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Colonel Sun


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#1 SPECTRE ASSASSIN

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Posted 20 June 2004 - 09:02 PM

Right now I'm pending reading "Colonel Sun" by Kingsley Amis before I go along reading John Gardner's books. I just want to know what you think about Amis' book. Is it any good? I know some of the characters, like Colonel Moon, but I'm not familar with the rest of the novel has to offer.

You can voice your opinion,I want to know what CBn members think about this book.

It'll be greatly appreciated. Thanks. :)

#2 Qwerty

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Posted 20 June 2004 - 09:06 PM

Right now I'm pending reading "Colonel Sun" by Kingsley Amis before I go along reading John Gardner's books. I just want to know what you think about Amis' book. Is it any good? I know some of the characters, like Colonel Moon, but I'm not familar with the rest of the novel has to offer.

Perhaps you mean Colonel Sun? :)

The novel itself is quite a good one, I've often heard it called the best non-Fleming Bond book, I don't agree with that, but nonetheless.

I'd call it a fast read, similar to Fleming's, but sometimes lacking his descriptions, sometimes with the characters.

Do you really want a review though of the book before you read it? I would find reading it all the more interesting.

#3 SPECTRE ASSASSIN

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Posted 20 June 2004 - 09:08 PM

Right now I'm pending reading "Colonel Sun" by Kingsley Amis before I go along reading John Gardner's books. I just want to know what you think about Amis' book. Is it any good? I know some of the characters, like Colonel Moon, but I'm not familar with the rest of the novel has to offer.

Perhaps you mean Colonel Sun? :)

The novel itself is quite a good one, I've often heard it called the best non-Fleming Bond book, I don't agree with that, but nonetheless.

I'd call it a fast read, similar to Fleming's, but sometimes lacking his descriptions, sometimes with the characters.

Do you really want a review though of the book before you read it? I would find reading it all the more interesting.

Yeah I suppose your right. I don't want anybody to reveal any plot details. It's better knowing while I read it; Some people might go overboard on this.

#4 Qwerty

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Posted 20 June 2004 - 09:10 PM

I just don't like spoilers of books before I read them, but that's just me.

If wanting a general review, I'd say it's one of the better post-Fleming books and most certainly worth one, if not many readings.

#5 Loomis

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Posted 20 June 2004 - 09:48 PM

Is it any good?

It's unbelievably superb. Not only is it the best non-Fleming Bond novel (by miles), but it's better than some of the Flemings. In fact, "You Only Live Twice" is its only serious rival for the title of Best Bond Novel Ever.

IMO.

#6 Willie Garvin

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Posted 20 June 2004 - 10:45 PM

Is it any good?

It's unbelievably superb. Not only is it the best non-Fleming Bond novel (by miles), but it's better than some of the Flemings. In fact, "You Only Live Twice" is its only serious rival for the title of Best Bond Novel Ever.

IMO.

I'll agree with this.

Colonel Sun is incredible.Kingsley Amis masterfully replicates Ian Fleming's distinctive narrative voice better than any other continuation writer ever has.Better than Christopher Wood(who did a superb job),and MUCH better than Raymond Benson-who of course,did his best in impossible circumstances.

Colonel Sun is a novel that's very much of it's time.It's not the best James Bond novel ever written but it's certainly one of the best.

#7 SPECTRE ASSASSIN

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Posted 21 June 2004 - 12:32 AM

Hey thanks guys for the input!

#8 Bryce (003)

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Posted 21 June 2004 - 03:41 AM

Is it any good?

It's unbelievably superb. Not only is it the best non-Fleming Bond novel (by miles), but it's better than some of the Flemings. In fact, "You Only Live Twice" is its only serious rival for the title of Best Bond Novel Ever.

IMO.

CS rocks!

This MUST be done by powers that be. Barbara, Michael? Pay attention.

Glad you're enjoying the book Spectre.

PM me when your done.....and if you haven't fallen in love Ariadne yet, keep reading.

Loomis, once again, you and I find ourselves on the same page. :) SA - do a search when you're done on the site for a few threads out there. Mostly championed by Loomis and myself.

Amis did a fine job.

#9 rafterman

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Posted 21 June 2004 - 12:59 PM

It's a very good novel that needs a release with the same style as the new Flemings...

#10 Simon

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Posted 21 June 2004 - 01:07 PM

This MUST be done by powers that be. Barbara, Michael? Pay attention.

It should be done but the M kidnap will hold problems with the TWINE sub sub plot.

Which wasn't really a sub plot as the silly moo isn't a field agent, is too old and drinks too much to be reliable in harms way.

NB, this is no way a reflection on Judi's character who is, I'm sure, just fine the way she is.

