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

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  • The Domino EffectThe Domino Effect Posts: 3,631MI6 Agent

    Yup, that's about my position too, in a nutshell.

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 35,974Chief of Staff

    +1. I'm with Higson, too.

  • Miles MesservyMiles Messervy Posts: 1,748MI6 Agent

    Thanks for posting!

    I agree with Higson on NTTD for sure. Not sure I love dragging the dreaded culture wars into Bond, but I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve read it.

  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 5,648MI6 Agent
    edited May 2023

    Yeah I think the journalist was more keen to drag that stuff in than Higson was (I guess it sells papers: try and outrage people by mentioning 'woke', whatever that is). I suspect it's much less of the book than the writer of the article makes it out to be.

    It does sound interesting from that though: really does sound like he's looked at the Heinrich XIII attempted coup of last year.

  • Miles MesservyMiles Messervy Posts: 1,748MI6 Agent

    That’s my assumption as well regarding the click-bait woke stuff. And I recall similar takes when Carte Blanche was published about how Deaver’s Bond was too modern and, therefore, unrecognizable. I’m sure the same was said of Gardner’s Bond. If you’re going to write Bond in the present-day, you have to modernize him a bit or it would all seem rather off (see: Benson’s Bond!)

    And yes, I thought of the coup attempt last year when I was reading this.

  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 5,648MI6 Agent
    edited May 2023

    I do think that Deaver did make Bond a little unrecognisable: he was quite a drab character in that. I agree that a bit of modernisation is necessary though.

    It'll certainly be interesting to see how Higson deals with him: I think he got the feel of Fleming's world very well in his previous books, it'll be fascinating to see if he can nail 007 himself.

    Also I wonder how he'll make this a matter for MI6- I assume the baddie must be based outside the country. I don't think any locations have been mentioned, have they?

  • Miles MesservyMiles Messervy Posts: 1,748MI6 Agent
    edited May 2023

    Deaver didn’t necessarily stick the landing, but I think his head was in the right space. And for his part, Higson seems to grasp what it is that makes Bond an icon. But we shall see if that translates.

    I don’t know anything about the plot beyond what was disclosed in the Times article.

  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 5,648MI6 Agent

    Deaver's reinvention of the Double Os was the main achievement of that book for me. Also, either he's a real anglophile or has a very active editor- it felt like it was written by a British person very authentically.

  • The Domino EffectThe Domino Effect Posts: 3,631MI6 Agent

    I would imagine that placing a recognisable JB in today's world is a little tricky for authors and even screenwriters. He has to have enough in common with Fleming's character to be identifiable as Bond, but must also fit into the world today rather than become a laughable lampoon. Excluding the killer-edge (maybe, maybe not!), we likely all know someone who has one or more of Bond's less palatable characteristics (womanizing, drinking to excess, etc), but likely not too many functioning individuals who have them all. When I started work I certainly knew older workmates who drank at lunch and womanized at conferences a bit like him (including the multiple-martini lunch), but I doubt if there are too many like that around today who actually have decent jobs. Still, you can't eliminate those characteristics completely today and still have a credible Bond, you just have to adapt his habits and his attitudes to an acceptable level.

  • Smithers500Smithers500 Spectre IslandPosts: 1,336MI6 Agent
    Japanese proverb say, "Bird never make nest in bare tree".
  • JellyfishJellyfish EnglandPosts: 451MI6 Agent

    It's already on sale in Waterstone's-got mine today!

    I'm on the second page and...

    Bond's become left-handed?

    And now I'll stay away from this thread until I've finished reading it. Hopefully I'll enjoy it and everyone else will too!

  • The Domino EffectThe Domino Effect Posts: 3,631MI6 Agent

    Mine remains somewhere between Royal Mail and Canada Post. I'm giving it 50/50 odds of being here by Friday.

  • JellyfishJellyfish EnglandPosts: 451MI6 Agent

    Just one last picture for our international friends who may not see one of these coins:

    And now I'm definitely out.

  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 8,582MI6 Agent

    Higson has really coined a new expression there. 😉

    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,885MI6 Agent

    Higson says there is a formula for Bond. “Guns, cars, a supervillain and a woman. M, Q, Moneypenny. 007 is a fantasy figure who solves things with a fist and doesn’t overthink.”

