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message 1: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 9379 comments Mod
Ian Fleming came up in the Len Deighton thread so, to save that thread more digressions, here's a dedicated thread.

Ian Lancaster Fleming (28 May 1908 – 12 August 1964) was an English author, journalist and naval intelligence officer who is best known for his James Bond series of spy novels. Fleming came from a wealthy family connected to the merchant bank Robert Fleming & Co., and his father was the Member of Parliament for Henley from 1910 until his death on the Western Front in 1917. Educated at Eton, Sandhurst and, briefly, the universities of Munich and Geneva, Fleming moved through several jobs before he started writing.

While working for Britain's Naval Intelligence Division during the Second World War, Fleming was involved in planning Operation Goldeneye and in the planning and oversight of two intelligence units, 30 Assault Unit and T-Force. His wartime service and his career as a journalist provided much of the background, detail and depth of the James Bond novels.

Fleming wrote his first Bond novel, Casino Royale, in 1952. It was a success, with three print runs being commissioned to cope with the demand. Eleven Bond novels and two collections of short-stories followed between 1953 and 1966. The novels revolved around James Bond, an officer in the Secret Intelligence Service, commonly known as MI6. Bond was also known by his code number, 007, and was a commander in the Royal Naval Reserve. The Bond stories rank among the best-selling series of fictional books of all time, having sold over 100 million copies worldwide. Fleming also wrote the children's story Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang and two works of non-fiction. In 2008, The Times ranked Fleming 14th on its list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".

Fleming was married to Ann Charteris, who was divorced from the second Viscount Rothermere because of her affair with the author. Fleming and Charteris had a son, Caspar. Fleming was a heavy smoker and drinker for most of his life and succumbed to heart disease in 1964 at the age of 56. Two of his James Bond books were published posthumously; other writers have since produced Bond novels. Fleming's creation has appeared in film twenty-six times, portrayed by seven actors.

message 2: by Nigeyb (last edited Dec 26, 2017 11:07AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 9379 comments Mod
I'm a regular listener to the Backlisted Podcast

Here's how the Backlisted Podcast was launched in Dec 2015, and which I love...

So we’ve started a podcast. It’s called Backlisted and the simple premise is that every fortnight we choose an old book we think everyone should read. Unbound are sponsoring it and it is hosted by me and Andy Miller, an old friend and former colleague from the early (glory) days of Waterstone’s now better known as the author of the wonderful memoir The Year of Reading Dangerously.

Each episode also features a special guest. The first three are Lissa Evans on J.L. Carr’s A Month in the Country, Linda Grant on Jean Rhys’s Good Morning, Midnight and Jonathan Coe on David Nobb’s It Had To Be You. There’s also a ‘tenuous link’ cameo by Unbound’s Mathew Clayton. We intend for it to be warm, enthusiastic and cheerful – rather like the atmosphere of Waterstone’s staffroom in 1992, only with better drinks and (marginally) less swearing.

Backlisted is not about promoting new books, either by ourselves, Unbound or anyone else. The decision to do it sprung out of two related observations: one, that people keep asking us what they should read; and two, that almost all the existing book podcasts are driven by what is new rather than what is good. If nothing else, if you do acquire the books we recommend you’ll have a pretty interesting bookshelf to dust and share pictures of on Instagram.

Franz Kafka once wrote that a book was ‘an axe to break the frozen sea within us’ which perhaps goes a little too far (a Haynes car manual comes in useful when you’re trying to install a new alternator) but we do think, in Andy’s words, that books ‘represent the best that human beings are capable of’. We also think that the act of reading a whole book – in a world too often dominated by snap judgements and borrowed one-liners – actually makes us wiser, more tolerant human beings.

Why do I mention it now?

The 25 Dec 2017 episode is dedicated to...

On Her Majesty's Secret Service

message 3: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 9379 comments Mod
The Backlisted discussion about On Her Majesty's Secret Service is a lot of fun and well worth a listen.....

message 4: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4533 comments Mod
Thank you for setting up this thread, Nigeyb. I'm not a big Ian Fleming fan nowadays, but I did read all the books when I was younger.

