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Topic: The Union Trilogy

I've only read the Fleming novels and recently decided to jump into some of the other stuff.  I didn't really know where to start but then I saw the Union Trilogy and I bought it.  I guess I was figuring that a trilogy would be self-contained and not require any outside reading first.  I notice now that Benson released a couple of other Bond novels before these, so my question is are they recommended or required to read first?

Last edited by Unloved Season (4th Jan 2018 06:16)

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Re: The Union Trilogy

I'd recommend going with the Gardner follow-ups rather than Benson. And don't forget Colonel Sun.

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Re: The Union Trilogy

But to answer your question, there is no need to read Benson's other novels to enjoy the Union Trilogy.

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Re: The Union Trilogy

Ah, thanks for answering.  I actually found a little goldmine of cool old Bond paperbacks (although in nearly perfect condition) at a used bookstore yesterday and I got a few of Gardner's.  Icebreaker, Nobody Lives Forever and the Goldeneye novelization which I started reading on a whim last night.  So I guess that wound up being my first non-Fleming Bond novel.  I also found the Moonraker and TSWLM novelizations and a couple of cool old Stephen King books.  Same question about Gardner though, do the continuation novels need to be read in order or can I just jump into one of those two?

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Re: The Union Trilogy

I have been working my way through the Fleming novels.  I am currently reading TSWLM, I am getting antsy because I will soon be out of Fleming novels to read.  Do any other authors come remotely close to his style, and his Bond?  What about the comics?

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Re: The Union Trilogy

Unloved Season wrote:

Same question about Gardner though, do the continuation novels need to be read in order or can I just jump into one of those two?

I only read the first half dozen or so and my memory is imperfect, but...
I do think itd help to read them in order, there is some continuity, some new characters introduced who return in later volumes, some events that influence later plots.
Specifically:

SpoilerSPECTRE returns in the first couple of Gardner books, and goes through a couple new leaders

I didn't really like Gardner's books, but I do recommend reading the first four then rewatching A View to a Kill.

jdwad246 wrote:

Do any other authors come remotely close to his style, and his Bond?  What about the comics?

If nothing else everybody should read Colonel Sun.

If by "the comics" you mean the longrunning newspaper strip that has been compiled by Titan Books, they're interesting but the series ran so long I never got round to the later volumes ... so I guess that means the original storylines were not good enough to keep me coming back for more. There's also a new ongoing comic book series, completely unrelated to those newspaper strips, but I haven't read that.

The most interesting thing about the newspaper strip series, is the second creative team adapted several of Flemings lesser stories and expanded them into full fledged cinematic epics, the way the films would sometimes do, yet retained almost all of what Fleming wrote when they did so, which the films mostly did not ... so you get a version of Fleming's The Spy Who Loved Me or Fleming's Octopussy with all the scope of the films yet still keeping Fleming's actual plot largely intact. A pretty cool trick I wish the films could have managed more often than they did.

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Re: The Union Trilogy

caractacus potts wrote:

I didn't really like Gardner's books, but I do recommend reading the first four then rewatching A View to a Kill.

As you can tell from my avatar I certainly don't mind re-watching AVTAK, though it probably won't be necessary as I could perform it as a one man show by this point.  I tried once but everybody bailed during the May Day/Bond sex scene.

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Re: The Union Trilogy

jdwad246 wrote:

I have been working my way through the Fleming novels.  I am currently reading TSWLM, I am getting antsy because I will soon be out of Fleming novels to read.  Do any other authors come remotely close to his style, and his Bond? What about the comics?

I will echo the splendid reply of Caractacus Potts and say Colonel Sun should come first on the post-Fleming list. And as Mr. Potts notes, the comic strip adaptations of TSWLM, The Hilderbrand Rarity and Octopussy do an excellent job of expanding the originals. The comic strip version of TMWTGG sticks closer to the book but improves on it.

I also recommend John Pearson's James Bond: The Authorised Biography, written by a man who truly knew Fleming. It's more creative than any of the later continuation novels. I've read all of Gardner's Bonds, but I don't think any are essential reading. I read Benson's first book and wasn't interested enough to pursue the rest.

For the Fleming touch you could also try his nonfiction works Thrilling Cities and The Diamond Smugglers, along with his charming book of letters The Man With the Golden Typewriter.

