Tag Archives: raymond benson

Totally Banned

Canadian Bond fans who have been hunting high and low for the Special Collector`s Edition of TV Guide, with the cover story of “Totally Bond”, need not bother; TV Guide is not distributing the edition outside of the United States at this time, nor is it translating it into it`s Spanish editions. Instead, TVGuide Live is offering Canadian readers a cover story on Lisa Kudrow, star of “Friends, where she talks about her role as Phoebe Buffet.

What non-U.S. Bond fans won`t get a chance to read is Raymond Benson`s exclusive short story “Live at Five”, set in a Chicago television station and of course, featuring James Bond. Also, as mentioned here exclusively several weeks ago, the Special Edition also features a Bond Girls Reunion, with several Bond Girls from past films getting together for a photo shoot and reminiscing over old times.

The lead story on Brosnan can be found at TV Guide, entitled “Bond and Beyond”. It doesn`t contain much in the way of news that long time Bond fans would find interesting, but it at least will give you a taste of what you`re missing. Also at TV Guide and TV Guide Live you can order back issues, special issues (presumably this one) and send your unhappy email about this situation to the distribution and marketing department.

New Non-Bond Benson Book Available

PRESS RELEASE – January 5, 2001, Seattle, WA, USA

PublishingOnline, a leading international distributor and publisher of eBooks, announced today that the first installment of Evil Hours, a 14-part serial novel by Raymond Benson, the acclaimed author of original James Bond titles and film novelizations, is now available for free digital download on its new, state-of-the art Web site.

“We are extremely excited to be the exclusive representative of this new work by Raymond Benson, and we are very proud to have Evil Hours help us to showcase what we believe will fast become the Internet`s standard-setting eBook Web site, ” said Min Yee, Publisher of PublishingOnline.

“Mr. Benson has long been one of PublishingOnline`s best-selling authors, and the tens of thousands of James Bond readers are testament to his unique ability to draw readers into his thrilling world of action and suspense,” Min Yee added.

Evil Hours follows the tracks of Shannon Reece as she tries to uncover the truth surrounding her mother`s brutal murder 26 years earlier in the small, working class town of Limite, Texas. Although the alleged murderer was convicted, imprisoned and subsequently killed by fellow inmates, the case has long troubled Reece, and with the help of a private eye unravels a hidden trail of deceit that ultimately leads to the most unsuspecting of places in the novel`s haunting conclusion.

In an exclusive interview with PublishingOnline, also available on the new site, Benson said that his latest work, which is “Larry McMurtry meets David Lynch,” was written in the down time between the second and third of his four original 007-novels.

Each of the 14 episodes will be made available free to PublishingOnline members in PDF format, or one dollar per episode for non-members, on each Friday through March 16. Membership with PublishingOnline is free.

About Raymond Benson

Raymond Benson`s first 007 foray, a short story in Playboy magazine, was published in 1997, and since then, following in the footsteps of previous Bond authors John Gardner and Kingsley Amis, he has written four original Bond novels, with a fifth one due in June, 2001, and two 007-film novelizations. He is also the author of PublishingOnline`s bestselling The James Bond Bedside Companion, the ultimate authoritative book on James Bond facts and ephemera. The Kirkus Reviews has called Benson`s writing in his novel The Facts of Death “a postmodern treat for fans and newcomers…” and the Boston Sunday Herald called the writing in his most recent work “as irresistible as ever.”

About PublishingOnline

PublishingOnline is a leading distributor and publisher of digital books. With eBooks offered off its Web site in the world`s eight most populous; with an Affiliated Publisher Program comprising dozens of publishers; with the rights to hundreds of exclusive works; and with a growing collection of out-of-print and rare, award-winning titles, PublishingOnline is aggressively building the largest online library in the world.

Membership with PublishingOnline is free and entitles readers to many benefits including free downloads of literary masterpieces, exclusive offers and e-mail alerts. PublishingOnline`s new Web site utilizes the latest in eCommerce and search technology and can be accessed at www.PublishingOnline.com.

Get Into Bed With Bond. James Bond.

Seattle PublishingOnline.com announced today that it has entered into an exclusive publishing agreement with Raymond Benson, best known as the current author of the James Bond 007 novels. Mr. Benson was commissioned by Ian Fleming (Glidrose) Publications Ltd. in 1996 to continue the best-selling series after Fleming, Kingsley Amis, and John Gardner.

Of particular interest to James Bond fans is the electronic publication of Benson`s landmark encyclopedic work, The James Bond Bedside Companion, long considered to be the best non-fiction study of the 007 phenomenon. Originally published in 1984, it was nominated for an EdgarAllan Poe Award (Mystery Writers of America) for Best Biographical/Critical Work of that year.