I thought OHMSS was the best of the lot, but sadly the film starred George Lazenby rather than Sean Connery and for my money there was no comparison between the two actors!

message 5: by Michael (new)

Michael (mikeynick) | 332 comments I've never read a bind novel but shall do so.
Interesting to note that the order of the publication of the books is totally different to the order of the films. I expect some very obvious differences.

message 6: by Brina (new)

Brina Finally, my kind of post. I have been reading through the Bond novels and have seen every movie. My favorite is Daniel Craig and my favorite non Craig movie is For Your Eyes Only. And I have a soft spot for Connery because he was the first Bond. If this group ever reads a Bond book I am game.

message 7: by Nigeyb (last edited Dec 27, 2017 12:14AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 9379 comments Mod
Great news Brina. I'm certainly tempted by Colonel Sun by Robert Markham (which is Kingsley Amis writing post-Fleming Bond under an assumed name)...

Lunch at Scott’s, a quiet game of golf, a routine social call on his chief M, convalescing in his Regency house in Berkshire – the life of secret agent James Bond has begun to fall into a pattern that threatens complacency… until the sunny afternoon when M is kidnapped and his house staff savagely murdered.

The action ricochets across the globe to a volcanic Greek island where the glacial, malign Colonel Sun Liang-tan of the People’s Liberation Army of China collaborates with an ex-Nazi atrocity expert in a world-menacing conspiracy. Bond finds himself working in alliance with the beautiful tawny-blonde agent of a rival secret service in the struggle to overpower this ruthless enemy who discards the unwritten rules of espionage. Stripped of all professional aids, Bond faces unarmed the monstrous devices of Colonel Sun in a test that brings him to the verge of his physical endurance.

Incredibly, the author adds his own imaginative impetus to the Bond saga yet preserves all the excitement and eloquence, the pace and glitter of a vintage Fleming novel.

message 8: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9846 comments Mod
I am conflicted about these modern day continuations. I think the best I have read were the Jill Paton Walsh books, which continued the Lord Peter Wimsey series. They varied in success, but were all very readable - although even she took characters in directions that you just couldn't see. The Poirot one was SO out of character that I have never read another and couldn't face reading one of the non-Poirot crime novels by the author in question... I think it may be best to just leave well alone, but, obviously, the publishers want to make money...

message 9: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 9379 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "I am conflicted about these modern day continuations. I think the best I have read were the Jill Paton Walsh books, which continued the Lord Peter Wimsey series. They varied in success, but all were all very readable..."

One I loved was Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks. Sebastian Faulks, in the book's introduction, describes this book as "a tribute" by "a fan" and not "an imitation".

More here on our P.G. Wodehouse thread...

message 10: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4533 comments Mod
Colonel Sun was published in the 60s only 4 years after Fleming's death and by the looks of things carries on from The Man with the Golden Gun.

I've just looked up its Wikipedia page and it says that various elements have since been borrowed and used in Bond films, so it was quite influential.

message 11: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9846 comments Mod
They vary in quality, but now it seems that publishers are keen to have endless Sherlock Holmes, Young Bond, etc. sequels. I do feel sorry for new authors, as it seems even harder to get published with this endless quest for a new series with a safety net of readership already there.

message 12: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 9379 comments Mod
I read something similar Judy. I probably read Colonel Sun when I was a kid - but I would not have been doing much comparing and contrasting with the originals. I quite like the idea of characters living on, if it's done well.

Colonel Sun was published in 1968. Ian Fleming died in 1964. According to the 007wiki....

Discounting the two screenplay novelisations by Christopher Wood, and James Bond: The Authorised Biography of 007 (1973), by John Pearson, Colonel Sun was the last, new James Bond novel published until Licence Renewed, by John Gardner in 1981.

message 13: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4533 comments Mod
Thanks Nigeyb. I also just found this Daily Telegraph article about all the various Bond continuations:

message 14: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4533 comments Mod
Michael wrote: "Interesting to note that the order of the publication of the books is totally different to the order of the films. I expect some very obvious differences."

