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Colonel Sun


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#91 Lazenby880

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 03:24 PM

[quote name='spynovelfan' date='30 December 2005 - 14:19']I wouldn't go that far. :tup: And Amis' corpse is blanching at the mention of le Carr

Edited by Lazenby880, 30 December 2005 - 03:32 PM.


#92 Lazenby880

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 03:50 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).


Loomis, found another:'Certainly it was the most Fleming-esque of the continuation novels. Indistinguishable from their predecessors, says he sticking his neck out.'

Then there is also this post, although to a lesser extent. How about this chap? I would concur regarding the character, however does Amis 'easily slip into Fleming's style'? Try this post too, or this one. Moreover, over at AJB there is this topic, in which I find myself disagreeing with two esteemed gentlemen, both W.G. and scaramanga1, especially over this: 'Kingsley Amis--who wrote one continuation Bond novel,as "Robert Markham"--was a superb writer and a close friend of Ian Fleming,and his interpretation of Fleming's style is simply uncanny.More than one reader has come away from Colonel Sun convinced that it's really the work of Ian Fleming-so close is the writing style and narrative voice.'

So yes Loomie, there are such claims. :tup:

Edited by Lazenby880, 30 December 2005 - 03:52 PM.


#93 spynovelfan

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 10:06 PM

'"Although he had been under close surveillance for over six weeks, Bond had noticed nothing out of the ordinary. When not on an assignment abroad, a secret agent does not expect to be watched."

The Bond of Ian Fleming would. Old enemies like SPECTRE and SMERSH never limit themselves to missions abroad, and Bond would have been incredibly alert, no matter where he was...'

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Just to go back to this quote from the 007Forever piece for a moment - and you'll like this, Laz, to *defend* Amis :tup: - here's the passage I mentioned that shows the above comment to be codswallop. It's from Chapter 11 of FRWL, which is even called 'The Soft Life' (disproving the previous complaint about Bond's doubts in Chapter One of CS). May has just told him about a salesman from the Electricians Union ("They're the Communist one, aren't they-s?") who has been repeatedly coming to the flat and asking about Bond:

'Bond went back to his breakfast. Normally it was little straws in the wind like this that would start a persistent intuitive ticking in his mind, and, on other days, he would not have been happy until he had solved the problem of the man from the Communist union who kept on coming to his house. Now, from months of idleness and disuse, the sword was rusty and Bond's mental guard was down.'

I think Amis got that bang on. :D

#94 spynovelfan

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Posted 31 December 2005 - 05:28 PM

[quote name='Lazenby880' date='30 December 2005 - 15:24']Yes, Amis' corpse is undoubtedly turning in its grave at the mention of Le Carr

#95 Lazenby880

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 04:09 AM

Well, I just meant it as a rough indication of the style. But that's an interesting point. Bond has become such a huge cultural force that we tend to see Fleming in a slightly warped way. Imagine if they'd got Ambler to write a Bond novel, for example! I think these days readers often go into Fleming thinking he'll be very simple boy's own adventures. In fact, they're very complicated boy's own adventures. But that is what they are, still. Darko Kerim is half-Turkish and half-British, but he's this huge fantastic Hemingway character, a parody of a romantic savage. Look at Ambler's half-Egyptian half-British character Arthur Abdel Simpson in THE LIGHT OF DAY. He's pathetic in both senses. Or look at THE MASK OF DIMITRIOS compared to FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE. FRWL's a brilliant thriller, but the psychological observations and suspense of the TMOD are nowhere to be found.

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Interesting; although I am unsure of the extent to which Len Deighton's style can be compared to Ambler's (I know some do, however). Had Ambler written a Bond novel in place of Kingsley Amis it could have been something truly remarkable, even though I still view the former's six pre-Cold War novels as being superior to those written during it (that said, STATE OF SIEGE [aka THE NIGHT-COMERS] and JUDGEMENT ON DELTCHEV also feature on my 'favourite books' list). I know most people view the 1960s as being the perfect period for an espionage novel (which is understandable), however nothing can, in my opinion, beat Ambler's masterful creation of webs of political intrigue in pre-WWII Europe.

I do think there is a tendency to view Fleming as, to some extent, the be-all and end-all. Now, he is my second favourite writer - most of his novels were eminently readable thrillers (with the advantage of never being repetitive and of being quite distinctive from one another) and I believe that he is severely underrated and has been since the novels were first published - but he was not perfect. Take DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER or GOLDFINGER for instance. And yes, great as FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE is (and it is a magnificent thriller) it does not match the suspense or depth of character that Ambler so supremely created in THE MASK OF DIMITRIOS. To be fair to Fleming, it is difficult to directly compare the two books, and Fleming's writing style is pretty different to Ambler's (even though Fleming undoubtedly drew some inspiration from Ambler - as evidenced in the mention of the book) however I nevertheless prefer TMOD.

