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Sir Miles wrote:

Forever And A Death by Donald E Westlake

I read a lot of Westlake back in the 70s- the Dortmunder series, mainly, but one or two Parkers as well. Good writer.


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Barbel wrote:
Sir Miles wrote:

Forever And A Death by Donald E Westlake

I read a lot of Westlake back in the 70s- the Dortmunder series, mainly, but one or two Parkers as well. Good writer.

I’d never heard of him before  ajb007/embarrassed
As I said, it’s only because this is a supposedly rejected Bond screenplay/book that I bought it...


The Unbearables


Re: What are you Currently Reading?

You might have seen one of the films based on his books:

"Point Blank" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point_Blank_(1967_film)

"The Hot Rock" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hot_Rock_(film)  aka "How To Steal A Diamond"

"Parker" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parker_(2013_film)

among others.


Re: What are you Currently Reading?

Barbel wrote:

You might have seen one of the films based on his books:

"Point Blank" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point_Blank_(1967_film)

"The Hot Rock" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hot_Rock_(film)  aka "How To Steal A Diamond"

"Parker" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parker_(2013_film)

among others.

Only seen Point Blank from those...I enjoyed that film.


The Unbearables


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The End of the Affair by Graham Greene


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Will be doing a podcast on Casino Royale soon so I am rererererererererereading Ian Fleming's first novel and taking notes while doing it.

1. Ohmss   2. Frwl   3. Op   4. Tswlm   5. Tld   6. Ge  7. Yolt 8. Lald   9. Cr   10. Ltk   11. Dn   12. Gf   13. Qos   14. Mr   15. Tmwtgg   16. Fyeo   17. Twine   18. Sf   19. Tb   20 Tnd   21. Spectre   22 Daf   23. Avtak   24. Dad


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NC-MI6-00 wrote:

I've really enjoyed the writing of Daniel Silvia and the Gabriel Allon novels.  Any other fans of that series?  Thoughts?

Yes, another fan here, having read all of them. I've generally enjoyed them all, but I did find that a number of books in the series...

Spoilerfollowed the same format, in that Allon foils the enemy's plot, and then the book finishes with Allon coming back in the last scene to kill the enemy, which just got repetitive.

...Other than that, I would recommend them.


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Red Nemesis by Steve Cole


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Licence Expired: The Unauthorized James Bond
various authors, edited by Madeline Ashby and David Nickle

A short story collection quickly rushed out in Canada when Fleming's James Bond books fell into the public domain in 2015. Probably not easily found elsewhere, and already out of print here. Most of the contributing authors, but not all, are from Canada, and strangely most are coming from a horror or science fiction genre background. The stories that I have read so far are roughly in chronological order, from points in time across Bond's life. The stories are specifically based on Fleming's Bond, and supporting characters and concepts, due to the nature of the copyright lapse, so nothing from the films.

As the stories are all by all different authors, and are very short, I have been reading the book one or two stories at a time, in between other books. I shall try to summarise the stories I've read so far. These are all highly apocryphal, and by the very nature of the collection most Bondfans may never have a chance to read them, but they are now published James Bond stories that deserve to be discussed.

The afterword by editor Madeline Ashby tells us of her "evil social justice agenda". She wished they could have got more diversity of contributing authors, with more diverse points of view, because the Bond character is such a privileged straight white male, much of the world cannot relate and is excluded from the fantasy. (as always I wonder why not just write about a new character then? This book cannot be sold outside Canada, so it's not as if having his name in the title is helping to sell product in this case!)
The positive side of that argument is writers are encouraged to present the character from an angle that more official product would not dare. We have discussed before how very safe, and formulaic, the official films and continuation authors play it. So these authors are freed to examine aspects of the Bond fantasy with previously untapped potential. Several of the stories are told from different characters' point of view, and at least one radically recasts the whole concept from the ground up.

story 1: One is Sorrow, Jaqueline Baker
the Eton chambermaid incident, from the chambermaid's point of view. Charlotte Brawn is a townie with a job at the school, attracted to the brooding yet chivalrous young Bond. There is a mysterious drowning in which Bond is implicated, but all we learn is filtered through the naive imagination of the narrator.
This is a good start, similar to Vivienne Michelle's unreliable narrative. And extra appreciated since Pearson claimed there was no chambermaid incident!

