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The Other Bond

Alex Massie has a characteristically sharp take on the James Bond novels, which continue to be rolled out even more quicky than the films, 23(!) of them since Ian Fleming's death in 1964:

These are deceptively tranquil waters in which to swim. The very attributes that make it seem so simple to produce a fresh Bond adventure - the girls, the villain, the gasdgets, the cars, the Sea Island cotton shirts, dry martinis and cigarettes from Morland's  - all, the established cliches of the genre - are traps for a writer. They restrict his freedom, forcing him into a cul de sac of cliche from which there is, alas, no escape. You might think the very flatness of Fleming's style would be easy to replicate, but it turns out that's it's riper for parody than emulation.

[T]he way to save Bond is to kill off some of the sillyness that has infected the series, stripping it back to its essentials and beginning again, this time in darker, murkier tones that offer the possibility of originality while still satisfying the escapist demands of the secret agent genre. That might make for a Bond book worth caring about. Much more probably, alas, we will continue to be treated to referential homages that slip into pastiche, becoming a travesty of the very works they're intended to honour.

The novels, it seems, are still awaiting their reboot.

--Christopher Orr