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 🤣
Has any more information surfaced about a release date? Or whether there will be a normal edition and a "Special Edition"?
I'd hate to buy the book on the release date then find I later have to buy a "Special Edition" with, say, extra added Fleming.
(Maybe Horowitz is writing a novelization of "No Time To Die" so the release date will keep changing....? I'll get my coat.)
I haven't heard anything about release date Barbel, but then again I haven't done any investigation into that.
The last update I heard about the novel was yesterday from Mr Horowitz himself on Twitter: "60,007th word: "sobbed". This is not, of course, a reference to Bond who didn't even cry when Tracy was killed. About 15,000 words to go!"
So he's getting close to finished then, that's good news. Thanks Golrush007.
(Sideline- as a professional, Horowitz is writing to a set number of words, I see. Probably knows exactly how many chapters before he starts. In contrast to someone like, say, Stephen King who has said often that he doesn't know how his stories will end or even how long they'll be when he starts typing. Or, come to think of it, Ian Fleming..... )
Yes Barbel, he recently said as much on Twitter, answering yes to the question "When planning your Bond novels do you know the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of every chapter at a high level before you write the first draft?"
I would imagine that this comes naturally to him as a writer who done so much in the world of TV, where structure, and writing to a fairly precise running time etc are so much part of the form.
Excellent posts by @chrisno1 and ones I agree with. The fact I remember the 747 pilot's fantasy anticipation of how he'd meet his girlfriend - she'd open the door in her underwear with some flimsy excuse - and he back her into the bedroom, plus his co-pilots response to his smile at the thought of it shows I remember the writing after all these decades. It is important to recognise - Drax does this bloke out of a shag!
Bond being sentimental about England - doesn't Fleming do this in the novel Moonraker or is it Thunderball? Some physical pain about what a nuclear bomb might do to London... the nurse maids in the park. It's all a bit Terminator 2.
Yes, Woods goes further but seems the only Bond novelist who writes about sex with that pulp enthusiasm that is beyond or beneath the usual crop of writers who seem past a certain age. Fleming was in his 40s but past a certain age it's hard to write about sex in the same singular, intense way and trying to do so or fake it is a false battle. Most of them, their heart or whatever part isn't really in it.
But Fleming went further than them all in many ways. His stuff really was quite rude, and the villainy also quite sadistic.
Colonel Sun had lots of sexy passages as well, some of them quite perverse.
but you remind me I must reread James Bond and Moonraker. Really need to rewatch the movie first to appreciate all the little changes, is why I've been procrastinating. It's interesting the very best continuation novels since Amis have been two novelizations from a screenplay writer and five volumes in a children's series, but that just makes them insiders' secrets..
Any more news about Horowitz's third? Anybody accidentally scan or transcribe the Waterstone's exclusive bonus content from his second?
Kingsley Amis was a dirty old man, wasn't he? Mates with Philip Larkin. That said, I haven't read Colonel Sun from start to finish. It had a sort of hangdog air to it at the start, and the kidnap - and the revelation about M at the end - jarred a bit. I don't recall the perverse sexual stuff in the novel, except when Adrianne or whoever it is strips naked 'with the certainty that what Bond would see would be attractive to him' - I am nothing if not a recess of soft porn lines from my teenage years.
Is this the house of the Devil or did you just say that you haven't read Colonel Sun all of the way through? I'm very surprised by that, given your literary Bond leanings, @Napoleon Plural! You need to get that rectified ASAP, old chum. I'm due a reread soon myself (for the third time) as there are a few things I want to say about the best Bond continuation of them all, bar none! 🙂
Hard to say, thing is I used to have the paperbacks by my bed and tended to just dip into them until I'd read most of each one. Oddly, it's the recent continuation novels I've read from start to finish. As a young teen, some of the action in the pages would pass me by, some I found more readable (Golden Gun, TSWLM, CR, LALD, MR) than others (DAF, GF, TB) than others, it wasn't based on literary merit.
The "perverse" bits of Colonel Sun I was thinking of are these:
(I better use spoilers since some, including Napoleon, have not read the book)
-The villain is sexually aroused by torture, and by way of contrast keeps two prostitutes for the reward of his minions, whom he has no interest in and considers mere meat.
-When torturing Bond he has one of the prostitutes strip for Bond and sit in his lap just before he intends to break all his bones, the better to contrast the sensations.
-While this is going on, Ariadne has been given to two of the minions and the other prostitute as part of (Amis's phrase) a "rape-cum-orgy".
-Also, there is the character of a local Soviet official who has asked for assignment in Greece with the ulterior motive of having sex with local boys. Bond and Ariadne are travelling with a very young lad who is their deckhand and guide, and we read the Soviet official's thoughts as he sees both the lad and Ariadne. His opinion of the voluptuous Ariadne is hilarious, his opinion of the lad is disturbing.
"Fido, there's a tasty roast chicken leg - hmmm it smells good! - that I'm placing on the table under a plate cover so you're not to get at it okay?"