#11 Trident

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Posted 06 July 2004 - 08:44 AM

I thoroughly enjoyed CS! It really stands out of the continuation novels and I could actually imagine this Bond as being the one who just recovered from Scaramangas bullet. I would have loved this book to be made into a film, but there seems to be hardly a chance nowadays as every new Bond-film turns out to be a bit of a die-hard clone.

Anyway, a great book and I hope for a new edition coming soon as I only have got the german edition, which looks suspiciously down-sized to me (only 159 pages). I trust, the original version to be a bit longer.

#12 Genrewriter

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Posted 06 July 2004 - 06:31 PM

I'm with Bryce, this book is great. I'd love to see a film version at some point. It would have been a great outing for Dalton.

#13 Clarence Leiter

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Posted 13 August 2004 - 09:14 AM

Cripes! I never realised this book is so well received by Bond fans. I have been thinking all these years that Col Sun was just a knockoff or ripoff whatever.

#14 Loomis

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Posted 13 August 2004 - 09:16 AM

I take it you haven't read it, Clarence?

#15 Clarence Leiter

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Posted 13 August 2004 - 09:34 AM

Not yet Loomis. :)

Like I said I thought it was just a ripoff like all those 60s spy flicks that tried to jump on the Bond wagon. I have just been reading more about it in other threads of the Amis forum and it looks like it is the best non Fleming Bond novel around. :)

Yikes was I wromg about this book or what!? :)

#16 Jim

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Posted 13 August 2004 - 09:39 AM

Oh, do read it. It is "official" after all, despite years of them trying to disown it, in a rather mysterious fashion.

#17 Clarence Leiter

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Posted 13 August 2004 - 09:44 AM

The spy genre spills into the real world in this case huh Jim? :)

#18 Jim

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Posted 13 August 2004 - 10:02 AM

:)

Truth be told, its masters' indifference to it is not overt but it does seem to be treated like the bastard child; very offhand manner, considering it was written by one of the most lauded English novelists of the latter half of the twentieth century. OK, it's not echt Fleming, but then as his death tended to get in the way of things, it was never going to be. But it is the equal of many of the originals and better than a couple. It's in a different league to what happened between 1981-2002.

#19 hrabb04

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Posted 13 August 2004 - 01:47 PM

I remember ordering this from public library where I lived in the late 80s, as I was reading the Flemings at that time. I don't recall getting to finish reading it back then, and am very curious to revisit this one now. I have heard it is rare and very expensive. Is this true? If so, what are my options, besides taking out a mortgage?

#20 Loomis

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Posted 13 August 2004 - 02:26 PM

Probably not that rare or expensive. I bought my copy (a paperback first edition) in a secondhand bookshop off the Charing Cross Road for nine quid quite recently. If you're determined to get a hardback first in pristine condition, well, obviously, that would be a taller and costlier order. If you're happy just to have it in paperback and don't care about the year of publication, you'll probably come across the book pretty soon after you start looking.

#21 hrabb04

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Posted 13 August 2004 - 02:27 PM

Thank you, Loomis, I'll keep my eyes open for a copy.

#22 Donovan

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Posted 19 November 2004 - 03:35 AM

It has been years ( I think mid-the 80's) since I read this book. At the time I felt it was just a hack-job.

As I remember, I wasn't all that impressed with it. Fleming's Bond may have had occasional bouts of self-doubt, but he kept them to himself. The opening of the book was his asking Bill Tanner if he thought he was going soft. To me, that screamed a total misunderstanding of the character.

I also thought Colonel Sun was too much of a Doctor No. Aside from the oriental heritage, there was the scientific fascination with pain. That torture with the ear was somehow too vivid. It was enough for Fleming to say "the result was startling." He never got into the physical specifics of torture.

I felt that M's abduction was just for shock value. Anyone can write about something that detrimental happening. It isn't particularly clever or original. If anything, it's unoriginal. SMERSH discussed killing M in FRWL but it was decided there would be little impact with his death.

#23 Zing!

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 02:28 AM

I loved Kingsley Amis's 007 novel: "Colonel Sun." I thought it was quite possibly the best Bond continuation novel (after Pearson's "Authorized Biography" that is). It has a smashing start, a memorable villian, a terrific Bond girl, and vibrant, well-researched 'travelogue' aspect. The only problem I had while reading the book was this - it tended to bog down in the middle. There seemed to be long stretches where Bond was nowhere to be seen. The main offenders were chapters 12, 13 & 14. The narrative slowed to the speed of molasses. I'm all for building tension, but it seemed Amis was giving us more than was necessary (which tended to happen with his description of Greece as well). All in all, a terrific book though - highly recommended. Better than almost everything by Gardner, and definitely miles above anything by Benson.

