Tag Archives: ian fleming

007 debut gets Gaelic translation

One of Britain’s best-loved spy stories has been translated into Manx.

Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale – which introduced the world to James Bond – is now available in Gaelg paperback.

Culture Vannin was given a ‘licence to print’ the 1953 book by the deceased author’s estate, and translation was lovingly undertaken by Bob Carswell.

The book is available at Culture Vannin’s headquarters in St John’s.

It’s one of a number of modern works spun in Manx – as Culture Vannin’s Language Development Officer Adran Cain explains: ‘Manx literature goes back a very long way, certainly in translation form – the Bible in the eighteenth century, which was a great achievement culturally, I think. It’s about changing people’s perceptions – stuff like The Gruffalo, Casino Royale, Murder on the Orient Express – that’s slightly more sexy stuff than a lot of Manx iiterature in the past, which has been religious. It’s good to have that sort of context – it changes perceptions.’

**

Ta’n ennym orrym Bond…

Nane jeh skeealyn-speeikear smoo ennoil y Vretyn Vooar, t’eh er ny hyndaa gys Gaelg.

‘Casino Royale’ Ian Fleming – hug James Bond da’n teihll – t’eh ry-gheddyn nish ayns coodagh-pabyrey Gaelg.

Va kied er ny chur da Culture Vannin y lioar veih nuy cheead jeig, tree-jeig as daeed y chlou. Ghow Bob Carswell ayns laue dy chur y lioar gys Gaelg dy graihagh.

Ta’n lioar ry-gheddyn ec ard-offish Chulture Vannin ayns Balley Keeill Eoin.

She fer ass paart dy lioaryn jeianagh ayns Gaelg t’ayn – myr ta Adrian Cain, Offishear-Lhiasee Chulture Vannin, sollshaghey magh: ‘Ta lettyraght Ghaelgagh goll er-ash ayns traa feer foddey, son shickyrys stoo bentyn da Baarle çhyndait gys Gaelg – y Vible sy hoghtoo eash jeig, va ny chooilleeney yindyssagh dy cultooroil, er lhiam. T’eh bentyn da caghlaa eieiyn sleih – stoo gollrish Yn Gruffalo, Casino Royale, Dunverys ayns Express y Niar – shen beggan ny smoo seksee na ram lettyraght Ghaelgagh ymmodee blein er dy henney, va dy bollagh crauee. S’mie yn red eh dy vel y sorçh shen dy chonteks ayn, t’eh caghlaa eieyn.’

Fleming’s Real Life Spy’s Passport

BOND CREATOR FLEMING`S SPY PASSPORT NETS $25,000
LONDON (Reuters) – A passport that James Bond creator Ian Fleming used in a real-life wartime spy mission fetched $24,850 at auction Thursday, more than five times the estimate, Sotheby`s said.

Fleming used the passport during a secret World War II operation, code named “Goldeneye,“ to ensure that communications between London and Gibraltar would remain open if Spain had taken Germany`s side. Fleming`s role was to set up the “Goldeneye“ office in the British colony at the mouth of the Mediterranean Sea and persuade the United States to collaborate in the mission.

The passport — stamped “Valid for a journey to Gibraltar and return“ on Feb. 16, 1941– had been expected to fetch between $3,000-$4,800, Sotheby`s said. Fleming, whose novels about the suave, fictitious secret agent inspired the blockbuster film series, named his house in Jamaica “Goldeneye“ — also the title of a 1995 Bond screen adventure starring Pierce Brosnan as agent 007.

The Property of a Gentleman

A first edition copy of Casino Royale has been auctioned off for 11,400 Pounds; a staggering amount believed to be a record for an Ian Fleming book.

Christiaan Jonkers, of the Henley-on-Thames firm, told The Times: “We specialise in Fleming first editions and we think this is a record for an auction. It really is in immaculate condition.”

Bidding for the 1953 spy thriller was fiercer than a Faberge egg at Sothebys. Only 4,700 first edition copies had been printed. An estimated 5,000 pounds was placed on the novel by the auctioneers Dominic Winter, of Swindon, Wiltshire. But the antiquarian book dealers Bromlea and Jonkers, fending off 12 rival bidders, were happy to more than double that.

Bondiana With Mysterious Books

The Mysterious Bookshop, located in Manhattan, is one of the world’s original mystery specialty stores. The bookshop, which specializes in James Bond collectibles, is owned by Otto Penzler, author of the popular monograph, Collecting Ian Fleming’s James Bond. Among their long line of publishing the best of mystery and espionage works, Penzler’s Mysterious Books published the three limited editions of License To Kill most sought-after by collectors, two of which are fetching $1,000 today. (LTK was also publishewd in hardback by a British Book Club–editor.)

Mysterious Search is the search service for The Mysterious Bookshop, and it is located in Atlanta. The search service is staffed by fulltime professionals, who have invested years in developing a network to allow them to locate rare items for dedicated collectors.

The search is conducted at no charge to collectors. When a request is submitted, the item is meticulously researched. Once the item has been found, the searcher re-contacts the customer with a description and price. The collector can, at that time, make a decision on whether or not to buy the desired title. The search service then purchases the book or item for the collector, receives it and checks its condition, professionally re-packs it and ships by Priority Mail or UPS to the customer. The purchaser’s credit card is charged at that time.

Betty Breckenridge is the James Bond specialist and a member of the search service for the bookshop. The advantage the search service offers is that you, the collector, are not limited to what the store has in stock at any given time. If they don’t have a title you want, Bettycan look far and wide for it, on your behalf. Betty performs this service at no charge to you.

