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.