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Literature / James Bond

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Ian Fleming's original sketch impression of James Bond

Before 007 toted his Walther PPK on the silver screen, he was featured in a series of novels by Ian Fleming. The character first appeared in the novel Casino Royale (1953).

The Bond of the books is a much different character than the one in the films, which often parodied or even disregarded their sources. Given that Fleming was born in 1908, and wrote the novels in the 1950s and 1960s, his books do not always display the kindest attitudes with regard to sex, race, and imperialism.

Since Fleming died, other authors have continued the series. These authors include Kingsley Amis (under the pseudonym Robert Markham), John Gardner, Raymond Benson, Sebastian Faulks and Jeffery Deaver. There is also a series about a Young James Bond and one about Moneypenny, called The Moneypenny Diaries. The BBC have also adapted a number of the original Fleming novels into radio dramas starring Toby Stephens as Bond and an all-star cast, which are more straightforward adaptations of the novels than the EON films.


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The Original Novels

     Ian Fleming 
The original novels and short stories by Ian Fleming:
  • Casino Royale (April, 1953)
  • Live and Let Die (April, 1954)
  • Moonraker (April, 1955)† 
  • Diamonds Are Forever (March, 1956)† 
  • From Russia with Love (April, 1957)† 
  • Dr. No (March, 1958)† 
  • Goldfinger (March, 1959)† 
  • For Your Eyes Only (April, 1960). Short story collection. A couple of the stories had been previously published in magazines.
    • "Quantum of Solace" (May, 1959). Story idea suggested by Blanche Blackwell. Story also serves as Fleming's homage to the short stories of W. Somerset Maugham.
    • "The Hildebrand Rarity" (March, 1960)
    • "From a View to a Kill"
    • "For Your Eyes Only". The eponymous story of the collection.
    • "Risico"
  • Thunderball (March, 1961). First appearance of Ernst Stavro Blofeld.† 
  • The Spy Who Loved Me (April, 1962)
  • On Her Majesty's Secret Service (April, 1963). Second appearance of Ernst Stavro Blofeld.† 
  • You Only Live Twice (April, 1964). Third and last appearance of Ernst Stavro Blofeld.† 
  • The Man with the Golden Gun (April, 1965)
  • Octopussy and The Living Daylights (June, 1966). Short story collection. All stories had been previously published in magazines. The original edition included two of them, later editions added the rest.
    • "The Living Daylights" (February, 1962)
    • "007 in New York" (October, 1963)
    • "The Property of a Lady" (November, 1963)
    • "Octopussy" (March-April, 1966)

     Kingsley Amis 
  • Colonel Sun (March, 1968) by Kingsley Amis, written under the pseudonym Robert Markham.


Official Continuation Universe

     John Gardner 

     Raymond Benson 
  • "Blast from the Past" (January, 1997). Short story, sequel to You Only Live Twice.
  • Zero Minus Ten (April, 1997)
  • The Facts of Death (1998)
  • "Midsummer Night's Doom" (January, 1999). Short story. Bond's mission takes him into the Playboy Mansion. Hugh Hefner and Lisa Dergan are prominently featured.
  • High Time to Kill (May, 1999)
  • "Live at Five" (November, 1999). Short story. Janet Davies, a real-life television reporter, is prominently featured.
  • DoubleShot (May, 2000). A sequel to High Time to Kill.
  • Never Dream of Dying (2001). Continues and concludes the plots of High Time to Kill and DoubleShot.
  • The Man with the Red Tattoo (May, 2002). Benson resigned his writing duties following the publication of the novelization of Die Another Day, wishing to work on non-series novels.

Non-Continuity and Non-Official Continuation

     One Shots 
  • Devil May Care (May, 2008) by Sebastian Faulks. Set in 1967.
  • Carte Blanche (May, 2011) by Jeffery Deaver. A reboot set in the 2010s, where Bond was born c. 1979, and his current mission involves investigating the deaths of his parents, who served as agents during the Cold War.
  • Solo (September, 2013) by William Boyd. Set in 1969.
  • Trigger Mortis (September, 2015) by Anthony Horowitz. Set just after Goldfinger, it contains small amounts of material written by Fleming.
  • Forever And A Day (May, 2018), again by Anthony Horowitz. Set just before Casino Royale, telling the story of Bond's first foray as Agent 007.