Here is a typcial Mysterious book listing. There prices are in the mid-range of what is being offered by dealers worldwide. If you want detail on descriptions, or you’d like Betty to search for items in greater or lesser condition, you only need to ask:

Betty Breckenridge
The Mysterious Bookshop, NY
mysteriouspa@mindspring.com
877.30.BOOKS, toll-free
404.321.9849, fax

You Only Live Twice

The Hero: James Bond; The Bond Girl: Kissy Suzuki; The Villain: Dr. Guntram Shatterhand; Supporting Characters: Emmy Shatterhand, Dikko Henderson, Tiger Tanaka; Locations Covered: Japan; First Published: 1964

The most haunting James Bond novel ever written. It is also one of the most disturbing novels in the series and it is a must read for anyone who wants to know what the emotional center of James Bond is like. Be warned now, if you have not read On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, do not proceed any further, because this review contains plot spoilers for both novels.

This is a psychological 007 novel where Bond has become a minor character, and the new main character has become revenge. Revenge for Tracy. His venengece is to be extracted on the man who killed his wife, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, as well as his hellish henchmen named Irma Bunt. His problems have slowly become the problems of the Service as 007 is now a security risk.

M has only one choice in his mind. Fire him! He is then pursuaded by a close friend to give 007 a final chance on what he considers an impossible plan. Sending him to Japan for “Magic 44”. “Magic 44” is a code word use between the Japanese Secret Service, (JSS) and MI6. Magic 44 are secrets that are relayed from the JSS to the CIA, which in turn is supposed to give it up to MI6. In the novel, MI6 has not recieved any of the information about to be passed along. Only the Americans have it. Bond`s mission is to cut out the American middle man and get a direct link from JSS to MI6.

Bond isn’t impressed with M’s plan, but reluctently heads off to Japan. Bond has been paired with two of Japan’s best agents, the Head of the Japanese Secret Service, named Tiger Tanaka and an Austrailian agent named Dikko Henderson, who seems to be half drunk from the first moment we meet him. Dikko Henderson and Tiger Tanaka are superb additions to You Only Live Twice as 007’s only friends.

Sadly, neither have been heard from since in any of the most recent 007 novels, but both are well written and created with Fleming’s flair and style. Both are very impressive characters, and are deeply written.

Dr. Guntram Shatterhand and Emmy Shatterhand are the villians. If you check chronology, you can guess rather easily who these villains are. Fleming was splendid with his portraits of both of these hellish characters.

Shatterhand is a botanist who, with his wife, has come to Japan near the first of the year, 1963 (right after Tracy’s death). Dr. Shatterhand has asked that he be able to bring one million British pounds into the country, in exchange for property where he will be able to build a lavish garden, filled with fatal plants and killer animals, such as piranhas. . The plants and animals that Shatterhand has placed in the garden are expertly described, and add a good touch of detail to the character

As soon as word gets around, people begin to flock to the “Castle Of Death” that Dr. Guntram Shatterhand has created. He sets up a bright red balloon, that entices people to kill themselves in Shatterhand’s garden. He has built it for that sole purpose of. A modern day Jack Kevorkian, he has built the Castle because suicide is highly respected in Japan. He later explains that if Bond dies, he will move out of Japan and head to South America to build another Castle of Death. His single motive is to see people die! He has a morbid fascination with the death of people, including 007.

“Every where, Mr. Bond, people want to kill themselves. Japan, South America, Africa. When I kill you, I will destroy the Castle and move on.”

Shatterhand employs a group of men to care for the Castle and Garden. They are protected almost as well as Shatterhand himself, with knee high boots, surgical face masks, and protective clothing.

Tiger Tananka and the rest of the Japanese Government become suspicious of Shatterhand’s intentions, so he selects a great agent of his to venture into the Garden. The Agent dies weeks later, muttering something about pink dragonflies.

Bond is ordered to kill them by Tiger Tanaka, in exchange for the Magic 44. Well, Bond gets himself captured while trying to kill Shatterhand.

Shatterhand then tortures Bond and then plans to cut off his head with a sword. Good plan, great idea, but horribly done for the villian. He talks forever and screws up and finally Bond is able to kill him, and severly injures Emmy Shatterhand.

Also in the mix is a change of race for 007. He becomes Japanese. He has his skin dyed and haircut changed. He takes up residence with Kissy Suzuki because Tiger knows her and has convinced her to take him in. Bond has an affair with her, and eventually they produce a child together. Throw in the fact that Bond also develops amnesia and you can see why this is one of the most action packed and best received Bond thrillers by Ian Fleming.

The Spy Who Loved Me

The Hero: James Bond; The Bond Girl: Vivienne Michel; The Villain: Sluggsy; Locations Covered: Toronto, Adirondacks; First Published: 1962

PLOT: Destroy a motel for insurance and take out Viviene Michel in the process. Novel presented from Michel`s point of view.

REVIEW: This is Fleming`s most experimental Bond novel. The novel`s heroine, Vivienne Michel, narrates the novel in the first person and the first 36% is about her childhood, her background, her first sexual experiences, two unhappy love affairs and an abortion. The villains only appear 46% of the way through the story, and Bond at the 61% mark. However, it`s arguably one of Fleming`s best novels and a fast and exciting read: it`s much better paced than most of his other works.

Fleming`s characters tended to be cardboard cutouts, but not here; the characters are almost all three-dimensional. Chapters 8 through 10 are possibly Fleming`s best sustained, most exciting bits of writing; there are so many great moments – the whole section is brilliantly thought-out. Bond`s entrance is one of these great moments; it`s an exhilarating audience-pleaser that also emphasizes the book`s fairy-tale aspects.

Fleming sets it up well. Chapter 9 ends on a high point with Vivienne pinned down. Deciding where to begin a chapter matters; not only does ending in mid-beat make a difference but moving to a new part enhances it. The reader knows that a new beginning is around the corner, which makes it even more exciting; also, the title “Him” suggests intrigue and mystery.

