mad ones forsake the chess and the mathematics and become gamblers. Now, Mr Bond.” Zographos laid a hand on Bond`s sleeve and quickly withdrew it because he knew Englishmen, just as he knew the characteristics of every race, every race with money, in the world. “There are two gamblers… the man who lays the odds and the man who accepts them. The bookmaker and the punter. The casino and, if you like” – Mr Zographos`s smile was sly with the “shared secret” and proud with the right word – “The suckers.”

Fleming never got beyond the first page and a half.

From the second story:

In the early morning, at about 7.30, the stringy whimperings of the piped radio brought visions of a million homes waking up all over Britain… of him, or perhaps her, getting up to make the early morning tea, to put the dog out, to stoke the boiler. And then will this shirt do for another day? The socks, the paints? The Ever-ready, the Gillette shave, the Brylcreem on the hair, the bowler hat or the homburg, the umbrella and the briefcase or the sample case?

Then “Dodo”, the family saloon out on the concrete arterial, probably with her driving. The red-brick station, the other husbands, the other wives, the clickety-click of the 8.15 round the curve by the gold course. Hullo Sidney! Hullo Arthur! After you Mr Shacker… and the drab life picking up speed and flicking on up the rails between the conifers and the damp evergreens. Bond switched on his electric blanket and waited for his hot water with a slice of lemon and contemplated the world with horror and disgust.

Ian Fleming`s step-daughter, Fionn O`Neill, who owned the manuscript, sold it at Sotheby`s in December 1992 in part to benefit the London Library. Ian Fleming`s nephew and nieces, Nichol, Kate and Lucy bought the work for far less than the estimated 30,000 pounds some had thought it would sell for.

Moonraker

The Hero: James Bond; The Bond Girl: Gala Brand; The Villain: Hugo Drax; Supporting Characters: “M”, Commander Vallance, Moneypenny, Loelia Ponsby; Locations covered: London, U.K. First Published: 1955

Moonraker is the third of the Fleming Bond novels, and one of the best. As a “Principal Officer in the Civil Service”, 007 makes £1500 a year, and lives in a “comfortable flat” off the Kings Road, London, with his devoted housekeeper May (who cooks a wicked breakfast).

In Moonraker, Bond has 8 years to go before he is automatically taken off the OO list and given a staff job at headquarters. “At least eight tough assignments. Probably sixteen. Perhaps twenty-four. Too many.”

Moonraker begins not with a mission, but a suspicion. Sir Hugo Drax is a soldier from Liverpool. He was wounded in the war – half his face was blown away, and he had almost complete amnesia. After his discharge, he cornered the market in columbite, a metal with an extraordinarily high melting point that is essential to the manufacturing of jet engines. He became a multimillionaire who gave generously to charity and spent £10 million of his own money to build an atomic rocket (the “Moonraker”) with a range that would cover nearly every capital in Europe – “the immediate answer to anyone who would try to atom-bomb London.” He is extremely popular, and, with his work on the Moonraker, a national hero. However, M has concerns about Drax who is a member of M`s club, Blades. It seems that Drax cheats at bridge. A scandal is brewing. In 1950s London, about the only crime that can smash a man of Society is card cheating.

It turns out that Bond was trained in card sharping before the war, and would be the ideal person to expose Drax. A high-stakes bridge game ensues, and Fleming goes into a detailed description of every hand (a device he would use later when describing the golf game between Bond and Auric Goldfinger). At the end of the evening, Drax is down £15,000 and advises Bond to “spend the money quickly.”

As Bond begins to delve further into Drax`s operations, more questions are raised. All of the people working on the Moonraker project are Germans, which, relatively soon after the end of the war, naturally makes the British nervous. Drax`s explanation is that the men worked on Germany`s V2 rockets, and were the best rocket scientists in the world. There are only two non-Germans on the site – a Major Tallon from the Ministry of Supply, appointed as security officer, and Gala Brand, Drax`s personal secretary. The night before, one of Drax`s men shot Tallon in a pub, then shouted “Heil!” and shot himself. Supposedly, the men were involved in a love triangle with Brand.

There are further complications. Brand is a policewoman with the Scotland Yard Special Branch, planted on the site to keep an eye on Drax. MI6 gave a security clearance to the man who shot Tallon. As a result, the operation is dumped in MI6`s (and Bond`s) lap, even though the story unfolds entirely in Britain.

Bond stays in Tallon`s room on the military base where the Moonraker is being readied for a test launch. He discovers charts kept by Tallon showing the location of something out in the water – but what? It`s clear that, whatever it was, it was something that Tallon was not supposed to see, and he wasn`t killed because he was in love with Brand.

At this point, the plot starts to move along rapidly, and it would spoil the read to go too much further. Suffice it to say that Drax does not have Britain`s best interests at heart and it`s up to Bond and Brand to stop him.

Moonraker shares many traits with the other Fleming novels. The plots tend to unfold slowly at first, with time given to understand the motivation of the villain. Meals are described in meticulous detail. Bond is capable of downing an incredible number of drinks, waking up a few hours later with no trace of a hangover. There are usually exciting car chases. Bond`s past and his talents (such as the card sharping and the fact that he is fluently bilingual in German) come out slowly, one fact at a time, over the course of the books. Happily, the women are more like the Bond girls in the recent films, rather than the earlier ones. They are strong-willed, intelligent and self reliant, and these are precisely the qualities that Bond finds attractive in them. Unhappily, the books also show that Fleming was a racist and an anti-Semite, although probably no more so than other British men of his class at the time.

Moonraker is an excellent introduction to the Fleming canon, even if it does not offer exotic locales. It is a well-paced, interesting thriller that provides Bond with more than enough challenges and the reader with more than enough excitement.

Midsummer Night`s Doom

It must have sounded great in theory: James Bond sent to the Playboy Mansion to investigate the smuggling of sensitive technological data, while aided by Hugh Hefner and two beautiful playmates. What could possibly go wrong? Everything. What could have been a compelling and hip story sadly never reaches the heights it aspired to, and simply dissolves into a routine, mundane, by-the-numbers tale.

It all begins when “M” questions Bond about his knowledge of Playboy:

“The magazine, 007, how much do you know about it?”

Bond shrugged and said, “Only that some people have been known to read the articles and that I need to renew my subscription.”

Bond proceeds to recount his first encounter with Mr. Hefner, an event etched in Bond`s mind, but certainly, he feels, a forgotten memory to Mr.Hefner himself. Once “M” explains the basic problem, that information, sensitive information, has been changing hands at parties being held at the Playboy Mansion West, Hugh Hefner`s homes in Los Angeles, it becomes clear to Bond that he will have to go there himself, rekindle his relationship with Hefner, and solve this mystery before it gets any worse.

Hefner isn`t the target of the investigation; rather, his party guests are. Black market designs for a new class of Focal Plane Arrays, better known as FPA`s, are making the rounds at Hefner`s parties, and it`s now up to Bond to stop the next scheduled transfer of this information. Bond explains his knowledge of FPA`s to “M”:

“I`ve heard about them,” Bond said. “They can preprocess data at the sensor itself in image-processing applications such as, oh, say, target detection and then pass somewhat refined information to dedicated signal processors. They can make advanced military applications affordable because of significant reductions in size, weight and power consumption. I didn`t realize the designs had been completed.”

“Thank heaven you understand them, because I don`t,” she said, glancing upward.

She`s not the only one. We`re barely past the first page and I`m already lost in all of this technical trivia. By the time the first chapter is over, you have to remind yourself that something important was stolen and Bond has to go get it and that it`s no use trying to understand what it is because it is totally beyond comprehension anyway. Benson doesn`t tell us exactly what kind of applications an FPA would be used in since every bit of detail that he`s already given us is pretty much useless.

“M” explains MI5 has handed over this assignment to them because they believe the designs were copied and smuggled to the United States via rock musician Martin Tuttle. MI6 have arranged to have Bond invited to to the annual Midsummer Night`s Dream party held at the Hefner mansion. There, Bond is assigned to watch Tuttle, find out who his contact is, and recover the stolen data if possible. Bond is dismissed and heads to Miss Moneypenny`s office for the obligatory small talk, with the key word being obligatory. By this point, with as many short stories and novels as we have behind us, the need for a fresh take on Bond`s relationship with Penny has never been more urgent. John Gardner`s novel, Nobody Lives Forever, was the last breath of fresh air involving the Moneypenny character. Here she serves absolutely no legitimate purpose, as the information she gives to Bond about how to dress for Hef`s parties could`ve been gleamed from almost any other character and is common knowledge to most people on the street. Her role is so pointless that if you cut her out of the story it would not be affected in the slightest, thus confirming that she didn`t need inclusion to begin with

By this point I am still waiting for that little spark to happen that will ignite my interest in this so far tedious story. It hasn`t happened and by the looks of it, Benson seems either totally bored with the subject matter, in a creative rut, or the Hefner parties weren`t quite the swinging singles scene he was expecting when he did the research. After all, these are the 1990`s, fraught with AIDS, Gonorrhea, Syphilis and Chlamydia, not to mention accusations of date rape and a politically correct enviroment where women aren`t supposed to be looked at as sex objects anymore. It`s getting more and more difficult to make the Playboy Mansion and it`s decadence seem fun or relevant anymore.

Bond arrives in Los Angeles and takes his JaguarXK8 directly to the mansion. Why exactly Bond brings a Q-modified Jaguar all the way over from England on what is a routine, open and shut case is beyond me. The Jaguar never even comes into play for the rest of the story. Again, another plot point that just seems thrown in with no valid reason for it being there.

Upon arriving at Hefner`s mansion, he`s met by “a radiant blonde” named Lisa Dergen, or for those who can`t read but can only remember body parts, Miss July 1998. Of Lisa, Benson writes:

“Her bright green eyes displayed an air of self-confidence and intelligence. He could easily get lost in them.”

Ooookay, this is a playmate we are talking about but let`s pretend anyway. She gives him a tour of the grounds, while offering him a private tour later in the night, blushing as she makes her suggestive offer. At this point Bond now spies Hefner, sipping a Jack Daniels, mingling with guests, while two ladies cling to his silken pajamas.

Of Bond`s pajamas, Benson writes:

“Bond loved pajamas, so he felt some kinship with his host in that respect. He had decided to wear a navy satin set, also tailor-made, covered by his beloved Hong Kong housecoat decorated in Chinese characters, which comfortably concealed his should-holstered Walther PPK.”

That`s not how Fleming described Bond`s feeling toward pajamas. On page 126 of Casino Royale, half way down, Fleming states:

“Bond had always disliked pyjamas and had slept naked until in Hong Kong at the end of the war he came across the perfect compromise. This was a pyjama-coat which came almost down to the knees. It had no buttons, but there was a loose belt round the waist. The sleeves were wide and short, ending just above the elbow. The result was cool and comfortable and now when he slipped the coat on over his trunks, all his bruises and scars were hidden except the thin white bracelets on wrists and ankles and the mark of SMERSH on his right hand.”

Incidentally, notice the difference in the spelling of the word pajama. Benson spells it “pajama” and Fleming spells it “pyjama”.

Fleming and Benson both make mention of a tailored made outfit and Hong Kong. You could infer that Bond`s compromise outfit in Casino Royale and his later set of pajamas in `Doom” both came from a tailor in Hong Kong, but it`s still hard to tell if Benson acknowledges that Bond once hated pajamas and has since changed his mind. This is important since all of Hugh Hefner`s parties are in pajamas and lingerie.

After meeting with Hefner and being assured that no one else at the party knew Bond`s true reason for being there, he mingles and is next introduced to Victoria Zdrok. For those who don`t read Playboy for the articles, she was Miss October 1994. Of meeting Bond, Benson writes:

Victoria beamed and shook his hand. “How do you do?”.

“What`s a nice Ukrainian girl like you doing in a place like this?” he asked.

She gave him a sexy smirk, “Maybe I`m not so nice, she purred. “How did you know where I come from?”

“Oh, let`s just say that Russia and her neighbors used to be one of my hobbies.”

Recognize this passage of dialogue? You should. It sounds like it was practically lifted from the Bond and Xenia casino scene in Goldeneye. And if that weren`t bad enough, the line about “a nice Ukranian girl” is enough to make a person cringe.

Victoria introduces Bond to her movie producer friend, Anton Redinus. If this were a movie, Redinus would have a neon sign hovering above him saying: “Villain!” Could he be anymore obvious as the contact, or could the pearls that adorn Victoria`s neck be any more obvious as a plot device? It has all the subtlety of a Klansman at an NAACP rally.

Suffice it to say, Bond defeats Anton and his henchman Estrogen, er, uh, Estragon who earlier themselves killed Martin Tuttle. The whole story is wrapped up quickly and very neatly with no twists, no turns, no suspense and surprisingly, no characterization when you consider that three of the main characters are real life people.

Even for a short story, it`s plagued by inadequate characterization. From the start there is nothing that grabs hold of your attention and the middle and end parts fare no better. The dialogue is questionable and by the time the story is over you really don`t care who did what to whom and why. The whole story goes over like an episode of Scooby Doo, right down to the traditional pulling of the mask off the villain. And Redinus would`ve gotten away with it if it hadn`t been for that meddling British secret agent.

Live at Five!

Publishing Date Date: November 8th, 1999
The Hero: “You Were Expecting Someone Else?”
The Villain: The Pre-Glasnost Soviet Apparatus
The Bond Girl: Come On, Does There Have To Be A Girl In Every Story?
Supporting Characters: Ice-Sliding Thugs
Locations covered: A Windy City rooftop; a decommissioned Aston Martin in the UK
Weapon: Bond’s Brain and Sharp Metal Edges

Raymond Benson and his pal James Bond are off again, taking readers across the Atlantic onto an ice skating rink in Illinois to help someone defect who is better looking than General Koskov.

Raymond Benson’s short, “Live at Five” is a quick taste of high adventure with 007. Hopefully, fans will be satiated until the next stage of Benson’s Union (latest Bond baddies) trilogy debuts, or until die hard fans (moi included in the faithful readership) chew on his World is Not Enough novelization.

If brevity is the soul of wit, I don’t have too much more room for copy on “Five” or my review will exceed the actual story in length! This story is so brief it dovetails nicely with the 30-minute sitcoms TV Guide also heralds between its covers, most of which also manage a happy ending and graceful denouement before their final credits roll. Rather than give spoilers to the story here, I suffice it to raise (and answer) the following questions about Mr. Benson’s latest, that will no doubt cover the alt.fan newsgroup in short order, anyway:

Question) Aren’t the “Live at Five” story line, and the way Bond handles his challenge, rather improbable, Matt?

Answer) Yes, and yes. Don’t we enjoy Bond because his brand of escapism beats our own dreary real lives?