     Spin-Offs and Other 
  • 003½: The Adventures of James Bond Junior (1967) by R. D. Mascott (pseudonym). The novel covers the adventures of a namesake nephew of Bond.
  • James Bond: The Authorised Biography of 007 (1973) by John Pearson. A retired James Bond narrates his life story to a biographer.
  • The Moneypenny Diaries — By Samantha Weinberg (under the pseudonym "Kate Westbrook"), the series features the story of Miss Jane Moneypenny, a supporting character. The stories fit in between some of the original Fleming novels, and offer background and character development to the title character, as well as filling in the blanks of certain eras of Bond's life.
    • The Moneypenny Diaries: Guardian Angel (October, 2005). Placed between On Her Majesty's Secret Service and You Only Live Twice.
    • Secret Servant: The Moneypenny Diaries (November, 2006). Placed within the same period as The Man with the Golden Gun.
    • "For Your Eyes Only, James" (November, 2006). Short story, features Moneypenny and Bond sharing a weekend vacation in September, 1956.
    • "Moneypenny's First Date with Bond" (November, 2006). Short story, placed prior to Casino Royale. Moneypenny and recently assigned 007 meet for the first time.
    • The Moneypenny Diaries: Final Fling (May, 2008). Events placed c. 1964, explicitly following The Man with the Golden Gun. Moneypenny is searching for a mole within the Secret Service.
  • Young Bond — Features the 1930s adventures of a teenaged James Bond. For more details, see the relevant entry. Originally written by Charlie Higson, then Steve Cole.
  • Licence Expired: The Unauthorized James Bond: In 2015, Fleming's Bond novels became Public Domain in Canada and other Life+50 countries, leading to the first multi-author short story collection. Contributors include Charles Stross.

     Film Novelizations 
  • James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) by Christopher Wood. Quite different from its source, it added characters and organizations from the Fleming novels to the plot, and incorporates the events of the film into the literary Bond's continuity.
  • James Bond and Moonraker (1979) by Christopher Wood. Mostly faithful to its source, though it excluded part of the film's subplots.
  • Licence to Kill (1989) by John Gardner. Attempted to incorporate the events of the film into the literary Bond's continuity. With strange results.
  • GoldenEye (1995) by John Gardner. Mostly faithful to its source, expanded certain scenes, dialogues, and character interactions. Also attempts to incorporate the events of the film into the literary Bond's continuity, chiefly Messervy's retirement and replacement by Barbara Mawdsley.
  • Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) by Raymond Benson. Attempts to incorporate the events of the film in the literary Bond's continuity. Film characters receive expanded backgrounds, and dialogue. Novel characters are added to the plot.
  • The World Is Not Enough (1999) by Raymond Benson. Some details were changed to fit with the literary Bond's continuity. An unnamed assassin from the film received a name and an expanded role.
  • Die Another Day (2002) by Raymond Benson. Mostly faithful to its source, though Benson changed the geographic setting of certain scenes. The villains, Tan-Sun Moon and Miranda Frost, received more detailed backgrounds, expanded scenes, and additional exploration of their motives.