story 2: the Gales of the World, Robert J. Wiersama
after the war, but before being promoted to double oh, Bond enters the world of H. P. Lovecraft, assigned to recover the Necronomicon and witnessing firsthand the Elder Gods in a bit of psychedelia. This is definitely something an official Bond story would not dare to do, getting a bit Indiana Jones, and with a framing sequence that is a whole lotta X-Files (the author is from Vancouver, where the first five seasons of  the X-Files were filmed). This is the story where we learn everything we thought we knew about Bond is wrong.

SpoilerMoneypenny is the one who secretly recruited Bond to the double oh department, specifically to perpetrate violence and mayhem in this world so as to serve Cthulhu. then she clouded his mind so he will never suspect his true mission, and hides in plain site as his puppet-boss's "secretary"

story 3: Red Indians, Richard Lee Beyers
a sequel to Casino Royale, before Bond has his plastic surgery, also featuring Mathis. Bond picks an extremely violent fight with a sadistic pimp to test his martial arts skills. The villain has a very disturbing surgery/vivisection fetish which he indulges in a secret room in his bordello (which could suggest philosophical questions about Bond's motives in picking his own victim/test subject, but this is not explored).

story 4: the Gladiator Lie, Kelly Robson
an alternate timeline sequel to From Russia With Love, in which Tatiana has kidnapped Bond and transported him to an all-lesbian fur-farm in Siberia. There Rosa Klebb and Stalin's illegitimate daughter keep Bond unconscious in a permanent dream state, which others may share if they take the right drugs.  Bond dreams about perpetual  gladiatorial combat. All very Matrix-y/Inception-y. The story is from Tatiana's point of view, and is mostly about her concerns with lesbianism and the USSR. Bond only gets a paragraph of dreamworld content once every couple of pages, otherwise he is merely present as an unconscious body in the room. Considering this is the longest story so far, that's not a lotta actual Bond content.

story 5: Half the Sky, E. L. Chen
a sequel to Dr No, in which we learn Sister Rose was the true power behind the evil Doctor (a minor revelation after what we've already learned about Moneypenny). Despite the feminist moral, this is a fairly traditional Bond story structure, complete with lifeboat ending (hey, that trope is from the films!)
This story happens five years after the events of Dr No, and SPECTRE is mentioned, so should be approx. 1961. Thus it is actually told out of chronological sequence. (As a continuity geek, I'm watching these things!)

story 6: In Havana, Jeffrey Ford
set in 1958, during the latter days of the Cuban revolution. (but it's not the Unseen Mission referenced in Quantum of Solace, so Bond must have been sent to Cuba at least twice that year). Bond is assigned to recover an experimental berserker drug and accidentally gets dosed himself. When this story's grotesque villain is first described to Bond, there is a bit of metafictional discussion of Dick Tracy, who fought a never ending cast of physical grotesques (did Fleming read Dick Tracy? we know Batman's Bob Kane did). There is also discussion about the good honest days of British Empire vs the covert imperialism of the CIA, which I think is meant to be ironically undermined by Bond's actions under the influence of the berserker drug and M' s pragmatic response (at least he saved the world).

The stories obviously contradict each other, which is part of the fun. And some of them could fit seamlessly into Fleming's timeline! I actually like some of the radical revisionings, and don't mind the feminist or anti-imperialist interpretations (that said, Bond should be more than just an unconscious body in the room).
What does bother me is so many of the authors see Bond as nothing more than a bloodthirsty killing machine, who accepts a paycheck for what he would choose to do anyway. Fleming's Bond resented the dirty damn business, and took pride in the fact he never killed in cold blood. This book is supposed to be about Fleming's Bond, and most of the authors give evidence of knowing the books well, so why do they keep misrepresenting the violence?

I will say that these weird stories are more persuasively about Fleming's Bond than many of the more recent continuation novels (such as Solo and Devil May Care), and dare I say, the Craig movies.

