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Colonel Sun


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#61 ACE

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Posted 24 August 2005 - 07:16 PM

Sehr interessant.

I had a friend who worked for the MOD and the only Minister he had time for was Aitken. Aitken was great he said and really enjoyed the job.

He also said that you knew when a politician was coming because the shredders went into overtime!

Please name-drop anytime you want. I believe it's called "sharing the wealth".

ACE

#62 spynovelfan

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Posted 24 August 2005 - 07:20 PM

Please name-drop anytime you want. I believe it's called "sharing the wealth".

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That made me laugh out loud, thanks. Sean Connery asked me what was so funny from the other room.

I suspect I missed something in Laz' editing there.

Colonel Sun, eh? Fascinating novel.

#63 ACE

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Posted 24 August 2005 - 07:30 PM

I remember going to the Cubby Broccoli memorial in the Odeon, Leicester Sq and watching from the balcony.

Brosnan and Dalton sat in the aisle seats, Dalton in front of Brosnan. But they spent most of time talking to each other, Dalton turned in his seat. When Goldfinger by Burley Chassis was piped in, Dalton "conducted" with his hand and from the sideways shaking of his head, appeared to be singing along.

Erm, Colonel Sun. My casting if it was made into a film...

Albert R Broccoli's Eon Productions presents
JACK DAVENPORT as Ian Fleming's JAMES BOND 007
in Kingsley Amis'
COLONEL SUN

Starring JENNIFER ANNISTON as Ariadne Alexandrou and LEONARD NIMOY as Colonel Sun
ALFRED MOLINA as Litsas and JOHN HURT as Von Richter

Directed by John McKenzie

#64 spynovelfan

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Posted 24 August 2005 - 07:38 PM

That's a lovely story, Dalton and Brosnan chatting away like that. Wonderful stuff.

Nimoy's clever casting. Litsas seems a small part for Molina, though. He could probably do Sun himself, as he seems able to play any nationality and is a terrific actor. For Ariadne, I'd go for an unknown Greek girl who looked the part and had some fire in her eyes. How about Anthony Calf as Von Richter? He'd actually make quite a good M for a younger Bond, too - looks a lot like Edward Fox sometimes.

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Could even be an older Bond. But I'd take Daniel Craig as 007 for this, and Michael Gambon as M.

#65 ACE

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Posted 24 August 2005 - 07:39 PM

Lazenby880 is probably Jonathan Aitken's former PPA - or Aitken himself. :) In which case, do you remember meeting a slightly strange and intense journalist in a  vicar's house in 2001, who asked you if you'd consider playing James Bond?

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I am actually John Major. And I was a much better prime minister than any of you ever give me credit for. Oh, and I would make a great Bond.

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I actually thought John Major was a good man and as good a PM as we could have had in the circumstances. He was let down by his squabbling party and the Ulster Unionists. Besides, he was a cricket fan!

No, JM was a decent, dignified man. Who could have done all his own stunts if cast as Bond given his circus heritage.

Lazenby880, don't be so defensive. We may even share the same politics. Then again we may not. Margaret Thatcher was a great PM and certainly what the country needed (initially, at least).

A Scottish Tory, eh? A rare breed indeed. (I am making a bunch of assumptions here).See, we may be closer than you think, Lazenby880.

Colonel Sun casting choices. Calf is OK - don't know him though. On second thoughts, I miss the Euro casting of the early Bonds. Get a really flamboyant Greek actor to play Litsas and a cruel German for Litsas. Agree about the girl - they have some real stunners there who are not internationally known. Nimoy is probably too old now but he would have worked really well in the Christopher Lee counter-casting method.

ACE

Edited by ACE, 24 August 2005 - 07:43 PM.


#66 spynovelfan

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Posted 24 August 2005 - 07:54 PM

I suspect if it does happen it would have to be Bond 24 or 25, because of the sub-plot in TWINE and even having a 'Colonel Moon' in DAD. I don't think it's an especially cinematic story, but then neither was The Property Of A Lady - they'd keep the villain and the girl and the location and change most of the rest, I suppose. Possibly even the title, which is a fairly obvious take on DR NO, although they don't seem to be putting a hell of a lot of thought into the titles of late so perhaps the 'clout' of it being Amis and everyfink would dictate it stays.