Question) C’mon. Ice skating?

Answer) Mr. Benson did beautifully with Bond mountain climbing in the underrated High Time To Kill, thanks very much. Shame on you for not having read it and purchased it in British hardback already, before it fetches 500 pounds a copy like the Tomorrow Never Dies or GoldenEye novels.

Question) C’mon. Ice skaking? ICE Skating?

Answer) Watch Bond’s hat trick in For Your Eyes Only where he drops the bad guys for goals. And that was without wearing skates himself!

Question) C’mon. “Live at Five” written exclusively for TV Guide? A bit too pat, don’t you think?

Answer) It works. I think Raymond has responded in lovely fashion to the charges made against A Midsummer Night’s Doom, whose homage was far more to Hefner than Shakespeare. Pay the $1.97 at the grocery counter and read it for gosh sake! For a bonus, you get Tanya Roberts and Lana Wood debating whether Sean or Roger is the superior 007 (and they should know, really, they should!) plus five more Bond gals to “boot” to borrow a coin from the ice skating panache.

Seriously, Fleming fans will recall Bond’s distaste for pro ice skaters as a bit too muscular in body type, and watch for the twist at the end of this one. ‘Nuf said.

–Matt Sherman is Co-Editor of 007Forever, which leaves him precious little time to even see the new Bond film.

Live and Let Die

The Hero: James Bond; The Bond Girl: Solitaire; The Villain: Mr.Big; Supporting Characters: Tee Hee, Felix Leiter, The Robber, Dexter, Quarrel, “M”, “Q”; Locations covered: Harlem NY; Tampa Bay, FL; Shark`s Bay, Jamaica

Ian Fleming picked up the pace from Casino Royale by giving us Live And Let Die, a tense, and sometimes grueling suspense thriller with more action, more villians, and more locations. In fact, it`s more of everything. And it`s easy to see why, after reading this novel, that Fleming`s books became such a phenomenen by the early 60`s.

Fleming`s best and most interesting passages seem to be when he delves into subjects he has a knowledge or passion about. Orinthology. Marine biology. The layout of Jamaica (the home of Ian Fleming). All these factors come into play and make for a riveting read.

The book starts off with the suspicion that a vast pirate fortune from centuries ago has been found, and it`s contents are being looted and sold off to finance criminal activities.

“In short” continued M, “we suspect that this Jamaican treasure is being used to finance the Soviet espionage system, or an important part of it, in America. And our suspicion becomes a certainty when I tell you who this Mr. Big is.”

Here`s where the book starts to get tricky and politically dicey:

“Mr.Big” said M, weighing his words, “is probably the most powerful Negro criminal in the world. He is…the head of the Black Widow Voodoo cult…He is also a Soviet agent…a known member of SMERSH.”

“I don`t think I`ve ever heard of a great Negro criminal before” said Bond. They don`t seem to take to big business. Pretty law abiding chaps, on the whole, I should have thought.”

As you can tell from the excerpted dialogue, Live And Let Die contains generalizations and stereotypes of Black people that were probably very common in the world 43 years ago. It also contains a great deal of words that most people wouldn`t think, use or say today. Perhaps Fleming knew something that contemporaries of his day did not. Despite using terminology that might make some people squirm, Fleming does attempt to be balanced in his own view of black people and how he presents them in his book.

Bond moves on to Harlem, where much of the gold coins looted from Bloody Morgan`s Pirate Ship in Jamaica have been turning up. But Bond is on Mr. Big`s turf, and Mr. Big gets the word out quick that 007 isn`t welcome in that part of town. Bond gets a fairly straight forward message delivered to his hotel:

THE BEATS OF YOUR OWN HEART ARE NUMBERED. I KNOW THAT NUMBER AND HAVE STARTED TO COUNT.

Maybe Bond has never had much contact with black people in his life. In his conversation with “M”, he made many generalizations and stereotypical comments, and now, on page 48, Fleming presents Bond as very uncomfortable being in an all black nightclub, and the sweat has now started to bead up on Bond`s forehead.

Bond and Felix get dropped through a trap door in the floor, and 007 comes face to face with Mr. Big and his “psychic” companion, Miss Solitaire.

Speaking of Mr. Big: “It was a great football of a head, twice the normal size and very nearly round. The skin was grey-black, taut and shining like the face of a week old corpse in the river…the eyes were extraordinarily far apart, so that one could not focus on them both, but only on one at a time. They bulged slightly, and the irises were golden around black pupils which were now wide. They were animal eyes, not human, and they seemed to blaze.”

Mr. Big brings in Solitaire to divine the truth from the questions 007 is going to be forced to answer. On page 60, Fleming explains to us how Solitaire got her name, which was a nice touch. After just a few questions, 007 gets the sense that Solitaire is lying to Mr.Big about the answers. It appears she wants to leave her master, Mr.Big, and she`s going to have Bond help her do it.

Bond manages to escape the situation, and Solitaire joins up with him on a train to get out of New York. On the train, Solitaire gives detailed information about her past, and how she fits into Mr. Big`s criminal syndicate. On their train ride down to Tampa, an all points bulletin is put out in the Negro underworld for all `eyes` to be on the lookout for 007 and Solitaire. Baldwin, the room servant on 007`s traincar, seems agitated and mighty nervous while going about his job. Bond sends Solitaire into the next room and has a talk with Baldwin.

“Got something on your mind, Baldwin?” he asked.

Yassuh. Shouldn`t be tellin` yuh this, but dere`s plenty trouble `n this train this trip. Yuh gotten yo`self a henemy `n dis train. Ah hear t`ings which Ah don` like at all. Better take dese hyah.”

He reached in his pocket and brought out two wooden window wedges. Bond took the wedges from him.

Unfortunately, most of the secondary characters such as Baldwin are portrayed as unintelligent and poorly educated. Honest and good, but poorly educated. Baldwin`s assistance for Bond helps save Bond and Solitaire`s life, but it cost`s Baldwin his. On page 112, Bond remarks “Poor Baldwin. We owe him a lot”. So, Fleming did write many of the black characters as decent, good people, but he also stereotyped their language and manner of speaking.

Bond, Felix, and Solitaire all meet up in Tampa, but it`s not long before Mr.Big`s empire finds Solitaire, kidnaps her, and lets a shark eat half of Felix Leiter`s body off. Felix lives, and a note is attached to his dumped body that read:

HE DISAGREED WITH SOMETHING THAT ATE HIM

Bond then sets off to settle the score for Felix and Solitaire. He tracks down the warehouse used to help house the shark that Leiter was fed to, and there, Fleming sets up a wonderful action sequence set amongst gunfire and exploding fish tanks.

The end result at the warehouse is in Bond`s favor, but the FBI is in a huge hurry to rush Bond out of the country, and keep what happened at the warehouse quiet so as not to offend Mr. Big. Bond takes off for Jamaica, and begins training. The routines will last a week, and are used to get Bond in shape to scuba dive up close enough to Mr.Big`s yacht, The Secatur, so as to rescue Solitaire and destroy the gold coin smuggling operation.

As I`ve said, Fleming paints quite a picture in Live And Let Die. He has a firm grasp on creating vivid imagery in the readers mind. His action sequences are tight, crisp, focused and surprisingly up to date. What Live And Let Die lacks though is any real chemistry between 007 and Solitaire. Solitaire is intermittently seen throughout the book. Her “powers” were never really expounded upon, therefore there`s not much to know about her. The dialogue between 007 and Solitaire didn’t go over too well. Much of it was either corny or incomprehensible.

Also, Mr. Big gets the short end of the stick, as far as villians go. Big gets in some choice words, and Fleming writes him as well educated and articulate, but somehow Mr. Big isn`t in the book long enough. After a brief appearance in the beginning, he doesn`t show up until the last 20 pages or so of the book.

The real chemistry actually takes place between Felix Leiter and 007. After meeting for the first time on the Casino Royale mission, 007 and Felix have become very good friends. Fleming does a great job of conveying the sense that these two are friends who are always looking out for one another`s back.

License Renewed

The Hero: James Bond; The Bond Girl: Lavendar Peacock; The Villain: Anton Murik; Supporting Characters: Mary Jane Mashkin, Caber, “M”, Moneypenny, Q`ute, Bill Tanner, Franco; Locations Covered: London, Scotland, France. First Published: 1981

After more than a decade without a new Bond novel, the literary franchise was resurrected with the release of License Renewed. Yes, the body was resurrected, but the spirit wasn`t there.

Gardner was a spy thriller novelist in his own right before picking up the Bond franchise. His effort with License Renewed is commendable, and it should be noted that the book stayed on top of the New York Times best seller list for 52 weeks. But overall, this entry is a mixed bag.

The plot centers around the investigation into Anton Murik, a world famous, rather infamous, nuclear physicist. His plans for an `ultra safe` nuclear reactor have made him the laughing stock of the nuclear science community. Leaving in disgrace, he vows to prove to the world his ideas can work. Even if it means mass murdering billions.

Accompanying Murik, at most times, are, as usual, beautiful women. Lavendar Peacock is his niece, and his ward. She`s also the rightful heir to the Murik estate, but Anton has cheated her out of that. Then there`s Mary Jane Mashkin, Murik`s confidante. A fellow nuclear physicist herself, both she and Murik spend a lot of personal time creating a little fusion of their own, though Mary Jane is more than happy to try and get Bond to do the same with her. He refuses.

Bond is more interested in how Murik`s supposedly inferior horse, China Blue, is winning races she`s not favored to win. It`s really almost an irrelevant plot point, but it does finally get Bond into the castle estate of Anton Murik. There, Gardner commits his biggest mistake of the book. He uses a standard cliche seen in so many Bond movies or spoofs: he gets the villian to tell just about every detail of his secret plan and then does not shoot or kill Bond right away. Instead, he spends more time trying to figure out ingenious ways to kill Bond when simply putting a gun to Bond`s head and pulling the trigger would do the job.

After getting all the details of Murik`s plan, Bond tries to make an escpae from the grand castle to warn M. Caught, he`s eventually put on a plane with Murik to head to a fashion show in France. There, all Bond knows is that he must escape from Murik and stop the assasination of some female due to take place at the show. At first Bond believes that the female is royalty, but he soon realizes Murik plans to have Lavendar killed, and it somehow all ties into Operation Meltdown.

As villians go, Murik is standard. I didn`t buy Gardner`s reasoning on why a man like Murik would murder millions or perhaps billions just so the world could see how safe his reactors would be. The logic and rationale simply isn`t there. Mary Jane Mashkin doesn`t come off much better. She is essentially a female Murik, just with less characterization. Lavendar Peacock is woefully written. One of the worst written and must useless Bond girls in any 007 book . Much of the dialogue between James and Lavender consists of “Oh, my darling James.” Or, “James, my darling”. No one uses words and phrases like that. Only Caber seems to get any good of the good lines, and most of his are indecipherable because of his accent.

Some of the problems with License Renewed would only get worse as Gardner continued making more novels. Bond belongs in the age range of mid to late 30`s, not 57 as Gardner puts him. There`s an unfamiliararity with Gardner`s Bond, simply because we`ve always known of Bond in a certain way, and in a certain age range. There`s also a lack of fire in this Bond. It`s almost as if Gardner can`t grasp who Bond is or is just apathetic towards him. There almost comes across a rather blase approach to Bond in this book. Gardner`s strong points in this book include interesting plot set ups, and action sequences, but when it comes to decent characterization, it appears Mr. Gardner`s license was revoked.

John Steed: An Authorized Biography

John Steed – An Authorized Biography, Volume One: Jealous in Honour
by Tim Heald
pub 1977

A fictional biography about the lead character in the sixties` television show “The Avengers”. The book is faintly reminiscent of John Pearson`s Bond biography. Bond only appears in one chapter:

“One factor which seems to have contributed to John`s unhappiness at this time was the bullying which was an unfortunate feature of life in the school – or at least in those circles in which Steed moved. The main bully was a boy called Bond, later to achieve a certain notoriety in a career not totally unlike Steed`s. Indeed their paths were to cross several times in adult life, seldom with profitable results. Although Bond was only two or so years older than Steed (a fact which will doubtless be disputed by Bond and his cronies) he was a great deal bigger. One of his fetishes was to make smaller boys stir his evening mug of cocoa for him, just as in later life he was to make a laughable affectation out of his insistence on dry martini cocktails being stirred rather than shaken (author`s error–ed). One day he demanded that Steed perform this service. Steed refused. Bond again insisted.

“Who the h*** do you think you are?” enquired Steed, suggesting at the same time that he should pick on someone his own size.

“Bond, James Bond,” replied the bully, clearly expecting young Steed to fall grovelling at his feet.

“Well, Bond,” said Steed evenly, “If you`d like to present yourself behind the Fives Courts by Jordan in half an hour`s time I`ll show you in the only language you apparently understand, precisely why I have no intention of stirring your rotten cocoa.”

Alas, poor Bond! He had never heard of the Bodger business at Lydeard Lodge. Thirty minutes later he was waiting behind the fivescourts, aglow with cocky truculence. Thirty-five minutes later he was being half dragged home by two of his familiars, his jaw and his ego both equally badly bruised. Yet even this success made little difference to Steed`s happiness. He continued to find Eton not to his taste.*

“Hartington Rowse was a senior beak, and insisted on being present at the Bill for CA Elliot`s first few halves to show him the ropes. His influence was draconian. Later in 1936, when he expelled James Bond for the more commonplace Etonian offence of getting a boys` maid into trouble, Elliot had managed to get rid of his unwelcome companion at will.” [Chapter 4, “Eton”]

James Bond’s London

James Bond Is Absolutely Fabulous In “London”

Have you heard of the new Bond’s London? Daleon Enterprises’ first book, Gary Giblin’s “James Bond’s London” has been published (finally!) and is more than worth the wait.

Featuring gorgeous cover work by Jeff Marshall and thoughtful design layout by Dave Worrall (The Essential Bond), “London” is jam-packed with a treasure trove of 007-ly information. Giblin’s comprehensive guide to London Bond locations includes behind the scenes information on every 007 site in Britain’s capital. Giblin’s book provides fans with hundreds of hotspots for 007 literary and movie action, plus family and friend locations from the legacy of Ian Fleming, all in London (and we thought we did well to find Ian Fleming’s house and Planet Hollywood on our last England visit!).

Giblin’s book is a breath of fresh air and definitely not the typical “Look at me, I copied quotations from authors and films and made a fast guide to James Bond.” Giblin’s incredible softcover volume runs nearly 200 pages. All Bond
locations inside are sorted by area of greater London, making it easy to have a Bond-themed day in any section of this sprawling city. Directions to each 007 spot along with the nearest underground station are thoughtfully included. Extensive indexes also cross-reference locations by movie, book, Bond’s lifestyle, espionage themes, and more, so fans can develop their favorite itinerary with ease. Items of “shaken and stirred special interest” are also highlighted throughout.