Last edited by caractacus potts (16th Jun 2019 00:31)


Re: What are you Currently Reading?

caractacus potts wrote:

Licence Expired: The Unauthorized James Bond...The afterword by editor Madeline Ashby tells us of her "evil social justice agenda".

I'm glad you read this so I don't have to!

(did Fleming read Dick Tracy? we know Batman's Bob Kane did)

Dick Tracy is mentioned in "For Your Eyes Only" and possibly elsewhere. The strip was syndicated outside the US, so Fleming could have easily read it.


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revelator wrote:

I'm glad you read this so I don't have to!

Always pleased to make these sort of sacrifices, sir.
I think there are 13 more stories in the book (they are all very short), so shall post more summaries as I get further along. There may yet be a hidden gem in there even you would like!


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I had a chance to read one more this morning

story 7: Mastering the Art of French Killing, Michael Skeet
Set round the time of the Suez Crisis (so 1956? this one is also out of order).
This adventure takes place in the restaurants and markets of Paris, and at least 50% of the text is sensuous descriptions of cooking, serving and eating fine French food, as well as the texture of history: decadent neighbourhoods of 17th century architecture, and the political significance of men's moustache styles.
This is a very tactile story, and I think succeeds in capturing why we want to be Bond, instead of focussing on the disturbing violence as most of the other writers have done.
M is written much as Bernard Lee played him, and there is an appearance by Q who also behaves as he did in the films.

Spoilerthe villain's evil plan is to invent the microwave oven and frozen foods, which will lead to the downfall of civilization as we know it


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So, the villain finally won!


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I was given "my word is my bond" the Roger Moore autobiography for fathers day.

It was either that.....or the priesthood


Re: What are you Currently Reading?

a few more from Licence Expired: The Unauthorized James Bond
warning, these all contain Spoilers

story 8: A Dirty Business, Ian McLaughlin
Bond is sent to an island off the coast of Venezuala, to assassinate an old schoolchum from Eton accused of selling secrets to Moscow. But Bond is being played as a patsy by the CIA who wish to consolidate control in the region.
A straightforward adventure, referencing wellknown CIA activities in the region.
I could find no clue where this would fit in the timeline.

story 9: Sorrow's Spy, Catherine McLeod
The shortest story in the book so far.
Bond attends another dinner party, interrupted by the investigation into the death of a known arms dealer Bond was last seen speaking to. There's a twist ending with the open-ended but strongly implied identity of the killer.
McLeod's bio says Dr No was the first book ever the author read as a child, but in tackling a short story she combines elements of the two oddball entries from FYEO, so she knows her stuff.
Takes place mid Cuban Revolution, so ~1958. (meaning Bond attended two dinner parties that year!)

story 10: Mosaic, Karl Shroeder
Bond witnesses a British A-bomb test off the NW coast of Australia, from Bruce Banner style distance. He is there because two scientists have been killed, and crucial scientific information seems to be being withheld.
Reference is made to Godzilla (1954).
Bond is accompanied by Adina, a former child soldier from Abyssinia, who has combat skills and PTSD. The experience of an A-bomb explosion by someone with PTSD is the most powerful image in the story, but could be explored much deeper.
(these pages made me extra glad I recently watched episode 8 of Twin Peaks The Return, which comes closest of anything to showing such an explosion in real time).
Adina's biographical information (she left Abyssinia 1941 and this is 15 years later) tells us this happens 1956.

story 11: The Spy Who Remembered Me, James Alan Gardner
Most surprising of all (except maybe Tatiana's czarist ambitions, see story 4, but that was too fantastic to be believed).
An older Bond is in the mideast to extract a fellow double-oh following the assassination of the country's leader.
The other double-oh is Vivienne Michel!!!. Which sort of makes sense, if you consider the fatherly advice the local policeman tried to give her in the last chapter of tSWLM and her too-cool dismissive response before speeding away on the Vespa.
And she is the only significant Canadian character in Fleming's canon, so she certainly deserves a spot in this Canadian collection.
As they are both ten years older, this take place approx 1970, the furthest ahead in the timeline yet.