The Bedside Companion is often cited to be the “Bible of Bond,” as it contains a history of the rise in Bond`s popularity, a in-depth biography of Ian Fleming, and illuminating analyses of the novels and films up to that point in time. Out of print since 1990, The James Bond Bedside Companion will now be available again to fans around the world.

PublishingOnline.com has also entered into an exclusive agreement with Benson to publish his first non-Bond novel, Evil Hours, a “serial” in fourteen episodes. Benson describes Evil Hours as a “drama that takes place in a fictional small West Texas town and is a cross between Larry McMurtry and David Lynch.” The story concerns a young woman`s quest for the truth about her mother`s murder, which occurred over 25 years earlier.

Evil Hours will appear in weekly installments on www.PublishingOnline.com, free to readers for a limited time, after which it will be offered for sale in its entirety along with POL`s other titles. The first episode of Evil Hours will make its online debut on April 25th at 7am est.

Two of Benson`s original short stories, The Plagiarist and Thumbs Down, will also be published on the POL Web site. Benson describes these tales, written in the mid-eighties, as “Twilight Zone”-style fantasies dealing with the plight of frustrated writers.

PublishingOnline.com digitizes in-print, mid-list, backlist and out of print titles as well as front list selections and makes them available for sale electronically on the Internet. PublishingOnline.com will make many titles available for purchase in a variety of formats—Windows, Windows CE, Palm Pilot, SoftBook, Apple. E-books, essays, articles and poetry can be downloaded for prices ranging from $5.00 to $50.00.

PublishingOnline.com carries titles from all types of trade publishers and individual authors. The Web site is located at http://www.PublishingOnline.com. For additional information call (206) 439-9257 or contact the company via Email:info@publishingonline.com.

Doubleshot’s Gala Debut

DOUBLESHOT will rocket into bookstores within a matter of weeks (May 2000 in the U.K.; June 2000 in the U.S.) and before writer Raymond Benson takes off to Europe for a publicity tour, he graciously dropped by and chatted with friends and new fans Monday night, even revealing a suprise or two.

DOUBLSHOT will be excerpted in the June issue of Playboy Magazine which goes on sale the first week in May. Apparently they had a particular interest in this story and you U.K. readers who have already gotten your hands on the novel will understand what we are talking about (but we won`t give away the surprise!)Benson also confirmed to our intimate chat group that he`ll be researching locations in France next month for his follow-up to DOUBLESHOT, and Corsica will play a part in the book as well. The tentative title for his next novel, to be published in Summer 2001 is: NEVER DREAM OF DYING.

NDOD is Benson`s own idea, and so far the editors have had no objections. Also revealed were the original, working titles for DOUBLESHOT: “Doppleganger” and “Reflections In A Broken Glass”. See what kind of fascinating information you can learn in a celebrity chat? Our sincere thanks again to Raymond, for his patience and time, and a special thanks to our chat group members who came well prepared, well read, and quite enthusiastic! We will post the full transcript of the chat session later in the week!

Bonding in France

Raymond Benson`s next book, following Doubleshot, will be set in France.

According to to the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, Feb 14, 2000 in an article by Mary A. Gruner (Daily Herald Correspondent): “At present, Benson is working on a new book, for which he will soon be researching in France. Although he has traveled to Hong Kong, China, England, and many other countries, he confesses that his research forays are intensive and exhausting.”

Zero Minus Ten

The Hero: James Bond; The Villain: ??? The Bond Girl: Sunny Pei; Supporting Characters: “M”, Q, Moneypenny, T.Y. Woo, Chen Chen; Locations Covered: Hong Kong, Australia, Jamaica; First Published: 1997

Someone long ago called it the “Undertaker`s Wind”, but hardly anyone in Jamaica referred to it by that name anymore. The Undertaker`s Wind was supposed to blow the bad air out of the island at night. In the morning, the “Doctor`s Wind” would come and blow the sweet air in from the sea.—-Zero Minus Ten, page 1.

In the passage quoted above, Raymond Benson was referring to a Jamaican superstition about the weather. For all intents and purposes, he might as well have been talking about the current state of the Bond literary franchise. Prior to his taking over that is!

Zero Minus Ten is a tough, raw, back-to-basics Bond novel that pays tribute to fans of both the cinema Bond and the literary Bond. It contains the best of both worlds, and should be a crowd pleaser for all.

Zero Minus Ten starts off with a teaser of sorts. A mission before the main mission, and one that is totally unrelated to the rest of the book. Chapter Two: Three Events, sets up what will become the catalyst for the investigation Bond will undertake. The events include an atomic bomb exploding in the Australian Outback, an explosion that destroys the entire Board-of-Directors of Eurasia Enterprises, and the gunning down of several customs agents in England. What`s the connection? Is there one?