Even if you aren’t planning a London trip soon, you’ll enjoy the anecdotes and insights filling James Bond’s London. Extras include a foreword by Peter Hunt, a tribute to Ian Fleming by Christopher Lee, and a synopsis of 1959’s “James Bond of the Secret Service”. Gary Giblin’s scholarship on this work is laudable, as he worked closely in collaboration with everyone from Desmond Llewelyn and Oscar-winning designer Peter Lamont to John Stears and the heirs of Ian Fleming on his new book. His acknowledgements page reads as a who’s who of the world of James
Bond. A fine trivia challenge on nearly every page and wonderful stills of locations, the Bond actors and the EON production team round out this fabulous book.

For now, there are more than enough readers of 007Forever.com to scoop up the first 1,000 copies of “London” at www.spyguise.com, each of which features a beautiful, signed author’s nameplate on the inside cover from the author. Go get ’em! I can barely wait for the forthcoming “James Bond’s Britain”. -Matt Sherman

Order your signed copy of Gary Giblin’s “James Bond’s London” now at www.spyguise.com.

James Bond: The Authorized Biography

The Hero: James Bond

The Villains: Vlacek, Oborin, Gomez, General Grubozaboyschikov, Heinkel, Irma Bunt

The Bond Girls: Marthe de Brandt, Muriel, Honeychile (Ryder) Schultz, Tiffany Case, Nashda

Bond`s Family: Andrew Bond (Bond`s father), Monique Delacroix (Bond`s mother), Henry Bond (Bond`s older brother), Aunt Charmian

Supporting Characters (fictional): Urquhart, Maddox, Rene Mathis, May, Sir James Molony

Supporting Characters (real life): John Pearson, Sir William Stephenson, Ian Fleming, Guy Burgess, Admiral Godfrey

Locations covered: Bahamas, Europe, Africa, North America

*James Bond – The Authorized Biography Of 007* is the most complex, ambitious, and experimental James Bond novel. No review this short could encompass the novel or do it justice. It is erratic, and Pearson makes several bad choices, but his writing and the clever touches make it one of the best Bond novels, one of the most important, and one of the most readable.

Written in the first person like Fleming`s novel “The Spy Who Loved Me”, the narrator, John Pearson, explains that after his bestselling book “The Life Of Ian Fleming” was published, he discovered that James Bond existed. The British Secret Service impede his investigation, but finally acquiesce, and commission him to write Bond`s biography. Pearson travels to Bermuda to hear Bond`s life story: the early years, the death of his parents, being expelled from Eton, his facial scar, becoming 007, how Ian Fleming came to write the Bond novels, his son James Suzuki, right up to the present as Bond – recovering from acute hepatitis – waits for M to reassign him to active duty.

Pearson is a sensitive and talented writer. His prose is lucid and he`s a better stylist than Fleming (if rather light). What he gets right is so assured, and dovetails so neatly into Fleming`s originals that you don`t immediately recognize the skill involved – and it is easy to underestimate what he gets right.

The opening scenes – Pearson stumbling across the truth – are remarkable, and there are moments in the novel that are as good as anything in Fleming (and occasionally just as vivid): killing the Japanese cypher clerk (Chapter 6; one of several details Fleming had briefly mentioned in the novels that Pearson fleshes out); choosing the Beretta, and May becoming his housekeeper (Chapter 8); investigating Gutteridge, the Jamaican Station head, and the Kull cult (Chapter 8; it`s reminiscent of Fleming`s “Live And Let Die”); Demetrios, a villain, (Chapter 9) is an excellent character, similar to Draco, Kerim Bey and Colombo, and proof that Pearson should have written more Bond novels; searching for 009 in war-torn Hungary (Chapter 13; a Gardner Bond novel owes something to it: at one point, Heinkel says “No deals, Mr Bond.”). In Chapter 10, a villain puts a bomb under Bond`s bed, but luckily enough Bond is sleeping elsewhere – this scene eventually found its way into the renegade Bond film “Never Say Never Again”.

Bond`s relationship with Tiffany Case (Chapter 12) is one of the best chapters in the book and the series – this can`t be stressed enough: “Had it been anyone but Bond, he would have recognized the situation straight away. Tiffany had changed: she was alternately distant and over-loving, gentle yet rejecting, critical and then subservient. In short she was showing all the classic symptoms of a woman having an affair. But Bond, who had not be cuckolded since the age of twelve, was merely puzzled. What was wrong with her? Was it her period? The condition seemed to last too long for that.” (Chapter 12)

Pearson also shows that he`s psychologically skilful elsewhere:

“But the one relative they both adored was their father`s only sister, their Aunt Charmian – sweet, sad Charmian, bride of three weeks, whose husband had died at Passchendaele. She lived in Kent, grew dahlias and believed in God.”(Chapter 2)

“In the two Bond boys she had found something her life had lacked – a purpose – and this slightly dumpy, gentle woman dedicated herself to them with all the single-mindedness of her family.” (Chapter 2)

Or, in Egypt, when Bond sees his mother with another man:

“James called out to her, but the smart Mrs Bond failed to recognize the street Arab as her son.” (Chapter 2)

When the family goes to the USSR by train:

“The rare excitement of eating a meal with his mother in the restaurant, the white gloves of the waiters, the mineral water and the reading lamp beside his bed.” (Chapter 2)

“For Monique it was unspeakable. There were no shops, no night-life and no entertainment.” (Chapter 2)

“During the long months in Russia she had hung on, because she had to. The boys depended on her. Now that all this was over, she fell to pieces. Her zest for life deserted her.” (Chapter 2)

Bond`s father is a taciturn one-armed Scots engineer for Metro-Vickers; his mother, Monique Delacroix, is a masterstroke – carefree and ultimately unfaithful, born into a wealthy family who disinherit her when she elopes with Andrew Bond, Monique Delacroix is vividly drawn and appealing. You have to study Pearson`s craftsmanship to realize just how neatly the details fit, how perfect they are. Though the climbing incident faintly suggests parody and might have crossed into it, it works and augments Fleming`s originals. It`s as vivid and memorable as anything Fleming did.

Pearson has trouble depicting Bond in the book`s first half, but some details are perfect:

“Smeared morning make-up quite upset him and he disliked it if his women used the lavatory. Any demands, except overtly sexual ones, made him impatient. […] With such an attitude to women it was not surprising that James Bond stayed resolutely single, especially as his habits were becoming more and more confirmed with age. […] Bond secretly preferred them to leave shortly after making love. (Since they generally had husbands, they invariably did.) […] He also admired faithful wives (indeed, deep down they were the only women that he *did* admire).” (Chapter 7)

“It was somehow typical of Bond to be complaining about luxury whilst still enjoying it.” (Chapter 5)

There are other clever touches. Pearson integrates real-life details into the story: when Fleming has his first heart attack and can`t write that year`s book, Urquhart flies to Canada, meets Vivienne Michel, who has literary ambitions of her own. Much to Bond`s disgust, she writes the book. “What can one do about that sort of woman?” he complains. And, in a nod at Fleming`s originals, Bond, bored by inactivity, waits to be summoned by M (only to be sent off on duty at the end). The novel has a bookend structure; it begins with Pearson by himself on a flight for honeymooners, and ends with a broken engagement.

Pearson observes the tension escalate while Bond waits to be put back on active duty – these sections are intelligent and realistic; after a cold telegram from M, Bond resigns from the service and proposes to Honeychile. At a party celebrating both:

“As I left the yacht somebody was playing the Beatles` record, “Yesterday”. I noticed Bond was on his own and staring out to sea. An era suddenly seemed over.” (Chapter 15)

However, what Pearson gets wrong jars, and there are flaws; in this type of book the errors are always more noticeable than the merits.

Though it`s meant to be a fictional biography, Pearson can`t give the book any kind of shape or structure; it`s more like a collection of short (and very short) stories instead of a continuous narrative. Parts of the book are sketchy – the “Colonel Sun” period for example (perhaps because Pearson would have to explain Kingsley Amis`s involvement, though as Amis had shown in his short story “Who or What Was It?”, he can mix fiction and reality). It isn`t cohesive, and the episodes during the 1930`s and 1940`s bloat the book out of shape. The Casino sequence, where he defeats the Roumanians (in Chapter 4; Fleming mentioned it in “Casino Royale”) is tired and lax. It`s also silly and unbelievable: the luminous reader ploy is obvious; worse, Bond is only a teenager. Weren`t there any adults? Bond`s preference for the perfect boiled egg is too close to parody, and the training process that he undergoes, some of his missions, (or misadventures, such as a bar room brawl) are unbelievable precisely because he`s too young (some of these episodes would work better if he were older).

Pearson also gets into trouble with early details. I don`t mind that Bond is born in Germany, but it creates logistic problems later on that Pearson glosses over (i.e. Marthe de Brandt, Maddox, joining the service, etc).

Fleming was never consistent about Bond`s age – according to “You Only Live Twice”, he was born in 1924, but “Moonraker” suggests that it was no later than 1916. Pearson settles for 1920, an unhappy compromise and a crucial flaw, which creates many problems in the book`s first half. Bond is a teenager when he kills and joins the Secret Service (though Pearson is clever enough to first make Bond a courier for the service, which is credible and a nice touch).

He also kills without qualm. In Fleming`s novels, Bond was adverse to killing in cold blood – probably the only soggy concept in the Fleming books. Bond kills Marthe de Brandt, even though he`s involved with her his motives are weak and unconvincing – patriotism only goes so far and there`s nothing to suggest that Bond is patriotic). The outcome, Marthe`s eventual innocence, could have explained Bond`s eventual reluctance to kill in cold blood (i.e. “what if I`m wrong?”), but Pearson doesn`t seem to realize this and misses an opportunity.

When Pearson becomes sloppy, so too does the psychology (perhaps it`s the other way around). Pearson seems to be such a sensitive writer that when he can`t get a handle on a scene, or get into its centre, it becomes unconvincing (compare Fleming`s novel “Goldfinger”; Goldfinger`s motives for keeping Bond alive are flimsy, but that doesn`t faze Fleming). Marthe`s death and the opening paragraph in Chapter 4 are excellent – the writing helps disguise the flaws, but they are marred because Bond`s decision to kill, so coldly, so quickly, is unbelievable – Pearson hasn`t set it up properly. Bond is too young, and his motives for killing her are poor (this is his first kill). Later, after he`s killed many – without remorse – his qualms about killing are incongruous (i.e. his tinge of guilt before, and after, killing the Japanese cypher clerk. Bond`s conscience weakens the otherwise excellent scene, which is as good as anything in Fleming. Why does it matter if the daughter is there?).

Pearson isn`t sure how to portray Bond and stumbles, as in Chapters 5 and 6, when he relies on empty rhetoric (and poor psychology). He explains, unconvincingly, that Bond is a romantic and what Bond`s likes and dislikes are in women even though it contradicts other passages. Pearson also seems to be writing about Sean Connery Bond, not Fleming`s Bond; Bond is much wilder and reckless than would be expected. Bond should have been introspective and sombre, mature ahead of his years; instead, in Chapter 3, he knocks out somebody who calls him Marthe de Brandt`s poodle; in Chapter 7, he assaults a young French diplomat, misbehaves at a film premiere, then cheats at cards because he needs money.

There are other weak moments. In Chapter 4, Bond decides not to blame Maddox, when logically he should have; anybody would have. The psychology in the Oberhauser scene (Chapter 5) and Molony`s speech to Bond (Chapter 13) are poor. Bond hits on Maddox`s wife Regine (Chapter 7), even though the scandal involving the congressman`s drunken wife has just gotten him fired from the Secret Service. And why doesn`t he want Maddox on his conscience?

Pearson also trashes Fleming details – some details had to be changed, but he changes too many for no apparent reason: Bond isn`t expelled from Eton for sleeping with the headmaster`s daughter – he gets expelled for taking a girl out to dinner (Pearson`s version makes no sense and is inconsequential). Pearson gives him an older brother, even though Bond has the psychological profile of an only child, or failing that, the older brother. Honeychile Schultz (nee Ryder) from *Dr No* is now a ritzy gold-digger; this part of the book is potentially disastrous. Bond intends to marry her – but her personality and his interest in her reflect badly on him: what does he see in her? And what does that say about him? (this section of Chapter 6 is sharply etched, but extremely un-Bondlike). There are other changes: the incidents described in the novel *Moonraker* never occurred (for obvious reasons) – they were just invented to fool the Russians that Bond doesn`t exist (Pearson doesn`t even summarize the novel properly; he also claims early on that there are only *13* Bond books). M champions the books, yet according to Bond`s obituary in “You Only Live Twice”, he deplored them. (Pearson says that M and Fleming had a falling out, but doesn`t say how or why.)

Fleming is badly drawn and flits through the book like a cypher, which is strange given that Pearson was his apprentice and wrote his biography. Pearson glosses over how Bond and Fleming became acquainted, and stumbles when he explains how Fleming came to write the Bond novels. It`s supposed to be a ruse to make the Russians think that Bond doesn`t exist, but the motive is needlessly complicated and doesn`t make sense; if anything, it would only prove that he does, and draw attention to him.

The closing pages, involving Irma Bunt, are exciting, yet frustrating and anti-climatic – it`s one of the series` great tragedies that Pearson wasn`t brought back to write the Australian sequel.

Ultimately, the approach is questionable. Would Pearson have been better off writing a straight biography? Should he have included himself and Fleming as characters in the novel? But despite the flaws, what he gets right (Chapters 1, most of 2, 8, 9, 15, with 9, 14 and parts of 13 being noteworthy) is what counts.

James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me

The Hero: James Bond
The Villain: Sigmund Stromberg
The Bond Girl: Anya Amasova
Supporting Characters: Jaws (Zbigniew Krycsiwiki); General Nikitin; Kate Chapman; Fekkesh; Kalba; Martine Blanchaud; Captain Carter; Talbot; May (Bond`s housekeeper)
Locations: Switzerland, Russia, England, Egypt, Sardinia, North Atlantic

This was the first Bond film that was novelized, and Christopher Wood, who co-wrote the film, is also the novelist. In many ways his achievement is astonishing. It is one of the best Bond novels, but more importantly, it`s a rich and allusive novel. A proper review would require a page-by-page, sometimes even a line-by-line analysis; a thumbnail sketch must suffice.

