Jump to content


Photo

Benson's Bond


  • Please log in to reply
74 replies to this topic

#1 marmaduke

marmaduke

    Midshipman

  • Crew
  • 63 posts

Posted 31 July 2006 - 10:04 AM

Benson

Edited by marmaduke, 31 July 2006 - 10:05 AM.


#2 MarcAngeDraco

MarcAngeDraco

    Commander

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3312 posts
  • Location:Oxford, Michigan

Posted 31 July 2006 - 10:15 AM

I too found Gardner to be rather stale at times, so found Benson to be the cliched 'breath of fresh air'. Perhaps not outstanding, but certainly good enough to keep me turning the pages...

#3 zencat

zencat

    Commander GCMG

  • Commanding Officers
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 25814 posts
  • Location:Studio City, CA

Posted 31 July 2006 - 04:03 PM

I think you are really going to enjoy the Benson novels, marmaduke. No rollercoaster ride. They just get better and better. Shame he only did six.

#4 Qwerty

Qwerty

    Commander RNVR

  • Commanding Officers
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 85604 posts
  • Location:New York / Pennsylvania

Posted 31 July 2006 - 04:07 PM

Hope you enjoy them, marmaduke. I pretty much agree with zencat when he says it isn't as much of a rollercoaster ride as the Gardner novels are.

With that said, I consider his middle four novels to be the best of the six: The Facts Of Death, High Time To Kill, Doubleshot, and Never Dream Of Dying. Be sure to check out his three novelizations as well.

#5 Genrewriter

Genrewriter

    Cammander CMG

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 4360 posts
  • Location:South Pasadena, CA

Posted 31 July 2006 - 04:11 PM

Yeah, Benson had a pretty solid run, the Union Trilogy is great as is the TND novelization.

#6 Loomis

Loomis

    Commander CMG

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 21862 posts

Posted 31 July 2006 - 05:26 PM

I think you are really going to enjoy the Benson novels, marmaduke. No rollercoaster ride. They just get better and better.


I disagree. I think Benson's a real rollercoaster, a real mixed bag. I'd recommend "Zero Minus Ten" (I agree with marmaduke about the zest and "edge" in that book, as well as the evident enthusiasm for James Bond) and "The Man With the Red Tattoo", as well as, to an extent, "Never Dream of Dying" - none of the others, though.

My overall view of the Benson era:

50% :) , 50% :)

Gardner era:

:P

Fleming era:

[censored] (obviously)

Amis era:

[censored]

Higson era:

:P (to be fair, though, I've only read "SilverFin", so hopefully I'll change my mind)

#7 Gri007

Gri007

    Lt. Commander

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPip
  • 1719 posts
  • Location:United Kingdom

Posted 02 August 2006 - 08:51 PM

It's a shame he didn't do another 10 novels, the he'd be in the same legue as Fleming and Gardner. When I read the Bensons, all I pictured was Brosnan and Moore with the Gardners

#8 Qwerty

Qwerty

    Commander RNVR

  • Commanding Officers
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 85604 posts
  • Location:New York / Pennsylvania

Posted 03 August 2006 - 01:20 AM

Well, if you count the short stories, he did do 12 total.

It's a shame they haven't been collected together along with “The Heart of Erzulie”.

#9 Double-Oh Agent

Double-Oh Agent

    Commander

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 4324 posts

Posted 03 August 2006 - 06:54 AM

Well, if you count the short stories, he did do 12 total.

It's a shame they haven't been collected together along with “The Heart of Erzulie”.


In the immortal words of the New York City cab driver in Live And Let Die, "Right on, Brother." :) :P

#10 zencat

zencat

    Commander GCMG

  • Commanding Officers
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 25814 posts
  • Location:Studio City, CA

Posted 03 August 2006 - 03:37 PM

It's a shame they haven't been collected together along with “The Heart of Erzulie”.