So too is Horror and Sluggsy`s arrival: compare the contrasts. The two gangsters are caught in the middle of the rain and Horror politely asks to come in. He plays on her sympathy; they`re soft, quiet, though Sluggsy giggles. They take their rain jackets off and Vivienne knows she`s in danger. The elegance of Horror`s clothes, not at all an expendable detail, adds to the tension and characterization. Horror and Sluggsy are great villains. They`re living, breathing people. Horror is as subdued as Sluggsy is hyper. There are many subtle, but crucial touches and Fleming deftly mixes the quiet with the sinister. Notice Horror`s indifference, how blase he is. Horror isn`t interested in Sluggsy`s sexual interests, telling him to lay off. Think how less effective it would have been had both men been sexually interested in Vivienne.

Bond is much better drawn here than in any of Fleming`s other novels. He`s more elegant, more fastidious, and even has a sense of humour. It`s easily Fleming`s strongest portrayal of Bond, and oddly, more like the Bond in the films: “He turned to the Englishman. “Hey, limey. What`s your name?”

“Bond. James Bond.”

“That`s a pretty chump name. From England, huh?”

“That`s right. Where`s the registry? I`ll spell it out for you.”

“Wise guy, huh?””

He`s also much smarter, perhaps because Fleming wasn`t burdened trying to reveal Bond`s thoughts – which arguably weakened Bond into a cardboard dummy – instead portraying him objectively (compare how badly drawn and dopey Bond is in the next novel, the extremely flawed “On Her Majesty`s Secret Service”).

He`s also more human. Count how many times he smiles – at least 16 times in Chapters 10, 11 and 12 – approximately once every other page, and these aren`t “smiles” for the sake of it, like some annoying Gardner tic, but are dramatically relevant and they shade his character, such as when he`s reassuring Vivienne. Some of the writing is brilliant – I`d forgotten just how vibrant Fleming`s writing could be. In Chapter 12, Vivienne notices the red fleck in Horror`s eyes that she had seen once before – Fleming is clever and doesn`t say where (in Chapter 9, when Horror beat her).

Horror tries to be friendly about breaking it up for the night. Bond asks about the motel`s viability; Horror is on the defensive wanting to know where`s that pal of mine, trying to put the attention elsewhere. Consider this passage from Chapter 15: “Those were the last words he spoke to me. When I woke up the next morning he was gone. There was only the dent down the bed where he had lain, and the smell of him on the pillow. To make sure, I jumped out of bed and ran to see if the grey car was still there. It wasn`t. It was a beautiful day and there was heavy dew on the ground, and in the dew I could see the single track of his footprints leading to where the car had been. […]

The ruins of the motel were black and hideous and a ghostly wisp of smoke rose straight up into the still air from the remains of the lobby block. I went back into the cabin and had a shower and began briskly to pack my things into my saddle-bags. Then I saw the letter on the dressing table and I went and sat on the bed and read it. It was written on motel paper from the writing desk. The writing was very clear and even and he had used a real pen and not a ball point.”

This is an excellent detail, and not detail for the sake of detail (which Fleming was sometimes guilty of). The following passage later in the chapter is breathtaking: “I watched the wreck of the black sedan, that had by now been hauled up the cliff, being towed over the lawn to the road. There the ambulance was driven over beside it, and I turned away as a wet bundle was carefully lifted out on to the grass. Horror! I remembered again those cold, red-flecked eyes. I felt his hands on me. Could it have happened?”

It`s brilliant. It has the same hypnotic quality that slow motion sometimes does in movies, and the paragraph is cinematic. (Fleming also accurately captures how a person might act under the circumstances.) Fleming is often psychologically skilful: Vivienne doesn`t want to get too close to Kurt (because she`s still wounded from Derek? Because it doesn`t pay to sleep with your boss?) so she invents friends, but this means sitting in some lonely cinema after a lonely meal with all the nuisance of men trying to pick her up. But Kurt remains so *korrekt* and their relationship on such a straightforward and even highminded level that her apprehensions come to seem idiotic and more and more she accepts a comradely way of life that seems not only totally respectable but also adult in the modern fashion. (In Chapter 8, Vivienne eats alone out of tins, creating an untenable situation). Her reasons for becoming involved with Kurt (Chapter 5) are well thought out.

Involved with Kurt, Vivienne realizes that, for women, where there exists intimacy, attachment then follows. She considers it inevitable that they become lovers after growing so close. She listens for the sound of his steps on the stairs, worships the warmth and authority of his body, and is happy at all times to cook and mend and work for him, and envisions herself six paces behind him on the street like some native bearer.

The Phanceys are cold to her until they hatch their plan. They`re nice until the last day when Mr Phancey grabs at her and uses coarse language even when his wife is within earshot; this reflects on Mrs Phancey as it raises interesting questions about her, her feelings towards sex – it`s not surprising that they`re childless. The entire sequence is excellent psychology since people do act this way in real life, though it`s marred by Fleming`s “gee-whiz” writing style. After Sluggsy finds her in the woods, Vivienne reflects how minor her past troubles really were. Later, Horror`s beating relaxes her; the pain being so much greater than the tension of waiting for it, unravels her nerves and puts her at ease and she also realizes how much the simple pleasures of life mean at such times. In Chapter 9, Sluggsy reprimands her like he`s the stern parent, and she`s the bad child. Later in the chapter Sluggsy lectures her, shaming her about his hair condition and how it also kills the hairs inside his nose.

Now that Bond`s with her, she becomes bolder with Sluggsy and Horror (when deciding which cabin Bond will have) – she`s no longer the centre of attraction and finds safety in numbers. Bond prepares her for the worst and gives her his code number; she rationalizes why he invoked bad luck – it`s excellent neurotic psychology. Moreover, her former life and its troubles seem almost years away – the here and now is all there is and all that matters (which is excellent when considering how long ago and far away her past troubles are – the here and now is all there is).