Wood duplicates Fleming`s mannerisms and even makes nods to the original novels. He includes the background information on Smersh (in “From Russia, With Love”), carefully updated in Chapter 3. Anya`s superior, General Nikitin, was one of the plotters in “From Russia, With Love”. We learn in Chapter 10 that another of the plotters, Lieutenant-General Vozdvishensky of RUMID, has since defected and that Bond`s time for a diploma at his language symposium for Ministry of Defence employees broke all records. There are references to other Fleming novels: “Moonraker” (the time it takes Bond to draw a gun), “Dr No” (Boothroyd deep-sixing Bond`s Beretta – which is now Anya`s choice of weapons; the rain details in Chapter 4). Stromberg and Nikitin`s eyes become pinpoints of red, a nod at Fleming`s “glint of red”. May still has that tick about calling people “Sir”. And there are more references to Bond`s late wife than in any other post-Fleming Bond novel. There are also Fleming sounding details: Chapter 2 has a Casino scene (Bond loses badly at roulette), and he chides himself for letting the soft life catch up to him. Bond`s torture in Chapter 10 alludes to “Casino Royale”. Anya stings Bond with her ring a la Rosa Klebb in Chapter 12. Only someone who respected his source material could be so meticulous.

The novelization is also much darker and more interesting than the film. Consider how Wood describes Stromberg`s background:

“This he immediately began to do with great vigour, and for a young man he showed a remarkable conversance with death, and what he described as its `packaging`. Cremation was what he advocated as the cleanest, purest and most ecologically satisfactory way to go and as business prospered he built his own private crematorium. He had to wait rather longer than anticipated for this because the firm contracted to do the business were at that time engaged in building similar, but rather larger, installations in Nazi Germany.” (Chapter 5)

Few writers are this nimble.

There are other clever touches. In Chapter 2, Sergei`s dying thoughts – Anya, the hotel, the children playing by the beach – are sensitively handled and reiterate the Greta Garbo detail in Chapter 1 (i.e. “consigning”, since nothing can ever be the same between them). At the end of Chapter 21, Bond wonders what`s become of Anya. Wood slowly and discreetly reveals her predicament, which is both horrifying and darkly funny (here, “in medias res” dialogue contributes to the effect, and is appropriate and brilliant).

Wood loves getting into the character`s heads and deserves credit for injecting so many human moments into the book. Ultimately, he`s written a novel about people, about adults. The chapters where he delves into the character`s backgrounds are remarkable (Anya in Chapter 3, Stromberg in Chapter 5, and Jaws in Chapter 12).

Bond is smarter, more fastidious, and human than Fleming`s Bond. He`s also occasionally clumsy, which is more realistic and endearing. He`s an intelligent man in an insane world who struggles against fate, but when the chips are down has that famous “Nelson touch”.

Anya is unusually complex and one of the best drawn women in the series (though she`s inconsistent and two dimensional during the middle when she`s not sure whether Bond is appealing or annoying. By this stage, she should have felt some grudging admiration for Bond; instead her thoughts are flat). She`s a professional – in Chapter 15, she leans out the window and fires two shots at a pursuing car, destroying it. She says nothing. Wood`s prose is as efficient as her trade-craft. Other subtle details shade her: in Chapter 14, she makes her bed every morning (and wonders if Bond has noticed) because she doesn`t want the maids to think that Bond doesn`t sleep with her, not that she would sleep with him. She`s also vulnerable – Wood shrewdly uses details to emphasize her childlike innocence. Almost everyone preys on her: Nikitin wants to ride her like a cossack, Jaws falls in love with her, and Stromberg sees her as the beginning of a new civilization, plucked from nothing to be the womb that furnishes an original species.

Bond and Anya`s relationship is the novel`s focal point. Discussing her Bulgarian minders, Bond says, “You must be lonely without your boyfriends.” She replies, “They are easily replaced.” This can also be taken to mean Sergei, and foreshadows her decision in Chapter 24. In Chapter 13, M orders them to go as man and wife. This has other considerations. In a nod to Fleming`s originals, Anya reminds Bond of Tracy (Chapters 11 and 17); in the latter chapter Anya even utters Bond`s last words to Tracy. It`s not all one way, either. In Chapter 11, Bond reminds Anya of her late lover Sergei (we`re meant to think that she`s with Bond in the rather overwritten first chapter; Bond and Sergei somewhat resemble each other).

Chapter 17 has many brilliant touches and is one of the book`s best chapters. The brisk, opening paragraphs, are cleverly written from a group perspective; the detail about the roses, seemingly sweet, has horrifying consequences later on. Bond and Anya limp back to the hotel – which is realistic – and fall into each other`s arms, which is psychologically accurate; danger brings people together. Wood is clever enough not to reveal the message until the chapter`s last paragraph, so that we see Anya`s reactions objectively. She looks up at the vase in Bond`s hands as though momentarily wondering why he has it – an excellent touch. She smiles and nods apologetically when she remembers that Bond is a commander in the navy and doesn`t need to be told about ships. Her tone is businesslike. She squeezes Bond`s hand: “I do not have to say anything, do I?” The humanity is unexpected and overwhelming. “This is why we are here. This is the most important thing. We can wait.” Nothing can ever be the same between them. Wood is clever in other ways; Bond and Anya discuss business (the shape of the Lepadus), which increases the tension, and more importantly is realistic and adult. Bond traces a circle on her wrist and discusses an Italian dinner – he knows something is wrong; this detail is sensitive and one of many examples where Bond becomes three-dimensional; it also properly integrates his designer goods tastes into the book (e.g. when he contemplates Anya`s clothes in Chapter 14, or helps the stewardess through his drink in Chapter 7 – so often one detail enhances other aspects).

There are nice details in Chapter 18, (though the actual confrontation is poor): Anya wriggling like a child into Bond`s arms, her head turned; the Paul Jones observation; Bond`s feelings about Russian women`s emotions. Moreover Stromberg`s intentions as revealed in Chapter 20 are crucial because they nudge her back in Bond`s direction.

The last chapter (25) is appropriately sombre: Anya appears unexpectedly on Bond`s doorstep. Is she defecting? What did Stromberg do to her on board Atlantis? She is – in Ian Fleming`s words – a bird with a wing down. But Wood is clever. Bond collapses after rescuing her from Atlantis and is sent home to recuperate. In the following scene, which also shows how different the novelization and the film are, neither character is stronger than the other:

“Carter accepted Bond`s outstretched hand and grasped it warmly. “Thanks. I hope we work together again sometime. Oh, by the way” – his eye twinkled – “there was some girl hanging around on the front doorstep when I arrived. I think she wants to see you.”

“Do you think I`d want to see her?” asked Bond.

Carter pretended to consider the question and then nodded his head. “I think you might.” He raised a hand to his temple and was gone.*

“Bond stood up, feeling a mounting sense of excitement spread through him. Was he being stupid? Could it be possible? Somebody came into the room behind him and he turned, expecting to see May.”

It was Anya. She wore a black woollen coat down to her ankles and carried a large, soft leather grip. Her face was as beautiful as he had dared to remember it. Perhaps more so. She put down her bag and faced him squarely. “I have come to look after you.”

Bond looked at her lovingly. “But I don`t need looking after. I`m perfectly fit. Right at this moment I feel better than I have ever done. Anyway, I have a housekeeper to look after me”

“The woman with the stern black uniform who was putting on her hat to shopping when I arrived?” Bond smiled and nodded. “Does she hold a State Nursing Certificate, first class?”

Bond rested his hands on either side of Anya`s slim shoulders. “Now you come to mention it, I rather think she does. Sweet, darling Anya. What are you doing here? What about Russia? What about your job?”

She looked up at him and her lips trembled. “Let us say I am on holiday. I will tell you all later – much later.” She began to unbutton her coat.

The other characters are well sketched. In a major departure from the film, Wood exploits the sexual predator element present in Jaws. Stromberg is a monster even in childhood, born grossly deformed. He`s a great villain, though he`s underused – an inherent story flaw that the novelization can`t get around. In Chapter 20, Stromberg checks his wet mouth into a semblance of a smile because Anya knows what he`s talking about – Wood knows how to write moments for his characters. Nikitin – originally a Fleming character – is also wonderfully drawn (Chapters 3 and 13). Wood avoids rhetoric and lets action speak for the characters, which is more effective: Nikitin`s hand burrows up Anya`s skirt (this detail and “the scent of roses” are throwbacks to similar details in Fleming`s “From Russia, With Love”; “face of the moon” recalls a similar detail about Red Grant).

Wood uses irony effectively. Just before he`s killed, Fekkesh thinks of Felicca waiting for him at the flat, unaware that she`s dead (Chapter 9; Wood doesn`t botch it by adding, “little did he know that she was already dead”). Kalba is pleased that Fekkesh has been killed; now he just has to eliminate Kate Chapman (Stromberg`s secretary), unaware that she too is dead (Chapter 11). What does he care if she put her life on the line stealing the tracking device for him? Bond notes that Talbot`s face is unmarked by any contact with the unpleasant realities of life and imagines the teacups at the vicarage trembling when Talbot returns on leave. Moments later, Talbot is torched, and collapses on his own grenade (Chapter 21). In Chapter 18, Bond hopes that Anya doesn`t have a gun in her hand when she divulges her feelings, foreshadowing Chapter 24 (the comment about Russian women shades Anya). Nikitin intentionally withholds the news that Bond killed Sergei (Chapter 13). In Chapter 3, Anya compares the Communist faith to the Christian with horrifying consequences in Chapter 21: Stromberg selects her to be the initiator of a new civilization, akin to Mary in the Christian dogma.

There are flaws, though. Wood can`t seem to cut free from the mechanical story and this prevents the book from being more cohesive. At times he overwrites and gets bogged down in minutia: e.g. Chapter 1 (though the Greta Garbo detail is nice, as is the way that we`re led to believe that it`s Bond); ditto the beginning of Chapter 14, and most of 16 (compare Chapter 17`s sprightly beginning). His prose also has an unrefined quality; though clever, the Chapter 5 quote above is somewhat stilted (compare his prose to John Pearson`s). He likes similes – perhaps too much – they can be very useful, but are essentially static and generally unnecessary (his earliest novels overdo them). The descriptive action passages are tedious – fluid writing would have helped here; it also undercuts the impact the human moments would otherwise have. But it is one of the best books in the series, and like “Colonel Sun”, a serious novel, one that should and can be appreciated for it`s literary merit. Unfortunately, the novel is out of print – an unfortunate oversight that should be rectified.

James Bond And Moonraker (Film Novelization)

The Moonraker novelization was penned by the film`s screenwriter Christopher Wood, and was released to coincide with the movie`s premiere in the summer of 1979.

Having previously written the novelization to 1977`s Spy Who Loved Me, Christopher Wood was once again picked to put Bond`s adventures in book form. In his Spy novelization Christopher tried to follow Ian Fleming`s style of writing; deviating on many occasions from the movie`s plotline and dialogue. When this method of novelizing a Bond film did not sit well with the public, on Wood`s next literary venture, James Bond and Moonraker, he adhered more to the movie`s plot and words.

The novel followed Moonraker`s plot of a madman`s scheme to destroy life on earth and repopulate it with his own breed of the perfect human specimen. Like the movie, the book took 007 from Drax`s estate in California, to Venice, to Brazil, and finally to Drax`s orbiting space station. While faithfully following the film, the novelization did contain some differences:

Drax`s pilot, Corinne Du Four in the film was in the book Trudi Parker; the original name of the character which was changed upon the signing of actress Corinne Clery.

The eerie sequence where Corinne is killed by the Dobermans is only referred to as having happened “offscreen.”

The scene where Bond kills the sniper who was aiming at him during the pheasant hunt is omitted from the book.

In Venice Bond`s gondolier is shot instead of stabbed by the living corpse.

Like in the movie, 007`s gondola turns into a motorboat, and the killers chase him through the canals of Venice;however, instead of the gondola transforming into a hovercraft and entering St Mark`s Square, Bond jumps out of the gondola at the last minute before it crashes into the killers` boat. So the infamous double-taking pigeon is nowhere to be found.

During the space finale, the laser guns are called laser torches. In addition to the laser battle between Drax`s men and the space marines, the novel contains a scene that would have added to Moonraker`s excitement; James Bond ends up outside the space station and is momentarily detached from it. 007 must fight to get back to the station before he is sucked into the void of deep space.

Overall Christopher Wood does an admirable job of novelizing Moonraker; even more then his Spy effort. The novel captures the movie nicely, with only minor instances where scenes or dialogue differ; and the new parts not seen in the final film help to make it all the more enjoyable.

Icebreaker

The Hero: James Bond; The Bond Girls: Paula Vacker, Annie Tudeer, Rivke Ingber; The Villain: Count Von Gloda; Supporting Characters: Kolya Mosolov, “Bad” Brad Tirpitz, Trifon; Finland, London, Libya, Madeira Island; First Published: 1983

Icebreaker. In one word? Fantastic. Icebreaker succeeds on three different levels. First, it`s Gardner`s best Bond novel. Second, it`s one of the best 007 novels, and third, it`s one of the best thrillers I`ve ever read.

Icebreaker is a fast paced, rip roaring, non-stop, unrelenting page turner. It provides the reader with a credible plot (and one that is a current issue, even today), realistic villians, the strongest Bond girls in a Gardner novel, multiple shifts of loyalty, and untapped locations. Let`s start with the plot.

Icebreaker starts off with Bond making a quick change in schedule to drop in on an old dalliance, a Nordic bombshell named Paula Vacker. Bond barely had time to tell Paula that he was in Helsinki. Even Bond did`nt anticipate being in Helsinki until about six hours ago. So, how did two thugs end up waiting in Paula`s apartment for Bond?

Bond doesn`t have time to get into all the specifics of who might`ve figured out he was coming to Finland, or why. Instead, “M” has summoned Bond to London, to recruit 007 to be part of an international team conducting operation “Icebreaker”. Agents of the KGB (Kolya Mosolov), CIA (“Bad” Brad Tirpitz), and the Mossad-Israeli Intelligence (Rivke Ingber) are going to conduct a clandestine trip across the Arctic Circle and through the Finnish-Russian border.

Their mission: document, photograph, and verify that arms shipments coming out of a remote bunker deep in Russian Arctic territory are going to a Neo-Nazi Facist group called the National Socialist Action Army. This group has as it`s goal, nothing less than world wide domination under a Nazi fascist state, with a new Fuhrer, the Count Konrad Von Gloda as it`s leader. It has conducted numerous terrorist acts against civilians around the world. The organization is growing, and it`s armaments are getting more sophisticated and more deadly. If possible, Bond and the Icebreaker team are to destroy the bunker, the outgoing shipment, and the pipeline to the NSAA.