Calf's in HOLBY CITY, but quite a good actor nevertheless. :) Art Malik's in it, too.

#67 Lazenby880

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Posted 24 August 2005 - 10:18 PM

[quote name='ACE' date='24 August 2005 - 19:39']I actually thought John Major was a good man and as good a PM as we could have had in the circumstances. He was let down by his squabbling party and the Ulster Unionists. Besides, he was a cricket fan!

No, JM was a decent, dignified man. Who could have done all his own stunts if cast as Bond given his circus heritage.

Lazenby880, don't be so defensive. We may even share the same politics. Then again we may not. Margaret Thatcher was a great PM and certainly what the country needed (initially, at least).

A Scottish Tory, eh? A rare breed indeed. (I am making a bunch of assumptions here).See, we may be closer than you think, Lazenby880.

Colonel Sun casting choices. Calf is OK - don't know him though. On second thoughts, I miss the Euro casting of the early Bonds. Get a really flamboyant Greek actor to play Litsas and a cruel German for Litsas. Agree about the girl - they have some real stunners there who are not internationally known. Nimoy is probably too old now but he would have worked really well in the

Edited by Lazenby880, 24 August 2005 - 10:24 PM.


#68 spynovelfan

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Posted 24 August 2005 - 10:45 PM

Share the wealth, Lazzers. :)

#69 ACE

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Posted 24 August 2005 - 10:55 PM

And all this name-dropping, did I never tell you about the time I 'bumped into' Sophie Marceau?

But Colonel Sun, yeah, erm, well the cover art is interesting.

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Yeah, redistribute the wealth, Lazenby880.

Steady on BTW. I said we may share the same politics.

Isn't Colonel Sun quite political?

ACE

Edited by ACE, 24 August 2005 - 10:56 PM.


#70 spynovelfan

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Posted 24 August 2005 - 11:01 PM

Good joke.

Yes, Colonel Sun, the topic we're rigidly discussing, is quite political. But Lazenby880 hasn't finished it yet, so we'll just have to namesdrop or something until he does.

I once interviewed Rocco Forte, and recommended he read le Carr

#71 Lazenby880

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Posted 24 August 2005 - 11:19 PM

My lips are sealed. As were hers.* :)

Steady on BTW. I said we may share the same politics.

Isn't Colonel Sun quite political?

ACE

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You mean we are not both social conservatives intent on destroying the National Health Service, reversing the tide of liberalism/political correctness etc and re-instituting the values of the 1950s? That's a shame.

Truthfully I did have quite a few conversations with Iain Duncan Smith. Thoroughly nice chap.

And back to Colonel Sun. 'Into the wood'; fun chapter title.

* I should point out that I have never met the delectable Sophie Marceau. Though I have no doubt that both sets of lips are lovely.

Edited by Lazenby880, 24 August 2005 - 11:20 PM.


#72 spynovelfan

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Posted 24 August 2005 - 11:33 PM

* I should point out that I have never met the delectable Sophie Marceau. Though I have no doubt that both sets of lips are lovely.

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You can't say that!

I'm to bed - Michelle Pfeiffer's calling me.

#73 Lazenby880

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Posted 24 August 2005 - 11:43 PM

* I should point out that I have never met the delectable Sophie Marceau. Though I have no doubt that both sets of lips are lovely.

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You can't say that!

I'm to bed - Michelle Pfeiffer's calling me.

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I was, of course, referring to her lips and mine. I do not know if my lips are lovely, but I assume they are.

Tut tut SNF, your mind really is in the gutter this evening. :)

#74 ACE

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Posted 24 August 2005 - 11:52 PM

Yeah, Uma, after you put your yellow tracksuit back on, I'll have coffee, very black, green figs and yoghurt....