You know, I have never read anything by O' Donnell, however I see why you have drawn a comparison between him and Fleming both here and in the past. True, Garvin - of the lower classes - is quite evidently an altogether different character to Bond. But the style is similar. So yes, I will concede that the chapter you have quoted (and thank you, by the way, for typing up all that text) does bear more similarity in style to a Fleming Bond novel than does some of Amis' writing. Yet Amis did not seek to emulate or ape Fleming's style, which both you and I (I think) agree is a positive apsect of COLONEL SUN.

Incidentally, you may be interested in my friend Jason Disley's fan fiction in which Blaise, Garvin and Bond team up. Don't worry, it is an excellent novel indeed. Download it here and read about it here, with some reviews (including my own).

Edited by Lazenby880, 03 January 2006 - 04:12 AM.


#96 spynovelfan

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 01:01 PM

Thanks, Laz880 - I'll try to check that out.

I don't see O'Donnell as being a mimic of Fleming - it's not just his prose style. The details of Garvin's scuba gear and pearl-diving are well-researched and utterly authoratitive, key Fleming attributes. A sense of discovery and curiosity about life infuses his work; ditto Fleming. I don't see much of any of that in Amis, but I think we'll leave Amis for a moment.

Neither do I see Deighton as massively Ambleresque - just some elements are similar. I think some of his location description and minor characters are influenced by Ambler. His plots and central tone aren't, though.

Ambler, Fleming, Deighton all wrote extremely vividly, and they had a voice, which Amis didn't seem to in CS (yes, all right, I'm leaving Amis. I think Glidrose went with the wrong writer, but then hindsight's 20/20, innit?). :tup:

#97 Loomis

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 01:06 PM

Ambler, Fleming, Deighton all wrote extremely vividly, and they had a voice, which Amis didn't seem to in CS (yes, all right, I'm leaving Amis. I think Glidrose went with the wrong writer, but then hindsight's 20/20, innit?). :D

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Are you serious? :D Your perverse knocking of the by-any-reasonable-standards-undeniably-really-rather-good "Colonel Sun" evidently knows no bounds. :tup: Next you'll be saying it was a pity Gardner didn't take over the series in 1968, or some such, I expect. :D

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#98 David Schofield

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 01:16 PM

Its funny because I have always been a huge fan of CS - and yet on reading the comic strip adaptation over Christmas, I was pretty disappointed. I know its a different medium but the story simply seems like an extended Gardner-esque chase. It's been quite some time since I read the novel - I've worked my way through many Benson's since and really disliked them - and I wonder if the memory really does become cloudy and rose-tinted as a consequence. "All well, that Benson was a crappy Brozza movie script, if only Amis had done more" kind of thing. I sat with my feet up on my desk and read the opening chapters far more frequently than the whole book and again I wonder if I've been misguided into believing the novel was better because - as has been pointed out in this thread - Sunningdale, the kdnapping, the minsterial meeting and the arrival in Greece - are the most Fleming-like.

Basically, I'm going to read the novel again prety soon. This thread - and the comic strip - have given me the motivation. Good, CBN, isn't it?

#99 spynovelfan

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 01:29 PM

Are you serious? :D

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I never joke about Amis' work, Loomis. :D

Thing is, there were a hell of a lot of really dire spy novels written in the Sixties. I happen to think there were also a surprising number of absolutely amazing ones, many of which were overlooked then and continue to be overlooked now. I think Derek Marlowe, Alan Williams, John Braine and others would have written better and more entertaining Bond novels by a country mile than Amis' good, but by no means great, adventure. :( From the field of 'serious' 'literary' writers like Amis, I think Lawrence Durrell could have written something much much more entertaining. Indeed, his two linked novels, TUNC and NUNQUAM, published around the time of COLONEL SUN (1968 and 1970, respectively) are quasi-spy thrillers with a fantasy element. They involve an inventor who leaves his large multinational (known as 'The Firm') because of a crisis of conscience. They feature Turkish locations, a female robot, and a great climax in St Paul's Cathedral. They're much closer to Fleming than Amis.

David, I think Amis had two major advantages over Gardner: 1. He was capable of writing beautiful prose, which Gardner has never been. 2. He was writing in 1967, that much closer to Fleming. Both these factors help disguise that his plot wasn't all that much cop. :tup:

Perhaps a few years ago, COLONEL SUN was unjustly forgotten. But it seems to me that the pendulum has now swung the other way. I like it, it's good - I just don't think it's that brilliant.