Bond is sent to Hong Kong to investigate who may be responsible for these and several other terrorist attacks that have taken place in Hong Kong or with corporations doing business in Hong Kong. Could someone be trying to set up a potential war between China and Britain? A conflict that could possibly destroy the peaceful transition from British rule to Chinese rule that`s due to take place July 1st, 1997?

I haven’t mentioned the villains yet and for good reason. There are several who may have a motive for wanting to destroy peace between England and China. Those include an insane Saddam Hussein-like General Wong, who is just chomping at the bit to go ahead and invade Hong Kong with force, a Triad (a type of Chinese mafia) leader who hates Communist rule, and the President of Eurasia Enterprises, who is bitter at England for turning her back on Hong Kong. Even if you were to guess who did what to whom, it`s unlikely you`d figure out why until the very last few pages. Benson throws in enough red-herrings to confound even the most savvy mystery reader.

You can tell from reading the novel that Benson did his homework. The novel is rich in detail. The greatest thing that Benson does for Zero Minus Ten is “personalize” Hong Kong. By that I mean he makes Hong Kong seem just like a person. Not a soulless, steel and concrete mega monstrosity, but a living, breathing, vibrant human being. Through the many different characters Benson presents, you get a sense of anxiety for Hong Kong. A sense of worry for her. You feel how many residents now feel. Nervous with anticipation for her future. I cannot reiterate this enough. I was really impressed with how I felt about Hong Kong after putting down the book. I felt like i`d made and lost a new friend all at once. I feel this was the greatest achievement of Benson`s effort.

I was also impressed with the amount of background material presented about Hong Kong and the Triad`s. Benson gives you quite an education on Hong Kong`s evolution into the city she has become today. The rich background history lays an excellent foundation to later explain who is doing what to whom and why. It makes the main villain`s scheme seem much more plausible, and makes you somewhat more sympathetic to his cause.

Benson writes Bond back as a man in or around his early forties. The emotional baggage is still there, but without overtly giving in to today`s political correctness. Benson`s style of writing is definitely different than Fleming`s, yet it`s not necessary to copy Fleming`s style when you`ve captured the essence of who Bond is. And Benson has done that.

The Bond girl in this story is a prostitute, but to Benson`s credit, he never takes the easy way out in writing her character. Though she is a prostitute, Benson writes her with intelligence, an educated background, and an attitude. Benson also creates an interesting paradox that helps add to the chemistry between Bond and Sunny Pei. At one point, her very existence depends on her killing Bond, while Bond is trying to keep her alive by doing a nasty job for one of the villains.

Benson also brings a genuine sense of humor to the novel that has been lacking for quite a while. Most of the best humor comes from T.Y.Woo, or his son Chen Chen, who at just 15, has been put in charge of driving Bond around Hong Kong. I laughed out loud at Bond receiving “flammable shoelaces” from “Q” or Moneypenny telling Bond she`d whisper him “sweet and sour nothings”.

As I said, Benson`s novel is rich in detail. Sometimes too rich. Pages 50 through 53 contain a lengthy review of a dinner that Bond enjoy`s while in Hong Kong. Chapters 6 and 7 extensively cover a game of mahjong between 007, Guy Thackeray (The President of Eurasia Enterprises) and T.Y.Woo, Bond`s liason in Hong Kong. If you`ve had some experience playing mahjong but still had a few questions on how to play it, these chapters are for you. If you`ve always wanted to know how to play mahjong, these chapters are for you. But if you`re like me and never likely to play it, these two chapters can be awfully tedious. It would have been nice if these passages had been consolidated somewhat.

The book really hit`s it`s stride though beginning with Chapter 8: Private Dancer, where Bond hooks up with Sunny Pei. Up to this point we`ve had the teaser, the set up, and then two long chapters about mahjong. But here is where the action begins. From here on out, Zero Minus Ten is a fast paced, page turner. It`s no coincidence that, from this point onward, it only took me a day to finish out the book. Literally, I could not put it down. I did not want to put it down.

No book is perfect, and Zero Minus Ten has it`s faults. My gripes with the book are minor though. Benson is more explicit with how he approaches the love scenes than Fleming or Gardner ever were. I sort of miss that subtlety. I also felt Bond`s infiltration into Guangzhou was a lost opportunity. I was looking for a Mission:Impossible type scenario here, and it turned into more or less of a shootout. I felt the Stephanie Lane character too closely resembled Xenia Onatopp from “Goldeneye”, the “coldhearted bastard” remark from “M” was too reminiscent of the exchange between “M” and 007 in “Goldeneye” and the scene with “Q” seemed culled straight from any one of the films.

Still, small gripes aside, this is the hardest, tightest, and fastest Bond thrillers to come along in ten years. It`s Bond at his most basic. As of this writing, we aren`t certain what Hong Kong`s future will hold with China. But with James Bond and Raymond Benson around, it`s looking good so far.