And the long version of Blast from the Past. I swear, one day, and if I could get all the proper permissions, I'm going to try and publish these myself. A sort of limited edition thingy, either privately printed or though a specialty publisher like The Mysterious Press. With cover art by Mr. Asterix. :)

#11 Qwerty

Qwerty

    Commander RNVR

  • Commanding Officers
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 85604 posts
  • Location:New York / Pennsylvania

Posted 04 August 2006 - 02:23 AM


It's a shame they haven't been collected together along with “The Heart of Erzulie”.

And the long version of Blast from the Past. I swear, one day, and if I could get all the proper permissions, I'm going to try and publish these myself. A sort of limited edition thingy, either privately printed or though a specialty publisher like The Mysterious Press. With cover art by Mr. Asterix. :)


:P :P :) [censored] [censored]

A must buy.

#12 Hitch

Hitch

    Lt. Commander

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPip
  • 1219 posts

Posted 04 August 2006 - 06:20 PM

Agreed. It would be a fitting end to Mr. Benson's tenure as a Bond writer. He didn't get a fair shake of the stick from his publishers (there is no such thing as bad publicity except no publicity at all) and such a collection would be a fine tribute to someone who loved the character of James Bond and all that went with him.

(Now, having said all that, I'm currently going through my once-a-year stint of accepting that Ian Fleming still hasn't written any more Bond novels yet, the lazy so-and-so, so could someone please recommend one of Mr Benson's books? This curmudgeon needs tuxedo-shaped entertainment. :) )

Sorry about the thread hijack - on with the motley.

#13 Bon-san

Bon-san

    Commander RNR

  • Veterans Reserve
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 4124 posts
  • Location:USA

Posted 05 August 2006 - 12:50 AM

I'm currently going through my once-a-year stint of accepting that Ian Fleming still hasn't written any more Bond novels yet, the lazy so-and-so, so could someone please recommend one of Mr Benson's books? This curmudgeon needs tuxedo-shaped entertainment. :) )


All of Benson's books have pros and cons, in my opinion. They are fun, though, and ultimately that's what I'm looking for in James Bond books and films. I would recommend starting at the beginning, with Zero Minus Ten.

#14 marmaduke

marmaduke

    Midshipman

  • Crew
  • 63 posts

Posted 05 August 2006 - 06:42 AM

I have just finished reading The Facts of Death. I really enjoyed it :) and it maintained my interest throughout. I thought that Benson described the locality of Cyprus, mainland Greece and Texas very well and thus achieved a good sense of atmosphere. In contrast to

#15 Robert Watts

Robert Watts

    Lieutenant

  • Crew
  • PipPip
  • 547 posts
  • Location:Australia

Posted 11 August 2006 - 09:20 AM


I'm currently going through my once-a-year stint of accepting that Ian Fleming still hasn't written any more Bond novels yet, the lazy so-and-so, so could someone please recommend one of Mr Benson's books? This curmudgeon needs tuxedo-shaped entertainment. :) )


All of Benson's books have pros and cons, in my opinion. They are fun, though, and ultimately that's what I'm looking for in James Bond books and films. I would recommend starting at the beginning, with Zero Minus Ten.


I don't get how you go into a Bond novel expecting fun. I go in expecting sadism, violence and some thrills, once in a while a half measure of mystery and a quarter measure of philosophy shaken until it is ice cold, leaving a strong, distinct taste on the palate. Benson didn't do that for me.

#16 David Schofield

David Schofield

    Commander

  • Discharged
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3026 posts

Posted 11 August 2006 - 09:42 AM

If you want further adventures of Pierce Brosnans' interpretation of James Bond that weren't filmed - much like, I guess, Dr Who, Star Wars and Star Trek have their spin-off novels - then you will not be disappointed by Benson.

If you are expecting Fleming's James Bond, however, forget it. It continues to amaze me when I read posters on this very site who think they can see Fleming's man in Benson's.

He just isn't there.

