Archive for ian fleming

OCTOPUSSY AND THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS By Ian Fleming – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2019 by stanleyriiks

This is a short final collection of four stories featuring the world’s most famous spy, James Bond. The original stories offer little that will be familiar to film fans other than the titles. The stories offer little of anything really, they are equally forgettable, offering some of the stylish flare of the longer books, but none of the characterisation or pace.

Reading these stories it’s more noticeable what is missing, and in some of them that includes the exciting and dangerous presence of Bond. In “Octopussy” for example Bond has a conversation with a Nazi, but doesn’t appear in the story until three quarters of the way through and only for about ten pages.

Worth reading if you want to complete the collection, but not really worthy of your attention for any other reason, sadly.

YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE By Ian Fleming – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2018 by stanleyriiks

Bond is sent to Japan to liaise with their head of security and finds himself sent on an assassination mission. His target turns out to be Blofeld, and Bond must infiltrate a castle of death to finally avenge the murder of his wife.
The Bond novels chart the move between the pulp fiction of the thirties and forties, to the noir novels of the fifties, and the superhero comics of the sixties, containing elements of all of them.

We have a Bond on the edge of a breakdown, suffering from the death of his wife and PTSD (before they had a phrase to describe it). He’s sent on a mission by M, as his final chance to redeem himself, and then blackmailed into killing by a Japan secret service head. Only to find his target is his archenemy…

Bond is a superhero in a noir world of pulp supervillains, with Fleming providing enough detail and depth to really draw us into that world.

Containing all the elements of a classic Bond story; luxury, wealth, exotic locations and even more exotic woman, it’s a playboy fantasy with a measure of action and excitement thrown in. A boy’s own adventure for adult males. Fleming gives us exactly what we’re looking for: adventure, sex, and thrills. No wonder the books and the character continue to be so successful.

ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE By Ian Fleming – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 20, 2018 by stanleyriiks

Bond is after Blofeld again, and heads to the Alps in his search after procuring some information from a very helpful Corsican gangster, whose daughter falls for our hero. But as Bond enters the strange lair of the master criminal he soon realises that he is as much a prisoner as the rest of the group, and then comes to the conclusion that another master crime is about to be perpetrated.

Can Bond escape the clutches of Blofeld? Can he discover the master criminal’s plans and thwart them? Will he find love and happiness?

Fleming gives us a bit more insight into the character of Bond, who, at the start of the book is fed-up and thinking of quitting the service. His interest in sparked by a girl, and over the course of the book he falls in love. Has the womanising spy finally been tamed?

Fleming is moving with the times, his classic pulp fictions no longer enough for a modern audience, he adds an element of realism to his character. For the modern reader we have the use of biological weapons, a rather too modern reality, to contend with.

Even more than before this Bond book is a modern thriller, seeing plenty of action and car chases, that become the hallmark of the Bond films.

Fleming ramps up the pace of the book towards a shocking climax.

Brilliant Bond at his best.

THE SPY WHO LOVED ME By Ian Fleming – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 24, 2013 by stanleyriiks

Those expecting nuclear submarines and dastardly spy shenanigans are likely to be disappointed, as Fleming experiments with an almost non-Bond Bond novel. Here we have a book narrated in the first person by a young Canadian woman in an empty motel, Vivienne Michel, reliving her past loves (basically abuse at the hands of men), and whiling away the hours until dawn arrives and she can leave. But half way through the night two men (gangsters) turn up and things get nasty. They seem intent on giving Viv a hard time and one even beats her, the threat of rape and murder hangs in the air, and when Viv tries to escape she is shot at.

Fortunately, about three quarters of the way through the novel, Bond turns up and takes matters into his own hands.

So, not your standard Bond novel then. The use of Viv as a filter for the hardened Bond character works well, and was probably a nice change for Fleming, but it could be seen as a strange departure by fans expecting a typical Bond novel.

Although there is the subtle hint of menace throughout the book, this is a strange kind of love story, with Viv becoming besotted with her hero almost as soon as he arrives. The book is enjoyable enough, Bond is on hand to help ramp up the action for the final quarter, and the book is short enough and well-written enough, to keep your attention. But this seems like a step too far from the traditional Bond stories, Fleming’s evocative and stylish prose isn’t as effective here, and the lack of action and tension that normally drive the books is missing.

Fleming was by this time moving away from his pulp fiction beginnings and into detective/mystery territory with the novels, but apart from the love-story echoes this is pure pulp. The gangster criminals in the shape of Sluggsy and Horror could easily have come from a Charlie Chan or Spider novel. A departure from the Bond canon, but not a bad book, a more female view of the action hero that is James Bond, license to thrill.

