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The best of Raymond Benson


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Poll: The Bensons

Your favourite...?

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Your least favourite...?

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Your favourite short story?

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#31 Kangch

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Posted 07 July 2009 - 07:57 PM

I'm agree with you.Never Dream of Dying has all the elements of a good Bond film, and High Time to Kill has, as you said, probably the better plot.

My actual ranking, without the three novelisations and the two books I haven't read yet, Zero Minus Ten and Th Man With The Red Tattoo :
  • Never Dream of Dying
  • High Time to Kill
  • Doubleshot
  • The Facts of Death (that I've read in French)

And, though I've bought The Union Trilogy, I've haven't read any short stories.

P.S:I'm a new French recruit, so, if I make any mistakes, please forgive me and help me to correct them. B)

#32 Qwerty

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Posted 07 July 2009 - 08:22 PM

Welcome to the forums, Kangch. Hope you enjoy it here. B)

#33 General Malice

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Posted 17 August 2009 - 11:51 PM

Keen to see the outcome of this - will inform my decision on which to read first. And which to avoid! Do they work as well having not read an awful lot of Fleming, or would you recommend getting clued up with the original stories first?

#34 Bucky

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Posted 18 August 2009 - 12:27 AM

working on the gardner books at the moment so i have not gotten to the benson bunch. do you all recommend that i get the two omnibuses when i get to them which will provide me with his short stories as well or should i get the books separately?

#35 Double-Oh Agent

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Posted 18 August 2009 - 05:23 AM

Keen to see the outcome of this - will inform my decision on which to read first. And which to avoid! Do they work as well having not read an awful lot of Fleming, or would you recommend getting clued up with the original stories first?

Optimally, you should read Ian Fleming first as his novels are well worth reading. However, off the top of my head, the only book that must be read before Raymond Benson's books is On Her Majesty's Secret Service. That is a critical intro to Never Dream Of Dying.

However, when reading Benson, you should make sure to read High Time to Kill, Doubleshot, and Never Dream Of Dying in that order as they are a very connected trilogy. The other three Benson novels are not as critical to read in order although The Man With The Red Tattoo clearly takes place after NDOD.

And regarding Fleming's OHMSS, that also forms the middle part of what is often called "The SPECTRE Trilogy", which features Thunderball, OHMSS, and You Only Live Twice. The Man With The Golden Gun also clearly comes after YOLT and should be read after that novel as well.

And for what it's worth, John Gardner's trilogy (also dealing with SPECTRE) is For Special Services, Role Of Honor, and Nobody Lives Forever which should be read in order.

#36 Double-Oh Agent

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Posted 18 August 2009 - 05:47 AM

working on the gardner books at the moment so i have not gotten to the benson bunch. do you all recommend that i get the two omnibuses when i get to them which will provide me with his short stories as well or should i get the books separately?

I'd say if you're a completist like me, then get the individual novels AND the omnibuses for the short stories, including the full-length version of Blast From The Past. If you're not, however, then you'll probably do fine with just the omnibuses.

Or what you could do is get a Benson title from a library and read it. If you like it, get all his books; if you're not wild about it, get the omnibuses.

Frankly, I like all his stories. They're well worth reading.

#37 dlb007

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Posted 05 July 2010 - 01:22 AM

I rank Benson at the bottom of the Bond continuation writers. Often his writing was downright appalling, however, he did drum up some intriguing plots from time to time. Having said that, here are my rankings for his works.

1. High Time to Kill
2. The Facts of Death
3. Doubleshot
4. Never Dream of Dying
5. The Man with the Red Tattoo
6. Zero Minus Ten

The novelations are about as good as can be expected.

#38 AMC Hornet

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Posted 05 July 2010 - 03:11 AM

IMCO, Zero Minus Ten was every bit as successful a continuation as JG's Licence Renewed. High Time to Kill was likewise as bold a break from the formula as was Icebreaker.

Doubleshot, however, was (again IMCO) sabotaged from the start by its own predictability. By the end of the first chaper I knew how the story would end, and by the end of the second chapter I knew how it would reach that conclusion (probably as a result of reading all those JG entries).

I respect RB's efforts and envy his limited success, but I also sympathize with his reasons for allowing himself to be "dumped" by IFP. JG didn't have to put up with as much internet flaming. I'm amazed that Charlie Higson has fared as well as he has.

#39 dlb007

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Posted 05 July 2010 - 04:20 AM

I agree with you there. Benson was never really given a chance to succeed. He did the best that could be expected of anyone in that situation.

#40 OmarB

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Posted 05 July 2010 - 05:20 AM

The gig of being the official author was way too big a job for him though. He does really well now and it would have been cool to the the RB of the present write a Bond book, it might blow us all away.

#41 dlb007

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Posted 06 July 2010 - 10:00 PM

I agree . . . Benson was in way over his head, which was not his fault. Hell, I'm sure anyone, regardless of their writing ability, would accept the job that was handed to Benson. He did the best he absolutely could, which unfortunately, was rather poor; it must be noted that he is no worse than a number of writers currently churning out drivel to the masses. It'd be great to have a one-off Benson Bond novel some years down the line; maybe he'll be apart of the Project X lineup, though it is incredibly doubtful.

#42 OmarB

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Posted 06 July 2010 - 10:10 PM

I agree man, I went to college for lit and journalism and would jump at the chance to do Bond. But I know realistically it would come off as overly ambitious fan fiction. The Bond writer has to have had a coupe titles under his belt.