    Which does not sound like the Bond Craig made. He was angst-ridden and even had the heart to fall in love. “I think that was wrong,” Higson says. “I went to see No Time to Die with my oldest boy, Frank, who is 30, and he said, ‘That felt like a Bond film made by people who are embarrassed to make a Bond film.’ You had to watch two films in advance to know who such and such is and you think, ‘Oh, f*** off with that.’ Make it a new mission each episode and let him be Bond.

    “They overcomplicate him,” he continues. “The best ‘Bond films’ now are the Mission: Impossibles. There is no inner life, it’s just, ‘Woah! Look at that building — I’d love to climb it and blow things up.’”

    ___________________________________________

    Higson may have a point about the Craig films, but he himself did all these things in his Young Bond books. His Young Bond was kind of angsty, brooding about his recently deceased parents and even flirting with Communism in his final adventure. That same adventure had characters returning, I think from each of the first four volumes. And he sure seemed to fall for that chambermaid.

  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 8,582MI6 Agent
    edited May 2023

    Here's a short clip from the Charlie Higson BBC Breakfast interview (sadly I missed it):

    A case of life imitating art? 

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-65464885

    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,130MI6 Agent

    Amazon have just informed me my copy will arrive on 20th May. Think I may ask for a refund and walk to my nearest Waterstones tomorrow instead.

  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 5,648MI6 Agent
    edited May 2023

    You're kidding. That's ridiculous.

    I haven't had a dispatch notice yet which is concerning me. Thought they were a bookshop.

    As Jellyfish pointed out you may well find it there today.

  • BondClothingBondClothing Posts: 348MI6 Agent
    edited May 2023

    Review from The Telegraph:


    They do love to cherrypick the bits that make the book sound like a vehicle for political messaging don't they?

    Lifestyle guide to the products and locations featured in the James Bond films.
  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 5,648MI6 Agent
    edited May 2023

    i hesitate to click on it. The Telegraph is a kind of parody of what it used to be now. Thank you for the link.

  • Miles MesservyMiles Messervy Posts: 1,748MI6 Agent

    I read the first chapter this morning and it all seemed business as usual to me! I’ll be ignoring the reviews (and this thread) until I finish.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,130MI6 Agent
    edited May 2023

    Cancelled the Amazon delivery as I picked this copy up from Waterstone's. Amazingly, it appears to be signed. There was no other copy in the shop.


  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 5,648MI6 Agent

    I think that’s printed in there. Sorry!

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,130MI6 Agent

    Is it the same in your copy then ?

  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 5,648MI6 Agent
    edited May 2023

    Yes afraid so: and if you look closely you can see a halftone effect on it.


    They only seemed to have two copies in my Waterstones too: it was hidden away on the sales counter.

  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 8,582MI6 Agent

    Yes, the new Fleming reprints (of which I picked up CR and LALD in Waterstones) have Ian Fleming's photostated autograph like that too on the flyleaf. It must be a little motif these new editions have. I know I said I wouldn't buy the new edited editions but my research interests in the editing and censorship of the Bond novels drove me to do it!

    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 5,648MI6 Agent

    CR isn't edited! 😊

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,130MI6 Agent

    The sig is rather well done in that case. An odd thing to do however, what exactly is the pont?

  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 8,582MI6 Agent
    edited May 2023

    Yes, I've heard that although it still had the "health warning" applied to it just like the other books. Those were the only two new editions that my local Waterstones had along with The Diamond Smugglers which I didn't buy as the back cover was ripped.

    At a guess I'd say some sort of signature uniform marketing ploy for the literary Bond's 70th anniversary.

    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • The Red KindThe Red Kind EnglandPosts: 3,094MI6 Agent

    Yes, I got quite excited when I saw that signature at first in mine, but on closer inspection soon realised it was printed and as I'd bought a second copy for my brother, checked his and it's exactly the same.

    Cancelled my Amazon order as was advised along with most that delivery would not be until Saturday. Bought from Waterstones yesterday and already getting through it. Very happy so far.

    "Any of the opposition around..?"
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