Welcome to the New Forum

Welcome everyone, this was an emergency upgrade, please excuse the design, I am working on it! Please see my post on all the updates and ongoing work... "Welcome to the new Forum". You can test out the new editor here.

Colonel Sun

MustonMuston Huncote, Leicestershire Posts: 228MI6 Agent
edited November -1 in James Bond Literature
Finished reading it in the early hours of this morning and have to say....what a bloody great effort from Kingsley Amis that was!

Thought he carried on from 'The Man With The Golden Gun' successfully and this one is the best continuation novel I've read so far. Colonel Sun was a nasty villain and the torture chapter had me wincing for Bond. Also what a great title for a Bond book (or film ;) ) it was just a shame that Amis didn't do a second novel as he definitely understood the 'world of Bond' and had the character down. A very enjoyable read indeed :007) John Gardner up next...he has a lot to live up too!
"Thank you very much. I was just out walking my RAT and seem to have lost my way... "

Comments

  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy Behind you !Posts: 63,696MI6 Agent
    edited November -1
    I think Colonel Sun is a brilliant novel. -{
    Better than any that followed.
    "I've been informed that there ARE a couple of QAnon supporters who are fairly regular posters in AJB."
  • MustonMuston Huncote, Leicestershire Posts: 228MI6 Agent
    edited November -1
    So impressed with Amis I've just bought his novel 'The Anti-Death League' on my Kindle. Ashamed that it's taken me until the age of 32 to discover him.
    "Thank you very much. I was just out walking my RAT and seem to have lost my way... "
  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 7,527MI6 Agent
    edited May 2018
    I'm currently writing an article on the levels of violence in Colonel Sun, which will be posted in time on The Bondologist Blog, under the title of 'The Strange Death of Colonel Sun'.
    Post edited by Silhouette Man on
    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • chrisisallchrisisall Western Mass, USAPosts: 9,043MI6 Agent
    edited November -1
    Seems to me that title is kind of a spoiler... :))

    Yeah, great novel.
    Dalton & Connery rule. Brozz was cool. Craig is too.
    #1.TLD/LTK 2.TND 3.QOS 4.GF 5.DN/GE 6.SP 7.FRWL 8.TB/TMWTGG 9.TWINE 10.YOLT
  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 7,527MI6 Agent
    edited November -1
    chrisisall wrote:
    Seems to me that title is kind of a spoiler... :))

    Yeah, great novel.

    Well, it should be pretty obvious. If you hang around with James Bond too long, you're going to get killed!
    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,010MI6 Agent
    edited November -1
    "Someone usually dies..."
    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 7,527MI6 Agent
    edited November -1
    "Someone usually dies..."

    Agreed.
    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • Sir MilesSir Miles The Wrong Side Of The WardrobePosts: 24,951Chief of Staff
    edited November -1
    Muston wrote:
    Finished reading it in the early hours of this morning and have to say....what a bloody great effort from Kingsley Amis that was!

    It is a great Bond book....try this thread here...it's over 9 years old when it started....but it has some great posts on Colonel Sun.... -{
    YNWA 96

    The Unbearables
  • MustonMuston Huncote, Leicestershire Posts: 228MI6 Agent
    edited November -1
    Thanks for the link Sir Miles, reading through them I see that a lot of people on here didn't like the original cover-art of the naked woman with the nose and ear in place of her face. I have to say that having seen this cover on-line, I love it and just wish I could buy a copy of the book with this cover! I've checked on amazon and I'm going to buy a paperback copy (with the cover below) which isn't as good as the weird naked woman one.

    This novel for me goes down as one of the best alongside CR, MR, OHMSS & YOLT. Once I've read all of Gardners books I may have to go back and re-read Amis again I loved it that much.
    amis_colonel_sun.jpg
    "Thank you very much. I was just out walking my RAT and seem to have lost my way... "
  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 7,527MI6 Agent
    edited November -1
    Muston wrote:
    Thanks for the link Sir Miles, reading through them I see that a lot of people on here didn't like the original cover-art of the naked woman with the nose and ear in place of her face. I have to say that having seen this cover on-line, I love it and just wish I could buy a copy of the book with this cover! I've checked on amazon and I'm going to buy a paperback copy (with the cover below) which isn't as good as the weird naked woman one.

    This novel for me goes down as one of the best alongside CR, MR, OHMSS & YOLT. Once I've read all of Gardners books I may have to go back and re-read Amis again I loved it that much.
    amis_colonel_sun.jpg

    Yes, I'd like to get a copy of this one myself!
    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • Sir MilesSir Miles The Wrong Side Of The WardrobePosts: 24,951Chief of Staff
    edited November -1
    Muston wrote:
    Thanks for the link Sir Miles, reading through them I see that a lot of people on here didn't like the original cover-art of the naked woman with the nose and ear in place of her face. I have to say that having seen this cover on-line, I love it and just wish I could buy a copy of the book with this cover!

