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Topic: What would Fleming have thought of the Continuation Authors & Novels?

I've been thinking about this subject recently and as it hasn't come up here before for discussion I thought that I'd create a new thread on it. I just wanted to know other members' views on what Ian Fleming would have thought of the literary James Bond continuation project initiated by the Board of Glidrose Publications in the 1960s, by his brother Peter Fleming, ostensibly to counter the rise of unofficial Bond novel publications in the Eastern Bloc at that time. It was decided that the commissioning of a "Continuation Bond" would extend the copyright and take away the market for the inferior unofficial Bond novels being published by filling the market with an official product, namely Kingsley Amis' Colonel Sun, published in the UK on 28 March 1968.

Ian Fleming himself is said to have had the idea of auctioning off the literary rights to the James Bond character towards the end of his life, so the concept of the continuation Bond surely wouldn't have been an alien or objectionable idea to him. I can't recall where I read the idea about Fleming auctioning off the literary rights to James Bond but I believe it to be factual. If anyone can point me in the direction of the source for this auction idea I'd be most grateful! For one example, I know that in the 1960s Leslie Charteris eventually had a few of 'The Saint' books towards the end of his writing career written by others under his name, so that was his approach to extending his legacy.

With all of this in mind, what do you think Fleming would have made of the Bond continuation project which has now lasted for over fifty years from the first entry, Amis' Colonel Sun (1968) to the present day with Anthony Horowitz's Forever and a Day (2018). I'd be interested in hearing your views on what Fleming would have made of all of the Bond continuation novels and their respective authors too. I imagine he'd be both surprised and flattered that so many different famous authors had taken on his mantle as Bond author, to say nothing of the massive success that the EON-produced Bond films have been for over fifty years. 

I know that wondering what a dead author would have thought of his literary heirs requires a certain amount of educated guesswork and suspension of disbelief (as opposed to psychic ability and stopping far short of a séance) but I think that the idea is sufficiently fascinating enough to engender an interesting discussion. ajb007/smile

Last edited by Silhouette Man (30th Jun 2019 11:46)

Writer/Director @ The Bondologist Blog (TBB)
On Twitter: @Dragonpol 
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"The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).

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Re: What would Fleming have thought of the Continuation Authors & Novels?

Good subject, but I don't have much time to give it the attention it deserves at the moment. Hope to make a post or two soon

(Charteris began the above practice in the 60s, rather than the 70s. I read many of them!)

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Re: What would Fleming have thought of the Continuation Authors & Novels?

Barbel wrote:

Good subject, but I don't have much time to give it the attention it deserves at the moment. Hope to make a post or two soon

(Charteris began the above practice in the 60s, rather than the 70s. I read many of them!)

Thank you, Barbel. I look forward to your contribution on this subject.

I was relying on my memory for the Charteris bit (and we all know how fallible memory can be!). I've now corrected it.  ajb007/smile

Writer/Director @ The Bondologist Blog (TBB)
On Twitter: @Dragonpol 
'Like' TBB on FB: TBB Update Page
"The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).

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Re: What would Fleming have thought of the Continuation Authors & Novels?

Given that he was already keen to the thought of others taking over, I think IF would have had a varying appreciation for the continuation authors.  IMHO, high on the list would have been Kingsley Amis, whom he had praised (but whom Anne Fleming disparaged).  Then there’s Christopher Wood and maybe Anthony Horowitz.  Then lastly I think he would have really appreciated Charlie Higson, though it’s a mystery if he would have been okay with a drawn out exploration of Bond’s school years. 

My basis is how “literary Bondian” of an author’s treatment of any given story and I think these selected authors had that in spades, but what would separate the cream from the crop is the Fleming feel...whether a writer could successfully ghost for Fleming and fool the reader.  That would further narrow the best of the best and IMO that would be Amis and Wood though they would not be exact but close approximations of Fleming.

"...the purposeful slant of his striding figure looked dangerous, as if he was making quickly for something bad that was happening further down the street." -SMERSH on 007 dossier photo, Ch. 6 FRWL.....

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Re: What would Fleming have thought of the Continuation Authors & Novels?

I know he was tiring of writing new books himself, and from day one he was eager to sell the rights to someone in films. So if he'd trust filmmakers to take over his creation just so long's he got a cut, maybe he'd be OK with continuation authors too?

as to which ones he'd like, I couldn't guess, but a clue might be found in which thrillers he himself liked to read. Personally I think most of those continuation authors didn't have the writing chops of the thriller writers he himself admired.

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Re: What would Fleming have thought of the Continuation Authors & Novels?

I don't think Fleming would have liked Horowitz practise of rewriting back to him. (Pussy Galore returning, that feminist Bond girl who taught Bond how to have a proper martini, its all a bit too politically correct for Fleming)
I think he'd have hated Faulks and Deavers attempts also. But hey, it's easy to speak for someone who's been dead 55 years)

“The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning. "
-Casino Royale, Ian Fleming

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Re: What would Fleming have thought of the Continuation Authors & Novels?

James Suzuki wrote:

I don't think Fleming would have liked Horowitz practise of rewriting back to him. (Pussy Galore returning, that feminist Bond girl who taught Bond how to have a proper martini, its all a bit too politically correct for Fleming)

I forgot about that, you're correct, I don't think he would have appreciated the PC revisionism.  Why Horowitz felt he had to overextend himself to do that, it's a head-scratcher.