I'll end with the obligatory 'If you believe anything else, you're not a true Bond fan'. :D

#100 ACE

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 01:34 PM

Ambler, Fleming, Deighton all wrote extremely vividly, and they had a voice, which Amis didn't seem to in CS (yes, all right, I'm leaving Amis. I think Glidrose went with the wrong writer, but then hindsight's 20/20, innit?). :D

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Are you serious? :D Your perverse knocking of the by-any-reasonable-standards-undeniably-really-rather-good "Colonel Sun" evidently knows no bounds. :tup: Next you'll be saying it was a pity Gardner didn't take over the series in 1968, or some such, I expect. :D

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We're on our way, Loomis. We've just been collating evidence.

I think the real reason that SNF doesn't admire CS, is Amis puts Bond in a green Mohair suit.

#101 David Schofield

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 01:36 PM

Amis puts Bond in a green Mohair suit.

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Anybody think that's a printing error - "grey mohair suit"?

I always hoped so. What next, Bond does yellow submarine?

#102 spynovelfan

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 02:03 PM

I wouldn't be seen dead in mohair of any colour, frankly. :tup:

#103 Loomis

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 06:26 PM

[quote name='spynovelfan' date='3 January 2006 - 13:29']I think Derek Marlowe, Alan Williams, John Braine and others would have written better and more entertaining Bond novels by a country mile than Amis' good, but by no means great, adventure. :tup: From the field of 'serious' 'literary' writers like Amis, I think Lawrence Durrell could have written something much much more entertaining.

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[/quote]

I've said it before and I'll say it again: for me, Anthony Burgess and Roald Dahl were the best Bond continuation novelists who never were (although curiously enough they did write for the films, which strikes me as a bit like Hugh Jackman and Clive Owen being asked to direct Bond movies).

(Reminds me: must get round to reading "Tremor of Intent".)

[quote name='spynovelfan' date='3 January 2006 - 13:29']Perhaps a few years ago, COLONEL SUN was unjustly forgotten. But it

#104 spynovelfan

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 07:42 PM

I've said it before and I'll say it again: for me, Anthony Burgess and Roald Dahl were the best Bond continuation novelists who never were (although curiously enough they did write for the films, which strikes me as a bit like Hugh Jackman and Clive Owen being asked to direct Bond movies).

(Reminds me: must get round to reading "Tremor of Intent".)


Yeah, I think a Dahl Bond novel might have been brilliant. See, this is what I mean, Loom-meister - Dahl had an imagination that was similar to Fleming's and he could also write. MY UNCLE OSWALD is a wonderful book and while it's not Ian Fleming it has a lot of elements in common (as does much of his other work): themes of power and wealth, fantasy, sadism, the bizarre... And through all the jaded cynicism and bleakness there's a wonderful boyish enthusiasm for the planet we're living on. I don't know enough about Burgess' work to be able to form an opinion on whether his novels have that kind of bent to them. George MacDonald Fraser's certainly did. So did Amis, too, sometimes - the novel he wrote just before CS, THE ANTI-DEATH LEAGUE, has parts that are a bit more in the spirit of things. But CS is a very coiled novel, I feel - there's no freedom to it. It feels a bit like reading someone's homework sometimes.

I believe the pendulum has only swung the other way in Bond fandom. Outside "the Bond fan community", "Colonel Sun" is still forgotten, or at least I should imagine so. The same is sorta also true of ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE, but not quite, since I gather that its reputation is now rather high among film fans in general, and it is regularly shown on TV and shifts lots of DVDs. CS, of course, is out of print. Most non-Bond fans haven't even heard of it and probably never will.


Sure, but we're in Bond fandom and I'm (rather pointlessly) saying that I don't find the book quite as good as some Bond fans do.

Forgive me if I've asked you this before, but which continuation novel(s), if any, do you consider superior to "Colonel Sun"? Glidrose/IFP ones, I mean, of course, which excludes the superb likes of "Just Another Kill".

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I think you may have asked me that several times, Loomis! None, that I've read so far (although I read one of the Woods a long time ago and he seemed to have the right idea). But just because the others are worse doesn't mean that CS is a brilliant Bond novel, does it? :tup:

I've banged on (but you did ask!). I'm just trying, slowly, to get into the habit of not rushing to judgment about everything. I liked the idea of CS as being this brilliant find. I'm trying not to let my critical faculties be swayed by fashion or counter-fashion. So if I zone all that out and look at the book itself: is it any good? Yes. Is it brilliant? Not in my view, no. :D

#105 Loomis

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 11:01 PM

I've said it before and I'll say it again: for me, Anthony Burgess and Roald Dahl were the best Bond continuation novelists who never were (although curiously enough they did write for the films, which strikes me as a bit like Hugh Jackman and Clive Owen being asked to direct Bond movies).