#17 Bon-san

Bon-san

    Commander RNR

  • Veterans Reserve
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 4124 posts
  • Location:USA

Posted 11 August 2006 - 12:40 PM



I'm currently going through my once-a-year stint of accepting that Ian Fleming still hasn't written any more Bond novels yet, the lazy so-and-so, so could someone please recommend one of Mr Benson's books? This curmudgeon needs tuxedo-shaped entertainment. :) )


All of Benson's books have pros and cons, in my opinion. They are fun, though, and ultimately that's what I'm looking for in James Bond books and films. I would recommend starting at the beginning, with Zero Minus Ten.


I don't get how you go into a Bond novel expecting fun. I go in expecting sadism, violence and some thrills, once in a while a half measure of mystery and a quarter measure of philosophy shaken until it is ice cold, leaving a strong, distinct taste on the palate. Benson didn't do that for me.


'I don't get how you go into a Bond novel expecting fun. I go in expecting sadism, violence and some thrills...'

Aren't those things fun?

'...once in a while a half measure of mystery and a quarter measure of philosophy shaken until it is ice cold, leaving a strong, distinct taste on the palate.'

Sounds like what I might expect out of a Fleming Bond novel. I would know I'm not necessarily going to get that from other Bond authors.

'Benson didn't do that for me.'

Sorry you apparently don't like the Benson books. As I've said, to my mind there are pros and cons. I agree that he is not Fleming. I think Benson agrees with that, too. Benson novels do capture some of the Flemingian essences at times, however. He creates some memorable, globe-trotting characters, puts them in interesting situations, and sparks fly.

#18 Lazenby880

Lazenby880

    Lieutenant

  • Crew
  • PipPip
  • 937 posts
  • Location:London

Posted 11 August 2006 - 03:17 PM

If you want further adventures of Pierce Brosnans' interpretation of James Bond that weren't filmed - much like, I guess, Dr Who, Star Wars and Star Trek have their spin-off novels - then you will not be disappointed by Benson.

If you are expecting Fleming's James Bond, however, forget it. It continues to amaze me when I read posters on this very site who think they can see Fleming's man in Benson's.

He just isn't there.

Agreed. Benson's Bond is esentially Brosnan's Bond on the page, and like you it never ceases to amaze me when people contend that Fleming's creation is anywhere in the Benson novels. I've tried to see it, but I just can't. While I have made it clear that I am no fan of Benson's books, his writing style or his central character, others may enjoy them for what they are. However, I think it is a bit of a stretch to compare Benson's oeuvre to Fleming's in any way, shape or form.

Interesting, Loomis that you feel the Benson era is a rollercoaster ride as on this point I concur with zencat; Mr Benson is at least consistently bad.

Edited by Lazenby880, 11 August 2006 - 03:18 PM.


#19 zencat

zencat

    Commander GCMG

  • Commanding Officers
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 25814 posts
  • Location:Studio City, CA

Posted 11 August 2006 - 03:27 PM

Interesting, Loomis that you feel the Benson era is a rollercoaster ride as on this point I concur with zencat; Mr Benson is at least consistently bad.† In my opinion, of course. :)

I never said I thought Benson was consistently bad. I've always said I think his books are consistently excellent.

Glad to see you are enjoying the Benson books thus far, marmaduke. I think you are going to really like HTTK. That was the book that made me a Benson superfan.

#20 Lazenby880

Lazenby880

    Lieutenant

  • Crew
  • PipPip
  • 937 posts
  • Location:London

Posted 11 August 2006 - 03:33 PM

I never said I thought Benson was consistently bad. I've always said I think his books are consistently excellent.

I know you didn't, and excuse me if I did not make myself clear. I meant I agreed with you in the sense that Benson was *consistent*, although we of course differ on whether he was consistently good or consistently bad.

#21 zencat

zencat

    Commander GCMG

  • Commanding Officers
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 25814 posts
  • Location:Studio City, CA

Posted 11 August 2006 - 03:41 PM

Ah, gotcha. No prob.

#22 Loomis

Loomis

    Commander CMG

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 21862 posts

Posted 11 August 2006 - 05:35 PM

To be fair, one area in which Benson does partially succeed is in the creation of a sense of locale. It is often clumsily executed, however there are moments when he does capture the location reasonably well and his research pays off.