Oh, hi guys, didn't know you were there!

I met IDS once (he gave a talk in the LB where I live) and he was most pleasant.
I think the C's need to rebrand themselves because their grassroots support is not sustainable. They must be the only party whose membership list is of interest to actuaries.

But I do not believe in freedom without responsibility, unsustainable uncapped public resources with no means testing, an unreformed public sector and a loss of basic family values and common sense sanctions. However, I also believe in Britain at the heart of Europe, a European defence policy, proper Parliamentary checks and balances, proportional representation, a written constitution, a one-nation social justice and generally a more accountable, less dogmatic executive in the UK.

I shared a taxi once with MGW and also rode a train back with him from Bradford.

Colonel Sun - great soft drink tie in opportunity!

ACE

#75 Lazenby880

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Posted 25 August 2005 - 12:06 AM

But I do not believe in freedom without responsibility, unsustainable uncapped public resources with no means testing, an unreformed public sector and a loss of basic family values and common sense sanctions.

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:) :) :)

However, I also believe in Britain at the heart of Europe, a European defence policy, proper Parliamentary checks and balances, proportional representation, a written constitution, a one-nation social justice and generally a more accountable, less dogmatic executive in the UK.

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:)

May share the same politics indeed. :) And you would be surprised, the average age of Labour members really is not that much younger than that of the Conservatives.

Colonel Sun, hmm, 'The Theory and Practice of Torture'. I'm guessing that'll be the famous torture scene then.

#76 ACE

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Posted 25 August 2005 - 12:14 AM

Well there is another party whose demographic does skew younger!

I deliberately wrote that in Campbell-ese!

That's Alistair...

...not Martin...

who would be a good choice to direct the movie version of Colonel Sun.

:)

ACE

#77 marmaduke

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Posted 24 September 2005 - 02:56 PM

After a gap of over 20 years I have just completed a

#78 Gri007

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Posted 25 September 2005 - 07:05 PM

Here's my tag line for the film

'When Sun Rises Danger Falls.'

#79 terminus

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Posted 16 November 2005 - 01:52 AM

Just grabbed CS today from a dollar fifty at a second hand store - comments forthcoming.

#80 Lazenby880

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Posted 29 December 2005 - 10:20 PM

Perhaps it's just me, but I think there's a tendency to come into reading COLONEL SUN having already decided it's brilliant. It's got a lot going for it. Written in the 60s, by a famous writer, a one-shot and so on. I think in many ways the flaws are masked by 'But what if he'd done another' interest, a general goodwill for a somewhat obscure piece of Bond history, and that it is so much better than the other continuations.

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Consider this proposition detailed in another topic. It appears that, for the presumably relatively small proportion of James Bond fans who have read COLONEL SUN, this represents a dividing line between those who are fans and those who are not. Are those who consider Kingsley Amis' single Bond novel as one of the best mistaken, having approached it with a preconceived notion of its worth? Are those who view it as a competent but ultimately disappointing novel correct that the middle chapters sag, it takes itself too seriously and can be at times dull?

Well, of course, these are only opinions. But it is an interesting proposition. Without doubt, the 'novelty factor' does positively affect the esteem in which COLONEL SUN is held by Bond aficionados. It was published shortly after Ian Fleming's death in the 1960s by a well-known and widely respected author, as well as an author who was a devotee of the James Bond novels himself. For some, perhaps the fact that Mr Amis only wrote one Bond novel does encourage the reader to extrapolate from the text all that is good, and to naively ignore all that is bad. However, while it is an interesting proposition and one which may be borne out to a limited extent from the experience of a few, surely the same case could made about many other aspects of the Bond series. Having read all of the opinions there are to be read about THE MAN FROM BARBAROSSA or COLD (opinions which are almost uniformly negative) do some fans not approach those novels having already decided that they will not be up to much? Or consider the negativity surrounding the movie version of THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN, described matter-of-factly by Pfeiffer and Worrall in their reference manual as the 'weakest of the Bond films made to date'*. While some may undoubtedly go into those works having already been convinced of their direness, does that mean that all who have formed that opinion have done so?