(Reminds me: must get round to reading "Tremor of Intent".)


Yeah, I think a Dahl Bond novel might have been brilliant. See, this is what I mean, Loom-meister - Dahl had an imagination that was similar to Fleming's and he could also write. MY UNCLE OSWALD is a wonderful book and while it's not Ian Fleming it has a lot of elements in common (as does much of his other work): themes of power and wealth, fantasy, sadism, the bizarre... And through all the jaded cynicism and bleakness there's a wonderful boyish enthusiasm for the planet we're living on. I don't know enough about Burgess' work to be able to form an opinion on whether his novels have that kind of bent to them.

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Yes, Oswald Hendryks Cornelius is rather like James Bond without the gun: a globetrotting seducer, crashing snob, etc. - although we're presumably supposed to find him despicable in a way that never applies to 007 in any of the books or films (with the possible exception of at least one piece I can recall of Jim's fiction, in which Bond is most definitely not a fun-for-all-the-family good guy on the side of the angels). Note the comeuppance he gets in each of the yarns he appears in ("My Uncle Oswald" and the short stories "Bitch" and "The Visitor"). (I wonder why Dahl didn't write a series of Oswald novels. I wish he had done. Might have made a good film franchise, too, although the pleasure is all in Dahl's way with words, and something like "My Uncle Oswald" might have seemed just dull, silly and smutty onscreen.)

Some of Dahl's other short stories, especially those inspired by his wartime experiences, also show that he could have been a very worthy successor to Fleming in writing Bond. I gather that he and Fleming were friends, and, of course, he wrote the screenplay for YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE. It surprises me that Dahl didn't write at least a short story about Bond, if only out of personal curiosity. But who knows? Perhaps he did.

Of Burgess, I've read only "Earthly Powers" (superb) and "A Clockwork Orange" (undeniably an important work, but I didn't really warm to it). The reason I suggest him as a perfect continuation novelist is that I believe he was a brilliant mimic of virtually any kind of literary style you care to name. And so I imagine a Burgess Bond novel would have been what some Amis supporters claim of "Colonel Sun", i.e. indistinguishable from a book by Fleming. And of course, Burgess was a Bond fan, citing (I think) "Goldfinger" as one of the greatest novels of the 20th century and writing an introduction to some paperback reissues of the Flemings.

I liked the idea of CS as being this brilliant find. I'm trying not to let my critical faculties be swayed by fashion or counter-fashion. So if I zone all that out and look at the book itself: is it any good? Yes. Is it brilliant? Not in my view, no. :tup:

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I'm with you. Although, as usual, I'd add that it is indeed brilliant within the context of the series - obviously.

#106 ACE

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 01:27 AM

I've read this thread with immense interest and am not really qualified to add to it. I would just like to add a few observations, some of which have already been made, but slightly differently.

I almost totally agree with all of Loomis and Lazenby880's insightful comments on CS. I'm very sorry to say that I do find SpyNovelFan's comments about Amis perverse. Amis was chosen. Amis did a good job. That's all there is to it. The iconoclastic nature of SNF's posts miss certain points:

1) Not many Bond fans, let alone civilians, have even read Ian Fleming.
2) Even fewer have read Amis/Robert Markham.
3) The continual wish to challenge the incredibly few people who say Amis/Markham was the "only person who could have taken over" has Ahab-ish qualities.

The era Amis wrote Bond must be taken into account. Fleming, as a brand, especially amongst global thriller writers, was still very potent. Rather like Lazenby taking over from Connery, Amis taking over from Fleming was an impossible task, critically speaking. CS did not fare well. But judging from now, Amis wrote a classic Bond novel, very much in keeping with what Fleming wrote. It lasts, is re-readable and has wonderful passages and is consistently reprinted. How often do you re-read it? Compared with a Gardner or a Benson?

How successful Amis was, depends on how you see Bond. I think CS really does contain the man Fleming wrote about. But the novel is an overtly back-to-basics, adventure yarn, probably to counter the increasing excesses of mid-1960's film Bond. There is the classic Fleming fly-to-the-spider's-web formula but there are also risks taken. Having M kidnapped was a bold move. Bond could just have been assigned to track down CS. The slam bang opening allowed us to re-examine Bond's world - the boldest move for a first continuation novel (compare with LR and ZMT). The change of perspective in The Temporary Captain was another stylistic departure.