The series contains examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: Fleming does not continue the SMERSH storyline after From Russia With Love, aside from mention that Auric Goldfinger is actually its foreign treasurer (its role as a Nebulous Evil Organization is practically absent in the novel). By Thunderball they're said to have been disbanded by Khrushchev and subsumed into the greater KGB, and SPECTRE takes over as the villain for three of the next four novels. Other writers brought them back to tie up loose ends, and they return in (in in-universe chronological order):
    • In Trigger Mortis (set in 1957, immediately after Goldfinger), they're the Greater-Scope Villain who hired the Big Bad to fake the destruction of an American space rocket in New York. It's mentioned that their leader General Grubozaboyschikov has vanished from sight since the failed assassination attempt on Bond in From Russia with Love.
    • They feature in the novelisation of The Spy Who Loved Me (which is written to fit the literary Bond continuity), now led by Nikitin from From Russia With Love.
    • John Gardner brings SMERSH back in Icebreaker where the entire eponymous operation is the organization's gambit to get Bond behind the Russian border where he can be easily delivered to Moscow. Capturing the Big Bad was simply a beneficial side effect. Furthermore, SMERSH is an active participant in Bond's manhunt in Nobody Lives for Ever. Finally, in No Deals, Mr Bond, the SMERSH storyline ends when Bond captures Grubozaboyschikov's successor, General Chernov.
  • Affectionate Parody: Fleming is said to have written the books as a parody of the spy thrillers of the time.
  • Author Tract: Bond tended to parrot quite a few of Fleming's own views, sometimes to Fleming's chagrin.
  • Arc Number: 007, naturally.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: Fleming intended James Bond's name to be an aversion as he chose it as the most non-descript and boring name imaginable. As it happened, decades of novels and movies have made the name feel anything but those qualities.
  • Broad Strokes: Raymond Benson was given free reign to include or disregard John Gardner's novels as he wished. Benson's novels reference elements of Gardner's - Bond mentions switching sidearm to the ASP 9, smokes Simmons cigarettes, mentions Gardner-created love interests and Barbara Mawdsley is M, but he also ignores/retcons major things like Bond's Rank Up to a Captain and appointment to leader of the Double-O section (and how before that it was disbanded for over a decade).
  • Characterization Marches On: The Bond of Casino Royale is a far more realistic, flawed character than the one shown in the latter books. In turn, the films took the post-Casino Royale character and inflated his traits into the James Bond popularly known today.
  • Comicbook Time: Bond is said to be eight years from retirement (ergo, thirty-seven) during the third novel Moonraker, but Fleming otherwise kept his age nebulously between 35 and 40, shuffling his birth year forward accordingly. Later writers have embraced this, and Bond has remained perpetually in his late thirties from the 1950s to the 2010s.
  • Continuity Snarl: John Gardner fitted his film novelizations into the continuity of his continuing series, which led to some unavoidable oddities when he had to reconcile Licence to Kill, despite it being a loose adaptation of elements of Live and Let Die, The Hildebrand Rarity, and The Man with the Golden Gun stories. The result includes such ridiculousness as Felix Leiter getting fed to a shark twice in his lifetime (this time, the shark eats his prosthetic and the villains don't notice), and the unexplainable (and so, unexplained) reappearance of Milton Krest.
  • Cool Car: Fleming was a car lover, and cars are frequently mentioned as Bond's "only hobby" - his personal cars include:
    • A Bamford & Martin Sidevalve tourer he inherited from his Uncle Max.
    • Its replacement and his most well-known car, a battleship grey 1930 supercharged 4.5L Bentley "Blower" he owned until Hugo Drax wrecked it in Moonraker.
    • He replaced that with an open-topped Bentley Mk VI that he bought with the money he won from Drax.
    • By Thunderball he had sold that and bought an R-Type Bentley with a Mulliner fastback coupe body, again in battleship grey, that he dubbed "the Locomotive".
    • In Solo he puts the Locomotive out to pasture and buys a Jensen Interceptor.
    • In the John Gardner era, he at first drives a Bentley Mulsanne Turbo, then by the late 80s switched to a tricked-out version of the iconic Saab 900 Turbo, which he dubbed the "Silver Beast".
  • Covert Group with Mundane Front: Universal Exports. First mentioned in Live and Let Die, MI6 used this fake import-export company as a cover for their activities. Whenever someone needed to contact MI6 over an insecure line, they played the role of a company rep contacting their supervisor (aka M), using corporate lingo to hide the real message. It's later shown in Moonraker that MI6 uses other fictitious names such as "Radio Tests Ltd.," "Delaney Bros. (1940) Ltd" and the "Omnium Corporation" as covers for their offices in London. By OHMSS, it is noted that everyone, including the KGB and Blofeld, knew who "Universal Exports" truly was, forcing MI6 to use "Transworld Consortium" as a new cover name in The Man with the Golden Gun.