That said, COLONEL SUN is not perfect. The middle section is slow, albeit to a much lesser degree than the book's critics attest. There are some parts that could have been tidied up to ensure a more efficient flow of the book, such as chapter sixteen 'The Temporary Captain'. Due to the descriptive style the book does move at a relatively slow pace, but not sluggishly so. The reader's interest is retained right through, and these more descriptive sections add to the atmosphere and the characterisation. Nevertheless, at times the reader may find themselves wishing the plot to move forward more briskly. The opening is explosive and gripping, but this is not maintained all the way. A second reasing is also eminently worthwhile; perhaps I am just slow, however at times things get quite convoluted and require re-reading.

Where Mr Amis does succeed he does so with gusto. He successfully drenched the novel with darkly rich atmosphere. Greece emerges almost as a character on its own so vividly does the author illustrate its scenery and the feeling of being there. The reader is never left with the illusion that it is a pleasant country, at best it is portrayed as a second-rate backward-looking nation of xenophobic proles. Instead, one gains the impression that this is a once great country that has fallen into its state by the fault of its own people. 'There is something to be said for the view that the Parthenon is best seen from a distance,' Amis writes, for the simple fact that the shoddy restoration work (in comparison, the author details, with the Germans or the Americans) is masked. But inside those magnificently tall columns exists a dead world, mcuh more than 'rows of antique marble'. The best thrillers embody a sense of place, which COLONEL SUN undoubtedly does.

In Adriane Alexandrou the Bond series has one of its most interesting heroines. Here is a Bond girl who is fiercely independent, crafty and a fighter, but not to the point where she becomes an irritating 'equal'. She possesses different qualities and faults than Bond, and exhibits many feminine characteristics. Could she, though, be the first Bond girl to utter the word 'bitch'? Throughout it is clear why Bond falls for her, why he is captivated by her sense of loyalty and her bravery. Truthfully, she is not really heroic in any meaningful sense of the word, but she is a most memorable companion of OO7. Colonel Sun Liang-tan is a fascinating foe, an outstanding character about whom the reader is left wanting to know more. An absolute believer in pure torture, he inflicts upon Bond perhaps the most violent scene in any Bond novel (moreso, even, than in CASINO ROYALE). Sun most specifically tortures Bond through his skull, to the point where the latter is barely in control of his own senses. The pain endured, we learn, is almost indescribable. However, as a mark of the Amis' literary erudition, Sun regrets his actions. He tortured Bond in order to feel like god but pleads for forgiveness, feeling sick and guilty and having realised the despicability of his behaviour. Deep for this genre, but a development that recommends COLONEL SUN highly.

The ending is bitter-sweet, and far more profound than it first seems. 'People think it must be wonderful and free and everything,' Ariadne says, 'But we're not free, ae we?' Bond replies, 'No ... We're prisoners. But let's enjoy our captivity when we can.' Succinctly we gain a deep insight into the lives these characters lead; their lack of freedom, their constrictions. We are left in no doubt that Bond and Ariadne's time together will be limited (her decision), nicely setting up the next 'Robert Markham' adventure which, sadly, was not to materialise.

It is easy and tempting to contrast Amis with Fleming. There is little point, so divergent are they. There is a connection in that Amis' Bond is Fleming's, while the former takes account of what is canon providing an interpretation that is undeniably post-YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE. And yet, no matter how hard one tries to avoid doing so, one inevitably compares Amis with Fleming. The differences between the two illuminate the fact that, as an author of thrillers, Fleming was undoubtedly the superior. And while Amis was an accomplished and highly versatile author COLONEL SUN is simply not as good as Fleming at his best. In comparing the two, moreover, it is discernable just how different Amis was. The element of the bizarre, so evident in much of Fleming's novels, is nowhere to be seen. This is deliberate, as is the striking difference in he respective authors' prose. Gone is the brilliantly florid and flowery prose of Fleming, in is something altogether more blunt and straightforward. Both work in literary terms, but are really quiteradically different. Stylistically and tonally COLONEL SUN is darker and grittier and bleaker than anything Fleming wrote. Fleming may have been criticised for his sadism, however Amis pushed that to a different level.

