'On His Majesty's Secret Service' by Charlie Higson (2023)

emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 5,775MI6 Agent
edited March 2023 in James Bond Literature

A new Bond adventure written by Charlie Higson to celebrate the Coronation of King Charles III: On His Majesty’s Secret Service will be published on May 4th, with all royalties going to support the work of the Literacy Trust.


Set in 2023, 'Bond is sent at the last minute to thwart an attempt to disrupt the Coronation by the wealthy, eccentric and self-styled Athelstan of Wessex, who is on a deadly mission of his own to teach the United Kingdom a lesson. Can Bond dismantle his shady plans and defeat his privately hired team of mercenaries?'

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Comments

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 36,708Chief of Staff

    Is this for real? April 1st isn't till tomorrow.

  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 5,775MI6 Agent
    edited March 2023

    Sounds great, doesn't it? Seems to be more of a novella than a full-blown novel, but as Higson only had a month to write it that seems reasonable!

    He's arguably the closest any of the continuation writers have got to the spirit of Fleming so I'm quite excited about this. The story might sound silly, but then Blofeld wanting to be the Count de Bleuchamp is a bit daft too; and don't forget old Heinrich XIII in Germany a couple of months back- that seemed silly on first glance but was a genuine far right terrorism plot.

    Quote from Higson on it:

    “When Ian Fleming Publications came to me with the idea of writing an adult Bond story a little more than a month ago I was thrilled – until I realised it had to be ready for the coronation in May. Getting it written and turned around in such a short space of time was going to be as tense and heart-pounding as any Bond mission. Although, of course, nobody would actually be shooting at me.”

    “But I’ve been thinking about writing an adult Bond adventure ever since working on the Young Bond books, and he came bursting out of me with both fists flying. It was all I could do to keep up with him and get his story down on paper. Fleming famously wrote fast, and I channelled that energy. And now it’s so exciting for me to finally enter the world of grown-up Bond.

    “Everything you want from a Bond story is in there – sex, violence, cars, a colourful villain with a nasty henchman, and of course, Bond himself, so well-known and yet so unknowable,”


    Nice way to celebrate the 60th anniversary of OHMSS1 too. And it's got to be the first Bond story to be set on the day it's published, hasn't it?

  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 8,736MI6 Agent
    edited March 2023

    This is truly brilliant and exciting news! I did wonder for a minute if it was an April Fool's joke myself, @Barbel, and the timing is unfortunate given it's the day before. Hopefully the joke won't be on them when it comes to the novel's sales! 🙂

    This will please many fans who often speculated why IFP didn't do the obvious and hire Higson to write an adult Bond novel (after his already proven track record with the successful 'Young Bond' series). This is certainly music to my ears as within the literary Bond I've always had a preference for the more traditional contemporary-set adult Bond novels in the Fleming-Amis-Gardner-Benson-Deaver mould.

    It's also great to have an adult Bond novel set in the present day again and tying it in to King Charles III's coronation with a spin on the On Her Majesty's Secret Service title (in its 60th year of publication no less) is a lovely touch. Higson had Young Bond foil an assassination attempt on the King in By Royal Command (2008) so this sounds like a timely variant of that earlier plot. It also calls to mind the plot by the crazed serial killer villain David Dragonpol (my namesake in another place!) to assassinate Princess Diana and the princes William and Harry on a Royal Family visit to Euro Disney resort in Paris in John Gardner's Never Send Flowers (1993). It's interesting that Charles and his former wife Diana now both feature in the plots of two Bond novels set 30 years apart!

    Higson mustn't have had very long to write the novel considering HM Queen Elizabeth II only died on 8 September 2022 and King Charles III acceded to the throne that day. That may explain its shorter length as a Bond novel. It also marks the first time we've had adult Bond continuation novels in two consecutive years (after Horowitz's With A Mind to Kill in 2022) since the Raymond Benson novels ended in 2002. It's also great that the novel will benefit such a worthy charity as the National Literary Trust. So, it's great news all round!

    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • superadosuperado Regent's Park West (CaliforniaPosts: 2,654MI6 Agent

    I want!

    "...the purposeful slant of his striding figure looked dangerous, as if he was making quickly for something bad that was happening further down the street." -SMERSH on 007 dossier photo, Ch. 6 FRWL.....
  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 5,775MI6 Agent
    edited March 2023

    You'll get! And in only just over a month too; how nice to find out we'll be getting a new slice of Bond so soon. Potentially it could have a slight novelty flavour to it given the subject matter, but I trust Higson to treat it like proper Bond and to keep the "yes, your Majesty" bits to a minimum.