#24 wattenscheid09

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 05:08 AM

Zing, couldn't agree more. It feels like Bond. My only major problem with it is the overly complicated setup on the island (I am still confused who does what where on which end of the island). But other than that it's the real deal (and IMHO even fresher than some of Flemings books -oooooh, sacrilegue!)

#25 spynovelfan

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 09:44 AM

I kind of agree with Donovan about the opening, although my main problem is that it's a slow start. The research in this novel is absolutely brilliant. Amis really knew his spy stuff, and so often literary writers 'slumming it' with a mere thriller don't bother so much, and tend to concentrate on the psychological. You never feel Amis is slumming it - he's every bit as into it as Fleming was. He could have had a terrific career as a thriller writer, I think. The writing is uniformly excellent, and frequently better than Fleming. The only thing lacking is something of Fleming's madness. It's not quite extravagant or exciting or outlandish enough. It gets all the details of Bond right, and his character's pretty spot on, but the world in which he moves is much flatter than Fleming's. The research slightly gets in the way of the pacing, and it never quite feels like one of Fleming's hare-brained ideas. For all Amis' hatred of Le Carr

Edited by spynovelfan, 02 March 2005 - 09:49 AM.


#26 wattenscheid09

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 02:52 PM

Wow. Thanks. That was... fresh. Pity pity pity he only did one.

#27 Trident

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 04:05 PM

Yes it's a shame Amis did only CS. He might certainly have come up with more great thrillers.

It's always been said Gardner was one of several authors who have been approached by Glidrose. Does anybody know which other writers they had asked? I know it's a fruitless hypothesis but I still wonder whose other continuations we missed.

Edited by Trident, 02 March 2005 - 04:06 PM.


#28 spynovelfan

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 04:19 PM

Yes it's a shame Amis did only CS. He might certainly have come up with more great thrillers.

It's always been said Gardner was one of several authors who have been approached by Glidrose. Does anybody know which other writers they had asked? I know it's a fruitless hypothesis but I still wonder whose other continuations we missed.

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That's something I've long wondered, Trident, but that I suspect we may never learn. I asked Peter Janson-Smith a couple of years ago, but he refused to say, unsurprisingly. I suspect a couple of people turned it down before Gardner was asked - PJ-S really struggled to give me a convincing reason why they'd gone with Gardner at all, admitting that he thought his Boysie Oakes books were pretty poor. My impression was that they just wanted a hack who would do it for a while and churn them out - 'we couldn't have another Kingsley, that was the thing' he said (I'm paraphrasing). They may have asked Colin Forbes, who had a pretty similar profile to Gardner at that time, Desmond Bagley (although he may have been ill by 1980), Alan Williams, Jack Higgins (possibly too famous, though) and Peter O'Donnell. I discussed this with Nick Kincaid a couple of years ago and his guesses were Adam Hall, James Leasor, Andrew York, Peter O'Donnell, Philip McCutcheon and Alan Williams, whose agent was Janson-Smith (and who we both agreed would have been superb).

#29 Trident

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 04:33 PM

Yes, I often thought about Higgins myself. One thing that annoyed me about his works was that he canibalized some of them. For example he took whole scenes of one book and inserted them with changed names in another. But I still believe he would have been far better than Gardner at times. At times I even phantasized about a book written by Higgins using a plot by Robert Ludlum (mind you, I was only 15 at the time and very naive).

Peter O'Donnell almost seems too obvious a choice. IMHO he would have been an almost perfect candidate. But he certainly wanted to stay true to his own creation and he did not write a hell of a lot after 1980 or so. But I would have given my right arm for the chance to read a Bond novel by O'Donnell. :)

Sad that he can't write one any more. :)

PS: I'll have to check out Alan Williams. Never read one of his works. But I'll catch up on this matter if I can. Thanks for the information! :)

Edited by Trident, 02 March 2005 - 05:52 PM.


#30 Trident

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 06:10 PM

Another afterthought:

On Gardners website I recently read Gardner refering to the lack of expertise and investigation of another writer who became famous by publishing a WWII novel. Gardner states he himself had hands-on-experience with the noise-supressed version of the Sten MP. And that it never could have been used in the fashion his fellow writer described in his famous work. There is no name given but to me it seems obvious he refers to Higgins and "The Eagle has landed". The impression I got was that Gardner didn't view Higgins and his successs very friendly. Something that is not completely mysterious if Gardner knew for sure that Higgins had beeen approached and turned down the chance. In later years I often had the feeling Gardner would have liked to write something more literary ambitious in the line of leCarre. Instead he felt he was stuck with low-level thrillers that did not even to well in the sales department. Must have angered him that Higgins did sell so fine in the years his Bonds didn't show on the bestseller listings.

But then again this is mere speculation.




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