Well, exactly. There's fun to be had in Benson, and several impressive moments, but unfortunately the guy's a rollercoaster ride. IMO, of course.

#23 Harmsway

Harmsway

    Commander

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 13266 posts

Posted 12 August 2006 - 05:28 AM

Well, exactly. There's fun to be had in Benson, and several impressive moments, but unfortunately the guy's a rollercoaster ride. IMO, of course.

Did you ever read DOUBLESHOT, Loomis? I remember a while ago you hadn't yet, and I was wondering if you had and what verdict you'd render? I personally enjoyed it a great deal.

#24 Loomis

Loomis

    Commander CMG

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 21862 posts

Posted 12 August 2006 - 12:56 PM


Well, exactly. There's fun to be had in Benson, and several impressive moments, but unfortunately the guy's a rollercoaster ride. IMO, of course.

Did you ever read DOUBLESHOT, Loomis? I remember a while ago you hadn't yet, and I was wondering if you had and what verdict you'd render? I personally enjoyed it a great deal.


I still haven't read it. I've read all his Bond books apart from that one and "The Facts of Death", which I tried to read but just couldn't stick with because, frankly, I found it terrible.

#25 Hitch

Hitch

    Lt. Commander

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPip
  • 1219 posts

Posted 12 August 2006 - 02:04 PM

Goodness, Mr Benson comes in for some stick around these parts, doesn't he? I really should buy Zero Minus Ten and see what all the fuss is about. I did read an extract on CBn of a sex scene from one of his Bond novels, disliked it and said so (in fact, I was rather cutting, something I now regret), but in that case I blamed his editor for not putting up the red flag - such scenes are devilishy tricky to write.

Am I right in saying that Benson had to satisfy some pretty stringent stipulations from his publishers? That can't have been easy to cope with. Hopefully he now has more freedom to express himself with his current books.

But I still think a collection of his short stories is a nice idea. Come to think of it, such a book might entice more readers to meet Benson's Bond.

#26 TortillaFactory

TortillaFactory

    Lt. Commander

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPip
  • 1964 posts
  • Location:Deep 13

Posted 12 August 2006 - 04:20 PM

It continues to amaze me when I read posters on this very site who think they can see Fleming's man in Benson's.

He just isn't there.


I'm exceedingly glad to see someone else saying this. It's not that Benson's a bad person - I'm sure he's lovely - and it's not his editor's fault, either. If I were his editor I'd be regularly tearing my hair out by the roots. He's just a dull writer, and why he was ever chosen for such a delicate task as revamping Bond, I can't imagine.

It's true that he at least seems more interested in Bond than Gardner was, but that doesn't make him the better writer. In fact it has absolutely no bearing on the question at all. And the fact that he says he pictured Brosnan when writing doesn't mean he wrote "Brosnan's Bond," who, IMHO, at least had some kind of wit and personality.

There is a line in "Live at Five," the TV Guide short story, that's a dead giveaway. Something about Bond reminiscing upon re-encountering a girl he once knew, that goes vaguely like "he remembered warm kisses and soft skin." Urgh. Could he make sex sound more boring and generic?

I really should buy Zero Minus Ten and see what all the fuss is about.


It's actually Never Dream of Dying to which you refer, and I wouldn't bother. Though it has the distinction of being the only Benson I could read all the way through, that was sheer, morbid curiosity.

I did read an extract on CBn of a sex scene from one of his Bond novels, disliked it and said so (in fact, I was rather cutting, something I now regret), but in that case I blamed his editor for not putting up the red flag - such scenes are devilishy tricky to write.


