Your Bond.

MarkerMarker Posts: 66MI6 Agent

When reading the novels (for me it's the Fleming books, as I don't read the continuity works) who do you see when you imagine James Bond?

For me it's Ian Fleming himself, obviously in his younger days. Why? Well, I believe 007 was just an extension of Fleming, the man he always wanted to be but never was. As you know, the only clue we get to how he looks comes in CR. I've seen a few photographs of Hoagy Carmichael which bear more than a passing resemblance to Fleming. My guess is that he - Fleming - was told by at least one woman that he reminded her of the star.

Author of 'An Ungentlemanly Act' and 'Execution of Duty'. The WW2 espionage series starring Harry Flynn.

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Comments

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 36,584Chief of Staff

    I started reading the books in the 60s, so it's Sean Connery for me.

  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 8,707MI6 Agent
    edited April 15

    I picture a kind of mixture of Sean Connery and Timothy Dalton though with a more "cruel" mouth, a vertical scar on the right cheek and a comma of black hair on his forehead. I would describe my personal image of Bond when reading the novels as having brutal good looks.

    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 5,749MI6 Agent
    edited April 15

    Funnily enough sometimes it's Lazenby for me. I guess because he has the right look, vaguely close to period and was kind of charisma-free on the screen which means I can project that character onto him. Connery's personality was so strong I can't imagine him saying those words a lot of the time. Craig also works to some extent: he has a bit of the feel of the book character for me.

  • HarryCanyonHarryCanyon Posts: 230MI6 Agent

    Kinda a hybrid Lazenby/Dalton. He needs to be able to blend in, so he shouldn't be too handsome and stand out from the crowd BUT also be believable in terms of seduction of women.

  • MarkerMarker Posts: 66MI6 Agent

    I understand that. For me, Lazenby has the look which bridges the gap between Fleming's books and the films.

    Author of 'An Ungentlemanly Act' and 'Execution of Duty'. The WW2 espionage series starring Harry Flynn.

  • RevelatorRevelator Posts: 591MI6 Agent

    Let's ask Ian Fleming how he sees Bond:

    “People often ask me how I would describe James Bond and, really, I’ve no idea. I’ve got so confused by the pictures I see of him in strip cartoons, on book covers and on posters advertising shirts...To me he is like a real person, except that I can’t put a face to him. All I know is that he has blue eyes and black hair."


    [Quotes from an interview conducted in Feb. 1962 and another from May]

  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 8,707MI6 Agent

    Thanks for that, @Revelator. It's always good to hear from the Master. Interesting how he says he can't put a face to Bond. Perhaps that was why there were so few detailed references to Bond's looks throughout his books. I suppose it helps with the wish-fulfillment element of Bond that he's not too tied down to one very specific image. We can see Bond in our own mind's eye that way and even picture him as ourselves if we like!

    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • MarkerMarker Posts: 66MI6 Agent

    But he described how Bond looked. IMO, and it's only my opinion, he saw Bond each time he looked in the mirror.

    Author of 'An Ungentlemanly Act' and 'Execution of Duty'. The WW2 espionage series starring Harry Flynn.

  • MarkerMarker Posts: 66MI6 Agent

    Although I'm not challenging Fleming's account, I find it difficult to believe that he would not have been absolutely clear in his own mind about how his creation looked.

    Author of 'An Ungentlemanly Act' and 'Execution of Duty'. The WW2 espionage series starring Harry Flynn.

  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 5,749MI6 Agent

    I dunno, I think that's fair. It's a bit like a dream in some ways: you can have an impression of a character without actually being able to exactly imagine their precise looks.

  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 6,385MI6 Agent

    I try to imagine Lazenby and then it morphs into Connery or Dalton - it sometimes depends on the scene.

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • MarkerMarker Posts: 66MI6 Agent

    You're probably right. After all, we all approach things in different ways.

    Author of 'An Ungentlemanly Act' and 'Execution of Duty'. The WW2 espionage series starring Harry Flynn.