That`s easier said than done. The problem with the Icebreaker team is that no one trusts anyone else. Exactly why would the KGB invite British intelligence onto Soviet soil to watch arms being shipped to terrorist groups? What history might the CIA have with the NSAA that they would like to have their agent, Brad Tirpitz, make sure stays buried? What mysterious past could Rivke Ingber possibly have that could jeaporadize the entire mission?

“If Bond had started by trusting nobody, the feeling had now grown into deep suspicion toward anybody connected with Icebreaker. And that included M, who had also been like a clam when it came to detail.”

In this book, Bond is still Bond, but he`s more of a participant than a protaganist. This may cause some concern for Bond purists, who feel 007 should be the driving force in a Bond novel. I agree. Except in this case. There`s a refreshing change of pace and strategy here with Icebreaker. Gardner takes some of the pressure off maintaining the Bond character, and instead creates wonderful villians, and the strongest Bond girls ever.

Ahhh…yes. The Bond girls. In Icebreaker, there are three Bond girls. But there`s a mysterious twist involved there. These Bond girls kicked Bond`s butt, literally, from Maderia Island all the way to Finland. It may not seem cool. It may not seem macho. It doesn`t matter. It was just plain fun watching these women outsmart, outmanipulate, and generally betray Bond all the way through the book. It keeps Bond more alert and more on his toes than ever.

The locations are also a switch from the normal Bond fare. The Caribbean has always been a staple of the Bond stories, from both Fleming and Gardner. With Icebreaker we get a glimpse into a rarely used location in either the books or the films-Finland.

The action sequences are spectacularly devised and written. There are lot`s of snowmobile chases ,and explosions. Bond is treated to a sadistic twist of ice cold Chinese water torture , and there is a knife fight thrown in as well.

Chaper 20, Destiny, contained one plot twist too many. T he story still holds credibility, but it was just more unneccessary than anything else. Still, Icebreaker is Gardner`s best work, one of the best entries into the 007 series, and one of the best thrillers ever.

Ian Fleming’s Unfinished Short Stories

Incomplete works:

Two short stories (1960s) by Ian Fleming Excerpts were published in the UK edition of John Pearson`s “The Life of Ian Fleming”.

Excerpt 1:
(Written shortly before he died, Fleming never got past the first page and a half. Fleming based the character Zographos on a real-life card dealer with the same name.) …”It was like this, Mr Bond.” Zographos had a precise way of speaking with the thin tips of his lips while his half-hard half-soft Greek eyes measured the reaction of his words on the listener… “The Russians are chess players. They are mathematicians. Cold machines. But they are also mad. The mad ones forsake the chess and the mathematics and become gamblers. Now, Mr Bond.” Zographos laid a hand on Bond`s sleeve and quickly withdrew it because he knew Englishmen, just as he knew the characteristics of every race, every race with money, in the world. “There are two gamblers… the man who lays the odds and the man who accepts them. The bookmaker and the punter. The casino and, if you like” – Mr Zographos`s smile was sly with the “shared secret” and proud with the right word – “The suckers.”

Excerpt 2:
In the early morning, at about 7.30, the stringy whimperings of the piped radio brought visions of a million homes waking up all over Britain… of him, or perhaps her, getting up to make the early morning tea, to put the dog out, to stoke the boiler. And then will this shirt do for another day? The socks, the paints? The Ever-ready, the Gillette shave, the Brylcreem on the hair, the bowler hat or the homburg, the umbrella and the briefcase or the sample case? Then “Dodo”, the family saloon out on the concrete arterial, probably with her driving. The red-brick station, the other husbands, the other wives, the clickety-click of the 8.15 round the curve by the gold course. Hullo Sidney! Hullo Arthur! After you Mr Shacker… and the drab life picking up speed and flicking on up the rails between the conifers and the damp evergreens. Bond switched on his electric blanket and waited for his hot water with a slice of lemon and contemplated the world with horror and disgust.

Book of Golden Words (1964)
Ian Fleming`s notebook of ideas. In February 1964, a Daily Express reporter copied several entries from it. Quoting from Henry Ziegler`s “The Spy Who Came In With The Gold”:

There was a notation of the name “Mr Szasz,” which Fleming thought would be ideal for a villain. He had somehow come across the Bulgar proverb “My Enemy`s Enemy (is my friend),” and if he had lived, it would probably have turned up on the lips of some inscrutable villain. Also in the book was the sentence, “You won`t have a lover if you don`t love,” which was pure Fleming and might have issued as wisdom from some future heroine.

(Note: Many of Fleming`s later titles feature pronouns, i.e. For *YOUR* Eyes Only, The Spy Who Loved *ME*, On *HER* Majesty`s Secret Service, *YOU* Only Live Twice, so it`s possible that “My Enemy`s Enemy was a prospective title.)

For a more detailed explanation, please read the article: My Enemy`s Enemy Is My Friend, by following the link below.

Purple Domesticity
by Ian Fleming (circa 1926) A writer asks a painter to illustrate his book about “style, just style”. The artist throws paint at the canvas from two yards away. Books and Bookies praise the author for “the depth of feeling in the script” and the painter for “the breadth of conception in the illustrations”. The critics go on to say: “Deep, deep, stuff. Broad, broad yet how high, how high.”

Death, On Two Occasions
by Ian Fleming (1927) The sadistic Graf Schlick lives in a big castle and preys on a young virgin. Little does he know that his latest victim has leprosy. The story ends with Schlik in the last stages of the painful disease.

A Poor Man Escapes
by Ian Fleming (1927) A man pawns his belongings after his wife dies. He treats himself to a meal and falls asleep inside the restaurant. A waiter calls the police to have the man removed. When the police arrive, the man drinks poison; the waiter wrongly assumes that the man is once again asleep.

“But Henrik had paid and was rich for the first time in his life.”

Untitled
by Ian Fleming (1928) “Venice station was at its hottest, dustiest, dirtiest. Tony stepped out of the frying pan of his train into its fire. His collar freed itself from his neck in a stream of perspiration.”

Ian Fleming’s State of Excitement (1960)

Ian Fleming
The Kuwait Oil Company commissioned Fleming to write this short book about Kuwait. However, the Kuwaiti Goverment disapproved of the final manuscript, which they found condescending, and the book was never published, despite repeated overtures to the Kuwaiti Goverment over the years.

The frontispiece to Fleming`s copyof the book reads: This is the only bound copy of a short book I wrote on Kuwait in December 1960. It was a condition of my obtaining facilities to visit Kuwait and write the book that the text should have the approval of the Kuwait Oil Company, whose guest I was.

The Oil Company expressed approval of the book but felt it their duty to submit the typescript to members of the Kuwait Government for their approval. The Sheiks concerned found unpalatable certain mild comments and criticism and particularly the passages referring to the adventurous past of the country which now wishes to be “civilised” in every respect and forget its romantic origins.

Accordingly the book was stillborn.

Ian Fleming’s Film And Television Treatments

James Gunn – Secret Agent (1956) A 28 page pilot script for Henry Morgenthau III. When the project fell through, Fleming novelized the script as Dr No.

The Diamond Smugglers (1956) Rank bought the film rights to Fleming`s non-fiction book The Diamond Smugglers (1956). Fleming apparently wrote an 18 page outline. At one point duringthe 1960`s, John Boorman (Deliverance, Hope And Glory) was to have directed.

Six Untitled Television Treatments (1958) For CBS. Three of the treatments eventually became stories: Risico, From A View To A Kill, For Your Eyes Only. No word on what became of the three remaining treatments.

James Bond, Secret Agent (a.k.a Latitude 79) (1958-1960) Ten treatments/scripts, with Jack Whittingham and Kevin McClory. What eventually became Thunderball. Fleming adding the Shrublands sequence, when he novelized the story. McClory sued for plagarism when Fleming published the book.

The Poppy Is Also A Flower (a.k.a Poppies Are Also Flowers) (a.k.a Danger Grows Wild) (a.k.a The Opium Connection) (1966) Fleming discussed a story about drug smuggling with veteran Bond director Terence Young. The story would show the progress of heroin starting as a flower in Iran`s poppy fields and ending in New York City.

After Fleming died, Young worked with his wife, writer Jo Eisinger, on the story.

Originally produced as a United Nations project for tv, the film was eventually made into a poorly received all-star extravaganza, starring, amongst others, Trevor Howard, EG Marshall, Marcello Mastroianni, Angie Dickinson, Rita Hawyworth, and Yul Brenner.

Glidrose barred Young from using Fleming`s name in any promotional capacity, though agreed to the credit “The story is based on an idea by Ian Fleming”.

Ian Fleming Introduces Jamaica

Edited by Morris Cargill (1966)
Published by Andre Deutsch

Fleming was to have written it, but was too ill, so duties fell to his friend, Jamaican journalist Morris Cargill. Fleming only wrote the introduction.

Note: There have been rumours that Morris Cargill, and not Ian Fleming, wrote the Bond novel The Man With The Golden Gun. At the time of Fleming`s death, The Golden Gun, as it was then called, was announced to have only been an incomplete outline.

Horror Wears Blue

By: Lin Carter
published 1987, Doubleday

A science-fiction/fantasy novel. The fifth and last novel in the “Zarkon series”.

James Bond meets “Prince Zarkon” at the Cobalt Club in London. S.P.E.C.T.R.E. is briefly mentioned. Other characters include: George Gideon of Scotland
Yard; Sir Denis Nayland Smith and Val Petrie (“Fu Manchu” books); Bulldog Drummond; Doc Savage`s aide Monk Mayfair; and Simon Templar (“The Saint”).

Lin Carter was born in 1930 and died in 1988.

Chapter 7: At the Cobalt Club

In the members` lounge, Nayland Smith led Prince Zarkon to where two men were sitting, chatting idly over cocktails. Both were lean and tan and fit; one had iron-gray hair which did nothing to conceal the twinkle of devilry in his cool eyes, or the reckless grin on his smooth-shaven, buccaneer`s face.

“Prince Zarkon, may I introduce Mr Templar,” said Sir Dennis. They shook hands.

The other individual was younger, with a black comma of hair hanging over one eye. He also rose at the introduction.

“And Commander Bond.”

“A pleasure,” murmured Zarkon. He knew both men by sight, from their pictures, and they instantly recognized him. Bond gestured to a comfortable leather chair.

“Have a seat, Highness. Let me order you a cocktail,” said Bond. Zarkon rarely drank alcohol, and then only on social occasions such as this, so he nodded. A waiter materialized out of thin air at Bond`s shoulder.

“Try one of mine,” suggested Bond. Zarkon shrugged, and Bond said: “Charles, His Highness will have a vodka martini, very dry-”

“Shaken, but not stirred,” added Templar with a chuckle. Bond`s tastes were quite familiar to his friends in the Cobalt Club. Charles vanished, only to reappear seconds later with a perfect martini which Zarkon sipped politely,
then put down.

[…]

“Such as, why are they robbing importers and manufacturers of subminiaturized electronic components?” suggested Templar. “Frankly, that one has *me* baffled. If I had a posse of invulnerable and bulletproof men at
my disposal, it would be the jewelry shops and bullion banks I`d be after, not these electronic fellows.”

Bond chuckled. “Yes, we all know about your early criminous and sometimes burglarious days, Simon.

Fortunately, for the Yard, those days have long since passed by…”

“Miss them, sometimes,” admitted Templar, wistfully.

[…]

Commander Bond also rose.

“I have to be getting along myself, Highness, and my car is outside. May I give you a lift to the Yard?”

“With pleasure,” nodded Prince Zarkon. “Let me instruct my driver to return to our hotel. I`ll only be a minute.”

Zarkon was just leaving the member`s lounge to rejoin Bond on the street, having said good-bye to Nayland Smith, Templar, and Drummond.

[…]

Bond`s car, Zarkon noticed, was a Saab 900 Turbo. Bond caught his glance, and smiled a bit ruefully.

“Used a Mark II Continental Bentley for years,” he confessed. “Superb machine. I finally dispensed with it; the Saab gets better mileage for the fuel intake, and can convert from gasoline to gasohol, if needed. And we`re a fuel-poor country, it seems, these days. Do get in.”

Seated inside the Saab, Bond drew a flat gunmetal case from his breast pocket and offered Zarkon a cigarette, which Zarkon declined. Bond lit his own and inhaled lustily.

“These are made for me by Morelands of Grosvenor Street,” said Bond. “A bit lower in tar content than anything currently available on the market.”

They tooled away from the curb and headed across London.

“I should have thought that you, or another of the double-O agents, would have received this “Blue Men” assignment, Commander,” remarked Zarkon. Bond shrugged.

“As for me, I`m off for Nepal in a couple of hours,” he replied.

“Ah! Not the rumours of an assassination attempt to be made on the Dalai Lama?” inquired the Nemesis of Evil.

Bond gave his passenger a glance of quiet admiration.

“Your intelligence service must be extraordinary,” he said. “Yes, that`s the case. Uncertain as to who`s behind it-”

“Red China?” suggested Zarkon. Bond shrugged.

“Or SPECTRE,” he said.

Then, with an inquiring glance at Zarkon`s expressionless profile, he asked:
“I`m not exactly up on all your cases, Prince. Ever gone up against SPECTRE?”

“Not to my knowledge,” admitted Zarkon quietly. “Or, at least, not yet.”

Bond chuckled.

“That`s rather lucky for SPECTRE,” he said. Then, pulling up with a flourish.

“Here we are at the Yard, sir. Good hunting!”

“Good hunting yourself,” smiled Zarkon.

Holmes Meets 007

The wind was up in Holmes, make no doubt of that. He stood now with his back to me, gazing down into Baker Street. The great detective had been pacing the room for a quarter hour. Now he turned from the window with an exclamation.

“Ha! Exactly as I anticipated.” The aquiline features, so recently strained, were suddenly animated. “Quick, Watson. Our visitors have arrived. Help me get my things while Mrs Hudson is showing them up.”

“Odd carriage that,” I muttered, glancing through the pane as I picked up Holmes` violin from the window seat.

“Come, come, Watson. A carriage? That`s a Bentley, surely. Sawed, chopped, channelled and fitted with a Sardley overhead cutout, unless I miss my guess. I`ve done a little monograph on the Sardley, as a matter of fact.”

“And you have no idea why they want to see us? I asked Holmes.

“Only vaguely,” he replied. “But the real truth is that it is I who want to see them. Particularly one of them.”

While saying this he had clapped his fez on his head. Now, jamming a meerschaum between his teeth and dropping into the big leather chair, Holmes began sawing at his fiddle. His playing always has the same effect on me and so I was as edgy as he had been by the time a knock sounded at our door.