If you still want fiction, why not read the authors who influenced Fleming? Dashiell Hammett (The Maltese Falcon), Raymond Chandler (The Big Sleep), Sax Rohmer (The Island Of Fu Manchu), Sapper (Bulldog Drummond), Leslie Charteris (The Saint in New York), Dennis Wheatley (Contraband), Somerset Maugham (Ashenden), Graham Greene (This Gun For Hire), Eric Ambler (A Coffin for Dimitrios), Geoffrey Household (Rogue Male), Simenon (the Maigret series), Peter Cheyney (Dark Duet), John Buchan (The 39 Steps), Hugh Edwards (All Night at Mr. Staneyhursts--Fleming wrote a introduction to its reissue), Herbert de Lisser (White Witch of Rosehall), E. Phillips Oppenheim (The Great Impersonation), Phyllis Bottome (Wind in his Fists), Peter Fleming (The Sixth Column), and Rex Stout (the Nero Wolfe series). Put them all in a blender and you get something very close to Ian Fleming!

Last edited by Revelator (5th Jan 2018 03:52)

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Re: The Union Trilogy

I'd forgotten about Colonel Sun and also I think had it confused with a later novel by some other author.  I normally like to read physical books but I just got a neat little e-reader for Christmas and had some free promotional downloads, so I just downloaded it.  I'll probably read that first and then get into the other stuff.

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Re: The Union Trilogy

I'd like to compliment Revelator on his splendid post and agree with his recommendations.

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Re: The Union Trilogy

Barbel wrote:

I'd like to compliment Revelator on his splendid post and agree with his recommendations.

Seconded, only I would of course put the John Gardner Bond novels down on the essential literary Bond reading list. But you knew that already!  ajb007/biggrin

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: The Union Trilogy

I must work on my splendid reply game.

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Re: The Union Trilogy

clublos wrote:

I must work on my splendid reply game.

It's not easy.

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: The Union Trilogy

I ended up reading Colonel Sun (which I enjoyed) and the Goldeneye/TSWLM novelizations (which I didn't find all that great even though I love the movies), then just decided to get into the Benson novels since I already have this thick Union Trilogy book on the shelf.  So I went ahead and picked up a copy of that Choice Of Weapons collection.  I'm 2/3 or so through Zero Minus Ten and have been enjoying it although it has some problems.  I could have done without the Mahjong game that went on for eternity but it seems he was trying to pull a Fleming so I can't fault him too much for attempting to recapture the original style.  But it was hard to get through considering Mahjong confuses me.  It was like reading a Star Wars book with a convoluted Sabacc game in it.   I also read the Blast From The Past short story which I thought was terrible.  I'm guessing that tacky ending was there simply because it was published in Playboy.

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Re: The Union Trilogy

Colonel Sun is always a good place to start, for the post-Fleming Bond novels.  ajb007/martini

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: The Union Trilogy

Our esteemed member charmed and dangerous has recommended that I take col sun to Cyprus to read on my holiday ,and I will bow to his literary knowledge ,but I know silhouette man has a soft spot for moonraker along with my good buddy TP  ajb007/biggrin  ajb007/biggrin

By the way, did I tell you,  I was       "Mad"?

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Re: The Union Trilogy

always shaken wrote:

Our esteemed member charmed and dangerous has recommended that I take col sun to Cyprus to read on my holiday ,and I will bow to his literary knowledge ,but I know silhouette man has a soft spot for moonraker along with my good buddy TP  ajb007/biggrin  ajb007/biggrin

Either one would be very good indeed. Have you read Moonraker yet, AS?

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: The Union Trilogy

Silhouette Man wrote:
always shaken wrote:

Our esteemed member charmed and dangerous has recommended that I take col sun to Cyprus to read on my holiday ,and I will bow to his literary knowledge ,but I know silhouette man has a soft spot for moonraker along with my good buddy TP  ajb007/biggrin  ajb007/biggrin

Either one would be very good indeed. Have you read Moonraker yet, AS?

Not yet SM I try to take a Bond book which is relevant to the country I goon holiday ,so I can savour the food drink ,that is applicable to that country ,so as I’m off to Cyprus I’m taking Col Sun as C&D says it has a Greek setting ,but your assistance on moonraker would be most welcome

By the way, did I tell you,  I was       "Mad"?

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Re: The Union Trilogy

always shaken wrote:
Silhouette Man wrote:
always shaken wrote:

Our esteemed member charmed and dangerous has recommended that I take col sun to Cyprus to read on my holiday ,and I will bow to his literary knowledge ,but I know silhouette man has a soft spot for moonraker along with my good buddy TP  ajb007/biggrin  ajb007/biggrin

Either one would be very good indeed. Have you read Moonraker yet, AS?

Not yet SM I try to take a Bond book which is relevant to the country I goon holiday ,so I can savour the food drink ,that is applicable to that country ,so as I’m off to Cyprus I’m taking Col Sun as C&D says it has a Greek setting ,but your assistance on moonraker would be most welcome

No, it's quite right to take Colonel Sun. It's a favourite of mine too. I need to reread it myself!

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).