I must comment, a few of these stories reveal "the Americans" as the villain. Canadians tend to identify themselves as "not Americans" (Ontario having been settled by Loyalist refugees and all that) and a lot of my fashionable downtown yuppie friends blame "the Americans" for everything. This trendy antiAmericanism would especially apply to literary types, so that could explain the frequent recurrance of American villains in this book. Sorry bout that, neighbours to the south.
I just want to say, personally, two of the best runs of luck in my life came while living in the States, and I know where much of the film and music I love comes from and appreciate the country that produced all that.

Last edited by caractacus potts (15th Sep 2019 16:21)


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My library was having a 50-cent sale on books and I picked up Between Silk and Cyanide: A Codemaker's War 1941-1945 by Leo Marks.

A memoir of his time as a codemaker for the SOE during WW2. I'm just starting it, but it starts where he determines that the current method of code making by field agents was too easy to crack and is now fighting for the SOE to implement a better cryptographic method with one-time-use codes.

The terminology, departments, and people and their titles really have reminded me of James Bond so I wanted to share here.


Re: What are you Currently Reading?

still more from Licence Expired: The Unauthorized James Bond
warning, these all contain Spoilers ... but I am assuming most of you will never find this book, so these are your COLES notes to bluff your way through conversations.

story 12: Daedalus, Jamie Mann
A sequel to Goldfinger. Pussy has been released from prison, and is now employed a a bodyguard. She tries to involve Bond in another gold heist. She engages in several pages of judo practice with Bond, which is from the film rather than the book, but is physically as Fleming described her.
Best of all, the story starts by revealing Bond's retirement plans. He has been quietly funneling money to Liechtenstein for years, by roundabout routes, and setting up a quiet second life in a remote village, intending to never be found again.
No clue when this takes place, but banks do have electronic money transfers.

story 13: Through Your Eyes Only, A. M. Delamonica
the most styistically experimental (so far), this is told second person present tense from the point of view of Moneypenny's succesor. Bond calls her Moneypenny out of habit and continues the same old banter, even though the real Moneypenny was "nine hires ago". We are told all women look the same to Bond.
A bit of unsubtle commentary on the series sexism? if so it would be a misreading of Fleming, more appropriate maybe to the Connery films. But in-text, we are told Bond suffers from Prosopagnosia, which could be a genuine result of all those blows to the head!
The nameless narrator meets Bond three times during the course of one of his adventures, even having sex with him, and he never recognises her. As one of her job duties is to create his cover stories, she uses this skill to reinvent herself each time she reencounters Bond, finally embracing the identity of Moneypenny because the world's fate depends on it.
Takes place during the fall of Saigon, thus 1975. So that's nearly forty years worth of blows to the head! makes Homer Simpson look like an amateur.

story 14: Two Graves, Ian Roberts
The only story so far to actually take place in Canada, specifically Baffin Island.
Bond follows an unlikely villain to the remote arctic following a limited but devastating nuclear war. London is gone, and Bond is only alive because he was away on mission at the time. A previously unknown terrorist group have set off random nuclear weapons in contentious troublespots in an operation called Domino, and the world powers responded accordingly. Sort of a what if? considering many Bond film plots have this implied threat as the villains scheme to be foiled.
No specific clues as to when it takes place, but ICBMs are operational, so at least 1960. And India officially denies having the bomb despite suspicions, so when does that make it?

story 15: No, Mr Bond!, Charles Strauss
(the title comes from the Goldfinger film, if you're wondering)
A five page speech from Blofeld in which he offers Bond an investment opportunity. The gag is, he proves Britain has secretly been run by the Communists for decades, and this is why M keeps assigning Bond to defeat evil Western industrialists.
Harold Wilson is Prime Minister, so takes places either 1964-1970 or 1974-1976.