Tomorrow Never Dies (Novelization)

Movie novelizations are notoriously bad, as the action is badly translated from the silver screen to the printed page. Thankfully, Raymond Benson`s adaptation of the 18th Bond movie, Tomorrow Never Dies, is an exception. Far from being a direct copy of what was seen in the cinema, the novel nevertheless remains faithful to Roger Spottiswoode`s film.

Just as a chef perfects a familiar recipe Benson had tweaked the plot of Tomorrow Never Dies to produce an original and compelling read. Without budgetary or time restraints, time is given to character development and background. We learn of Carver`s rise to power and the seeds of his madness, while Wai-Lin`s mission is given some much-needed back-story, which only strengthens the already impressive character.

The central theme of media manipulation is also examined in more detail than was seen on screen, with nice touches such as M leaking misinformation to the British press to ensure her position at MI6 is secure, adding a feeling of realism to the snowballing world crises.

One of the biggest changes is the character of Paris, now a far-more independent character ready to leave her husband at the drop of a hat – or dress – and willing to wear her involvement with 007 on her sleeve. Unfortunately, without the entrapment of a marriage impossible to escape, Paris loses her desperation and sympathy this making her death less of a tragedy.

While Tomorrow Never Dies fails to touch Zero Minus Ten`s crown, the novel stands head and shoulders above the usual tie-in pap and successful captures the excitement of one of the best Bond films in the canon.

The World Is Not Enough (Novelization)

Raymond Benson’s novelization of The World Is Not Enough screenplay reads “fast and loose,” but of necessity, the book follows the screenplay so closely that fans will have to dig in with grit to unearth the fans’ treasures hidden inside.

By Mr. Benson’s own admission, he was rushed by Hodder & Staughton’s publishing schedule combined with a fast post-production on the TWINE final film, to do very much of anything exotic or innovative with the book. Raymond Benson’s knowledge of the James Bond phenomenon is encyclopedic in nature, however, and besides being a leading Bond writer, he is a fan’s fan who can recall chapter and verse of any significant Bond novel section, and he adds spicy details to his 007 movie novels.

Tidbits of Flemingiana are scattered throughout the TWINE novel, as when Bond savors the “scent and smell and sweat” of Valentin Zhukovsky’s casino (confer with Chapter 1 of “Casino Royale”). There are fun pokes at the Purvis/Wade/Feirstein scripts of recent years, shared lovingly, like when M admonishes Bond that “Contrary to what you may believe, Double-O Seven, the world is not populated by madmen who can hollow out volcanoes, fill them with big breasted women, and threaten the world with nuclear annihilation . . . ” (!) from a rejected Bruce Feirstein script bit. Benson adds his response, “Bond grinned at the irony of her remark . . . “. Bond ducks into the Bilbao, Spain art museum for a wistful look at great works after leaping from a window away from a sniper, in another place. We get fun and Fleming-like travelogue, weapons and vehicle details throughout.

Another help for any avid Bond movie fan Mr. Benson provides is his thorough covering over of some of the final film’s weightier continuity errors in his work, a pleasant tradition dating back to the first Bond novelization for “The Spy Who Loved Me”. How does Bond’s small craft leap up to destroy “Giuliana’s” gun placement on her boat? (Bond uses her craft as a launch ramp.) Why do all four of the dreaded parahawks chase down Bond instead of at least half targeting Elektra King on the slopes, to make Renard’s “attack” on her look valid? (Two hawks indeed chase King in the novel, until she is “frightened” enough to turn tail and head conveniently in Bond’s direction.) Bar bets and newsgroup disputes on TWINE continuity errors should be checked here first. Mr. Benson is thoroughly meticulous in making Bond’s world dovetail with our real world where possible.

Best of all the goodies, a delightfully Fleming-ish chapter late in the book explores in detail Renard’s history as a terrorist/Bond villain. Benson’s yarn of villain Renard and his “affair” with Elektra King receive treatment from Benson at a clever spot in the narrative, and makes this book worth a read by itself. Thanks, Raymond!

In sum, “The World Is Not Enough” movie novel gives readers a quick taste of Bond while they await Benson’s forthcoming novel, “Doubleshot”. Plus in its first printing British hardcover, The World Is Not Enough from Hodder & Staughton, is fetching US $75 to $150 for its scarcity only two months after publication! (Rumor has it Hodder ran merely 2,250 copies of the first printing state, with many copies gone to libraries immediately.) Oh Hodder, when will you promote your Bond novels like you did years ago, when John Gardner standees and fancy displays headlined “License Renewed” and every Bond novel hit the NY Times list?

–Matt Sherman collects all the British Bond firsts and many more hot collectibles with you at 007Forever Collectors’ Corner.