There are also so many wonderful human moments and sensitive details. In Chapter 4, Len Holbrook tells Vivienne that above all she must write about people, something Fleming does. Wallace Stevens wrote in his preface to William Carlos Williams`s “Collected Poems 1921-1931” (1934) that “Something of the unreal is necessary to fecundate the real.” The reverse is also true – and was crucial to Fleming`s success. Umberto Eco once wondered aloud why Fleming spent so many pages on realism in the novels. It wasn`t, as Kingsley Amis also agreed, to give the reader a break from fantasy; the reader gets that by putting the book down. It was to give the fantasy a basis in reality and make it resonate. As the critic Martin Seymour-Smith once remarked, no writer who cannot convey a sense of the real can be major. In Chapter 14, after sex, Bond tells Vivienne that she screamed when she climaxed – she hadn`t known; it`s an excellent detail. Fleming could be a sensationalist, but not here.

His handling is sensitive and realistic. Later, Vivienne thinks, “I suddenly had an impulse to wake him up and ask him: “Can you be nice? Can you be kind?” Vivienne watches Bond naked and contemplates that people should be nudists. Until they`re forty. Then asks him never to get fat. Later, she asks him “what`s a bimbo?” It might have been bad – in John Gardner`s hands it probably would have – but here it isn`t. The details, the sensitivity (“Now, that`s enough questions. Go to sleep.”) make it work.

At the end of Chapter 13, Bond and Vivienne gradually come to a consensus about sleeping together. It`s good (though not great) writing because it`s so simple – they don`t discuss the problem, instead, the conversation gradually works around it. Bond`s letter (Chapter 15) has so many wonderful touches; his occasional formality (since others will see the letter) makes it even more affectionate: leaving a c/o address, the sense of camaraderie, the PS. about her trye pressures being too high for the South. Try Guerlain`s “Fleurs des Alpes” instead of Camay! His making sure that Vivienne gets treated like a princess: “The lieutenant took off his cap and produced a notebook and pencil and pretended to go through his notes to give me a chance to get started on a doughnut. […]

“But what`s worrying me is that radio just hasn`t left me alone since then. Had to cut down my speed the whole way here from Route 9 to keep on listening to instructions from the station – that Albany was interested in the case, that even the top brass in Washington was breathing down our necks. Never head such a load coming over the air. Now, miss, can you tell me how it`s come about that Washington`s mixed up in this, and within a bare couple of hours of Glens Falls getting the first report?”

I couldn`t help smiling at his earnestness. I could almost hear him calling over to O`Donnell as they roared along, “Hell, we`ll have Jack Kennedy on our tails any moment now!” […] “But that`s more or less all I know abut him, except that – except that he seemed a wonderful guy.”

“So he was a commander. It was the only rank I liked the name of.”

The fairy tale story Bond tells Vivienne makes the novel even more cohesive; Bond asking that Vivienne promise to forget his involvement is a wonderful human moment and makes Bond a three-dimensional person. There are other wonderful details: Bond and Vivienne agreeing about the idiocy of espionage (though he doesn`t want her to spread her ideas too widely or he`ll find himself out of a job, which is phrased so exactly that Bond sounds sympathetic, he doesn`t mean it seriously, but he wants to draw her in); Bond asking if he`s boring her, wouldn`t she wouldn`t rather switch on the tv, he smiles, oh no, go on – this is clever writing and shows that she`s interested. The bedtime story ends on a special note: it`s clear that the odds were monumentally stacked against Bond ever appearing at the motel, which makes the reader contemplate what would have happened if Bond hadn`t: “good that I came something told me you were at the end of the road.” The way Bond discusses Horror and Sluggsy: “how did you get mixed up with those two?” is soft, sympathetic and human; like a warm man, reassuring her. Unfortunately the “bedtime” story slows the book down and the novel never achieves the same high peak of tension. The pace deteriorates in the last third, and there`s some soggy writing in these sections, (e.g. Stonor`s speech in Chapter 15). Bond`s inability to kill in cold blood was always a soggy concept in Fleming, but here it weakens the story; it`s not clear why Bond doesn`t kill Horror and Sluggsy first chance he gets – especially since the story slows down – instead of waiting until later that night. Why don`t they kill Bond the first chance they get? Likewise, why do Sluggsy and Horror let Bond and Vivienne go out together to the car? Why were they prepared to give Bond a hand with the car, wouldn`t that have allowed Vivienne to escape, or did they intend to kill Bond then and there? Such logic loopholes weaken the novel.

However, the childish writing style mars the book and prevents it from being a minor literary classic. It`s like an out-of-tune piece of music, though so consistently out-of-tune so that the reader eventually adjusts. The breathless “girl`s-own-adventure” writing style makes Vivienne sound like a dingbat; in Chapter 2, she mentions that her hair is “a dark brown with a natural wave and my ambition is one day to give it a lion`s streak to make me look older and more dashing” which makes her sound stupid, vapid, like a 9 year old girl (though it`s conceivable that in real life she`d be this way). This sentence says it all about the book`s writing:

“WOKO announced forty minutes of `Music to Kiss By` and suddenly there were the Ink Spots singing `Someone`s Rockin` my Dream Boat` and I was back on the River Thames and it was five summers ago and we were drifting down past Kings Eyot in a punt and there was Windsor Castle in the distance and Derek was paddling while I worked the portable.”

(Chapter 2)

Six “and”s in a 64 word sentence; for those who care this has some of Fleming`s longest sentences, the passage in the same chapter where Vivienne tells about the “idiotic joint dance” runs 97 words.

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.

Alligator By I*n Fl*m*ng

By I*n Fl*m*ng (Michael K Frirth and Christopher Cerf)
First published: November 1962, Vanitas Books (US only)
Reprinted: January 1963 (US only)

Bibliographic notes and trivia bonus: Frirth and Cerf co-created the tv show “Sesame Street”. Frirth later co-created the children`s show “Fraggle Rock”. Cerf was also one of the judges on the much-maligned Random-House list of this century`s 100 best novels.