In that sense, then, COLONEL SUN is a more modern novel and Amis a more modern thriller writer. In style and plot it is far less extravagant than Fleming's books, with a far greater emphasis on realism. While this works in other contemporary thrillers (some of which are more similar to COLONEL SUN than Fleming's novels) does it work in a Bond novel, where the pulp was part of the attraction? This depends on what one is expecting and what one wants. COLONEL SUN is decidedly not 'larger-than-life' or Flemingesque, if you are looking for that look elsewhere. It is another author's interpretation of the literary Bond, a story about Ian Fleming's James Bond written in a very different style than Ian Fleming. And for some that is the novel's largest downfall.

On the back of the 1970 reprinting the DAILY MIRROR is quoted as desribing the novel as 'an exciting, violent, sadistic and sexy piece of reading matter.' This is largely accurate. Instead of embodying a sense of fun it embodies a sense of seriousness. Does it register as deep an impact as, say, YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE or ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE? No. Yet it is violent, sadistic and sexy, as well as being exciting (and, in my view, entertaining) for the most part. And whatever one's opinions on it, for the simple divergence from Fleming, COLONEL SUN is a thoroughly rewarding, and above all interesting, read.

* Pfeiffer, L. and Worrall, D. (2003) The Essential James Bond London: Boxtree p. 97

Edited by Lazenby880, 30 December 2005 - 12:58 AM.


#81 Lazenby880

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Posted 29 December 2005 - 11:14 PM

I should add an apology to spynovelfan for singling out his post from another thread, I simply found the notion an interesting one that could be further discussed. Thus, nothing personal. :tup:

Moreover, on re-reading the above 'review' I should also apologise for the meandering fashion in which it has been written and structured, I hope it isn't too long-winded and tedious.

#82 Loomis

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Posted 29 December 2005 - 11:43 PM

Moreover, on re-reading the above 'review' I should also apologise for the meandering fashion in which it has been written and structured, I hope it isn't too long-winded and tedious.

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Stuff and nonsense. :tup: If only all posts here were of the same quality.

I enjoyed reading that, Laz. Definitely one of the best things I've read on "Colonel Sun". Very true that Greece emerges as a character, and a not wholly pleasant one too. But character and atmosphere are among Amis' strong suits, and as with "The Magus", another favourite novel of mine that's set in Greece, I put the book down thinking (absurdly, perhaps) that the writer had succeeded in actually taking me to the country.

No, it's not "You Only Live Twice" (not quite - I do, however, find Amis' Bond novel rather moving, for reasons I struggle to put into words; there seems to be a strong sense of melancholy about the book, and Ariadne in particular strikes me as a very poignant character [not sure why, though]), although I personally rank CS much higher than "On Her Majesty's Secret Service", which book I find a bit of a bore (love the film, though). Sun is indeed a terrific villain, the torture scene the most harrowing thing I know of in the literary series, and the minor characters (such as Arensky) are drawn very well.

As far as the "canon" question goes, I personally consider CS the last "proper" novel and to all intents and purposes the end of the "true" literary series, although I base that on nothing but personal preference.

#83 Lazenby880

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 01:55 AM

Stuff and nonsense. :D If only all posts here were of the same quality.

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:tup: Far too kind Looms, but thank you. I had wanted to go on a bit more about how Amis details Bond as a character, however then the post really would be of ridiculous length.

No, it's not "You Only Live Twice" (not quite - I do, however, find Amis' Bond novel rather moving, for reasons I struggle to put into words; there seems to be a strong sense of melancholy about the book, and Ariadne in particular strikes me as a very poignant character [not sure why, though]), although I personally rank CS much higher than "On Her Majesty's Secret Service", which book I find a bit of a bore (love the film, though). Sun is indeed a terrific villain, the torture scene the most harrowing thing I know of in the literary series, and the minor characters (such as Arensky) are drawn very well.