    A pleasure... -{

    I love the hardback cover to this book...bought my copy many years ago...and you can still pick them up relatively cheaply...there are a few on ebay now...and quite a few on AbeBooks...
    YNWA 96

    The Unbearables
  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 7,527MI6 Agent
    edited November -1
    Sir Miles wrote:
    Muston wrote:
    Thanks for the link Sir Miles, reading through them I see that a lot of people on here didn't like the original cover-art of the naked woman with the nose and ear in place of her face. I have to say that having seen this cover on-line, I love it and just wish I could buy a copy of the book with this cover!

    A pleasure... -{

    I love the hardback cover to this book...bought my copy many years ago...and you can still pick them up relatively cheaply...there are a few on ebay now...and quite a few on AbeBooks...
    Sir Miles wrote:
    Muston wrote:
    Thanks for the link Sir Miles, reading through them I see that a lot of people on here didn't like the original cover-art of the naked woman with the nose and ear in place of her face. I have to say that having seen this cover on-line, I love it and just wish I could buy a copy of the book with this cover!

    A pleasure... -{

    I love the hardback cover to this book...bought my copy many years ago...and you can still pick them up relatively cheaply...there are a few on ebay now...and quite a few on AbeBooks...

    Noted - will have to try to track this down.
    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 960MI6 Agent
    edited November -1
    Sir Miles wrote:
    Muston wrote:
    Finished reading it in the early hours of this morning and have to say....what a bloody great effort from Kingsley Amis that was!

    It is a great Bond book....try this thread here...it's over 9 years old when it started....but it has some great posts on Colonel Sun.... -{

    That's a good thread.
    I forgot I'd posted on it. Lazenby's review was very good, as was the opposing one by D'Arturo
  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,138MI6 Agent
    edited May 2018
    I reread Colonel Sun a few months ago, but never got round to sharing observations. This seems to be the most recent general review thread even if it is several years old. So here's some random thoughts.

    This is the one continuation novel everybody should read, if they read no other. I have no idea if Fleming knew Amis would get the privilege, or if he would have approved, but Amis was very well qualified at the time. He had already published two books analyzing Fleming's style, one serious and one silly, so he was mentally preparing himself for the task even while Fleming was still alive.
    This book is therefor Amis' understanding of theory put into practise. But it is interesting to see all the ways he does deviate from what Fleming would have done and asserts his own personality.


    I think it flows quite persuasively from ...Golden Gun. It builds on the glimpses of M's private residence (Quarterdeck) we first saw in OHMSS. I think it is a good Bond adventure, set in a changing world, and completely removed from the Bond world of the movies. YOLT and the "funny" Casino Royale would have been the most recent films at time of publication, with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang released the same year. So this story with its credible action and realworld politics contrasts with all the bigscreen silliness.

    I think in the ...Dossier Amis calls M his favourite character, elsewhere he says he's scared of M. At very least, he has been known to obsess about this character. Despite his importance to the plot, I was surprised to note this reading M is largely offstage, much talked about but rarely seen. He has already been kidnapped from Quarterdeck when the story starts, then towards the end we briefly see him starved and ill, being taunted by the villain, then again at the end in even worse shape when Bond rescues him. (Compare that scene where Sun taunts him in his cell vs Elektra King taunting Dench-M in her cell in tWiNE).

    I've seen some folks criticize the rambling middle section. I like it. I always like stories that give a real sense of crossing a landscape. Amis gives us a very good sense of the geography of the region. Before embarking on the boat journey, Litsas names a series of islands they will sail past (Kea, Kithnos, Seriphos, Siphnos, Antiparos and Paros), and they are real, off the coast of Athens heading towards Turkey. Zoom in on GoogleMaps and you will see Bond's journey.
    The island of Vrakonisi I believe is made up. All Google references lead back to Colonel Sun, and it is not found in GoogleMaps. But the geology and layout is very specifically described and set up the details of the action in the final scenes. You have to absorb the descriptions of the island's geography to follow the last chapters.

    There is more political content here than in any of Fleming's books. Bond and Litsas taunt Ariadne about her beliefs and get wound up in Student Union style debates. I think this tells us more about Amis' own interests, than about how Amis understands Fleming.