Hero: J*mes B*nd 007 (trade cover: World-Wide Import & Export Ltd)
Heroine: Anagram Le Galion
Villain: Lacertus Alligator (steel toothed; face purple from heart condition)
Villain`s Employer: TOOTH (ex-Nazis) and SMERSH
Villain`s Project: Steal British Parliament buildings, kidnap Queen for ransom
Minor villain(s):

-Mr Kynstondi, Mr Pazardzhik (both deaf mutes)
-unnamed gigantic mute Korean
-Heinrich (an alligator)
-Kapitan Hammerstein

Bond`s Friends:

-M (head of the British Secret Service)
-Llewylla (Bond`s housekeeper)
-Bill (Chief of Staff)
-Lilly Postlethwaite (Bond`s secretary)
-Miss Pennyfarthing
-Lord Dingletump (Glades Chairman)
-Felix Ronson (CIA Agent who lost an arm and a leg to a shark in Florida on a previous mission with Bond)
-Squabble (black native, i.e. Quarrel)

Highlights:

-Card game
-Anagram`s backstory (Chapter 13)
-Bond hears the chimes and sees Parliament
-Alligator`s backstory
-Bond disguised as PM, chase up Big Ben

Locations:

-London, England
-Glades (Club)
-Bermuda
-British Parliament Buildings

Summary: (Note: even though the villain`s name is Alligator, several alligators (reptiles) appear in the story. For example, Bond shoots a reptile in Chapter 13, not the villain. Also, there`s no point writing “B*nd” for “Bond” and “*” for “M”, though the chapter titles are kept intact.)

1: Table 14
Bond bored, contemplates his lethargy in a bar. Alligator and his entourage, including a blonde (Anagram Le Galion) and two deaf mute henchmen, enter. Bond also notices Alligator`s steel teeth [see quote]. One of the henchmen, on Alligator`s behalf, invites Bond to their table.

2: A Spray Of Violets
Alligator spray-paints Bond`s face purple; Alligator loves the colour. Bond and Alligator discuss drinks and Bond explains how his own drink is made, then christens it the “Anagram”. Alligator goes to the washroom. Anagram begs Bond to take her away, but once in her car, she has second thoughts and asks Bond to leave.

3: “Give Oop This Life O` Yourn”
Bond`s Welsh housekeeper Llewylla wakes a cursing Bond up. Bill, the Chief Of Staff, phones. Bond drives to work. Ms Pennyfarthing tells him every London bridge has collapsed.

4: Interview With *
M asks Bond about Alligator. Bond says he`s already met the man. M explains Alligator`s background, how Alligator became one of the world`s richest men, and that he cheats at cards.

5: The Man He Loved And Obeyed
M continues. Alligator cheats at the card game “Go Fish”. The Glades chairman didn`t want a scandal, so he asked M if any of his men could catch Alligator out. Bond prepares two decks of cards at home, picks M up and drives to Glades. Bond and M work out a signal: Bond will propose a toast when he`s cracked Alligator`s system. Once inside Glades, Bond becomes excited at the prospect of doing battle with Alligator.

6: “What`s Your Limit, Alligator?”
Glade chairman Lord Dingletump, whose face has been spray-painted purple, introduces Bond and M to Alligator. Alligator promptly spray-paints their faces purple too. Bond and Alligator agree on terms and sit down to play cards.

7: “J*mes, Go Fish”
Bond regrets the terms he`s just made with Alligator; if he loses 8 sets, it`ll cost him more than triple his annual income. Bond plays badly, Alligator keeps winning. Bond notices the two deaf mutes who stand behind him and realizes they`re using sign language to tell Alligator what cards he has. Bond throws his chair back, knocking one of the deaf mutes over.

8: “Gentlemen, The Queen”
Alligator is ready to collect his winnings, but Bond challenges Alligator to a rematch for double the stakes. M reluctantly says that he`s good for Bond`s losses when Alligator asks. Before the rematch begins, Bond toasts the Queen, throwing his glass into the fireplace. Alligator tosses his and knocks Dingletump on the head. Bond switches cards with his doctored pack when Alligator spray-paints Dingletump again. The remaining deaf-mute signals Bond`s cards to Alligator. However, before Alligator does anything, Bond toasts the Queen again, and while nobody looks, slips both doctored “7s” from his sleeve into his hand, replacing them with his “kings”. Alligator asks for Bond`s kings and is surprised when Bond doesn`t have any. Bond proceeds to demolish Alligator and win almost half a million pounds. Alligator writes out a cheque and says that if I were you I`d cash this quickly.

9: The Still Vexed Bermoothes
In M`s office the next day. Apparently a purple crocodile killed the head of Station B; M wants Bond to investigate. (M also thanks Bond for donating the “Go Fish” winnings to the White Cross which benefits families of service agents killed in duty.) Bond, rather annoyed that M has sent him on a routine investigation, flies to Bermuda, where he happens across Alligator and Anagram at the Coral Beach Club. (Bond is annoyed to find American currency in as much use as British.)

10: A View From The Terrace
Bond lunches with Alligator (who spray-paints Bond`s face) and Anagram (who decides that Bond reminds her of Hoagy Carmichael). Alligator leaves to use the washroom; Anagram begs Bond to come to her room tomorrow evening where she will explain everything.

11: T.O.O.T.H.
Bond gets M`s cable next morning: the criminal organization T.O.O.T.H. has stolen the Parliament buildings, floating them down the River Thames, with the Queen, the PM, and other notables on board. T.O.O.T.H. demands one hundred million pounds ransom. Bond`s friend and former CIA agent Felix Ronson sneaks up on him; thinking it might be an enemy, Bond overpowers him and Ronson lands in scrambled egg. In between good-natured banter a la Fleming`s originals, Felix explains that he`s down here investigating an alligator smuggling ring.

12: An American Chap
Bond meets Bermuda`s Governor, who explains that Alligator bought one of the Bermuda Islands, and built a replica of Parliament painted purple on it. That evening, Bond dines with Anagram.