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True, an air of despondency permeates the book, with Amis intentionally creating a pretty dank and dismal atmosphere throughout (that is a compliment to him, by the way). I also concur regarding the minor characters, one feels familiar with all who appear in COLONEL SUN. As for Greece, he succeeds in making the place come alive almost as Fleming did with Japan in YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE. Granted, Fleming was more successful in doing so, but having read COLONEL SUN a few times I really feel as if I know what Greece was like at the time.

As far as the "canon" question goes, I personally consider CS the last "proper" novel and to all intents and purposes the end of the "true" literary series, although I base that on nothing but personal preference.

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Agreed here too. As much as I enjoy some of Gardner's output, especially his first three, the problem with all post-COLONEL SUN continuation novels in my opinion is that they do not take sufficient account of the timeline as laid out by Fleming. Benson does, it is true, pay too much attention to Fleming, however the cardboard unaged character that appears in his novels is not the man who appears in the original series. In fact I have issues with having a 'new-aged' Bond set in the current day (in the literary series), however that is for another time.

I actually think they missed an opportunity with Licence Renewed onwards, in that it could have been interesting to have James Bond cope with the societal and cultural changes that occurred in the 1970s and 1980s. I am trying to amend this in my own fan fiction (not very well, it must be said) with an older Bond still affected by that which happened to him in the past set in the early 1980s.

But back to Amis, and yes it is for that reason that I similarly view COLONEL SUN as the last in the 'actual' literary series. Unlike the works of Amis' successors, one gets the feeling that the James Bond in COLONEL SUN is the same James Bond that Ian Fleming wrote about, with his state of mind appropriate after the events of YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE and THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN. It is personal preference, and I would imagine that most other members only view Fleming as canonical, which is wholly understandable.

Edited by Lazenby880, 30 December 2005 - 01:57 AM.


#84 Loomis

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 02:18 AM

I actually think they missed an opportunity with Licence Renewed onwards, in that it could have been interesting to have James Bond cope with the societal and cultural changes that occurred in the 1970s and 1980s.

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Couldn't agree more. If I remember correctly, this is touched on on the second page of the following thread:

http://debrief.comma...showtopic=20048

#85 spynovelfan

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 09:16 AM

I should add an apology to spynovelfan for singling out his post from another thread, I simply found the notion an interesting one that could be further discussed. Thus, nothing personal. :D

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No problem, Lazenby880 - we are having a discussion, after all. :D

Very interesting review. I think we see the novel in pretty much the same way, but I just like it by a few degrees less than you. I agree that it's entertaining, bleak, serious, dark, and well-written. Greece leaps out, Ariadne's well drawn, the opening captivates, the end is very stark indeed.

I do feel it tends to be rather over-rated by Bond-lovers, but perhaps that's my misperception. I don't really see it as a flaw that it's unlike Fleming - though I do miss the element of the bizarre. I don't like it when people claim it is exactly like Fleming, though. :tup: (You haven't - some do, though.) I don't think any continuation author should have merely aped Fleming - but I think there are plenty of thrillers written in the mid-to-late 60s that were more in keeping with his spirit than COLONEL SUN. Amis had and has the mighty advantage of Bond, Tanner, M and the other brand accoutrements, which is why we're discussing it. If you renamed those three characters Brown, Farren and C, we wouldn't be discussing the novel. Nor would it seem like a Bond novel in disguise, I reckon. I think the two thrillers by Amis' friend and fellow Angry Young Man John Braine, THE PIOUS AGENT and FINGER OF FIRE, which he wrote in the 70s, better Bond novels than any of the continuations I've read - and they don't have Bond in them. :D

The flaws you see in CS are the same ones I see (but which rarely get an airing among Bond fans, I think): some of it's overcomplicated, and the plot lags at points. Like Loomis, I also find the book moving in an odd way - but it's a very faint feeling, like a fading dream. Somehow, the novel also manages to feel very hollow (at least it does for me).