  • SeanIsTheOnlyOneSeanIsTheOnlyOne Posts: 409MI6 Agent

    Physically speaking, I always considered Jon Hamm (Don Draper) in Mad Men as an incredibly convincing "unintentional" embodiment of the literary character. The fact the series takes place in the 60s probably helps, but I find the "resemblance" impressive.

    @Marker, you mention in your initial post you don't read the continuation novels. May I ask why ? It's an interesting topic because I think Anthony Horowitz did an extraordinary job with his "trilogy", not to forget he really succeeded to keep the spirit of the original material. As a matter of fact, I think With a mind to kill is absolutely phenomenal, and you're missing quite a novel IMHO.

    You definitely don't intend to read any single line from another writer or is there any chance you could change your mind in the future ?

  • MarkerMarker Posts: 66MI6 Agent

    @SeanIsTheOnlyOne I read Licence 'Licence Renewed' when it first came out but made it only part way through the second book (the title escapes me) before deciding it wasn't for me. To me, the literary Bond belongs in the era in which he was created and to place him in the present day will inevitably mean he loses some of the main characteristics and attitudes which Fleming imbued in him. More importantly, it's Fleming's writing style which I have a particular interest in. I can't say I've found any other author who can match that.

    It's interesting that you mention Anthony Horowitz, I did hear lots of positive things about his books and did buy a copy of 'Trigger Mortis' when it first came out (I'm not sure how long ago that was) but time and tide meant I never got round to reading it.

    Author of 'An Ungentlemanly Act' and 'Execution of Duty'. The WW2 espionage series starring Harry Flynn.

  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 5,749MI6 Agent

    Trigger Mortis is pretty good fun as I remember, but obviously if it's Fleming himself you're after it won't fully satisfy.

    Devil May Care is written in a conscious attempt to ape Fleming's style; reactions to both the concept and execution of that were mixed but might be worth a try. Funnily enough the author who I've found came the closest to slipping into Fleming's world, and yet not actively imitating him, is Charlie Higson.

  • SeanIsTheOnlyOneSeanIsTheOnlyOne Posts: 409MI6 Agent

    @Marker I see what you mean. Fleming was unique indeed and there are so many disappointing continuation novels that I can't deny your point. Nevertheless, someone like Horowitz fully deserves to be praised for his work.

    I would say Trigger Mortis is highly enjoyable, but not original. It's an excellent tribute to Fleming, so is Forever and a day. I personally found With a mind to kill, his last one, absolutely brilliant and incredibly ambitious plotwise. Horowitz wrote a masterpiece and I think it's a phenomenal way to end his "trilogy". I consider it as one of the greatest James Bond novels of all time (including Fleming). The way Horowitz uses the events of TMWTGG to create his own story is pure perfection to me.

  • MarkerMarker Posts: 66MI6 Agent

    Interesting. I haven't read anything about the two other books.

    Author of 'An Ungentlemanly Act' and 'Execution of Duty'. The WW2 espionage series starring Harry Flynn.

  • The Red KindThe Red Kind EnglandPosts: 3,187MI6 Agent

    Jason Isaacs.


    "Any of the opposition around..?"
  • Miles MesservyMiles Messervy Posts: 1,760MI6 Agent

    Agree about Jon Hamm, particularly in the first season or two of Mad Men. When I first watched it years ago, I immediately connected his look to what I always pictured in my mind’s eye when reading Fleming. The fact that Draper is a charismatic, womanizing, depressive who drinks too much certainly doesn’t hurt, either.

  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,864MI6 Agent

    I picture Timothy Dalton and Sean Connery when reading Bond novels.