    I've thought this is something IFP could go for for a while: get a few various writers to have a crack at shorter Bond stories. I thought a volume of short stories by different writers approaching 007 in a variety of styles would be good (there was a Miss Marple collection in that fashion not too long ago), especially as Bond obviously has a history of short stories; but if they could get some top authors to do novellas like this I'd be even happier. Short, snappy, punchy Bond reads with variety, interspersed with more occasional full-on continuation novels... why not. And you'd think you'd be able to get some bigger names on the idea that they wouldn't have to spend too much time on them.

    Imagine a little beautifully slipcased edition of, say, three 007 novellas by different authors: I think that'd sell nicely.

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,999MI6 Agent

    Athelstan of Wessex


    so how old would Higson's Bond be in 2023?

    he was ~13 in 1933, Higson was apparently using Pearson's birthdate of 1920

    = 103!

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 36,708Chief of Staff

    Count me in.

    The Miss Marple one had twelve stories which varied drastically in quality - some almost read like Christie herself, others were very out of character - but that isn't, of course, going to stop me buying a similar Bond collection.

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,999MI6 Agent

    eMTieM said:

    I've thought this is something IFP could go for for a while: get a few various writers to have a crack at shorter Bond stories. I thought a volume of short stories by different writers approaching 007 in a variety of styles would be good

    ___________________________

    there is such a book, just not exactly endorsed by IFP, and only available in Canada (pity!)

    Licence Expired: The Unauthorized James Bond

  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 5,775MI6 Agent

    Yeah I kind of quite like the idea of doing it out of character, though; that can be the fun of short stories. Do one in iambic pentameter, do a period Fleming-style one, do a modern day one, do one in the style of Roger Moore's Bond, have fun with it.

  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 5,775MI6 Agent

    Interesting, although I think in a way that sort of thing shows the drawbacks of not having one company looking after the brand officially. I don't know any of those authors and have no reason to think they'd be any good; I'm less likely to invest my time reading fan fiction. Maybe they are great, but the trust isn't there for me to invest my time. And IFP, as the official licence holders, are more likely to attract some 'names'.

    I'm also a still a little dubious of the legality of that collection anyway: Danjaq have the trademark (I'm not talking copyright) for James Bond everywhere but there?

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,999MI6 Agent

    don't ask me, I don't know the legalities, all I know is it exists. I suspect it Licence Expired only got one printing, and not a very big one at that, as I've never seen it new and only occasionally used. So maybe they werent that confident of the legal status . And I've never heard of the authors either.

    But I do like your idea. Especially the different styles/approaches. It might even be better than a new novel, allowing each author to focus on the angle they primarily are interested in. I find with Horowitz and the others, they don't always have the ideas for a full length plot with all the expectations of chases and explosions, so the books feel kind of forced.

  • Miles MesservyMiles Messervy Posts: 1,762MI6 Agent

    This is excellent news. Higson said IFP only approached him a month ago. I’m wondering if this wasn’t at least partly motivated by the backlash to the “sensitivity reader” fiasco. I’ve never read the young Bond books (he’s the only continuation author I haven’t read), but I know Higson is well regarded by many literary Bond fans. Perhaps they’re throwing us a bone. I’ll take it!

  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 5,775MI6 Agent
    edited March 2023

    don't ask me, I don't know the legalities, all I know is it exists.

    Sorry, yes: I meant that as more of a rhetorical question than it perhaps came across as! 😄

    Yes, I wonder if they were unsure of the legalities too: you'd have thought if they really felt certain they could print Bond books unfettered then they'd have gone for it in a bit of a bigger way than a collection of short stories and some slightly half-hearted Fleming reprints. Anyway, that's off topic I guess!

    I certainly hope IFP do something like that: now they're publishing their own stuff you'd think they'd try and get some more stuff out there and embellishing their Bond range. Hopefully OHMSS2 is a sign of them starting a new way of looking at it.

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,999MI6 Agent

    emtiem says:

    they'd have gone for it in a bit of a bigger way than a collection of short stories and some slightly half-hearted Fleming reprints

    __________________________

    "they" being two separate parties The Fleming reprints are from indigo, Canada's largest book store chain. Next time I go into one of their stores I'm going to see if they've done similar edition for Conan Doyle, H G Well and all the other long dead still popular authors more firmly in the Public Domain.