But I think its biggest flaw is Bond - he doesn't really have a character, so it's like a hole in the centre of the book. I don't really agree that it's Fleming's Bond written by another hand - he doesn't feel anything like Fleming's Bond to me. In his first few Bond novels, I think Gardner got a lot closer. The mistake Gardner made was to overdose on what I'd call the accoutrements of Bond: he has a flat in Chelsea, reads Scarne on gambling, wears Sea Island cotton shirts and a Rolex and so on. He gave his Bond girls Bond girl type names. In LR, Gardner continually referenced the Fleming novels, like the 'going private' comment from FRWL. And it's not the film Bond - he has Q'ute *and* Major Boothroyd, who is simply the Armourer, and not a gadget man. I think the mistake Gardner made was to do precisely what you think he didn't do, namely show how Bond would 'cope with the societal and cultural changes that occurred in the 1970s and 1980s'. So he had Bond cut back on his drinking and smoke low-tar Morlands and so on (he even spelled Morland wrong! Or his editors did). But if you leave all that aside for a moment, Gardner also made a real effort in those early books to give his Bond the same *character* as Fleming's. Fleming's Bond was a man who fussed about small things and had idiosyncratic tastes. The idea of Bond having his own non-service issue gun in his privately personalised car is very much in keeping with Fleming, as is the whole pickpocketing thing, the emphasis on his weaponry and technology and so on.

Amis wisely did not use many established details from Fleming: Tanner and Sunningdale and M are about it. But he didn't take the risk of adding anything, either. Admittedly, he was writing just three years after Fleming's death, so there was no real impetus to reinvent, which Gardner had. But I think the result is a rather flat Bond. More than the lagging plot, it's the cipher at the centre of Amis' novel that frustrates me: he never got inside Bond's head. As a result, what had the potential to be a brilliant Bond novel by a great writer turned out to be, to my mind anyway, merely quite good.

#86 Lazenby880

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 01:30 PM

I don't like it when people claim it is exactly like Fleming, though. :tup: (You haven't - some do, though.)

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Agreed. Some do write that Amis perfectly captures Fleming, I wonder if they read the same book. One of the most striking aspects of COLONEL SUN is how different it is from anything Fleming wrote, as you say it is darker and bleaker than even CASINO ROYALE. The point I was trying to convey was that it is a more modern thriller than Fleming's works, in terms of plot, style and tone. Its seriousness does resemble other contemporary thrillers (and Amis other contemporary thriller writers) that ushered in a new era post-Fleming, the era of (spy-)thrillers that was decidedly more gloomy. There is a case, I think, to be made that COLONEL SUN, in some respects, has more akin to the likes of Le Carr

Edited by Lazenby880, 30 December 2005 - 01:33 PM.


#87 Loomis

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 02:08 PM

I don't like it when people claim it is exactly like Fleming, though. :tup: (You haven't - some do, though.)

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Agreed. Some do write that Amis perfectly captures Fleming, I wonder if they read the same book.

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What does "perfectly captures Fleming" mean? If it means xeroxing his writing style, then no (but I'm not aware of any claims that that is what Amis did). If it means a decent approximation of the character of James Bond as fashioned by Fleming, then surely yes (although the "ancient gay dress designer" elements* are toned down a bit). Leastways, I challenge anyone to read 99.9% of the other continuation novels and claim that Amis got it horribly wrong when it came to Fleming's creation.

*http://film.guardian...1397089,00.html

My point about dealing with the changes that occurred during the period when there were no continuation novels is not really about smoking and drinking less, rather how would the character have coped and changed with the 70s 'liberation' and his country in seemingly terminal decline (related to that last point would he, like Amis, be a fan of Mrs Thatcher? :D ). I do not want a Bond novel to be some sort of statement on society or anything like that, but would Bond not have become a more cynical, bitter fellow? Would he have become a more cold-hearted bastard? Something really interesting (and indeed controversial) could have been done, instead of a character who is more Eonised than anything else really.