    The sex is kinkier than in any Fleming book.
    At one point Ariadne and a young lad meet with a senior Russian to warn him of the villains threat, and this chapter is told from that Russian's point of view: he is more interested in the young lad (he's very young), and has requested this job in Greece to pick up young Greek lads. His opinion of the voluptuous Ariadne is very funny, since we've already had Bond's personal opinion, several times (she's a natural blonde), and Litsas' creepy uncle perspective.
    Sun's torture of Bond explicitly references de Sade, and we can see Sun gets aroused, babbling nonsense about the divine union of the torturer and the tortured. This is contrasted with the scenes with the two local prostitutes he employs to reward his minions, whom he regards in purely pragmatic terms, mere meat, less sexy by far than his torture implements.
    Sun orders one of the working girls to sexually arouse Bond just before the moment he will break all his limbs, just to stir up those contrasting sensations in his victim. (see this famous illustration)
    Then Bond finds Ariadne has been forced into what he calls a "rape-cum-orgy " (no pun intended, I'm sure) with the other working girl and two of Sun's thuggish underlings.
    This is all a few steps more twisted than any sexy content in Fleming. Interesting though!

    One thing I did realise that's not so good, the story doesn't actually fit together!
    Once Bond meets Ariadne he just assumes the Russian conference she is interested in has something to do with M's kidnapping! That is one heck of an assumption, there are no actual clues to connect the two events, and he quickly fleshes out his theory of what the unseen villain is up to with no more evidence yet appearing, right down to predicting it is a Chinese villain behind everything. Imagine of he'd been wrong, and spent 200 pgs sailing round with this sexy Communist chick while M rots away in a cell undiscovered somewhere else entirely.
    Also Ariadne motivates her friend Litsas to join them by telling him his old rival Von Richter is involved. When I got to this page I went back and reread all the scenes in Greece looking for previous mention of Von Richter, how do they know this, and could not find it. I think this new subsidiary villain is introduced in that very scene as needed to make the dialog work.
    So Amis actually misses out on some plot details that ought to be required! Less interesting to him, perhaps than the travelog, politics, and kinky sex? Ironically, I've read other things he's written where he criticizes the later movies for depending on contingency.
    Anyway I'm the kind of reader who always flips back to see if the gun was on the table in the first act. Others just keep moving forward without worrying if it all fits together properly, and if you're that kind of reader you'll enjoy a very good story.
  • always shakenalways shaken LondonPosts: 6,287MI6 Agent
    edited November -1
    Orgies rape gay sex, sex with young boys TP and SM you never once mention this to me , I'm off now to get my copy of Col Sun from Bluewater
    By the way, did I tell you, I was "Mad"?
  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 7,527MI6 Agent
    edited May 2018
    Orgies rape gay sex, sex with young boys TP and SM you never once mention this to me , I'm off now to get my copy of Col Sun from Bluewater

    Ha ha! It's been so long since I read it I had forgotten some of the juicier details. I will agree with others here that Colonel Sun was the best Bond Continuation novel of the lot by a long margin. Seek it out and read it and you won't be disappointed.

    I hope to reread it again soon for a planned mini-series of new articles on the novel for its 50th anniversary.
    Post edited by Silhouette Man on
    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy Behind you !Posts: 63,696MI6 Agent
    edited November -1
    :)) :)) :)) it is a page Turner ;)

    One of the things I love about it is that it shows Bond as a
    Professional. He doesn't want the teenage boy involved with
    The fighting, and later he doesn't kill everyone in cold blood
    But rather makes decisions on who he has to kill and those he only needs to disable.
    "I've been informed that there ARE a couple of QAnon supporters who are fairly regular posters in AJB."
  • always shakenalways shaken LondonPosts: 6,287MI6 Agent
    edited November -1
    I assume then Col Sun will be never made into a Bond film then :#
    By the way, did I tell you, I was "Mad"?
  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 7,527MI6 Agent
    edited November -1
    I assume then Col Sun will be never made into a Bond film then :#

    Some parts of it have already featured in the Bond films, most notably the torture scene in Spectre (2015) was heavily inspired by the one in Colonel Sun. In fact, that was the first time they've adapted a scene wholesale from one of the continuation Bond novels. -{
    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • RevelatorRevelator Posts: 282MI6 Agent
    edited November -1
    This is the one continuation novel everybody should read, if they read no other. I have no idea if Fleming knew Amis would get the privilege, or if he would have approved, but Amis was very well qualified at the time.

    Fleming approved of the Bond Dossier ("Intelligent, perceptive and of course to me highly entertaining. The whole jape is quite spiffing") so I think he would have regarded Amis as a natural candidate to continue the series.
    Colonel Sun is the only continuation novel I know of that feels completely Bondian and true to Fleming but also goes its own way. Amis completely internalized Fleming and was able to replicate the letter and spirit of the books, even though his authorial style and choices were entirely his own.
    I think in the ...Dossier Amis calls M his favourite character, elsewhere he says he's scared of M. At very least, he has been known to obsess about this character.

    My impression is that Amis thought M was a bit of a monster, maybe even slightly evil. So Amis probably enjoyed roughing the old man up and having him kidnapped, ill-used, and drugged up to his eyeballs.
    I always like stories that give a real sense of crossing a landscape. Amis gives us a very good sense of the geography of the region....The island of Vrakonisi I believe is made up.

