Wood did do a great job at mimicking Fleming’s style, but his writing was much more risqué, and as you note, the plots themselves were not at all Fleming-esque. Still, he’s worlds above Gardner, Benson, Boyd, and Faulks in my mind.
Amis and Horowitz are close for me. But I agree with you that Fleming pastiche is a losing battle, and IFP should stop fighting it. Deaver’s book had its flaws, but I felt that he was very effective at updating the character for the present day while maintaining the core elements. Most of all, I think a modern setting allows the author more freedom to write an interesting story. Neither of Horowitz’s novels have had particularly strong plots, and I think that’s partly because he is constrained by a time period to which neither he, nor most of the audience, can strongly relate.
I agree that Wood did a good job of replicating Fleming's literary style in the two novelisations he wrote. Many say it's the closest we've gotten to Fleming of any of what is loosely called the Bond continuation authors. It certainly helped that he didn't slavishly reproduce his two film scripts in book form but actually treated them as a completely different medium and wrote in the Fleming style excising any gratuitous excesses from the films. It's no wonder that his writing was more risqué than Fleming's given that time had moved on and more importantly given Wood's successful series of Confessions humorous erotica novels written under the pseudonym Timothy Lea.
Some of Wood's writing was bizarre though: like the really long and quite boring story about how the guy flying the Moonraker 747 was going to meet his mistress, or the insane bit where he had Corinne review a novel in her head (I rather suspected it was a novel he'd just finished reading himself). I also remember a bit where he had Bond look out of the MI6 window and consider this England, which he loved so much. That really didn't ring true for Bond.
Miles Messervy said:
I think a modern setting allows the author more freedom to write an interesting story. Neither of Horowitz’s novels have had particularly strong plots, and I think that’s partly because he is constrained by a time period to which neither he, nor most of the audience, can strongly relate.
yet thats one of the aspects of the Young Bond books that worked really well. The time and place is so specific, it's the Great Depression, Hitler has just come to power, Britain has lost Ireland relatively recently, and there is all that class conflict with the aristocrats sympathetic to Hitler and Bond's working class friends from East London, and even himself, being tempted by Communism. It's more time-and-place specific than what Horowitz wrote.
I suppose that was Wood's attempt to pad the book out a little with some easy literary content. I do recall the part with the pilot in James Bond and Moonraker but when you think about it it's no different than Guiseppe Petacchi in Fleming's Thunderball pondering about what he's going to spend his ill-gotten money on or that he's annoyed he missed seeing North by Northwest at the Odeon. It humanises the characters for us the readers and grounds them firmly in our recognisable world and so when they're both killed we feel their rather unjust loss and not just that of a faceless cardboard cutout pilot that they could so easily have been. I can't recall the other bits you mention but Fleming sometimes had Bond think introspectively about the state of the nation and Britain's changing place in the world. I expect Wood was merely trying to inject a little of that sentiment into his novelisations.
It’s perfectly fine to have your characters consider other things, but he has them go on and on about them... it’s really weird.
And that sentiment is just out of character for Bond.
Well fair enough. Perhaps Wood simply got a little carried away with trying to novelise his film scripts?
I don't think it's weird at all. It's quite a normal way to write. The scene with the pilot is very good because it lulls a reader into a false sense of security - exactly like the pilot and co-pilot. Wood is reminding us these are ordinary people, on an important, but routine flight. They are not spies or special service military, they are two 747 pilots. Thus, when the Moonraker activates and destroys the 747 transport plane, we are shocked this can happen to such everyday people. Wood develops empathy.
Similarly, Corrine (wasn't it Trudy in the novel?) is seduced very quickly in the film. She comes across as impulsively promiscuous. This wouldn't be so bad if Drax had asked her to bed OO7, but there's no indication he has. Wood's version enables Corrine / Trudy to become a more rounded character; she's dreamy, seeking a hero to whisk her away. Bond walks in and provides the excuse to enact her fantasy. I think Wood also wrote a summary of Holly Goodhead's feelings before the scene in her Venice hotel suite.
Wood also stretched the story's run time. One of the drawbacks of the film is how fast everything happens. It appears that Bond goes from Rio, to the savannahs, to the Amazoco basin in a couple of days. Wood is much more specific and draws out the narrative. I think Bond is in the Glastron boat for four days, during which he constantly believes he's being observed. This is much better in terms of narrative as we can now accept Drax has the time to set up his rocket launching. He expands the space scenes too for similar reasons. I do think he extends the space battle too much though.
All these touches are literary touches.
I vaguely remember Horowitz's Trigger Mortis ended with a car chasing a train. It was very hard to imagine because it needed a visual reference, and I had none. This is cinematic writing - it wasn't even visceral because he described it so poorly - and doesn't work at all. He also wrote a scene with Pussy Galore [or somebody] strapped to a cross which bore all the hallmarks of him saying with a wink to his readers: "Yes, I've seen Goldfinger, I'm referencing it, Bond finds naked girl." Scenes like that betray Horowitz's influences despite what he claims.
It is very normal to give characters internal dialogues and to have them think other subjects, remember other things, of course it is. And Fleming himself does it frequently. I'm just saying that Wood does it really badly 😊
He also has Bond do the breast stroke in midair like Bananaman in order to catch up with the guy with the parachute in the Moonraker skydive sequence 🤣