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I think we're thinking along very similar lines here, Laz. :D I've posted this before, and I'll post it again:

I wonder whether Fleming, if he'd lived longer, would have written books in which Bond defected to the Russians, became an assassin-for-hire, etc.? Probably just fanboy wishful thinking on my part, I know, but I reckon such risk-taking must have crossed Fleming's mind.

Imagine how incredibly dark the Bond novels might have become in the post-Altamont, post-Manson era of the '70s. Would Fleming's hero have become (even more of) an antihero? Would he have gone over to the Dark Side altogether? Would we have seen Bond in Vietnam, or organising hijackings? Would he have become a sort of UK government-licensed Charles Sobhraj? (I can picture the opening sentence of a novel: "James Bond had always hated 'hippies'.") Yeah, I guess there's absolutely no evidence in Fleming's writing that he would have gone on to write such dark novels or turn 007 into a total and utter piece of **** (he's a sonofabitch in Fleming, yes, but at least he's Britain's - and therefore the angels' - sonafabitch), but I do wonder how he'd have developed an ageing James Bond in line with a world that to a man like Fleming would have seemed to be changing rapidly for the worse.

... picture the scene: Fleming lives longer, and the whole Bondmania thing of the '60s happens in just the same way, but then Connery leaves after YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, and maybe Fleming dislikes the direction the cinematic Bond is going in and/or has a big falling-out with Broccoli and Saltzman. And maybe Fleming's new novels get terrible reviews and don't sell as well as their predecessors for whatever reasons, and the literary Bond is viewed as stale and everyone thinks Fleming's run out of ideas. And then Lazenby enters the picture, and while Fleming abhors "the dress down friday revolution of the late 60's" he thinks Lazenby is a great choice to succeed Connery, and he feels the winds of change coming on, and he finally thinks: "**** it, I'm going to change the formula, I'm going to take my creation, James Bond, who's become a Frankenstein's monster and been watered down by Hollywood, and all the rest of it, and I'm going to **** him up, I'm tired of just writing the same old story year-in-year-out about this knight in shining armour who takes down supervillains." And then he writes something along the lines of:

"Cockpit", a 1975 novel by Jerzy Kosinski. I read this book many, many years ago, and remember next to nothing about it. What I do recall, though, is that it is a very dark and very disturbing yarn about a spy who seemed to me to be a sort of evil James Bond. Maybe Fleming would have given us an "evil James Bond" trilogy (a la the SPECTRE trilogy), in which 007 is, say, captured and imprisoned by the North Koreans (hmmm.... now, how did I think that one up? ) and becomes an international bad guy for a while, pursued by Double-O agents. Or something.

Then again, I gather from some posts on CBn that Fleming was, just like Gardner and Benson, bound by various Glidrose rules in terms of what he could write (I find this hard to believe, but it's what I gather), so perhaps it was the case that he couldn't have "evilled-up" Bond even if he'd wanted to.

#88 spynovelfan

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 02:19 PM

[quote name='Lazenby880' date='30 December 2005 - 13:30']There is a case, I think, to be made that COLONEL SUN, in some respects, has more akin to the likes of Le Carr

#89 spynovelfan

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 02:22 PM

"Cockpit", a 1975 novel by Jerzy Kosinski.


Good stuff, isn't it (even if Kosinski didn't write it)? Incidentally, Kosinki's literary agent was Peter Janson-Smith, who was of course also Ian Fleming and Eric Ambler's agent.

You can read a bit of Cockpit (and even search it) here.

#90 spynovelfan

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 03:01 PM

What does "perfectly captures Fleming" mean? If it means xeroxing his writing style, then no (but I'm not aware of any claims that that is what Amis did).

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First page of this thread:

'Kingsley Amis masterfully replicates Ian Fleming's distinctive narrative voice better than any other continuation writer ever has.'

I'm quoting you!

Not really - but it is on the first page of this thread. :tup:




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