Love scenes being "devilishly tricky" would be a viable excuse if Benson were in any other profession. If he were a security guard, I could forgive him for not being able to write a love scene. Grocery story clerk? Sure. CEO of a Fortune 500 company? Yep, off the hook. But here's the catch: he is a writer. It's his job to express things that are tricky, and if he can't, it's his job to know his own limitations and to work with them. Look, smut has a grand tradition of being awful, but Benson takes the cake. Mildly purple prose is one thing - Fleming almost went there a few times - slightly-too-clinical is another, and one of Gardner's occasional faults - but Benson is really bad, worse than any love scene that's been written in Bond fanfiction on this or any other site. Harsh? Yes. True? Yes. I'm less inclined to forgive Benson than some, perhaps because it's his bloody job to bust out a damn thesaurus and at least try to create something compelling. Or, barring that, not outright repulsive.

I'm sure he's a really exemplary person, but he's just not a good writer. Sorry.

#27 Hitch

Hitch

    Lt. Commander

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPip
  • 1219 posts

Posted 12 August 2006 - 06:26 PM

I referred to Zero Minus Ten because I asked the members here to recommend one of Benson's books. Bon-san was kind enough to suggest ZMT - in other words to start at the beginning. It's a very good place to start. :P

I didn't know that the sex scene came from Never Dream of Dying, but I do know that it was poorly written, and (other than a very brief look at one of his other books when loitering in a bookshop) it's the only prose of his that I've ever read. Given that love/sex scenes are generally (not always) held to be difficult to write - better writers than Mr Benson have been known to ignore them altogether - I erred on the side of caution and blamed his editor. If I had read more of his stuff then I would have had more evidence on which to judge his writing prowess and whether the scene in question was typical of his style or an anomaly; it would be unfair to cast a writer into the outer darkness on the strength (or weakness) of one scene.

I applauded the proposal for a collection of his short stories because it would be an opportunity for fans to read some elusive Bond stories, and because I thought it would be a nice way to round off Benson's Bond writing career, controversial though that tenure may be. I haven't compared Benson to Gardner or judged either on the effort, care and attention they spent on Bond.

I don't know whether Mr Benson is an exemplary person :) and I haven't read enough of his work to know whether he's a good writer. I'm going to buy Zero Minus Ten and find out about the latter. :P

#28 DamnCoffee

DamnCoffee

    Commander

  • Executive Officers
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 24459 posts
  • Location:England

Posted 12 August 2006 - 06:29 PM

The only Benson novel i've read is DAD and that wasn't exactly thrilling but i really want to read Bensons other work

#29 Harmsway

Harmsway

    Commander

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 13266 posts

Posted 12 August 2006 - 09:22 PM



Well, exactly. There's fun to be had in Benson, and several impressive moments, but unfortunately the guy's a rollercoaster ride. IMO, of course.

Did you ever read DOUBLESHOT, Loomis? I remember a while ago you hadn't yet, and I was wondering if you had and what verdict you'd render? I personally enjoyed it a great deal.

I still haven't read it. I've read all his Bond books apart from that one and "The Facts of Death", which I tried to read but just couldn't stick with because, frankly, I found it terrible.

For what it's worth, I couldn't make it through THE FACTS OF DEATH either. A truly awful book.

#30 Lazenby880

Lazenby880

    Lieutenant

  • Crew
  • PipPip
  • 937 posts
  • Location:London

Posted 12 August 2006 - 10:41 PM

...better writers than Mr Benson have been known to ignore them altogether...

Indeed, Alistair MacLean famously hardly wrote about sex as it was a diversion that slowed down the action. He, in my opinion, was a *far* more accomplished writer than Mr Benson, despite MacLean's typical modesty: "I'm not a novelist, I'm a storyteller. There is no art in what I do, no mystique." Of course, it is almost impossible to imagine a Bond novel absent of sex scenes so it had to be done; unfortunately such scenes are written in a most unappealing manner. Clinical and frigid; utter hogwash.

My problem with Benson's Bond is that I really do not see any sort of resemblence to the original character whatsoever, and I am genuinely surprised when I read that others evidently do see the resemblence. The inability to convey character on Mr Benson's part provides some of the explanation, however at his base Benson's central character is a sort of cardboard film Bond and

Edited by Lazenby880, 12 August 2006 - 10:49 PM.





0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users