I opened it to face a square, craggy figure of commanding presence. He was perhaps 60 and his hands were thrust into the pockets of a kind of officer`s coat. He pierced me with a flinty glance and, without removing the briar from his mouth, stalked past me into the room.

Behind him a younger man, dark and athletic and done out in flannel of impeccable Savile Row cut, moved with cat`s stealth through the doorway. Behind me Holmes crashed into the coda of one of his beloved concerti. I nodded to the hovering Mrs Hudson to let her know the pair was expected and closed the door.

“Dr Watson, I believe,” said the older of the two, eyeing me and then turning to Holmes who, taking no notice of their arrival, continued his fiddling. “Call me M. This is Mr James Bond and –. I say, can`t you get him to stop that? he asked, waving his pipe in Holmes` direction.

“This won`t do, M,” I heard Bond say in an undertone. “We knew the man was an addict, but a musician too? And look at those clothes. Can this be Holmes?”

Just at that moment my friend laid down his violin, took the pipe from his mouth and cooly rose to greet the visitors.

“Good evening, gentlemen. Sorry you had trouble with the Bentley. Those Sardley devices can be difficult. Actually, of course, there`s a garage just down from where you stalled that specializes in them.” Holmes` little gambit had its intended effect.

“How the devil did you know that?” exclaimed Bond.

“Elementary, my dear naught naught seven,” purred Holmes. “You are late for an appointment that you yourself described as of `supreme importance.” Conclusion? The delay was unavoidable. There`s a smudge of oil on your sleeve, which tells me you`ve been under the bonnet, and I noticed your Sardley was wheezing when you drove up. The spot of earth on your shoe is of a texture peculiar to a stretch of Bromley Road where I noticed yesterday that the gas company was excavating.”

“Damnably clever,” nodded M. “Bond, why don`t you do things like that? Save yourself some of that wear and tear, hmm?”

Holmes allowed himself a small condescending smile while Bond`s face closed again into the impassive mask which I took to be habitual with him.

“Yes, nice trick,” he sniffed. “Somewhat circusy, but neat. Would it have the desired effect on a SMERSH man, though? A touch of the steel, a taste of the Walther, a karate chop. Those are more likely to impress the blighters.”

“I dare say you`re right,” M sighed. “Still it would be pleasant if the office could conduct some of its business on a somewhat quieter, more civilized plane.”

I drew up chairs and was just seating our guests when I felt Bond`s eyes on me. I turned to him questioningly, but he only shook his head in mild irritation — but not before exchanging glances with M. I felt, for some reason, a certain trepidation.

“Watson, why don`t you ask Mrs Hudson to set out tea,” said Holmes.

M raised his hand in protest. “Please. James has already seen to our refreshment. He`s having something sent `round from the club. Should be here directly, wouldn`t you say, James?”

“If Alex can manage the souffle in this cold,” Bond replied. “Can`t rush those things. Then there`s the Vouvray Mousseux to be brought to the proper chill, and –”

“Took James half an hour to order the stuff,” said M, his tone a mixture of pique and grudging admiration. “He does things like that, you know.”

“Curious obsession,” mused Holmes, to whom the food was inconsequent.

Bond stiffened. “it`s not an obsession. It`s simply an amenity. I prefer to dine well, just as I prefer to live in Chelsea instead of in a more — um — prosaic neighborhood. Like Baker Street,” he added, unnecessarily, I thought.

“Now, now, gentlemen,” put in M. “We`ll leave all that for another time. Right now, there`s a more pressing — and delicate — matter I`d like to attend to. James, this is your show.”

Bond leaned his cruel face forward and stared balefully at Holmes.

“I`ll be blunt then,” he said. “We know all about your habit.”

“My habit?”

“Your habit. You are a user, a junkie. What is it this week, cocaine or morphine?”

I couldn`t suppress a surge of triumph. For years I had told Holmes that his little peculiarity would some day lead him astray. He caught the look on my face and said wryly: “I`ve never made a secret of my — er — habit as you put it. Indeed even were I so inclined, Watson`s constant scribblings about me would have insured disclosure.”

“Watson, you say?” and Bond gave me another of his cold looks, less guarded than before. “DOCTOR Watson. And I suppose he is also your connection?”

Holmes, who is even less familiar with the changing language of the street than I, showed puzzlement.

“Your connection, your source of narcotics supply,” said M in explanation, his eyes now gleaming behind a wreath of pipe smoke. “Why yes,” answered Holmes, “Watson has been good enough to supply my modest needs for stimulants.”

“There!” cried Bond. “Does that satisfy you, M? We have him. I told you the methods of procural matched out TTD report.” In one fluid movement the Walther PPF appeared in Bond`s hand. But instead of turning the weapon on Holmes, Bond levelled the wicked instrument at my own breasts.

“What is the meaning of this?” I demanded. “I am a medical practitioner and responsible for–”

“Come off that now,” said Bond, his voice like a whip. “It has worked too long. You can`t hide behind Holmes any longer.”

“My dear fellow, what are you trying to say?” asked Holmes with a composure that, considering the situation, irked me considerably. He had picked up his violin again and was idly plucking at the strings.

“What I mean,” said Bond, “is that your good Dr Watson is an imposter. We`ve gotten onto him through his worldwide narcotics contacts. Watson,” and he paused for dramatic effect, “is none other than my old antagonist Ernst Stavro Blofeld, master of disguise, fiend incarnate, slayer of my bride and now delivered into my hands.”

He fingered the safety on the Walther and I recalled suddenly the significance of his naught naught classification: authorized to kill. Bond glanced at M and I saw the old seadog return his look with a barely perceptible nod. It was a nasty situation.

But I reckoned without Holmes. In a flash, he brought his precious Stradivarius down on Bond`s gun hand. Violin and pistol exploded together. However, Holmes had deflected the muzzle sufficiently so that the bullet passed harmlessly through the cloth of my trousers — a bare two inches from the spit in my leg that had received the Jezail bullet in `80.

“Damned musician!” Bond growled gripping his injured hand. Holmes meanwhile had leaped to the side table and extracted something from the drawer.

“Quick, Watson, guard the door.” I landed against the portal one step ahead of M, whose face was now a mirror of hate. Holmes was instantly at my side, a hypodermic syringe in his hand. Tearing back the man`s shirt cuff he plunged the needle into M`s arm. The powerful morphine concentrate worked with appalling suddenness and M slid to the carpet.

“Good lord, Holmes,” I exclaimed. “Why him? Get Bond.”

“Nonsense, Watson, naught naught seven is simply an accessory, a fairly ignorant tool. This is our man on the floor. I recognized him as soon as he stepped out of the Bentley. Now if you`ll ring up Lestrade we`ll write finis to the only uncompleted business remaining on my books.”

“Holmes, you don`t mean…?”

“Precisely, Watson, the greatest schemer of all time, the organizer of every deviltry, the controlling brain of the underworld, a brain which might have made or marred the destiny of nations has been ensconced for these years in Special Branch. Our visitor M is none other than our old enemy Professor Moriarty.”

“Amazing, Holmes. You outdo yourself.”

“Elementary, my dear Watson or Blofeld or whatever. Now I believe I shall repair to the study and work up a little monograph on the subject while it is still fresh in mind — and before you manage to romanticize it quite out of credibility.”

Then I noticed the crestfallen figure standing near the window.

“What should we do with Bond?” I asked.

“Bond? Oh, send him back to his little bureaucratic niche, I expect. Really, I couldn`t be less concerned.”

High Time To Kill

By Raymond Benson

Review by: Ryan Ronholm

Characters:James Bond; Helena Marksbury; Roland Marquis;
Bill Tanner; Dr. Steven Harding; Governor of Bahamas; Dr. Hope Kendell; Lee Ming; Sergeant Chandra; Otto Schrenk; Paul Baack
Le Gerant; Zakir Bedi

Locations covered: Nassau, London (and local areas), Brussels, Delhi, Kathmandu, Morocco, Nepal, Kangchenjunga

James Bond and his seceretary, Helena Marksbury are on vacation in the Bahamas, an idea that James Bond doesn`t agree with. He, of course would rather be in Jamaica at Shamelady (the original name for Goldeneye), and especially away from the house of the former Governor of the Bahamas, the same unnamed man as in Ian Fleming`s short story, `The Quantum of Solace.` The Governor is having a large party. Before it ends though, the Governor is brutally murdered (his throat slashed)
after telling James that he has some how interferred with a criminal group called `The Union`. Bond tracks the killer from the party down into an alley way. Before Bond can capture him, the murderer blows his head off, leaving Bond with no clues.

Fast forward two weeks… James Bond has returned to England and is out golfing with Bill Tanner when he meets up with an old rival from Eton, named Roland Marquis, who with a nerdy and quiet doctor have come out for a round. Marquis and the doctor, Steven Harding, challenge Bond and Tanner to a match, which Bond reluctantly accepts. The four go at it, with Roland and Harding taking 500 pounds of the two service lads. That night, Harding, who is involved with a super top secret project entitled “Skin 17”, highjacks the formula for the skin from it`s base with the help of Roland. The next morning the Secret Service are alerted to the theft and it is decided that the man responsible for finding Dr. Harding and the skin is 007, with whatever help he can get from Roland, who was a special liason in the project.

Bond recieves word that Dr. Harding is in Brussels. After a quick meeting with Major Boothroyd, he gets his Jaguar XK8 and heads out. After a pleasent drive, only miles from Brussles, Bond runs into three motorcyclists who are bent on stopping him. While Bond disposes of them quickly, using many of the toys installedvia Q Branch, he is still worried that there may be a huge leak within the secret service.

While Bond`s arrival is taking place, we find out that Dr. Harding is a member of The Union and he was paid to steal the formula and devised a plot to get the micro-dot which contains all of the final information to The Union`s seller, the Chinese via a pacemaker. During Bond`s stay in Brussels, he gets slightly involved with the leader of Station B, gets into a fight with a massive ape of a man, meets the doctor who was blackmailed into performing the pacemaker surgery, and finds out that the man was killed outside of the jail. While all of this is happening, the man with the pacemaker, Mr. Lee Ming, is on a plane to Delhi, and Dr. Harding is escaping to Morocco

Bond, with the mission seemingly stalled, heads home to find that someone recognized Lee Ming as a passenger on a flight to Delhi. Ming manages to get into Nepal, only to then be kidnapped . He`s put on a highjacked sightseeing plane, which ends up crashing into the Kangchenjunga, the third largest mountain in the world. Hearing this seemingly good piece of news, “M” plans a massive recovery mission, under the guise of a diplomatic recovery of British and American politicans. Bond is to be teamed with a man who knows the Kangchenjunga, Chandra.

After weeks of climatizing, and people trying to kill Bond and sabotage the mission, they make it to the plane, where everything gets completely out of control. More people die, numerous double and triple crossers are revealed, the micro-dot is recovered and Bond makes it down the mountain.

While the novel is very well done, it doesn`t “digest” the same way that Benson`s two previous novels do. This novel is simply not as strong of a novel as Benson`s two previous forays, It especially pales to “The Facts of Death” and this is due, in part, to the lack of real danger involved. Bond is forced to recover a material that can be used on planes and missles to exceed speeds of Mach 7 but this hardly has immediate dire implications.

In a sense, the novel is slighty more than an updated and revised version of the movie: For Your Eyes Only. Something important goes missing in enemy territory and Bond is forced to go up against someone who the British government trust, but one that he doesn`t. The school rivalry is something that is quite important and interesting. It goes slightly into the past of 007, unlike anything else has before. The locales selected in the novel are very important as well and the way that Benson describes the cities, most noticeably Delhi, Kathmandu and Casablanca are true throwbacks to the writing of Ian Fleming. The people on the streets and the sounds, and even the religious beliefs and the way that they are used in the novel (Like Bond entering the church or mosque after the assassination of Zakir Bedi) add depth to this novel.

Benson`s leading women aren’t too great. His supporting women are though. Reading the parts with Helena Marksbury, and the Station B liason, Gina, have more life and zip to them than the scenes with Dr. Hope Kendell. His supporting men are much better than his women. Paul Baack, Otto Schrenk, Chandra, and Zakir Bedi are well written, and are strong additions to the novel. The time, climate and weather elements are very important to the novel and Benson pulls these off wonderfully.

The creation of “The Union”, Benson`s own “SPECTRE-esque” criminal group seems to have basically lifted itself from Fleming`s classic `Thunderball.` While “The Union” is more realistic and more PC (you have three women now), it isn`t that different from what are the classics. But if you are going to emulate, you might as well emulate the best. While shrouding the leader is something out of the movie series, the idea that the man is blind is quite unique and may easily set up for some interesting novels in the future.

Another thing that Benson likes to do is set the novels up for Generation X who was brought up on the Bond movies of Roger Moore. There is always a “pre-title sequence” that involves humor, destruction and nothing that can connect with any of Bond`s previous adventures. Personally, I would axe them from the novel, or make them more connected to it, like the opening chapters of Dr. No and OHMSS. Fleming rarely had an off the wall chapter (like HTTK does), nor did Gardner (who`s first chapters were usually the best and most complete.). However, if Benson`s next novel, expected to be set in Gibralter with another Union agent builds on the impressive start found here, these novels may lead to many fun adventures with 007. Let`s see in one year`s time.

Goldfinger

The Hero: James Bond; The Bond Girl: Pussy Galore; The Villain: Auric Goldfinger; Supporting Characters: Oddjob, Colonel Smithers, Jill Masterson, Tilly Masterson, Felix Leiter; Locations Covered: London, Miami, New York, Switzerland, Fort Knox; First Published: 1958

Goldfinger is one of the strongest Bond novels when it comes to plot. The basic parts of Goldfinger are set up well. The Bank of England is worried about leaks in the Gold area. They look for an answer, and find Auric Goldfinger. A member of SMERSH, from Riga, Latvia Goldfinger is a jeweler who collects old gold and melts it down for his own purposes, his fascination with gold, and its color. He is one of the world’s wealthiest men, and is almost as nuts as he is rich. His only major vice is that his assistants all end up painted in gold.

The novel starts in Miami, as Bond is ready to head back to London. He is met by an old accquentance, Junius Du Pont(From Casino Royale) who is being cheated at Canasta. The cheater? Auric Goldfinger. Goldfinger has taken $10 000 from the wealthy Du Pont.

Bond tricks Goldfinger into surrendering fifty thousand dollars to Du Pont and leaves Miami with Jill Masterton, one of Auric`s kept women. He returns to England to find that MI6 wants an eye kept on Goldfinger. The man to do it? James Bond.