13: Things That Go Bump In The Night
Bond and Anagram go for a late night swim, where he discovers that Alligator hypnotized her, then painted her torso and nether regions purple. Back in his room, they slide into bed, and an alligator hidden beneath the bedspread lunges at them. Bond throws Anagram to the floor and shoots the alligator five times in the mouth. Soon afterwards, a bellboy knocks on the door and says that Felix Ronson is dead, chewed up by an alligator. Anagram tells Bond her backstory. SMERSH kidnapped her lover, Roger Entwhistle (004) and told her that they would kill him if she didn`t spy for them. They subsequently gave her to Alligator who made the same conditions. Alligator expected her to entice men whom he could feed to his alligators. Alligator would say, “I have to go to the bathroom”, his signal that he wanted her to entice the man, thereby explaining her previous inconsistent behaviour with Bond. Anagram had told Alligator that Bond had changed his mind that day in the restaurant. Alligator retaliated by supposedly having Roger killed. He also blackmailed her about her part in the deaths in case she tried leaving him or telling anybody. She also explains that Alligator`s favourite Alligator, Heinrich, killed the Head of Station B and Felix Ronson, both of whom had been nosing around. Bond decides to visit Alligator`s island base.

14: Alligator`s Lair
Squabble brings the diving gear, and the three of them head for the coast. Alligator, in his car, passes them on the way, and pulls a lever releasing ambergris (whale vomit). Squabble, Bond and Amber`s motor-bicycles skid. Squabble`s goes over the cliff, killing him. Bond and Anagram continue on to Alligator`s lair.

15: Death Of A Frogman
They swim to Alligator`s island; a frogman attacks and a CO2 spear barely misses Bond. The two men struggle and Bond kills him. A whirlpool vortex sucks a struggling Bond and Anagram into Alligator`s lair. Alligator knocks Bond unconcious.

16: The Pleasure Of His Company
Bond comes to, shackled to a chair, and notices an invite to dinner and a menu list. Bond lists how he wants his food prepared. The building vibrates and lists from side to side; Bond realizes that the building has become water-borne like a boat.

17: The House Of Usher
Bond hears two sets of chimes, each apparently four hours apart, and realizes that Alligator stole the Parliament buildings. Stormtroopers march him out at gun point onto a boat which takes him to the real Westminster Hall several hundred yards away; the replica is then sunk.

18 Pandora`s Box
Bond realizes that Alligator intended to float the real buildings out to where the replicas stood so that nobody would be the wiser. Alligator greets him, spray-paints his face purple, then takes him to see the Queen and the PM, the House of Lords, Lord Snowdon (Princess Margaret`s photographer ex-husband), whose faces have also all been spray-painted purple, inside the House of Commons chambers. Two debates are under way, both concerning Britain`s entry into the Common Market. At dinner, Mr Pazardzhik`s fake right arm shoots two darts out of his index finger into a Winston Churchill portrait; each of the darts was dipped in philopon, a Japanese murder drug. When Bond calls Alligator a maniac, Alligator counters that he considers himself an artist and compares himself to Hitler, Alexander The Great and Napoleon. Alligator also implies that Anagram is still a loyal operative, making Bond wonder if Anagram led him into this trap. Alligator tells his life story over dinner: from humble origins, through alligator smuggling, to his current plan and beyond. Several distractions let Bond swipe utensils and Alligator`s spray-paint can off the dinner table when no one is looking. Alligator further explains that he`ll turn on Russia and that the world will be his. An unnamed mute gigantic Korean comes in and karate chops Bond unconscious.

19: Do Not Puncture Or Incinerate
Bond comes to in the Parliament building`s fourth sub-basement. Alligator and a naked Anagram, painted purple from neck to knee, stand there. Bond curses himself for trusting her. Alligator threatens torture and a painful death if Bond doesn`t say who he`s working for. When Bond doesn`t respond, Alligator bites Bond`s calf with his steel teeth. Bond knocks his chair forward, overpowering Alligator. Alligator presses a button and Bond drops through the floor into an alligator pool. The alligator bites, inadvertantly cutting the ropes that bind Bond to the chair. Bond uses the weapons he stole from the dinner table to injure the alligator, ultimately killing it: Bond jams the spray-paint can into the alligator`s mouth. The alligator chomps down on it, the canister explodes, a shard lodges in the reptile`s windpipe. The trap door reopens, Bond vaults out and sees Anagram tied to an overturned chair; she had been on his side all along. Since Alligator`s men don`t suspect her loyalties, Bond wants her to get the MPs out of the ballot room.

20 Noon G.M.T. – Saturday
The MPs debate each other. Anagram cons Kapitan Hammerstein into believing that Alligator wants to see him and his men, and that he`s to give her the gun to keep watch over the British politicans. Bond joins her, and asks for the PM. Mr Pazardzhik shoves a note under the door asking the PM to see Alligator. Bond puts on the PM`s wig and robe, and carries the mace (the ceremonial metal object, not the spray), and goes to see Alligator. Steps away from Alligator, Kynstondi recognizes Bond and Mr Pazardzhik lifts his dart hand to fire. Bond knocks the arm off with the mace, then crushes Mr Kynstondi`s head. Alligator makes a run for it; Bond shoots him and chases him up the stairs to Big Ben. Alligator crumples and falls into the clockwork.

21 “When`s Supper?”
An injured Bond in M`s office. The PM had offered Bond a VC, but M had to explain that the service doesn`t go in for that sort of thing. The PM has told newspaper editors that what happened was a test run for moving the Parliament buildings in case of enemy attack. M offers Bond two weeks leave. Bond finds Anagram waiting for him in his home. They kiss.

Remarks: The famous Harvard Lampoon parody of Fleming`s James Bond novels is actually less a parody than a slavish imitation of Fleming`s originals.