I think the story of CS works well. The oft-critized middle section is interesting and made rich to allow for comments about sailing, the Russian apparat, developing the Bond/Girl/Ally relationship. Does YOLT also meander? Probably. Do I enjoy both journeys? Definitely.

A key aspect of literary Bond is tone. So much of the character of Bond (and by that I do not mean the what SNF calls the "accoutrements")is in the insider's tone of the author's world view. Which, I hasten to add, is not all about the "finer things" but a very individual, idiosyncratic sense of curiosity, mental symmetry and asceticism. CS captures this perfectly.
Gardner and Benson never get this tone although Gardner gets bits nearly right in his early novels. Christopher Wood's novelizations, while outlandish film adventures, do get the tone right, IMO. As does the unmentioned 007 Biography by Pearson (the last "proper" continuation novel, IMO). And, this tone returns, to a certain extent in Charlie Higson's excellent Young Bond books.

So, if one was to ask, not about Amis' writing but about the tone and worldview of the character in CS, what would the response be?

From what I have read of other 1960s spy writing (Mayo, Gardner - Boysie books, Deighton, Leasor, O'Donnell), none of them struck me as being obviously more suited to the continuation Bond novel task than Amis. I think Deighton was ploughing a different furrow altogether and shouldn't really be lumped in with the others. He had a completely different voice.

Spynovelfan, I understand your annoyance at the purported sedan-chair treatment of Amis but I don't see that reverence. If it exists, it must be such a narrow slice of the Bond pie. Is it really worth you taking them on all the time?

I think what unites us all is an enjoyment and a love for the world of the literary Bond. This kept me reading ALL the Gardner/Benson continuation novels (again, even fewer have read ALL the Bond novels). We are held captive by the thought that litBond could be come up with something good. We pan these books for the odd nugget of golden, vintage Bond. Let's enjoy our captivity, while we can.

#107 Diabolik

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 03:36 AM

Boy, it's been 20 years since I've read that one, but I remember it being very rich, exciting and very much in the literary Fleming mold.

Which begs the question, Why didn't Amis write any more Bond novels? (I know he wrote a Bond reference book) Did Fleming's estate just do a one time deal? Did they not like the results and therefore not grant him the right to do another?

If anyone knows the historic story behind-the-scenes, I'd be interested in knowing it.

#108 ACE

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 10:30 AM

No, Amis didn't want to write another one. Said he'd "run out of puff."

Also, the idea was originally to have a had a lot of different writers writing under the same pen name.

Amis was purportedly thinking of writings another Bond novel set in Mexico. I think, had CS been a smash critical and commercial hit, he may have seriously considered writing another Bond.

#109 Lazenby880

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Posted 01 April 2006 - 12:51 AM

Are you serious? :D Your perverse knocking of the by-any-reasonable-standards-undeniably-really-rather-good "Colonel Sun" evidently knows no bounds. :tup: Next you'll be saying it was a pity Gardner didn't take over the series in 1968, or some such, I expect. :D

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I am some months late here, however I have recently finished re-reading COLONEL SUN and felt motivated to pick up this thread again. The above comment is I feel indicative of an issue with reaction to COLONEL SUN; the novel is very often subjected to being held to an unreasonalby high standard, a standard to which no other continuation novel is held against in my opinion. There is nothing necessarily wrong with that, and one of the effects is the sort of stimulating discussion such as that in this thread, however it does mean that those who approach COLONEL SUN with such caveats will probably overlook the qualities within that they otherwise would not. Perhaps it is because it is contemporary of the later Fleming era that so much more is expected of it, or perhaps because it is written by the renowned Kingsley Amis (a man of whom I am actually not a particular fan overall - to my mind COLONEL SUN is his best work :D ). Regardless, it is unfortunate and, in a sense, unfair to denigrate a novel employing yardsticks that one would not apply elsewhere.

Conversely, I do think that there may be something in spynovelfan's argument; that some go into the novel having already been convinced of its merits. The fact that it is relatively difficult to track down does add to a sense of 'discovery', and there are perhaps those who so desperately want it to be 'brilliant' that they ignore the (few, in my opinion) aspects of the book that do not work so well. Having said all that, of the two afflictions I believe it is the former that is more prevalent, if only because I find it hard to believe that too many intelligent people having sought out COLONEL SUN would be affected by the former. More than that, surely the Gardners and the Bensons are just as rare nowadays, and does anyone seriously think that people begin reading their books already decided how good they are?

In fact, I would venture to suggest that very, very few fans go into COLONEL SUN in the spirit that spynovelfan proposes, I doubt the likelihood of many people wanting to like something that much past the age of twelve. As has been discussed, I do acknowledge that some appear to be convinced of a great 'similarity' between Amis' novel and Fleming's oeuvre. Apart from maybe the technical details I do not see from where this belief originates, but I would be interested were someone to argue that case.