    Licence Expired was published by ChiDunnit, a small publisher I've never heard of, I'd guess to generate a bit of publicity for themselves and some aspiring authors they know.

    yes, all off topic. I shall stop digressing............now!

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,373MI6 Agent

    I thought it might be a short story, but it is 144 pages long - not quite a full blown novel, more an extended novella, the sort of length Bolano or Karade would write. £12.99 in hardback. Available on Amazon to pre-order. No cover yet, so a work in progress, but obviously a genuine article.

    And yes, I do hope this means Higson gets an opportunity to write more adult Bond. And I also hope Bond is a modern Bond, without any obvious reference back to the Fleming books and even Higson's own. The original timeline was done to death by Gardner and Benson and needs a rethink. Deaver understood that, everyone else seems to want to tread the same familiar route.

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,999MI6 Agent
    edited March 2023

    @Miles Messervy says:

    I’ve never read the young Bond books (he’s the only continuation author I haven’t read), but I know Higson is well regarded by many literary Bond fans. Perhaps they’re throwing us a bone. I’ll take it!

    __________________________

    you should read his Young Bond books! they're wildly imaginative, and he is committed to telling a proper story in five parts. There are themes introduced in the first book that develop and are resolved in the fifth. I don't think any other recent continuation author has been so invested in telling a good story, I always feel they've saved their best ideas for something they'll own the rights to.


    Miles youre the one who prefers literary Bond set in the present aren't you? this one is going to be set specifically on the date of publication.

    But i'm still wondering; is this going to be a 103 year old James Bond called back into action one last time, or will Higson be writing two separate Bond characters living in two separate timelines? its one thing for EON to start a new series of films where CraigBond never experienced the first twenty adventures, but itd be odder for one author to do the same having already written Bond as born in 1920

  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 5,775MI6 Agent

    I would imagine the man himself would be Bond from 1955 or so dumped in 2023, but without making any glaring observations about serving in WW2 or anything anachronistic, much how Gardner and Benson etc. handled it. As you mention, it's only a novella (and written in a rush) so I wouldn't expect this to be the launching ground for a totally reimagined Bond: the objective is to celebrate the Coronation and do something for charity.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,373MI6 Agent

    Yes, that's kind of what I meant. I think Higson knows this too. Let's cross our fingers.

  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 5,775MI6 Agent

    Sorry, I think I didn't read your post properly: you meant that any future Bond books that Higson hopefully writes will be like that: in modern day and rethought. Yes, completely agree: and I really hope this means more from him too.

  • IstvanTheHun007IstvanTheHun007 Posts: 75MI6 Agent

    Looking forward to receiving and reading my copy! Since Carte Blanche was a modern-day reboot, I wonder if this novella, while obviously not in that same continuity, will nevertheless feel like they are well-paired.

  • PPK 7.65mmPPK 7.65mm Saratoga Springs NY USAPosts: 1,236MI6 Agent

    Defiantly going to picking this up when it comes out. Sounds like it will be a fun read for the summertime.

  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 5,775MI6 Agent
    edited April 2023

    The cover has been revealed, it features gold foil.


  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 36,708Chief of Staff

    Classy, I like it.

  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 5,775MI6 Agent

    Yes I think it's nice. They've put this together very quickly so it's not too surprising that it's not very elaborate.


    I bet there was a version with a 0 and a 7 either side of that crown!

  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 8,736MI6 Agent

    Very classy and trendily minimalist for this day and age. It looks very nice. I wonder if there'll be a signed or special edition of the hardback?

    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 36,708Chief of Staff

    Bragging moment - I have a signed copy of one of Higson's Young Bond books.

  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 5,775MI6 Agent
    edited April 2023

    That's excellent, nice work. I don't have a signed one, but I was quite pleased in a charity shop to find one of the early promo versions of the book which became Double Or Die- it has the name 'Which Title?' as there was a contest to name the book and I think those versions were sent out to reviewers and as promo and weren't for sale. Not my best Bond item but a bit of fun and one of those rare finds you hope to find in a charity shop!

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 36,708Chief of Staff

    Cool! I think I'll take advantage of the link you've supplied and get the signed edition of OHM... oh, wait a moment - we need a different abbreviation for this!

  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 8,736MI6 Agent
    edited April 2023
    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
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