Scenes and details are obviously copied (read: plagarized) from Fleming`s originals. I`m surprised that a plagiarism suit didn`t follow – the authors would never get away with it today – and it probably explains why the book only went through two printings and hasn`t been reprinted since.

It`s also at times a respectable Bond novel in its own right and this works in favour of including it in the series: it comes closer to Fleming`s style and tics (good and bad) than any post-Fleming Bond novelist.

The novel also has one major advantage over Fleming`s originals: it`s only 77 pages long and stapled like TV Guide Magazine, and perhaps no more than 32,000 words. Fleming sometimes went on a bit, and parts of Doctor No and most of Thunderball would have benefitted from being chopped in half.

Kingsley Amis complained that it was too close to the original and I assume that the authors marked down particular scenes from Fleming`s novels, changed them slightly and put them in a new order to create the novel. Compare two sets of examples:

1A) Every country in the world has its favourite bird, a creature which is pointed out with pride to foreigners and whose habits are followed lovingly by the natives. In Bermuda this bird is the long-tail, so called because nine-tenths of its twelve inches consist of two, long, graceful, black-tipped, white features. High above the beautiful stretch of pink sand six of them whirled, their white bodies flashes of light in the now setting sun, their tails meteor trails behind them. Their soft mewing punctuated the sound of the waves as they dipped and soared over the ebbing tide, their tiny bright eyes alert to the slightest movement indicating some hapless sea-creature left behind by the waves. Below them all but a few stragglers had left the beach.

1B) The most beautiful bird in Jamaica, and some say the most beautiful bird in the world, is the streamer-tail or doctor humming-bird. The cock bird is abut nine inches long, but seven inches of it are tail – two long black feathers that curve and cross each other and whose inner edges are in a form of scalloped design. The head and crest are black, the wings dark green, the long bill is scarlet, and the eyes, bright and confiding, are black. The body is emerald green, so dazzling that when the sun is on the breast you see the brightest green thing in nature. In Jamaica, birds that are loved are given nicknames. Trochilus polytmus is called “doctor bird” because his two black streamers remind people of the black tail-coat of the old-time physician.

2A) He had not wished to embarrass the Governor, who seemed to him an easily embarrassable man, and it could in fact have been unwise to give him knowledge of a felony which might easily be the subject of a question in the Legislature Council. […] He had known the purpose of Bond`s visit to the Colony, and that evening, when Bond had shaken him by the hand, the dislike of a peaceable man for violent action had been communicated to Bond by something constrained and defensive in the Governor`s manner. […] Not that Bond had anything against the Governor. He belonged to a routine type that Bond had often encountered round the world – solid, loyal, competent, sober and just: the best type of Colonial civil Servant. Solidly, competently, loyally he would have filled the minor posts for thirty years while the Empire crumbled around him; and now, just in time, by sticking to the ladders and avoiding the snakes, he had got to the top. In a year or two it would be the GCB and out – out to Godalming, or Cheltenham or Tunbridge Wells with a pension and a small packet of memories of places like the Trucial Oman, the Leeward Islands, British Guiana, that no one at the local golf club would have heard of or would care about.

2B) Bond and the governor had disliked each other immediately. It was the instinctive reaction of a man of peace to a man of action, each realizing the necessity of the other`s job, but disagreeing with the principle behind it. To Bond the governor was a typical civil servant, holding on until he could retire on a nice pension to a little farm in the south of England and grow roses. To the governor Bond was the sort of person who caused embarrassing incidents, and his job was to avoid embarrassment. The meeting had been brief. Bond was assured of the full support and cooperation of government forces should he need them, and he in turn had assured the governor that there would be little likelihood of that.

I`ll leave it to the reader to decide which from each set Fleming wrote.

The authors also copy other details. Bond`s hand was scarred by SMERSH. Felix has a hook instead of an arm and the book refers to the Florida incident where Felix was injured. In Chapter 2, Bond notes that Anagram drives like a man and uses blinkers to indicate turns. After she leaves him, he calls her a “bitch”; compare what Bond says at the end of Chapter 11 in Thunderball after he`s met Domino. The novel also relies heavily on Moonraker: the card game; the last chapter when M tells an injured Bond that the service doesn`t go in for awards, gives him a leave of absence, and explains how the government and the press will cover up the mishap. Mind you, future Bond films and novels also copy from it (i.e. the villain has steel teeth like Jaws; the henchman`s hand shoots a dart into a picture; an exploding compressed air canister kills a villain).

There`s not that much humour. What little there is, is more of the “throwaway” kind (and some of the more over-the-top humour is rather strained): A large sign proclaimed “World-Wide Import & Export Ltd,” and few knew this was the headquarters for HM Secret Service. Bond thought of the few innocents who occasionally wandered in trying to import or export something. They were taken to the dummy offices on the fifth floor where they were politely, but firmly, shot.” Actually, one of the funniest things in the book is the publisher`s blurb about the other Vanitas Books by I*N FL*M*NG being sold out. Or in Chapter 11, Bond says about M: He had always called Allen Dulles whenever there was a difficult situation and it was difficult to convince him that Allen Dulles was no longer in charge of the CIA.

The novel is at it`s best when it tries to be an exciting thriller in its own right. The 14% through 36% section of the novel features an exciting card game which has what others call the “Fleming sweep”. It`s terrific, exciting, with ingenious bits: Bond cottons onto the deaf-mutes` gambit, he realizes that Alligator asked for tens because the deaf-mute must have splayed his fingers out when Bond knocked him over. This is great, though Bond`s toast reeks of parody and seems straight out of the 1967 Casino Royale parody. Notwithstanding this, it`s these clever exciting parts that make me argue that the book should be counted as a legitimate series entity.