COLONEL SUN is by no means a perfect book or a perfect Bond novel, and it does not break much new ground. And while it may have had the potential to be something truly incredible, doesn't every book? Since when should the overriding factor in the judgement of a creative work be what it 'could have been'? A factor maybe, but not a decisive one. True, by ordinary standards, some may just not like it or find it too slow or whatever. For me though, it is an adventurous, thoroughly enjoyable Bond thriller with a deeper political subtext that gives the novel an added dimension and particular resonance. Could someone else have done better? Maybe (and I have borrowed Braine's THE PIOUS AGENT to investigate). But what we got in reality is a great read personally, and along with YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, MOONRAKER and a few others a Bond novel I can read several times over with almost as much enjoyment as the first time I picked it up. :(

How successful Amis was, depends on how you see Bond. I think CS really does contain the man Fleming wrote about. But the novel is an overtly back-to-basics, adventure yarn, probably to counter the increasing excesses of mid-1960's film Bond. There is the classic Fleming fly-to-the-spider's-web formula but there are also risks taken. Having M kidnapped was a bold move. Bond could just have been assigned to track down CS. The slam bang opening allowed us to re-examine Bond's world - the boldest move for a first continuation novel (compare with LR and ZMT).

I am with you here ACE. For all the talk of unfulfilled potential it is easy to forget how bold Amis actually was in some respects. The opening of course which is really quite an interesting introduction to the book; but also in grounding the novel in a level of realism never seen in Fleming, both in terms of plot and prose. Gone is the stylistic excess (itself great fun to read) and extravagance of Bond's creator. In many ways it was a rather radical departure, and overall (again in my opinion) a successful one.

A key aspect of literary Bond is tone. So much of the character of Bond (and by that I do not mean the what SNF calls the "accoutrements")is in the insider's tone of the author's world view. Which, I hasten to add, is not all about the "finer things" but a very individual, idiosyncratic sense of curiosity, mental symmetry and asceticism. CS captures this perfectly.
Gardner and Benson never get this tone although Gardner gets bits nearly right in his early novels.

Again, I find myself very much in agreement. [censored]

We are held captive by the thought that litBond could be come up with something good. We pan these books for the odd nugget of golden, vintage Bond. Let's enjoy our captivity, while we can.

And COLONEL SUN is such a nugget of golden, vintage Bond. I would urge people to seek it out and see what they think for themselves, and with it being so different to Ian Fleming it does lend itself to a degree of analysis, be that comparative or otherwise.

Edited by Lazenby880, 01 April 2006 - 12:57 AM.


#110 Scrambled Eggs

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Posted 23 August 2006 - 01:06 AM

Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of being afflicted by a long train journey. In the evening (thanks to the British public transport system) I was subjected to an even longer one. I also had a long stretch of time to kill around midday, which I spent in a coffee shop.

As a result, I read Colonel Sun cover to cover. My impressions:

1) The first few chapters are superb.
Spoiler


2) The ending
Spoiler


3) The final chapter is
Spoiler


4) The Ariadne character is memorable but inconsistent.
Spoiler

I read a short bio of Amis online, something in there suggests that there was something of the man himself in Ariadne.
Spoiler


5) M is wasted.

6) Tartini is a great Bond girl name.

Edited by Scrambled Eggs, 23 August 2006 - 01:08 AM.


#111 Bon-san

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Posted 24 August 2006 - 01:30 PM

4) The Ariadne character is memorable but inconsistent.

Spoiler


Interesting point. But I have to say, your query as to the duality of Ariadne rather brilliantly encapsulates my lifelong struggle to understand women. And thus, I think Amis got it quite right.

#112 Mr Woodpigeon

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Posted 18 November 2006 - 01:41 AM

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.


I heard something about TD doing this as his third Bond film but thought it just rumour. Was there plans for this? If so :) How great would that have been!?!

#113 MHazard

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 03:35 PM

I just finished reading Colonel Sun (copies readily available from Amazon) a book I hadn't read since I was a kid and never re-read. My overall opinion is that I respect what Amis was trying to do, but it is a flawed book. Nonetheless, it has some very good parts, and the very good parts are superior to the best of the other continuation authors. Unfortunately, it still doesn't hold up well to Fleming's work. Any Bond fan will probably enjoy it. Here is my summary of the good and the bad parts. First, the good:

1. The characterization of Bond, in general is closer to Fleming than any of the other continuation novels. The first few chapters are very good as it's set right after TMWGG and shows Bond settling into a rather (for him) sedate non alcoholic reverie existance and wondering whether he is losing his edge. It's not overdone, however, and I can believe this is the same character Fleming wrote about. A downside is that this theme is never continued after the first few chapters.