Immediately following that, Bond and Goldfinger meet in a golf match, where 007 again cheats Goldfinger at his own game. Goldfinger, being a good sport, invites Bond to dinner. There, Bond is treated to a spectacular demonstration from Goldfinger’s henchmen, known as Oddjob! His abilities shown on a railing, mantle piece and wall can be summed up like this:

‘Oddjob had taken off his coat and placed them neatly on the floor. Now, he rolled up his trouser legs up to the knee and stood back in a wide-planted stance as if a judo expert. He looked as if a charging elephant wouldn’t put him off balance.

“Better stand back, Mr. Bond. This blow snaps a man’s neck like a daffodil.” Bond watched, facinated. Now the slanting eyes in the flat yellow mask were glinting with a fierce intentness. Faced by such a man, one could only go down on one’s knees and wait for death.’

Here Fleming shows Bond’s fear, Goldfinger’s delight and Oddjob’s abilities. All of the Bond Elements are here in full glory. The meeting with M, Colonel Smithers, the Vodka Martinis, Morland Special Cigarettes, and the Aston Martin DB3(This is the first time that Bond doesn`t use his Bentley). Another Bond Element is that he is fighting, either a Russian man, or a SMERSH operative. This is slightly trite, even back then. The scenes between Goldfinger and Bond are very strong. The torture scene isn’t with a laser, but with a saw.

Pussy Galore is the only hood who you can like, mainly because her lesbian undertones are extremely amusing as we all know that Bond is going to get the girl. The plot is the most outrageous one that Ian Fleming ever created but that`s what makes it entertaining!

From Russia, With Love

The Hero: James Bond; The Bond Girl: Tatiana Romanova; The Villain: Red Grant; Supporting Characters: Darko Kerim, Rene Mathis, Rosa Klebb; Locations Covered: London, Turkey, Moscow, The Orient Express; First Publishing: 1956

EVERYONE says that this is Fleming’s best Bond story. Even JFK said that before his assassination. But I do not agree. Fleming still had Dr. No, Goldfinger, Thunderball OHMSS and You Only Live Twice to go and all are worthy to surpass `Russia`. Granted, From Russia With Love is an extremely good Bond story. It’s story is a bit off of it’s rails at times, but that is made up easily by the rich characterizations.

One of From Russia With Love’s best character’s is the sadistic executioner, Red Grant. He is a calm and cool killer, almost exactly as Fleming had envisioned Bond in Casino Royale. He is more convincing than most characters in this story, save for Darko Kerim.

Darko Kerim is probably one of the most lovable characters to ever meet 007. It almost hurts when Darko is found killed. I really enjoyed his character who was full of life and a man who I sort of wished that 007 was. Darko’s life story early on when Bond arrives in Turkey is very entertaining. Kerim’s character is sorely missed.

The plot for `Russia` couldn’t be any more straight forward. Dr. No and Moonraker had almost impossible plots for most of the novel but `Russia` doesn’t stick to that pattern. It is a pleasure to read the planning of 007’s demise.

One weak spot for me was Rosa Klebb, the leader of SMERSH. She didn’t seem to be the major villain that she was written to be. Also, in Doctor No, it would have been great to see how she dies. Unfortunately, I was disappointed that Fleming didn’t elaborate. He just says that she died in British, or French hands. I hope that she died a painful death, maybe like hanging her at the stake for being an opponent of the United Kingdom and killed publicly or something.

The trip through Turkey was surprisingly interesting. I was impressed with Fleming’s knowledge of the foreign world that Bond was thrust into. What was also surprising was the fact that I really wanted Bond to get the Spektor cipher decoder. It was kind of a slap in the face to the Russians.

Tania is really the picture perfect Bond Girl. She knows when to run, let herself be over come by Bond’s charms and is the perfect lure for 007. Her role in the story is unconvincing. Unfortunately, she has to be there, because without, her, this novel would be a complete and utter mess! If Fleming would have devised a set up where 002 or someone had gotten the decoder to Kerim, and Bond was to retrieve it, and leave out the girl as most short stories do, From Russia With Love would be a rousing smash.

But it isn’t because too many things I find drag it down. Tania’s non-apparent brain, the well written, yet out of place gypsy scene and the fact that the Russians want 007 dead is just to confusing for me, and left me saying, huh? I was also missing Rene Mathis who shows up for less than the last ten or so pages. He was one of my favorite characters from Casino Royale, along with Felix Leiter, and he shouldn’t have shown up at all. Rather disappointing!

Now, there are some great parts of this novel. The real highlight of the novel is when Bond gets on the Orient Express. We can tell that he is in danger, but we don’t know what is going to happen, but we do know that something is going to happen and it does. The book should come with a musical score. We would be instructed to get to a certain track. The track would be strings, raising slowly in pitch until, the climax with Grant in the tunnel.

What surprised me was that Bond didn’t notice that Grant slipped a drug into Tania’s drink. Oh well, who cares. She didn’t mean a thing to me, and Grant should have slipped her some cyanide instead. I probably would have burst out laughing. All of the Bond Elements are here in full glory. Anyways, From Russia With Love was not all that I expected. Hearing and reading that it was the best got me to read it, but I was rather disappointed.

For Your Eyes Only

For Your Eyes Only was first published as a collective book of short stories in 1960. The short story `Quantum of Solace` was first published in Cosmopolitan, while The Hildebrand Rarity was first published in Playboy. Because the review for The Hildrebrand Rarity is so in depth it, along with Risico, has been put on a second page accessible from the bottom of this one.

From A View To A Kill

The Characters: James Bond; The Bond Girl: Mary Anne Russell; Supporting Characters: Colonel Schreiber, Commander Rattray; Location covered: Paris, France.

From A View To A Kill is a fair to middling story by Ian Fleming. It`s not really spectacular, though not particularly boring either. At the outset, a motorcycle courier on one of the backroads around Paris, is en route to deliver classified documents to the NATO organization SHAPE, when his motorcycle is overtaken by another. The courier is murdered on a lonely stretch of highway, and his documentation stolen. Of course this alerts most of the security bureaus in Europe, and since 007 is already in Paris, “M” has obligated Bond to assist in anyway possible in the investigation.

What really stands out in From A View To A Kill is Bond`s view on the French. Or rather, Ian Fleming`s. Example:

“Since 1945, he had not had a happy day in Paris….It was its heart that was gone-pawned to the tourists, pawned to the Russians and Rumanians and Bulgars, pawned to the scum of the world who had gradually taken the town over.”

While waiting on his liason in Paris to introduce herself, 007 continues to think to himself about Paris and fantasize abou t what this girl might look like:

“Even supposing he found the girl in the next hour or so, the contents would certainly not stand up to the wrapping. On closer examination she would turn out to have the heavy , dank, wide-pored skin of the bourgeois French. The blond hair under the rakish velvet beret would be brown at the roots and as coarse as piano wire. The peppermint on the breath would not conceal the midday garlic. The alluring figure would be intricately scaffolded with wire and rubber.

The plot, as briefly mentioned already, isn`t all that exciting . But Bond does some nifty investigative work to solve the crime, when other intelligence departments had given up hope on solving the case.

For Your Eyes Only

The Hero: James Bond; The Bond Girl: Judy Havelock; Von Hammerstein; Gonzalez; Colonel Havelock; Mrs. Havelock, Agatha; Locations covered: Jamaica, Vermont

For Your Eyes Only could also be titled “M”`s revenge. In this story, “M” gets Bond to do a personal favor for him, and wipe out the men who killed two good friends of his, The Havelocks.

The story begins set against the backdrop of political turmoil in the Caribbean, namely the problems caused by the future dictator of Cuba, Fidel Castro. At this point in time, Cuba is rife with ex-Nazi`s and ex-Gestapo agents, who have been doing the bidding of Presidente Batista. One such man is called von Hammerstein, and Hammerstein soon sees the writing on the wall and realizes when Castro gains power over Batista, Hammerstein`s days in Cuba are over. So he sends out a few of his goons to start procuring property around the Caribbean and to start investing his money. One such investment he wants made is a nice house in Jamaica called Content. The only problem is that it`s already owned and the owners refuse to sell. So Gonzales, entrusted to do whatever neccessary to get the property for his boss Hammerstein, guns down the Colonel and his wife in cold blood, leaving the bodies for the Havelocks grown daughter Judy to find.

A month later, Bond is called into M`s office and M explains that he knew the Havelocks, and has determined who their killer was and where he currently is at. Since national security is not at stake, M is troubled by what to do next and Bond senses that.

“Now Bond realized why M was troubled, why he wanted someone else to make the decision. Because these had been friends of M. Because a personal element was involved, M had worked on the case by himself. And now it had come to the point when justice ought to be done and these people brought to the book. But M was thinking, Is this justice, or is it revenge? No judge would take a murder case in which he had personally known the murdered person. M wanted someone else, Bond, to deliver judgement. There were no doubts in Bond`s mind….Hammerstein had operated the law of the jungle on two old defenseless people. Since no other law was available, the law of the jungle should be visited upon Hammerstein.

Bond said, “I would`nt hesitate for a minute, sir…This is a case for rough justice-an eye for an eye.”

M went on looking at Bond. He gave no encouragement, made no comment. Then he slowly reached for the top drawer of his desk on the left hand side, pulled it open, and extracted a thin file…He turned the docket around and pushed it gently across the desk to Bond. The red sans serif letters, still damp, said: FOR YOUR EYES ONLY. Bond said nothing. He nodded and picked up the docket and walked out of the room.

Fleming does a brilliant job of detailing the relationship between Bond and M. The relationship is so well understood between the two, that sometimes words aren`t needed. So, Bond is off to Vermont, via Montreal, Canada, where his papers are rearranged and he picks up a hunting license. Bond`s mission is to penetrate deep into the wooded retreat of von Hammerstein and assasinate him. But Bond isn`t alone on his mission.

In Vermont, as he is slowing and methodically doing surveillance on Hammerstein`s estate, he runs into a beautiful young woman with a crossbow. At first he believes her just to be a deer hunter, but after looking at the name on the hunting license she produces, he realizes who she is and why she`s in Vermont. It`s Judy Havelock and she`s out for revenge. And she`s not going to let Bond get in her way. Even if it means putting an arrow through his leg.

“This is man`s work.”

The girl`s eyes blazed obstinately. She moved her right foot back into the shooting stance. She said through compressed, angry lips, “Keep out of this. It was my mother and father they killed. Not yours.” She pulled the bow half taut. The arrow pointing at Bond`s feet. “Either you do what I say, or you`re going to be sorry. And don`t think I don`t mean it.”

Reluctantly, Bond is forced to join sides with her, and has to wait for Judy to make her move before he can make his. They both succeed in eliminating the wretched von Hammerstein, Gonzales, and a couple of thugs. But Fleming doesn`t leave things at that. He`s not satisfied with good triumphing over evil. Instead, he makes both Bond and Judy suffer through some mental anguish over their actions, despite the fact that they were both justified in what they did. This anguishing gives the characters a human edge and an extra layer of complexity. On the flight from London to Montreal, Bond thinks to himself about how he dreads killing a man in cold blood, even if he did deserve it. Once on the ground, 007 almost seems to try and drink his anguish away, by carrying a flask containing 3/4ths whiskey and one part coffee. Even after Judy killed von Hammerstein, she felt no relief.

“I didn`t- I didn`t know it would be like that”.

Bond pressed her arm reassuringly, “It had to be done. But I told you this sort of thing was man`s work”.

Yes, For Your Eyes Only is one of Flemings best. It combines several different elements to form one powerful story: M`s indecision, 007`s determination for justice, Judy`s thirst for revenge, Bond`s male chauvinism, the bitter after-taste of justice, and the anguish that comes with it. Even today, with For Your Eyes Only closing in on 40 years old, it`s still as potent and powerful as ever.

Quantum of Solace

The Characters: James Bond; Phillip Masters, Rhoda Masters, The Governor

This is primarily a tale of marital problems and how they impact a mission Bond is about to undertake. 007 has come down to Nassau to undertake a very clandestine mission (is their any other kind?). The Governor of Nassau is having a dinner party the night before 007`s mission. Officially, the Governor has no knowledge of why Bond is in Nassau. Unofficially, he knows exactly why Bond is there. But they are not able to speak about 007`s mission in public, so there begins to grow a dullness and a growing sense of boredom in their conversation. Neither one is particulary interested in talking with the other one, until the Governor relates an old tale of a man he once knew, and how his wife had treated him miserably.

This isn`t an incredilby long story. Only about 25 to 30 pages. But it is an engrossing one. I kept wondering exactly what the catch, or point of the story was going to be. It`s actually anti-climactic for Bond in a way, because he realizes that the tale of marital abuse he`s just been told was far more fascinating than his life of fighting injustice. Fleming ends the story like this:

“He (Bond) reflected on the conference he would be having in the morning with the Coast Guard and the FBI in Miami. The prospect, which had previously interested , even excited him, was now edged with boredom and futility.”

Risico

The Hero: James Bond; The Villain: Kristatos; The Bond Girl: Lisl Baum; Supporting Characters: “M”, Columbo; Locations Covered: Italy, Albania

Risico starts off with Bond on the trail of heroin being smuggled into England. His investigation has taken him to Italy, and put him square into the lap of an informant called Kristatos. Viewers of the 007 movie “For Your Eyes Only” will be able to guess just about everything that happens in this story, because the movie adaption was surprisingly faithful to the story. Read no further if you haven`t yet seen the film.

Bond eventually gets embroiled in a vendetta between old enemies, one of whom is trying to frame the other for crimes he did not commit. Getting a British agent to do his dirty work would just be the icing on the cake. Risico is a nice litte short story, with twists, turns(provided you haven`t seen “For Your Eyes Only”), and some suspense. But there`s not a lot of real character development, nor strong dialogue to be taken from the story.

The Hildebrand Rarity

The Hero: James Bond; The Bond Girl: Liz Krest; The Villain: Milton Krest; Supporting Character(s): Fidele Barbery; Location Covered: Seychelle Islands

The Hildebrand Rarity ranks as one of Ian Fleming`s best works. It`s another tale of domestic abuse and less a true espionage adventure, with 007 being caught in the middle of taking action and staying silent towards the beatings of a long suffering wife named Liz Krest, at the hands of her husband, Milton Krest.

While on a vacation of sorts in The Seychelle Islands, 007 finds himself caught up on a 5 day expedition on board The Wavekrest to find a rarely seen type of fish. A pink and black deadly spined fish called the Hildebrand Rarity, named after the only man who has ever seen one, and because of the rareness of the fish.

Milton Krest is an offensive lout of a man. Rude, arrogant, and obnoxious…he believes anything and everyone comes with a price. He has an opinion, and isn`t afraid to inflict it upon anyone.

“You English make the best butlers and valets in the world. Civil servant you say? I reckon we`re likely to get along fine. Civil servants are just what I like to have around me.”