There are also wonderful details about Alligator`s background in Chapter 4: people threw baby alligators into the sewers, the alligators grew in size, and Alligator befriended them – which is a strikingly Fleming touch, one that doesn`t rely on the originals, and this is how the authors should have written the novel. M says, “Then when they got too big or their owners became bored with them, they flushed them down the toilet. In the sewers they just went right on growing. Thrived there. Apparently he grew very attached to them and they to him. Found he could do a very good business selling them to zoos, and of course he could sell the baby ones for conversation pieces.” In fact, if I didn`t know any better I would have thought that Fleming had written this passage.

Chapter 6 has a nice bit about stupid Bulgarians which sounds like Fleming but works on its own. Besides there were the two deaf-mute Bulgarian bodyguards. Bulgarians, B*nd had always known, are inherently stupid and muscular. Lacking the intelligence to be criminal masterminds in their own right, they usually ended up as hired thugs. He remembered that while he had been working on the Casino case in France, the Deuxieme Bureau had uncovered a whole pool of Bulgars expert in sabotage and murder jobs. Alligator had probably hired his bodyguards from just such a pool.

In Chapter 12, the Governor explains that Alligator bought a Bermuda Island, and built a purple replica of the British Parliament on it (reminiscent of Doctor No). There`s also a nice, believable (until you think about it) explanation about water shortage, which is probably a parody of Fleming`s poor research. (Mind you, even if it isn`t, it`s detailed and fascinating the way Fleming can be.)

Chapter 13 is one of the book`s best chapters, and has some good writing: “Does Smersh mean anything to you?” “I`ve heard of it,” he replied shortly. Or when Anagram explains Alligator`s “washroom” cue; though parody, it`s nicely done. In fact, up to that point I thought Alligator`s penchant for going to the washroom was amateurish. I read her explanation and thought, okay, that`s good writing. The authors convinced me.

Anagram`s background and predicament is a high point and though it copies Vesper`s situation in Casino Royale, it`s good, strong writing and dramatically effective, perhaps more than Fleming`s original. In the same chapter Anagram mentions that her mother wrestled with her conscience for 9 months (after becoming pregnant); this is Fleming-like and also good writing.

In Chapter 16, Bond, captured, is invited to dinner and given a menu list. Bond specifices exactly how he wants his meal prepared and it`s parody, but it works (and is funny); Bond notes that the shrimp should be de-veined before being cooked. It`s also good, effective writing; it would work well in a regular Bond novel. I suppose a crucial element of a successful parody is for the scenes and details to work as parody and non-parody.

In Chapter 17, Bond hears two sets of chimes and realizes that Alligator stole the Parliament buildings; it`s a nice bit and exciting and has the same charge you get from the high points in the other novels.

Chapter 18 is another fine chapter, with funny details: (it`s presumably a parody of the dining scene in Doctor No) Bond swipes almost everything off the dinner table to use as weapons and nobody notices. There`s one deft, funny bit: he blows the candle out and tucks it in robe.

The same chapter is clever: the kidnapped politicians debate England`s entry into the Common Market. It`s funny and yet entirely logical and it works. Think about it, what else are they going to do? They`ll have to debate it at some point so why not now? It`s brilliant because it`s so believable. It`s off the wall, yet expected.

Also in Chapter 18, Alligator explains that, “With the help of the Detroit Purple Gang, to whom my aesthetic intuition led me directly, I entered the field of international alligator smuggling: my already substantial income increased fourfold, and I was able to expand my Nazi youth group into a sort of special executive for counterintelligence, terrorism, revenge, and extortion [Note the initials: s.p.e.c.t.r.e] – in short, The Organization Organized to Hate, or, simply, T.O.O.T.H.” There are other clever details: Alligator explains his Russian connections (or “connexions”, Fleming`s way of spelling the word): three of their agents stole an atom bomb (Thunderball), and a fourth, Gary Powers (though he`s not actually mentioned), allowed his plane to be forced down over Russia. One of several ingenious Fleming-style details. (It makes it even less understandable why John Gardner never had the knack when Frirth/Cerf got it downpat.)

The finale is exciting and clever (and at these times it forfeits the label parody): Bond disguises himself as the PM and approaches Alligator. It builds in intensity and is probably more exciting than Fleming because the book is so compact.

However, I never thought I`d say this in regards to Fleming`s writing, but Fleming is more stylish than Frith and Cerf. It copies Fleming`s style, but it doesn`t have the same sturdiness or exuberance. Alligator keeps saying “chum” and botching Bond`s name; these tics are actually more annoying as the book goes along and he isn`t a great villain. The novel is also structurally flawed; the story takes an awkward turn at the 40% mark when it shifts from the card game to the Bermuda plot. It also slows down immediately after the card game and takes several chapters to work itself back up. Chapter 11 awkwardly shoehorns news about the disappearing Parliament buildings, and at other times the novel is too rushed (i.e. Felix Ronson is a walk-on/get-killed part) and needed fleshing out.

Chapter 19 probably features the book`s worst scene. Bond fights an alligator which keeps biting chunks out of him. It`s presumably meant to parody the obstacle-course sequence from Doctor No, but it`s sloppy and doesn`t work. It didn`t bother me as much re-reading the novel, but it would have worked better had it been less stupid. However, there`s one inspired bit of writing: B*nd was not a religious man, but at that moment he gazed toward the black ceiling and uttered a silent word of thanks. As if in answer, a flash of blinding yellow light appeared from the ceiling. The trap door had reopened.

Should Alligator be considered a “real” Bond novel? Yes, even though Glidrose doesn`t own the copyright. John Gardner tended towards parody at his worst and the most ludicrous moments in his novels aren`t that far removed from the parody here. It also fits in more easily with the books than the 1967 Casino Royale does with the Bond films. There are moments straight out of that film (during the toast, Alligator throws his glass back and dings Dingletump on the head, Chapter 8), but it`s actually very Fleming-like. It also has the crucial ingredient that, for example, John Gardner never grasped: the situations can be ridiculous but the author must be absolutely straight-faced and treat almost everything with the utmost tongue-in-cheek seriousness. The authors take themselves very seriously. It`s part of the book`s charm and explains its popularity.