Some of the later films are completely different stories from the books and only retain the title - I remember The Spy Who Loved Me is one example of this. If memory serves, the book is all seen through the eyes of the heroine and Bond doesn't even appear until quite late on.

message 15: by Nigeyb (last edited Dec 27, 2017 03:04AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 9379 comments Mod
Thanks for the article Judy - very interesting

And yes, the books and the films are generally very different beasts

Interestingly the Backlisted Pod concluded that Fleming's writing holds up really well and that he became (he was learning on the job) a consummate prose writer, and his plotting is good too. Whilst the early films are quintessentially 1960s, the books are much more strongly rooted in the 1950s.

If you can overlook the usual issues with older fiction (questionable attitudes to women, casual racism etc.) then - so Backlisted concluded - there is an awful lot to enjoy.

I think that people's attitudes to, and perceptions of, Bond are largely informed by the films and, as is so often the case, the books should really be taken on their own terms.

Susan will also be interested to learn that, whilst the books can all be read as stand alone, the Bond character is on a narrative journey across the Fleming books (and into Colonel Sun) to the extent that by On Her Majesty's Secret Service he is ready to give up spying and settle down into domesticity. Something that we never see in the films eh?

One other nugget was the wonderful opinion that Lazenby is probably the most authentic portrayal of the literary Bond, as he brings out more of the self loathing and disgust with how me makes his living. Who knew?

message 16: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4533 comments Mod
Nigeyb wrote: "If you can overlook the usual issues with older fiction (questionable attitudes to women, casual racism etc.) then - so Backlisted concluded - there is an awful lot to enjoy. ..."

Hard to get over those attitudes in Bond, though, I'd say. Of course, Fleming died fairly young, and if he had lived longer he might well have changed some of his views/portrayals, as some other writers from that era did.

I do agree that Bond is evolving as a character in the later books and becoming an increasingly conflicted figure (again relying on memory from reading them many years ago).

message 17: by Bronwyn (last edited Dec 27, 2017 05:34AM) (new)

Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 320 comments Weirdly, I've never seen any Bond films (I've seen that Fleming miniseries from a few years back, though), but recently decided I want to read the books, so added them to my library wish list. They have quite a lot (I don't know if it's all of them), and I hope to give them a go this coming year. Seems that not having seen the films might help, eh?

message 18: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9846 comments Mod
Ian Fleming is a Big Kindle Deal of the Day today - with seven James Bond titles.

message 19: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 9379 comments Mod
Forever and a Day by Anthony Horowitz is also published in a few days

Forever and a Day is a prequel to
Casino Royale - I read a review on Saturday. It sounds fun.

message 20: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9846 comments Mod
I like Anthony Horowitz a lot - he is such a talented author.

message 21: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten  (kmcripn) There's something fun and almost innocent about James Bond. Back before Islamic fundamentalism.

message 22: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4533 comments Mod
I'm intrigued by the thought of a prequel to Casino Royale. I've only read one book by Anthony Horowitz so far, Magpie Murders, which I really enjoyed until the plot took a turn which annoyed me - I will say no more, since I would hate to spoil it for anyone! But I will definitely be interested to read more by him.

message 23: by W (new)

W Over the years,I have enjoyed the movie Bond a lot.But,the Fleming books are another matter.I have read,Live and Let Die.Didn't find it particularly compelling.Also,started Casino Royale,but abandoned it.

message 24: by Michael (new)

Michael (mikeynick) | 332 comments If I choose to read any then it would be From Russia With Love, my favourite.

I've watched this film in Theatre No 7, now renamed the John Barry Theatre, all bond films are previewed there.

On that particular day I met number of Bond girls, including Eunice Grayson, who appeared in From Russia With Love.

message 25: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 9379 comments Mod
Probably my favourite Bond novel too Michael. I read it again only a few years back and it still stands up

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