"...the purposeful slant of his striding figure looked dangerous, as if he was making quickly for something bad that was happening further down the street." -SMERSH on 007 dossier photo, Ch. 6 FRWL.....

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Re: What would Fleming have thought of the Continuation Authors & Novels?

As a threshold matter, I don’t think Fleming would favor the recent practice of setting the novels in the 1950s and 1960s. Current events provided a backdrop for many of Fleming’s books. The character also evolved somewhat even over the relatively short period of time Fleming was writing Bond, so I don’t think he would have a problem with authors periodically updating the character (as EON has done) to suit the times. But as others have eluded to, it’s quite awkward to update the character with modern sensibilities if he’s still living in Fleming’s era. It takes the reader out of the novel in a way that, for example, Deaver’s depiction of a Bond who finds homophobia to be distasteful, does not.

In a similar vein, although perhaps he would be flattered, I don’t think Fleming would care for the pastiche. For those reasons, I think Fleming would prefer something like Carte Blanche over Devil May Care, Solo, Trigger Mortis, and Forever and a Day.

Last edited by Miles Messervy (1st Jul 2019 17:48)

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Re: What would Fleming have thought of the Continuation Authors & Novels?

its a point. Even though the Bond character was getting jaded and worldweary by You Only live Twice, Fleming did lop 8 years off his age, so would he have kept the character perpetually 37?


theres a What If Fleming Had Lived thread, started by one Sillhoutte Man, that covers the idea that Fleming was probably ready to farm out later novels to ghost writers after ...Golden Gun.
Still, had his health not been so poorly, I'm sure he would have still wanted that annual vacation from his wife and would have needed something to do every morning for those two months...


what would he have thought of Pearson's Bond Biography? Pearson was a friend and coworker, was he not, so he was the one continuation author Fleming had a personal relationship with. Fleming dropped all those vary vague hints as to Bond's bakground, would he have approved of the way Pearson fleshed them out into narrative, or even the attempt to flesh them out at all?
I think he would have found Pearson's version of "Fleming" as a character amusing, he himself was very self-deprecating.


He knew Roald Dahl did he not? this page claims they both worked with William Stephenson. I know Dahl wrote Bond-related films not books, but I'm sure Fleming woulda had a few tasty words to say about Dahl's rewrite of You Only Live Twice, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a similarly unrecognisable adaptation.

Last edited by caractacus potts (1st Jul 2019 17:45)

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Re: What would Fleming have thought of the Continuation Authors & Novels?

Silhouette Man wrote:

... the rise of unofficial Bond novel publications in the Eastern Bloc at that time....

!!!
what were these? never heard of EastBloc unofficial Bond novels before, do we know any any titles? seen any covers? has anybody read any? do they "circulate"?

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Re: What would Fleming have thought of the Continuation Authors & Novels?

This is, alas, the last Bond and, again alas, I mean it for I really have run out of both puff and zest.

Ian Fleming to his editor, William Plomer, discussing The Man With The Golden Gun. As the quote implies, he had said such things before but this time his words would tragically be proved correct. Whether he would have changed his mind later (it’s a forerunner of Daniel Craig’s “I’d rather slash my wrists” remark) remains a moot point.
Certainly his publisher, Jonathan Cape, would have pressed him for more. Fleming’s Bond books were selling in the millions at this point and Cape would naturally want more. Even Fleming’s non-Bond works were selling well (Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang still remains popular now) and keeping up the income stream would have been high on Cape’s priorities- hence the posthumous publication of not only TMWTGG (almost inevitable, given the way YOLT ended) but also Octopussy and The Living Daylights, a very slim volume.

The use of collaborators and ghostwriters was not as widespread in the 1960s as it is now. Today bestselling authors such as Wilbur Smith and James Patterson use credited collaborators heavily, and Tom Clancy started doing so before his death and, er, even more so now. There are many more examples.
If Fleming had lived and really didn’t want to write any more (I believe it would only have been temporary) then there isn’t any doubt that Cape would have pressed him to allow another writer to carry on churning out 007 adventures. I’d like to think that these would have been along the lines of what Anthony Horowitz is currently doing- taking a Fleming idea or outline and expanding it to novel length. Certainly that would please Cape, since Fleming’s name could be legitimately displayed on the cover.

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Re: What would Fleming have thought of the Continuation Authors & Novels?

I think he would have been reasonably happy with Amis and very happy, (probably surprised), with Wood but appalled with the others.

Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.

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Re: What would Fleming have thought of the Continuation Authors & Novels?

superado wrote:
James Suzuki wrote:

I don't think Fleming would have liked Horowitz practise of rewriting back to him. (Pussy Galore returning, that feminist Bond girl who taught Bond how to have a proper martini, its all a bit too politically correct for Fleming)

I forgot about that, you're correct, I don't think he would have appreciated the PC revisionism.  Why Horowitz felt he had to overextend himself to do that, it's a head-scratcher.

I somewhat disagree. Fleming was more or less crafting his character with the times. If somehow Fleming were still alive today, I could see his views adapting.