    Correct on both counts. Like Fleming, Amis based his book on his own travels. Vrakonisi, the only fictious island, is a tribute to Dr. No's Crab Key, which Amis considered one of the most entrancing lairs in fiction.
    There is more political content here than in any of Fleming's books. Bond and Litsas taunt Ariadne about her beliefs and get wound up in Student Union style debates. I think this tells us more about Amis' own interests, than about how Amis understands Fleming.

    Again correct. Amis was moving toward the right and vocally supported the Vietnam War (I wonder what Fleming's position would have been!). Some people think Amis went soft on the Russians in this novel, but he actually portrays them as incompetent and cruel pederasts.
    Sun's torture of Bond explicitly references de Sade, and we can see Sun gets aroused, babbling nonsense about the divine union of the torturer and the tortured.

    Another tribute to Dr. No's mania for torture. But Sun is unique in calling Bond by his first name, which makes his sadism even more disturbing.
    Then Bond finds Ariadne has been forced into what he calls a "rape-cum-orgy " (no pun intended, I'm sure) with the other working girl and two of Sun's thuggish underlings.

    One of the bits that today's readers might find "problematic." As I recall, Ariadne gets sexually assaulted but laughs it off.
    So Amis actually misses out on some plot details that ought to be required! Less interesting to him, perhaps than the travelog, politics, and kinky sex?

    Less interesting to me too, since I didn't notice the plot holes until you pointed them out. But loose plotting is also rather Flemingian, n'est-ce pas?
  • mckillopmckillop Posts: 2MI6 Agent
    edited November -1
    Can I actually be taken seriously?
  • Sir MilesSir Miles The Wrong Side Of The WardrobePosts: 24,951Chief of Staff
    edited November -1
    mckillop wrote:
    Can I actually be taken seriously?

    No.
    YNWA 96

    The Unbearables
  • RevelatorRevelator Posts: 282MI6 Agent
    edited November -1
    Muston wrote:
    So impressed with Amis I've just bought his novel 'The Anti-Death League' on my Kindle. Ashamed that it's taken me until the age of 32 to discover him.

    Amis also wrote an excellent ghost story/supernatural thriller, The Green Man, and a just-as-good alternate universe sci-fi story, The Alteration, that are also worth reading.
  • Jimmy BondJimmy Bond Posts: 318MI6 Agent
    edited November -1
    For the life of me, I never understood why wasn't this adapted back in the day. After they run out of Fleming titles, this seemed like an obvious pick to me. Still is - I kinda hope this gets done some day.
  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,138MI6 Agent
    edited November -1
    I saw a hardcover of Colonel Sun today, you know with the Dali inspired dust jacket...
    why I report this to yall:

    That hardcover edition has a handdrawn map as the endpapers, showing the series of islands off the coast of Athens, with a detailed inset of the fictional island of Vrakonisi.

    Why would this map not be included in the paperbacks? it would certainly help to make sense of the various characters movements over the island (which Amis describes in detail but is still confusing).
    Like I'm sure I've never seen an edition of Tolkien without the maps. These sort of supplements are an essential part of the text!
    I wonder Amis' map has been scanned and uploaded on line anywhere?
  • Golrush007Golrush007 South AfricaPosts: 2,867Quartermasters
    edited November -1
    I have never got my hands on the Jonathan Cape hardback edition of Colonel Sun, but a couple of years ago I found the Companion Book Club edition and I must say I thought it had a decent looking cover so I snapped it up. The most pleasant surprise of the whole thing turned out to be the endpaper map and illustration of Vrakonisi island which I thought was a marvellous addition to the novel. Having never seen the first edition I don't know if this is the same image (perhaps you can let me know, Mr Potts)

    CS-Map.jpg
  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,138MI6 Agent
    edited November -1
    thanks Golrush, I believe that is it!
    yes, its the real islands that are in the inset for context, and the imaginary island is the detailed main map. That makes more sense than how I remembered it
    I know I'm going to print it out on Monday and add it into my PAN paperback.
  • 00sleven00sleven Posts: 2MI6 Agent
    edited November -1
    Hi guys, if you are interested I have a nice copy of the book for sale on EBay.
    A first edition with a nice dust jacket.

    https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Colonel-Sun-Robert-Markham-First-Edition-1968-James-Bond-Adventure/143505345638?hash=item216995cc66:g:vikAAOSwGyZeIyxJ
  • Golrush007Golrush007 South AfricaPosts: 2,867Quartermasters
    edited November -1
    Looking at the pictures in that eBay listing it would appear that the endpaper illustration is the same on the first edition, apart from being printed a different colour. It would be great to get my hands on a first edition, but its beyond my budget at the moment. Hopefully I'll make a lucky find in a little used bookshop sometime in the future. I've managed to find a couple of bargain priced Fleming hardbacks over the last few years.
Sign In or Register to comment.