Archive for over the top

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.

DRAGON By Clive Cussler – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 27, 2010 by stanleyriiks

I read my last Clive Cussler book a little before I bought this one, way back in 1990. Then I was trying to broaden my reading, which basically consisted of every horror novel I could lay my hands on. It’s been on my shelf now for nearly twenty years, but finally I get around to reading it, and it’s not too bad.

Dirk Pitt is Cussler’s American version of James Bond, brought up to date (to a certain extent), but he has very similar skills and manners. A brusque, no nonsense, man’s man. Smack up to date as head of the National Underwater Marina Agency, Pitt even gets himself a sidekick in the form of Giordino.

So, will Pitt be similarly given a grand Bond-Villain, a girl to capture the heart of, seemingly impossible feats and tasks to overcome, and a gripping, edge of your seat finale that sees him save the world. Oh yes. Dragon has all guns blazing!

Pitt is doing some secret underwater mining in the Pacific when a nuclear explosion on a ship miles away alerts him and the US Government of a plot to plant a number of nuclear weapons in strategic locations around the US as a form of industrial terrorism. The enemy, those pesky Japs. (Who were the biggest threat to the US back in the good old days of the early nineties!)

Despite several intelligence agencies knowing about it, Pitt almost single-handedly tracks down the source of the nuclear-cars, and then… well, he gets on with saving the world.

Very reminiscent of the Bond novels, Pitt is the quintessential hero. Despite the modernisation, our hero and the over-the-top enemy, remain so close to the original it’s quite amazing Cussler’s editors let him get away with it.

This book is great fun, exciting and adventurous. Nothing amazing, not that original, and slightly dated, but still great fun.