Last edited by caractacus potts (15th Sep 2019 16:30)


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the last four stories from Licence Expired

story 16: The Man with the Beholden Gun: an e-pistol-ary story by some other Ian Fleming, Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer
Bond's not actually in this, "Fleming" is the character.
The story is an exchange of letters between "Fleming", and a professor of literature with whom he is having an affair. Lots of puns and unsubtle wordplay and amateur psychology.
The idea is "Fleming" cannot perform sexually, and instead expresses his warped sexual fantasies in his fiction. He is currently at work on the striptease-with-giant-hand-sculpture scene from ...Golden Gun, which is referenced repeatedly.
(my personal subjective value judgement: not just pretentious, but offensive. Fleming was dying when he wrote his last novel. Shame on the author for mocking the libido of a dying man.)

story 17: The Cyclorama, by Laird Barron
Bond is dying of pancreatic cancer, being treated by Dr Hemlock and Nurse Ursula. He hallucinates a surreal montage of his adventures, including a vision of himself on a liferaft trapped with the skeletons of Kissy and a baby. This author knows his Fleming.
The second person narrative used yet again is annoying, but the punch line explains why it was written that way.

story 18: You Never Love Once, by Claude Lalumière
From the PoV of a Montreal mob enforcer, sent to find one of his employer's escorts, who has gone missing in Jamaica. Her working name is Viv, and she was last seen in the company of a mysterious old man named The Commander.
Bond is in his mid-nineties, living in a Goldeneye style beachhouse, still pleasing a lady barely a quarter his age. She is of course the granddaughter of the original Vivienne. He has inherited Draco's vast wealth, and the entire island's native population revere and protect him because legend says he once slew a dragon.
Note, Bond is so indestructible, he has lived to be twice his official retirement age and still going strong, though a bit forgetful.
(my personal subjective value judgement: this one is well told and well conceived, demonstrating detailed knowledge of Fleming and both fitting and expanding on what Fleming wrote. I would accept this a final Bond story in the canon.)

story 19: Not an Honourable Disease, by Corey Redekop
Bond is in an old folks home, again in his mid-nineties, but senile. Told from the PoV of one of the attendants, who listens to his stories night after night while feeding him vodka. Bond is registered under the name David Somerset, and no longer remember his own. All the staff refer to him as Six, because that is his room number, and Bond complains "Six? why do you call me Six? I am not Six! I am, er, a different number, blast, why can I not remember?"
(Imagine the real Number Six in an old folks home, now thatd be a cantankerous old coot!)

It occurs to me, if Bond is in his midnineties in the last two stories, thatd be the present day if we accept the YOLT obit bithdate of ~1924.


I don't know if you'll be able to see this where you are, but the book is available through GoogleBooks at least here in Canada.

In sum, I think the exercise was well worth doing. I think many of the official continuation authors feel constrained in what they are allowed to do with the character, and end up writing stories that aren't just conservative, but unimaginative. Like they're saving their good ideas for something else. And I feel the same about the films, actually. The nineteen writers here definitely feel liberated to try new things.
When one day the franchise really does fall into the public domain worldwide, like Sherlock Holmes, maybe we can look forward to more genuinely original approaches to the character?

Some of the stories in this book are pretentious and selfrighteous, taking easy shots at the male fantasy. Others do a competent job of telling a standard Bond style short story, without adding anything new, and therefor not really needed. And still others show a deep knowledge of Fleming, are clever and nicely written, and add to the mythology without contradicting it, and those I'd say are keepers that justify the entire book.

So extrapolating, one day when all eight billion of us planet dwellers will have equal legal right to tell our own James Bond stories, we can of course expect a lot of drivel. That's statistically inevitable. But there's also going to be one or two truely brilliant stories just waiting to be told, that otherwise would suppressed by long-reaching copyright laws.

Last edited by caractacus potts (15th Sep 2019 15:29)


Re: What are you Currently Reading?

In the last couple of weeks I was busy drawing storyboards for a short film project that I'm working on and I've often enjoyed listening to director's commentaries in the past while doing storyboards, but this time I decided to try a couple of Bond audiobooks and I listened to the recordings of FRWL and DN, read by Toby Stephens and Hugh Quarshie respectively. Both were excellently done in my opinion and it was obviously great to revisit two of my favourite Bond novels. Quarshie did a very good job of bringing the Jamaican characters to life, and even though he is not from the Caribbean he does add a sense of authenticity with those characters. I haven't listened to Rory Kinnear's reading of LALD, but I cringe to think of him reading some of the African-American characters' dialogue in that one.