2. The ending. Not the resolution of Sun's plot being foiled, but Bond and Ariadne at the end realizing they are prisoners of their professions. An insight that is not repetititve of but consistent with Fleming.

3. The villain Colonel Sun. He ranks there with James' rogues gallery. He is interesting and unique and scary and as believable as most Bond villains. He seems far more in the mold of Fleming's Dr. No or Auric Goldfinger than in the mold of the tedious Brokenclaw, if you know what I mean.

4. No gadgets. Thank you Amis.

5. Amis clearly wants us to take the book seriously a feeling I do not get with most of Gardner or Benson.

6. The broad outlines of the plot are good.

Now the bad stuff:

1. It drags like crazy! Amis has problems moving the action forward or getting to the point. Unlike Fleming, his digressions don't enlighten us on intelligence tradecraft or food and drink or travel or Bond's past or even tell interesting vignettes. They just divert from the story. Fleming would have told the same story in 100 less pages and missed nothing worth missing, while still making you feel you're reading literature. This is the biggest problem of the book. I'm actually now reading the Titan comic strip version, which actually seems to improve in some ways because the dragging is cut out.

2. M's kidnapping makes no sense. No one would believe that the head of British intelligence, an aged retired admiral would personally go shoot mortar rounds at the Soviets. It would make much more sense if only Bond was kidnapped, because that is exactly the type of operation he would do if ordered.

3. I didn't like Amis killing the Hammonds or making M quite so helpless (I didn't expect M to kung fu his way out of trouble, but the man runs the British secret service and I would have liked to see his intellect and experience reflected somehow. He is Bond's boss for a reason (remember it was M, not Bond who thought that they should look in Nassau for the missing Vulcan).

4. Occassionally there are some details that don't seem quite right for Bond. For example, he's drinking Haig whiskey and although I suspect that's Amis' drink, I don't think it's James who preferred vodka or Bourbon. Also, James seems to like ouzo and I seem to remember some story or novel where it's said he doesn't like licorice flavored drinks (I could be wrong). These may be picky points but Amis is supposed to be a Bond scholar.

So, overall, a good read, I respect Amis for writing it, and I think it comes closest to Fleming of the continuation novels so far. But, I'm unlikely to re-read it (except for the comic version) again.

#114 BoogieBond

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Posted 25 June 2008 - 12:13 PM

Recently re-read this one and it is one that I like. But I would have to say it is not among my favourites, but a good read. I rate it 7/10
The general plot was fine, and I like it as a general storytelling vs DMC. It gets on with the tale rather than shoe horning in James Bond characteristics.
I gotta say Colonel Sun is a scary villain, and a very good foe for Bond. He is as cruel and sadistic a villain as in any of Fleming's novels. Sort of a male version of Rosa Klebb. He really enjoys torturing people and making it personal.
The cruelty and sadism is done a bit too much for me in this book, It also feels a teensy bit more violent than Fleming.
The action and pace/excitement could have been improved and made a bit more exciting, but as an overall adventure, I have no complaints, and liked it a lot.
The characters feel a bit fresher, and I like Ariadne being non typical in that she is a greek communist with political views, and Niko is fine as well. Bond seems to be falling for Ariadne, but in the end it seems it is she that calls it off.
It is a nice twist M being captured, but they really didn't develop this part of the story for me. Having M and Bond framed for sabotaging a summit is a bit far fetched, why go to all the bother of kidnapping M.

Bonds character I feel is more "Straight up hero" than in some books. He certainly is brave and can take a lot of punishment, as he does in this book. He is quick thinking as ever to get out of tight situations, and just as brutal, in fact the whole book feels a tad more brutal that the previous world of 007.

Edited by BoogieBond, 25 June 2008 - 08:07 PM.


#115 MkB

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Posted 01 August 2008 - 11:10 PM

I finally read Colonel Sun, and it proved an interesting experience. Some good points: Amis is a writer, and seemed to truly love Bond. He seems to have taken the task of writing a Bond continuation novel wholeheartedly, and I pay tribute to that. As his piece is situated in the late 60s, his Bond universe is more coherent with Fleming's one than in the later continuation novels, and as MHazard pointed out his characterization of Bond is very true to Fleming too. The Villain is interesting (even though I'd have liked to know a bit more about the reasons of his soft spot for the British), and I found rather refreshing the plot idea of
Spoiler
.