THUNDERBALL By Ian Fleming – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 4, 2013 by stanleyriiks

Possibly the most controversial of the Bond stories, as this story was developed for an original film, which wasn’t made until years later, and Fleming was sued by the film’s producers for stealing the story.

That story is of the terrorist organisation SPECTRE, overseen by Ernst Blofeld, who have stolen two nuclear bombs and are holding the powers of the UK and US to ransom. On M’s hunch Bond is sent off to the quiet islands of the Bahamas to try to find out where the bombs might be and stop the dastardly plot.

What follows is typical Bond, beautiful women, adventure and spy-shenanigans.

In David Wolstencroft’s short introduction (I’m reading the Penguin editions) he says this is possibly Fleming at his most accomplished as a writer.  And although certainly the plot could be considered one of the most impressive of the Bond novels to date, and the words brim with life, the action sequences are good, but where is the vivid description of local flora and fauna? Where are the luxury items that make you drawl with envy? Is this a slightly more grown up Bond?

Thunderball is a good book, Fleming delivers a more mature and realistic tale of terror, that apart from the racist and misogynistic comments, wouldn’t look out of place in a modern thriller.

Bond is Bond, and you have to love a man who will stop at nothing to save his country and the world. When the stakes are this high, who else would you look at to save us? Bond, the original and the best.

FOR YOUR EYES ONLY By Ian Fleming – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 8, 2011 by stanleyriiks

I love James Bond, he’s my hero, a womanising action man, with a license to kill and an adventurous lifestyle. I love Ian Fleming too. Bond’s creator lived almost as exciting a life, although he was incredibly human in his weaknesses and failures, whereas Bond is the perfection of Fleming’s misdeeds.

What gets me every time I pick up a Bond book is the writing, the richness, the sheer imaginative grace that exudes from every sentence. There is a vibrancy in Fleming’s work that makes you forget about some of the ridiculous plots, the super villains, and the vehicles turned into dragons (Dr. No).

I still consider the Bond books the essential step away from pulp and into the modern thriller, they are the (not so) missing-link between the pulp action crime thrillers such as The Spider, and the cold-war heroes of the seventies and eighties, Bourne et al. The not quite perfect combination of action, hi-jink, over-the-top entertainment, and that essential ingredient, realism.

The eighth book in the series, For Your Eyes Only is the first short story collection, featuring some familiar titles such as the title story, and “Quantum of Solace” and “A View To A Kill”, and two other less familiar titles. Although the stories contained in the books will be much less familiar, having little or nothing to do with the films that followed.

An incredible collection of tales, diverse and entertaining in their own ways, each of the stories stands out as individual and unique. Bond works so well in short fiction, but only rarely do you get the full character of Bond, sometimes he is there merely as background such as in “Quantum of Solace”, a story told to Bond by a senior civil servant.

A nice little book at just over two hundred pages, I finished it in a couple of days and hankered for more. Not necessarily Bond at his best, but Fleming’s writing here is not as overwhelmed with fabulous plotting, and some of these stories are perfectly, brilliantly exciting. Another Bond fix that delivers.

GOLDFINGER By Ian Fleming – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 4, 2011 by stanleyriiks

After the wasted introduction we get down to the nitty gritty of a classic Bond story, as our hero meets up with a man at an airport who needs his help. Bond is happy to help out when he finds the problem is to do with a card cheat.

Solving the problems only takes a few hours, but Bond gets to meet the eponymous Goldfinger, who is doing the cheating.

Bond’s encounters with Goldfinger continue as M sends him on a fact-finding mission for the Bank of England who suspect Goldfinger is smuggling gold of the country.

Eventually Bond falls foul in his dealing with Goldfinger, because of a girl, and is enlisted into his team, transported to the US and becomes secretary in the villian’s plan to steal all the gold in Fort Knox.

This is classic Bond territory, the card games, the women, the cars, the villain. The only problem is the lack of danger. More so than the previous novels we know that Bond will win, he is able to out-smart Goldfinger at their every encounter, despite the tension and the stakes getting higher each time. Goldfinger is a clever villain, one of the richest Bond has encountered, and yet his weakness, his failure to kill Bond, is silly.

Oddjob is a scary individual, but the final showdown between the Korean and Bond is woefully inadequate. In fact the climax is weak and too simply dealt with after the excellent build up.

An inadequate introduction starts this book off poorly, and doesn’t do the book justice. Despite the fact this is not the best of the Bond books, it still manages to entertain, feeling much like a more modern pulp thriller.

It’s hard to look at the Bond book with anything other than rose-tinted glasses. Bond is an integral cultural icon, and the Fleming books started it all, but this is not the best of the Bond novels.