Milton Krest likes to call his much younger 5th wife “treasure”, though he hardly treats her as such. When she enters the cabin where Krest has introduced himself to Bond and Fidele with little on but a string bikini, Milton wastes no time in laying all the cards out on the table.

“Fellers, this is Mrs. Krest. The fifth Mrs.Krest. And just in case anybody should get any ideas, she loves Mr. Krest. Don`t you, treasure?”

Milton likes to dominate the conversation at all times. Offending people is one way of keeping them off balance, and making sure they have little to say. Milt`s mistaken Bond`s English civility for weakness, and pushes him just a little too far.

“Well, Jim, what say you practice a bit of that civility and servitude on Mrs. Krest. Call her Liz, by the way. Help her fix the canapes and so on for drinks before lunch. She was once a Limey too. You can both swap yarns about Piccadilly Circus and the Dooks you both know. Okay? Move, Fido.”

Liz has had the unfortunate task of apologizing for Milton`s rude behaviour all of her marriage to him. And this time is no different. As soon as she and Bond are alone, she quickly makes amends for Milton.

“Please don`t mind his jokes. It`s just his sense of humor. And he`s a bit contrary. He likes to see if he can rile people. It`s very naughty of him. But it`s really all in fun.”

Bond can tell from Liz`s behavior, body language and tone of voice, that she`s a bit tired of it all, and possibly a little fearful of Krest. Why? Bond finds out later. Krest doesn`t merely insult Bond`s nationality. He insult`s his own wife as well.

“Well, feller. Taking it easy? What have you done with that woman I live with? Left her to do all the work, I guess. Well, and why not? That`s what they`re for, ain`t it?”

Little things tick Krest off. At one point Bond refers to the Wavekrest as “she”, which is common maritime practice. Krest vehemently objects to naming a “hunk of steel and wood a female”.

Bond continues taking a tour of the ship with Milton, when they enter into Milton`s stateroom.

“Bond was looking at something that hung down almost out of sight by the bedside table on what was obviously Mr. Krest`s side of the huge double bed. It was a thin whip about three feet long with a leather thronged handle. It was the tail of the sting ray. He ran a finger down it`s spiny gristle. It hurt his finger even to do that. He said “Where did you pick that up? I was hunting one of these animals this morning.”

“Bahrein. The Arabs use them on their wives.” Mr Krest chuckled easily. “Haven`t had to use more than one stroke at a time on Liz so far. Wonderful results. We call it my `Corrector`.

Bond put the thing back. He looked hard at Mr. Krest and said, “Is that so?”

Later on, over lunch, Krest begins explaining to Bond and Fidele how he was able to write off this multi- million dollar ship as a tax deduction and charge it to the Smithsonian Institute. Liz lets slip a little bit of extra information that she probably should`nt have and Krest goes berserk.

“Treasure, just supposin you keep that flippin` trap shut about my personal affairs. Yes? You know what you just done, treas? You just earned yourself a little meeting with the Corrector this evening. That`s what you`ve gone and done.”

The girl`s hand flew to her mouth. Her eyes were wide. She said in a whisper, “Oh no, Milt. On no, please.”

Bond obviously knew what this date with the Corrector would entail. Later that evening, in his own private thoughts, he debated whether to step in and try and put a stop to Krest`s abuse toward Liz.

Did`nt she realize that a jury would acquit her if the sting ray whip was produced in court? Should Bond tell her that? Don`t be ridiculous! How would he put it? “Oh, Liz, if you want to murder your husband, it`ll be quite all right”. Bond smiled inside his mask. Don`t interfere with other people`s lives. She probably likes it-masochist. But Bond knew that that was too easy an answer. This was a girl who lived in fear.

The days pass on, the rare fish is caught and instead of really truly celebrating, Krest continues to bear down on his guests with rudeness and insults. Now he`s directed his obnoxious behavior toward Fidele Barbery, a local of the Seychelle Islands.

“These islands of yours Fido. When I first looked them up on the map I thought it was just some specks of fly dirt on the page. Even tried to brush them off with the back of my hand. Not much good for anything , are they, Fido? I wonder why an intelligent guy like you doesn`t get out of there? Beachcombing ain`t any kind of life. Though I did hear one of your family had logged over a hundred illegitimate children. Mebbe that`s the attraction, eh, feller?” Mr Krest grinned knowingly.

At this point, Bond has had enough of Krest`s rudeness. He gets up and leaves for the fresh air of the open deck. Liz follows, and Krest accuses Liz of “necking with the underwater help” and takes her downstairs to be punished. It`s now late, and everyone has gone to bed, except Krest, who has gone up on deck to sleep in his hammock. Bond`s sleep is disturbed by a choking and gurgling sound and rushes over to the hammock where Krest had been lying. Krest is dead. Murdered. Someone shoved the spined fish into Krest`s mouth. The fins became erect, tipped with poison, and pierced through Krest`s cheeks and throat, killing him in about 60 seconds.

Bond realizes that this constitutes murder, but in a bizarre twist, Bond throws Krest`s body over the side and into the ocean , thus making himself an accompolice after the fact. The next morning, Bond watches both Liz and Fidele to see any signs of who might`ve killed Krest. By the end of the story, Fleming allows you to more or less pick who you feel killed Milton. There is no definitive answer, though motive would imply Liz.

This has always been one of my favorite stories. The villian`s evil is palpable. Bond is like most people-caught between doing nothing and sticking his nose into the private affair of two people. Liz Krest is a modern day Nicole Brown Simpson, wanting the trappings of a `fairly tale life` but too afraid to leave her abusive husband. The Hildrebrand Rarity doesn`t break new ground as far as espionage thrillers go. But in peeling back the layers of Bond`s psyche, it can`t be beat.

For Your Eyes Also: John Glen’s Autobiography

I thoroughly enjoyed John Glen’s new autobiography. Glen jumps into the action as fast any Bond thriller on the big screen. His work on eight of the EON Bond flicks takes up the bulk of this fascinating new book.

Within the first few paragraphs the reader is plunged onto the icy mountains of Baffin Island where Glen is preparing second unit duties on his second Bond, 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me. The incredible teaser stunt, which most Bond fans are familiar with and which is by many considered the best Bond stunt ever, is explored in depth. Bedding down in the icy cold, John Glen writes of Willy Bogner’s legitimate fear at the deadly stunt but bravery in going when needed in one thrilling take from thousands of feet above icy rocks. I learned plenty here, including Glen’s being at risk of freezing himself into a popsicle on location, more than once! You may never view the opener of TSWLM the same way again.

Things were different in the movie industry in recent years, especially in the area of safety for principal personnel, and Glen explains how he risked physical danger or death quite a number of times on his Bonds, between the late 1960’s and late ‘80s. Even Roger Moore assured his safety on one Octopussy shoot working under a moving train by insisting that Glen accompany him on the tracks beneath the moving behemoth-his way of ensuring Glen himself felt the stunt was truly a safe one!

The chapter describing second unit work for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is impressive and a treat for OHMSS fans overall, including yet one more perspective on how George Lazenby must have felt trying to fill Scotland’s largest shoes. Glen apparently was as much a hero of the film as lead director Peter Hunt, and his was much of the creative genius behind the bobsled fight and ski sequences. DVD fans may seem some of the same extra material covered again in Glen’s book, especially the information on License To Kill, but For My Eyes Only is overall a gritty triumph about a hardworking man who waited 30 years to break into lead directing with For Your Eyes Only.

A sad footnote is that Glen’s LTK tested higher than any previous Bond film with test audiences, but was demolished between Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade and Batman, to name just two 1989 summer blockbusters. Underscored throughout the book is the essential nature of the director to any Bond film, from Terence Young and Dr. No to Michael Apted and The World Is Not Enough, the director gets huge leeway regarding casting, script development, exotic locations and stunt choices, to name a few.

Glen’s view from the top explores in some detail how Cubby and Barbara Broccoli, Michael Wilson and the screenwriters thought, plotted and risked hunches and millions on the casting and scripting of the greatest film series in history. Lacking is any moving in-depth background on Glen himself, however. Two marriages are treated almost as footnotes in the book. Glen eventually brought his wife on location with him, but apparently spent nearly five decades “late at the office”.

The book and jacket design lean heavily on the James Bond image and EON 007 logo. I found it bizarre that the designer did not clean up the famous image cropped in close up of George Lazenby in front of “Big Ben,” for example, but left “overhangs” atop of the heads of both Lazenby and Dalton on the front cover. My copy also had ink dropped out on certain pages, lightening some of the photo captions almost beyond recognition. The jacket and book design are still pleasing to the eye, however. This book was certainly aimed at the interested 007 fan. Many pleasant stills are included of action, cast and crew. Some never-before seen photos are included among them. Further insights are also given into Cubby Broccoli’s generosity and a humorous foreword is included by Roger Moore, CBE.

–For My Eyes Only is published in hardback and is available now from various sources including Dave Worral’s Collectors’ Club.

For Special Services

The Hero: James Bond; The Bond Girl: Cedar Leiter; The Villain: Marcus Bismaquer; Supporting Characters: Nina Bismaquer, Mike Hazzard, Luxor; Locations Covered: London, New York, Texas (Amarillo), Colorado (NORAD), Washington D.C.; First Published: 1982

For Special Services is John Gardner`s second Bond effort, and only slightly better than his first one, License Renewed.

It starts off with 007 being sent to investigate possible leads into the re-emergence of SPECTRE. A foiled hijacking provides clues that lead Bond to suspect that SPECTRE is alive,well, and ready to rear it`s ugly, vicious head on the world political scene.

007 is joined by his American counterpart, Cedar Leiter, Felix Leiter`s voluptous daughter, and newly recruited CIA operative. Together, they pose as art afficianodoes to sniff out MI6`s chief suspect in the hijacking, Markus Bismaquer.

Many clues lead to Markus Bismaquer as possibly being the new head of SPECTRE, so Bond and Cedar head to New York to act as bait and see whether Markus goes for it. And he does. Bond and Leiter are barely in New York five minutes before they get into a fist/knife fight with some goons sent by Markus. Later, in Washington D.C., Bond and Cedar are trapped in a crashing, careening elevator.

The rest of the story is simple, formulaic, and sometimes boring. There`s the requisite girls that throw themselves at Bond(including Felix`s daughter) and the huge, spacial headquarters/mansino of the main villian. Gardner even throws in a completely pointless action sequence involving a race track derby.

Gardner does throw in a few twists though. Nena, Markus`s wife, only has one breast. Bond, apparently so desperate for sex, and weary of having to turn down Cedar`s propositions, goes for it. Nena has needs herself, since her husband is her husband in name only (he`s got the hots for 007- you figure the rest).

The rest of the story is fairly rote. There seems to be little investigating done by 007 in this novel. It`s mostly a collection of fight scenes and it is indeed action packed. But i`d rather see a novel that takes it`s time to develop it`s characters, flesh out it`s plot, and give us rich detail about the locations. For Special Services, is…well, nothing special.

AFTERWORD

In 1941 Ian Fleming accompanied Admiral Godfrey to the United States for the purpose of establishing relations with the American Secret Service organizations. In New York Fleming met Sir William Stephenson, “the quiet Canadian”, who became a lifelong friend. Stephenson allowed Fleming to take part in a clandestine operation against a Japanese cipher expert who had an office in Rockefeller Center. Fleming later embellished this story and used it in his first James Bond novel, Casino Royale (1953).

Stephenson also introduced Fleming to General William Donovan, who had just been appointed coordinator of information, a post which eventually evolved into the chairmanship of the Office Of Strategic Services and then of the Central Intelligence Agency. At Donovan`s request Fleming wrote a lengthy memorandum describing the structure and functions of a secret service organization. This memorandum later became part of the charter of the OSS and, thus, of the CIA. In appreciation, Donovan presented Fleming with a .38 Police Positive Colt revolver inscribed “For Special Services”.–Joan DelFattore, University of Delaware.

Dr. No

The Hero: James Bond; The Bond Girl: Honey Ryder; The Villain: Dr. Julius No; Supporting Characters: Quarrel, Mary Trueblood; John Strangways; First Published: 1957

After the shocking end of From Russia With Love, Doctor No starts off with Commander John Strangways at the Queens Club in Kingston, Jamaica. He leaves every night at 6:00 p.m. to receive a call from London. While on his way out of the Queen’s Club, he is killed by three Chinese/ Jamaicans.(Fleming, writing in the fifties, was able to use his language,which is amazingly inappropriate today.) The killers go to the Secret Service HQ and kill Trueblood as London begins primary transmissions.

M doesn’t know what to do. CIA has already had someone down there, and nothing has been found. He finds out about Bond’s health and decides that he is the best candidate for the job of locating Strangways and his Secretary. But first, Bond must change weapons from his Beretta .25 to a Walther PPK. He resents that M figures that he must change weapons because 007 was almost killed at the hands of Rosa Klebb.

Bond is sent out and immediately enlists the help of Quarrel, an old pal from Live And Let Die. He soon finds out that his adversary in this case is more dangerous than he thinks. He receives a basket of fruit from “Government House”. Bond searches the fruit with a jeweler’s eye-piece, and finds that there are tiny pin pricks in crevices. Bond immediately sends it away, to find that it is poisoned with enough cyanide to kill a horse. He next finds that a six inch long centipede is in his bed.

Doctor No is well connected with Secretaries at Government House, and many other agents in the city, as well as a photographer with the Gleaner newspaper, named Miss Taro. The only problem is that Dr. No lives on his own small island, called Crab Key. The island is one of the world’s biggest guano producers in the world. He shares the island with a Bird Sanctuary organization.

The Bird organization wants Dr. No to stop selling the guano and let his island be taken over by tourists who want to see the birds. Doctor No will not have any of that and he kills two high ranking members in a plane crash. He also kills the birds with a marsh hopper and buys the island outright. 007 decides the only way to show Dr. No that he will not be taken lightly, Bond and Quarrel sneak aboard the island.

The following is the most exciting and interesting part of Doctor No. Bond and Honey Rider, the main Bond girl, who he found on Dr. No’s beach. Bond is fascinated with Dr.No’s magnificent aquarium, which costs $1 million. Following that, and dinner, Dr. No tells Bond and Honey Rider, his life story. Doctor No’s story is extremely detailed and realistic. But, all of the villain’s fatal flaws is telling Bond that he is going to shoot down U.S. space launches.

After Dr. No’s story, he decides that Bond should be put to the test. A test to see how long it would take for him to die. A well written gauntlet of terror for Bond and the reader, expecting Bond to perish at any moment. He doesn’t and kills Dr. No with dumping a pile of guano on to his head! The rest is pretty lame after the coup de grace of Doctor No.