One interesting point in Dr No. Presumably as a result of the John Cork documentary from the DVDs, I've believed for years that Miss Taro does not appear in the novel. Patrick Macnee's narration does state that in the documentary, and even though I've read Dr No a couple of times since I saw that documentary, I still had it lodged in my head that she doesn't appear on the page. It's only this time as I was listening to the audiobook that it dawned on me that is present in the book (obviously they expanded her role for the film though).


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License to Thrill: a Cultural History of the James Bond Films
James Chapman

(I see from doing a Search of this site, at least one of our fellow AJB agents is close personal friends with Chapman. Z, if you read this, tell him I liked his books!)

Chapman gives a historical and more academic analysis of the Bond films, up to Tomorrow Never Dies, setting them in the context of the spy thriller genre and the film industry, particularly the British film history. He tries to avoid value judgements, though a few slip in, instead identifying structural elements and ideological signs.

As far as facts go, I gotta say I didn't learn so much as from his other book I read (see below), but that's cuz I hang out with you obsessives and already know way more trivia about the James Bond films than any normal healthy filmgoer would choose to waste braincells on. Still I did add a few details to my knowledge, there's a lot in here.

Whats really good is the setting of the films in context of film history. He argues the Connery films were revolutionary for their time, in terms of sex violence and spectacle, but also came along at exactly the same time American cinema, not just British, was relying more on what we know call blockbusters to pull viewers away from their new teeevees. Thus they themselves created the action blockbuster format as we now know it.
Yet by the early 70s, the films were no longer revolutionary, but nostalgic rituals parents took their kids to. The once shocking violence they introduced was now mainstream, and far surpassed by current cinema. This is one reason why the most formulaic films (...Spy..., Goldeneye) have been the most successsful, and the ones that dare tell a proper story (OHMSS, LtK) have flopped.

One influence I never heard of before was Dick Barton - Special Agent, a radio and film series in the late 40s about a very similar broadshouldered swashbuckling spy who saved the world from diabolical mad scientists and such. I shall have to hunt examples of these down.

In terms of ideology, he mosttly discusses patriotism (ironic under Connery, earnest as done by Lazenby and Moore), and the relative prominence of Russian or Chinese villains.

One idea he develops that I found very interesting:
We all know seducing the "girl" is part of the ritual of a proper James Bond story, necessary to save the world. Chapman points out most of these heroines are in the wrong place, by conventional social standards, when Bond first meets them: often in the villain's circle, or otherwise unusually independent selfsufficient survivors. When Bond gets the heroine in a clinch at the end, he isnt just getting some action, he is "repositioning" the female into the more socially conventional situation of being literally under the man in his bed. One of the best examples being the exceptionally competent Holly Goodhead who ends the film saying "oh James, take me round the world one more time". Chapman argues it is this "repositioning" of the female into a more conventional place that is the needed ritual act to save the world. Controversial stuff, yet the examples add up to support his case!

He does seem to get confused by MayDay though.

He makes the generalization that starting with ...Spy..., the female leads become more interesting than the villain, and in most cases I would agree. And I'm not convinced the later heroines all get "repositioned" by the end.

I like that the attention he gives the first two Brosnan films, we don't usually see them overanalysed to the depth of the classic films, and wish he had kept going up til today. Like if he thinks the female leads become more interesting than the villains, what did he think of Elektra King and Vesper Lynn? How did those two in particular fit into his theory?

Saints and Avengers: British Adventure Series of the 1960s
James Chapman

I had read this one first, and because it was so good is why I sought out his book on Bond.

In this book he covers the history of the famous spy shows that ran mostly on ITV in the 1960s.
Half the book covers Danger  Man, the Avengers, and the Saint, and I already commented on those here, here, and here.
He also discusses Adam Adamant Lives!, Man in a Suitcase, The Champions, Department S, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), Jason King and The Persuaders, most of which I've never heard of. Adam Adamant Lives! is the only BBC production covered, their imitation of the Avengers, and it sounds dreadful (BBC had contempt for the panderings of these ITV success stories), yet is an obvious inspiration on Austin Powers.