  • Cutlery Escape Aid: In Trigger Mortis, Bond manages to steal a knife during a dinner provided by Jason Sin, and later uses it help himself to dig out from being buried alive.
  • Dan Browned: In real life SMERSH ceased to exist in 1946, at which point its duties were assumed by the NKGB, which eventually became the MGB. SMERSH's depiction in the books is more similar to the KGB.
  • Dead Man's Trigger Finger: Hoo boy. Whenever a mook dies, and if he's holding an automatic weapon, chances are it'll keep firing until the ammo runs out.
  • Dirty Communists:
    • Since Bond debuted during the Cold War, his most frequent nemesis in the early novels is the SMERSH, the Soviet counter-espionage organization whose name was an acronym for "Death to Spies."
    • The tradition is continued in Gardner's eighties novels. Perhaps taken to the extreme with Wolfgang Weisen from Death is Forever who all but worships Josef Stalin.
  • Eagleland: While the British are aware of and mildly resent the power and rising influence of the CIA and the American government, the latter will help Bond on a mission to the best of their ability. Mostly, any conflict stems from different techniques rather than different goals.
  • Evil Is One Big, Happy Family: In the novels, bad guys of radically different ideologies have no trouble working together. At the apex of this is SPECTRE, which is headed by members from both Eastern European secret police and the Sicilian Mafia, not to mention former Soviets and Nazis. How exactly did Blofeld manage that?
  • Evil Redhead: Four main villains (Le Chiffre, Hugo Drax, Auric Goldfinger and Scaramanga) are described as having various shades of red hair.
  • Food Porn: Since the original books were written shortly after World War II, when rationing was still in force (at least in Britain) a lot of the exquisite and fancy food would be the stuff of fantasies for the people reading it. There's even a whole paragraph on Bond eating an avocado pear! The high point is possibly the lovingly described meal that Bond and M eat at M's club in Moonraker.
    • Subverted in Thunderball, in which Bond and Leiter dine in a Bahamian restaurant in which the food is lovingly described on the menu in fancy prose, but Leiter gloomily predicts that it'll probably be crap. It is, but they eat it anyway because they're hungry.
  • Hero's Classic Car: Classic cars are frequently described as Bond's "only hobby". From Casino Royale to Moonraker Bond drives a 1930 battleship-grey Bentley 4.5 litre with an Amherst Villiers supercharger (only 55 of the "Blower Bentleys" were actually made, making it a Rare Vehicle too.)note  A scene in Double or Die depicts him buying it, after wrecking the Bamford & Martin he inherited from his Uncle Max. His later cars are 1950s and 60s model Bentleys and Astons - classics now, but contemporary at the time.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: Q (often referred to by his actual name, Boothroyd) doesn't appear until the sixth book.
  • In Harm's Way: While Bond hates killing people (unless they absolutely have to be removed from the world), he is bored by non-conflict oriented work, and gladly takes assignments which put him into danger. The former characterization varies between writers, but the latter is always prevalent.
  • Jerkass:
    • James Bond starts off being intentionally portrayed as an extremely cold and ruthless Professional Killer. Over the course of the novels, though, he becomes more caring and heroic.
    • Many of the villains' henchmen fit this much better.
  • Made of Iron: The first few novels have Bond survive copious amounts of punishment.
  • Mid-Season Upgrade:
    • In Dr. No, Bond is forced to exchange his Beretta 418 to the Walther PPK after the former's suppressor gets stuck in his trouser waistband while he's fighting Rosa Klebb.
    • John Gardner's books have Bond change from the PPK to a FN 1900, then several other sidearms before finally settling on the ASP9.
    • In Carte Blanche, Bond carries the PPK's modern successor, the PPS, in .40 S&W.
  • Nebulous Evil Organization: SMERSH (anti-espionage communists) and SPECTRE (criminals), while portrayed relatively realistically, fill these roles in Fleming's novels. Other writers introduced The Union (criminals/terrorists for hire), BAST (terrorists for hire) and COLD (fascists).
  • Nonviolent Initial Confrontation: A commonplace in the series. Umberto Eco calls this the "First Check" scene in the novels.
  • Origins Episode: The 2018 novel Forever and a Day by Anthony Horowitz is set in 1950 and shows Bond joining the 00 Section. It was marketed as a Prequel to Casino Royale.
  • Product Placement: Hoo boy - Ian Fleming was the original walking advertisement. Apparently, dropping brand-name products left and right was still considered cutting-edge back in The '50s (Kingsley Amis even dubbed it the "Fleming Effect").