  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 8,707MI6 Agent
    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,864MI6 Agent
    edited April 20

    Average minds think alike! 😁

  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 8,707MI6 Agent
    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 8,707MI6 Agent
    edited April 22

    It's interesting to hear your tentative experiences with the James Bond continuation novels, @Marker. I know there are some literary Bond fans who believe only Ian Fleming's work is the true Bond and therefore worthy of being read and studied. I can sympathise with such restrictive Fleming purism as he is obviously the best Bond author of the lot and the creator upon whose work the films and the continuation novels later built. Licence Renewed is probably John Gardner's straightest down the line novel written in a Flemingesque fashion. The novel which followed it, For Special Services, is much madder and more bizarre (still in a good way in my opinion) featuring as it does Felix's and Blofeld's daughters and doped ice cream as a major plot point. If you are looking for something very Flemingesque that is written in the 1960s and so has the authentic feel of the times I would definitely recommend Kingsley Amis's Colonel Sun (1968). In my opinion it is still the best Bond continuation novel of the lot even after all these years. Amis (writing as Robert Markham) is a brilliant author who created a villain worthy of Fleming in Colonel Sun Liang-tan of the Chinese People's Liberation Army. Colonel Sun deserves to sit with the rest of the Fleming Bond novels and short stories and its infamous torture scene was partly adapted for Spectre.

    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • MarkerMarker Posts: 66MI6 Agent

    @The Red Kind I understand where you're coming from with JI. A good choice.

    @Silhouette Man I've got Colonel Sun on audiobook. Sadly, my old eyes tire easily these days when I'm attempting to read and, despite having up to date reading glasses, I quickly begin to feel the strain and can only manage a couple of pages at a time. For that reason I have taken to listening to the Bond books. I have a camper van which I use a lot to tour in and I will listen to the audiobooks while driving. I haven't listened to Colonel Sun yet though. @SeanIsTheOnlyOne intrigued me with his thoughts on the Horowitz books. I think I've already mentioned that I have an unopened copy of TR so might get stuck into that and follow it up with the other two. (I'd most likely get them all on audiobook though, for the reason I stated.

    Author of 'An Ungentlemanly Act' and 'Execution of Duty'. The WW2 espionage series starring Harry Flynn.

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,978MI6 Agent

    Colonel Sun might be an interesting one to "read" on a road trip, since so much of the plot is Bond on a road trip, albeit on water. The sense of crossing a landscape is key to this one, and the original hardcover included a map of the Greek islands east of Athens. Last time I read it I was glad we now have GoogleMaps.

    All Bond adventures have lots of travel, but this one the geography is more detailed and crossing it makes up more of the plot.


    As well as the credited content in SPECTRE, there are elements in the films The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only and The World Is Not Enough that I see as being similar to bits from Colonel Sun . course there are elements in later films suspiciously similar to Gardners first four books, and I wouldn't say that necessitates reading Gardner. Its just that I like Colonel Sun, so I get excited when, for example, Bond first meets the sexy Russian spy in a restaurant then the next scene they are both being chased round some classical ruins.

  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 5,749MI6 Agent

    Colonel Sun might be an interesting one to "read" on a road trip, since so much of the plot is Bond on a road trip, albeit on water. The sense of crossing a landscape is key to this one, and the original hardcover included a map of the Greek islands east of Athens. Last time I read it I was glad we now have GoogleMaps.

    All Bond adventures have lots of travel, but this one the geography is more detailed and crossing it makes up more of the plot.

    Although I read it again recently and the climax has Bond clambering through a lot of countryside, with all of the rocks and gulleys intimately described, and I couldn't make head nor tail of it!

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,978MI6 Agent

    you know I had a similar issue last time I read it too, for all that specific detail, I was never clear on whether colonel suns house was on the other side of the same island as the conference, or a different island facing the conference across the water

  • SeanIsTheOnlyOneSeanIsTheOnlyOne Posts: 409MI6 Agent

    @Marker there's also the novelization of TSWLM by Christopher Wood. The way Wood used his own script to create a genuine James Bond novel is quite impressive. To be honest, I prefer this novelization to the movie it's based on. A wonderful tribute to Fleming...

  • MarkerMarker Posts: 66MI6 Agent

    @SeanIsTheOnlyOne Thanks for that. I've been looking on YouTube and have noticed there's some Bond continuation novels in audiobook form on there. I think I'll 'grasp the nettle' and listen to them.

    Author of 'An Ungentlemanly Act' and 'Execution of Duty'. The WW2 espionage series starring Harry Flynn.

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