I learned much more from this book, but thats cuz I was much less familiar with the material, and now will have to seek out examples of these shows too!

Last edited by caractacus potts (21st Oct 2019 15:13)


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Just starting a new one, and it promises to be a CORKER!
Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump by Michael Isikoff and David Corn

"I mean, she almost kills bond...with her ass."
-Mr Arlington Beech


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A Silent Armageddon
Writer: Simon Jowett, Art: John M. Burns

an original James Bond story published by Dark Horse Comics in 1993, but abandoned midway after only two issues.
Supposedly because Burns was taking too long to complete the art. The art in the completed issues really is beautiful, lots of watercolours. Burns is a British cartoonist, who worked briefly on Modesty Blaise and a long run on a Judge Dredd backup series.

Dark Horse published maybe a half dozen original stories in the early 1990s, including this one. I think the other stories did get completed, just not this one. One could think of the Dark Horse James Bond comics as the Unseen Missions between Licence to Kill and Goldeneye!

The story is unclear from the two completed issues. Something to do with a computer virus during the early days of the Internet, hacking into Military networks, and a disabled thirteen year old programming genius. this page somehow knows what would have happened in the two unpublished issues.
It's all a little too William Gibson for my tastes, all the old fantasies about the shared virtual reality of cyberspace back when few people even had text based browsers.
And James Bond himself does not appear enough in the completed pages, though Burns does draw him very well (a bit like the comic strip Bond, but more fully rendered)


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The Raymond Benson continuation Bond novels remain the one corner of the Bond continuation canon that I've yet to fully explore, partly because I don't own all of them and they are pretty hard to come by here in South Africa. Another reason is that I like the fact that there are still some Bond novels currently out there in the world for me to track down and read. The other reason is that opinions on Benson's books tend to lean toward the negative. Curiously, the first Bond novel I ever read was a Benson - Zero Minus Ten. About five years ago I read High Time to Kill. I though that both of those were enjoyable Bond adventures even if they didn't rank particularly highly in my Bond novel ranking.

So recently I decided that it was about time that I ticked another of Benson's novel off my list, and one that I've owned for a while but haven't read was The Facts of Death. So I read it over the last week, and like the two previous Benson novels that I read, I enjoyed it. It's definitely not going to be at the bottom of my ranking (Carte Blanche holds that position). However, over the last couple of years my reading diet has consisted mainly of the likes of Len Deighton, Mick Herron, John Le Carre and Adam Hall. So immediately the fantastical elements, occasional crass humour, and scarcely believable sexual encounters in Benson's novel were unsettling. But I entered into the spirit of it, and as I mentioned before, found the novel pretty entertaining. I enjoyed Bond's reunion with Felix, although Felix speeding around on a motorised wheelchair during one of the action scenes did create a rather ridiculous image in my mind. I also enjoyed Bond encountering the retired Sir Miles Messervy, but on the other hand it felt rather strange when the current female M is found in a vulnerable position with a dead lover on her hands.

I was also struck by the number of deaths in this novel. Apart from the people killed in the action scenes, several hundred people are killed as a result of the villain's biological warfare plot. I can't think of another Bond novel with so much loss of life.

The locations in the novel were decent, although the description of place was sadly lacking Fleming's brilliant journalistic eye for interesting detail. As in almost all continuation novels, the contextual information supplied about the locations read like a Wikipedia entry (or as this is a 1998 novel, perhaps Microsoft Encarta is a more suitable comparison).

So I've now read three of Benson's six original novels, and despite my criticisms I'm reasonably confident that I will find sufficient entertainment in the remaining three to get me enthusiastic about reading them in the near future. Now, I just need to lay my hands on a copy of Doubleshot.

Last edited by Golrush007 (8th Feb 2020 14:47)


Re: What are you Currently Reading?

I've got an ongoing thread on the Something Awful forums that's been reading the entire series and coming to a greater appreciation for it, as well as explaining the history, food and drink, and technology behind everything Fleming references. It's introduced a ton of people to the books and led to some interesting opinions on the less popular works (like The Spy Who Loved Me).

Right now we just started The Man with the Golden Gun. Once it's done we're starting a new thread to do the continuation books!