RB now would be pretty good actually. Imagine how you could promote that? His triumphant return!

#43 dlb007

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Posted 07 July 2010 - 02:33 AM

Haha, same here. Went to college for creative writing. I cannot imagine being a previously unpublished writer and being handled the task of continuing the literary Bond. Instead of convincing readers out there to enjoy and embrace your original character, you are taking a well-established character and giving the world your interpretation. It takes major stones. I don't think Amis, Wood, Gardner, Benson, and Faulks receive enough credit in that regard.

I don't think IFP would ever allow him back, no matter how much success he has managed since departing. They would look like fools. They basically left him to the wolves and them quickly whisked him away. I also feel that Benson would not agree to write another Bond novel, and I cannot say I blame him. He got no help from IFP. I would be hard-pressed to find a single reader out there who has heard of Raymond Benson outside of Bond fans. That is horrid press and publicity. They were all over Faulks, and his novel turned out to be a massive disappointment.

No matter how much trash is written about Benson (some of it written by yours truly) and his novels, he has still done something that most of us on here can only hope to do: get published and have people read his works, have discussions, for better or worse, about what he's written.

#44 Harry Fawkes

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Posted 07 July 2010 - 06:48 AM

Most certainly ZERO MINUS TEN. As I tend to say, and which is becoming my own trademark: UP THERE WITH THE BEST OF THEM.

#45 OmarB

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Posted 07 July 2010 - 07:50 PM

Haha, same here. Went to college for creative writing. I cannot imagine being a previously unpublished writer and being handled the task of continuing the literary Bond. Instead of convincing readers out there to enjoy and embrace your original character, you are taking a well-established character and giving the world your interpretation. It takes major stones. I don't think Amis, Wood, Gardner, Benson, and Faulks receive enough credit in that regard.

I don't think IFP would ever allow him back, no matter how much success he has managed since departing. They would look like fools. They basically left him to the wolves and them quickly whisked him away. I also feel that Benson would not agree to write another Bond novel, and I cannot say I blame him. He got no help from IFP. I would be hard-pressed to find a single reader out there who has heard of Raymond Benson outside of Bond fans. That is horrid press and publicity. They were all over Faulks, and his novel turned out to be a massive disappointment.

No matter how much trash is written about Benson (some of it written by yours truly) and his novels, he has still done something that most of us on here can only hope to do: get published and have people read his works, have discussions, for better or worse, about what he's written.


I think he did great for who he was and from his background. Right now though, I truly believe that Benson could do the Bond novel that blows us all away. Why wouldn't they have him back? Project X is a new beginning, Deaver's got gravitas, Benson's got cred from writing the stories previously. Besides, he's been through the Clancy wringer, I'm pretty sure Tom's showed him how to properly lay out a good thriller.

Lets think of this in the way of comics. I'll read Grant Morrison or Geoff Loeb writing anything, but I came to them through their work on Batman. You know what, anytime these guys get back on Batman for a year or 6-month arc, sales go up.

#46 thecasinoroyale

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 12:07 PM

I'd like some of Benson's books for my Kindle, as I only had 'Zero Minus Ten' years ago, but now I'm that much older, I think I'd like to revisit his works as I've done all of John Gardners.

#47 Kronsteen

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 09:11 PM

It must have been 10 years ago that I read HTTK, DS, NDOD and TMWTRT, so my memory of them is a bit vague. What I do remember is that is really enjoyed Doubleshot, probably Bensons best effort by far. HTTK and NDOD was also enjoyable reads, but not as exciting as Doubleshot. ZMT was a good debut, but TFOD and TMWTRT are both really weak books. I just couldn't enjoy them. My lasting memory of TMWTRT is that it was so anonymous and colourless, while TFOD was just too simple and read too much like a movie script.

I really should re-read Doubleshot soon. Hopefully it'll be as good as the first time...

#48 AMC Hornet

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 12:02 AM

Zero Minus Ten was the perfect continuation.

High Time to Kill reminds me of J.G.'s Icebreaker, for all the right reasons.

The rest I can do without, although if pressed I would rank NDOD 3rd.. Still, 2/6 isn't bad (J.G. impressed me 6/15, IF 8/12).

Edited by AMC Hornet, 15 April 2012 - 11:25 PM.


#49 Gothamite

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Posted 12 October 2012 - 09:27 PM

I'm really interested in checking out the Benson books, as I'm fascinated by Bond continuation novels and literary attempts to meld the gritty, tormented Fleming character with the higher concepts of the films.

Thus far, I've read most of the Fleming books (currently reading Moonraker, other than that I've yet to read FRWL, DAF, TMWTGG and O&TLD. As far as continuation novels go, I've read License Renewed, which I kind of hated, and JB:TSWLM by Wood which was superb.

From what I'm reading her, the Benson books certainly don't stand up beside Fleming, but are they at least entertaining, page-turning fluff? I'm more interested in reading them then the miserable one-shot books they're releasing nowadays.

#50 seawolfnyy

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 11:23 AM

I'm not a huge fan of any of Benson's novels. They felt too much like the Brosnan films to me. I particularly didn't like High Time to Kill or Doubleshot. I thought the whole Skin 17 thing was stupid and while I liked the locale, the setting didn't do much for the story. It could've taken place in the desert and made no difference to it.






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