BUT there are some bad points, that others have already pointed out... For instance:
- Who in Hell would be so foolish as to
Spoiler
This makes absolutely no sense (even according to the Bond universe standards :tup:)! And besides, if a Villain really wants to pretend this, is he going to
Spoiler

- Amis is, IMO, a little to heavy when he insists on Colonel Sun's on gratuitous sadism. It ends up being more pointless and boring than threatening.
Spoiler

- Niko Litsas: well, he is in the great tradition of local Bond allies, in the like of Kerim Bey. But I had problem warming up to him, since, given his background and what Ariadne tells about her own father, his best friend, Litsas was certainly a supporter of the "Regime of the Colonels", the dictature of which must have been more or less contemporary to the events of Colonel Sun (it started in April 1967). Maybe it's because it's better to keep real-life politics out of the Bond universe. Long live SPECTRE! :tup:

A side note about Bond drinking Ouzo rather often in the book and enjoying it: I can't blame him for that since I like Ouzo very much myself (and also the rougher Thessalian Tsipouro), but MHazard is right: following Fleming, it is doubtful that Bond would like Ouzo, since he doesn't like the taste of Pernod (as said in the very beginning of the FAVTAK short story):
Pernod is possible, but it should be drunk in company, and anyway Bond had never liked the stuff because its liquorice taste reminded him of his childhood.

Yet, I like Ouzo and never drink Pernod (the horror!), so maybe it is possible to like only one of the two drinks? It may have to do with the fact that Pernod is mixed with a large amount of water, whereas Ouzo, in the traditional Greek fashion, is served plain, "on the rocks" (the icy water comes in a separate glass, you are not supposed to mix it with the liquor). It makes it a stiffer drink, which could fit Bond's taste.

#116 Major Tallon

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Posted 01 September 2015 - 11:51 AM

I acquired a photocopy of Amis' manuscript for Colonel Sun last year.  In addition to the obvious change of title, originally set as Dragon Island, Sun himself was originally given a slightly different name.  It was Sun Liang-jan, rather than Liang-tan.  Just a couple of small differences, but, I thought, worthy of note.



#117 Major Tallon

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Posted 24 September 2015 - 04:21 PM

I finished this project a while ago, but I ought to post a few brief thoughts about the manuscript to Colonel Sun (originally titled Dragon Island). 

 

To begin with, Amis wrote a typed manuscript of more than 200 pages, with few corrections or changes in the first few pages.  He'd obviously planned out where he wanted the book to go, and the language he wanted to use.  There were an increasing number of corrections and edits as the manuscript progressed.  It appears to me that Amis was thinking through the book as he worked, rather than dashing through the writing and making changes afterward.  Most of the corrections to the typed pages appear to have been made while each  page was still in the typewriter, by x'ing out language and typing in interlineated material (as opposed to making pen-and-ink changes afterward).  We know, however, that Amis went through the pages after typing, because there were handwritten marginal notes dealing with plot points or ideas affecting other parts of the book that would need to take heed of the material contained on the pages in question.  I was surprised to see that, at places, Amis was obviously engaged in word-counting. 

 

The typed pages were confusing in places, because Amis would sometimes type a passage over and over, occasionally three times or more, somewhat reworked or reworded.  This reinforces my idea that Amis knew where he wanted to go and was continuously editing and revising the book as he went along. 

 

A substantial portion of the manuscript, I'd guess at about forty percent, has been handwritten.  Where the handwritten pages occur, the typewritten pages are missing, and I surmise that Amis discarded them, something I regret.  I further assume that at these points Amis had come up with several different ways of crafting a scene and chose to synthesize them into a final version, which he prepared in longhand.  The handwritten pages appear written confidently and typically show fewer alterations or changes than some of the later typewritten ones.  Parenthetically, I note that there's a distinct pleasure in seeing a familiar passage from a published book see light for the first time in the author's own handwriting.

 

The manuscript also contained a number of Amis' longer digressions on people (and their ethnicity), places, and culture that have been trimmed or completely excised from the final text.  Fleming was a master in writing such scenes in a way that did not detract from the narrative, but Amis obviously worked at cutting these down to speed the book along.  I understand what he was doing, but it was very interesting to read the original text.

 

I have elsewhere reported by reservations about Colonel Sun, and especially about the book's politics, but I enjoyed seeing how the book was put together and experiencing, at a distance of several decades, a good bit of the creative process behind it. I haven't read Trigger Mortis yet, but for me Colonel Sun remains for now the mos successful of the continuation novels.  I regret that Amis didn't get an opportunity to write another.



#118 Dustin

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Posted 24 September 2015 - 04:28 PM

Most interesting observations, Major Tallon. Thank you for sharing these!




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