  • Real Men Take It Black: In the books Bond, unlike almost every other British person in the universe, hates tea, preferring black coffee. In an obvious Author Tract, Bond calls tea the opium of the masses and blames it in part for the fall of the British Empire for reasons he doesn't go into.
  • Retcon: Overlaps with Comic-Book Time and Series Continuity Error.
    • In the early novels, we are given the impression that Bond has worked for the Secret Service since before WW2 (indeed, the Soviet's file on Bond in From Russia With Love states that he joined the Service in 1938). This is retconned by Bond's obituary (and official biography) in You Only Live Twice, according to which Bond enlisted in the Royal Navy in 1941 as a teenager, and only joined the Service after the war. This leads to some strange results in the modern novels - Young Bond takes his birth year as 1920 to line up with the dates mentioned in the earliest books, but Solo has him turning 45 in 1969, consistent with You Only Live Twice's given birth year of 1924. Efforts to make an overarching fictional chronology also run into the problem of Fleming's occasionally erratic or contradictory mention of historical events that conflict with the novel's logical setting.
    • Benson's novels, which more closer resembled the movies than previous authors' novels, retconned much of Gardner's work. They reinstated the 00 section and reset many of the background characters, with the exception of a few minor continuity nods and aligning with the movie novelisations featuring Judi Dench's M.
  • Second Love: Tracy DiVicenzo to Vesper Lynd. While there are a handful of other women he genuinely cares about, possibly to the point of love, Tracy's the only one he took to the altar. Sadly, her end was as tragic as Vesper's.
  • Series Continuity Error:
    • In Casino Royale Bond recalls facing off against enemy agents over a gaming table before the war. However, his obituary in You Only Live Twice indicates that he joined the secret service after leaving the Navy at the end of World War II and that he joined the Navy in 1941 when he was underage. Of course, the latter could be a falsified report...
    • John Gardner's novels abandon the 00 section in its entirety, but M, of course, still refers to his favorite agent as 007. And then the Goldeneye novelization comes along with 006 as the key character of a flashback...
  • Sexy Secretary: Moneypenny, Mary Goodnight. Averted with the 00-section's secretary Loelia Ponsonby, whom all the 00s are in love with but she refuses to get involved with anyone who might be dead next week, so out of ego they call her "frigid". Bond still "wondered why he bothered with other women when the most darling of them all was his secretary."
  • Smiting Evil Feels Good: Although this may arguably apply to some (not all) of the Bond movies, this trope is actually averted by Fleming, who consistently depicts Bond as someone who doesn't actually enjoy killing people (with Blofeld being a possible exception, due to the personal tie). Several books and stories even have Bond ruminating about the morality of what he does.
  • Spy Fiction: Starts out as Stale Beer Type of Spy Fiction in Casino Royale. Fleming's Bond has all the ingredients of the Martini flavored one but the world is still profoundly grim and depressing. The series would get lighter with each new book. By the time Raymond Benson took over as the author, the series had gone well into full-on Martini mode.
  • The Syndicate:
    • SPECTRE. Fleming was worried that Cold War villains would get outdated and invented the organization as a politically neutral replacement for SMERSH. Their membership apparently consists of big names in the Mafia, the Unione Corse, various Secret Police forces, and, well, SMERSH. Apparently all those disparate groups can reconcile vastly different ideologies under the common banner of world domination.
    • To hear novels tell it, SMERSH itself was one of these. They have no compunction against working with gangsters like Mr. Big, career criminals like Goldfinger, or serial killers like Red Grant (not as unlikely as it sounds- the US, at least, has historically used crime lords as intelligence agents).
  • A Tankard of Moose Urine: M has a fondness for an extremely rough Algerian red wine nicknamed "the Infuriator". His club keeps bottles of it in their cellar for him, but refuses to include it on the wine list.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Bond encounters his share of former Nazis and Hitler-wannabes. The fate of Nazis and Nazi scientists in the Cold War is touched upon in several novels.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Eggs for Bond, a fondness he shared with Fleming himself.
  • Villainous Cheekbones:
    • Dr. No has a pair that keep the patter of his smooth, seemingly hairless head.
    • The capungo in Goldfinger has recognizably "Aztec cheekbones".
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: Usually inverted. Bond doesn't bat an eye killing Big Bads and their Dragons, but he is often quite reluctant to kill lowly mooks and/or agonizes about it afterwards. Not always, though.


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