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Looking Back: Licence To Kill


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#1 Qwerty

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Posted 02 June 2007 - 03:36 AM

Now on the CBn main page: the final entry in the CBn John Gardner "Looking Back" series...



John Gardner's novelisation of the 1989 James Bond film


#2 DLibrasnow

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Posted 02 June 2007 - 12:35 PM

I honestly haven't read this since it was published back in 1989. But what I do remember is that I did not like the way he tried to tie the Leiter injury into the Fleming novels. Personally I would have preferred that he ignore Live and Let Die and treat it as more of a stand-alone novel (much the way Benson ignores Gardner).
Still it was a good read and perhaps one of the better plotted (probably in part due to the movie) of his novels, though not in the same league as my personal favorite Gardner continuation novel Icebreaker.

#3 K1Bond007

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Posted 02 June 2007 - 06:35 PM

I honestly haven't read this since it was published back in 1989. But what I do remember is that I did not like the way he tried to tie the Leiter injury into the Fleming novels. Personally I would have preferred that he ignore Live and Let Die and treat it as more of a stand-alone novel (much the way Benson ignores Gardner).
Still it was a good read and perhaps one of the better plotted (probably in part due to the movie) of his novels, though not in the same league as my personal favorite Gardner continuation novel Icebreaker.


Yeah, it was pretty stupid. He tied the whole Leiter thing in by having Leiter's run in with the shark happen for a second time. But he never bothered explaining Milton Krest (after all he died in The Hildebrand Rarity). Like you said he should have just ignored Fleming's continuity and his own and just written it up as a novelization outside his series. There's also the Captain/Commander thing.

Wasn't the last time a character came back from the dead though. Benson accidentally did it in The Facts of Death IIRC.

#4 zencat

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Posted 02 June 2007 - 07:26 PM

Yeah, novelizations...they are what they are.

The best thing about the LTK novelization was just the fact that it was done. We hadn't had anything resembling a novelzation (not even a Fleming book with poster art) since 1979. I recall having no idea this was coming. Just one day there it was, big as life, sitting in a dumpbin in the doorway of Waldenbooks. A new Bond novelization BY John Gardner! I dropped and wept with joy as mothers hustled their children from the store and security was called.

#5 K1Bond007

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Posted 02 June 2007 - 08:43 PM

I recall having no idea this was coming. Just one day there it was, big as life, sitting in a dumpbin in the doorway of Waldenbooks. A new Bond novelization BY John Gardner! I dropped and wept with joy as mothers hustled their children from the store and security was called.


Wow.. I wish a John Gardner book could have that effect on me. :cooltongue: That all pretty much went away after his first couple books. They weren't bad, but they were dreadfully drab, if you ask me. Still, as far as novelizations go, Licence to Kill wasn't bad though some of Gardner's choices are odd. Like him making a statement that Bond never really liked the Walther PPK - that might have been true in the beginning, but that's just an odd statement to make 30 whatever years later, and he backed it up by dumping the Walther PPK in favor of the P38K. (Benson's first novelization also had Bond switching away from the PPK - hmm just thought of that..)

#6 Bryce (003)

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Posted 02 June 2007 - 09:06 PM

It's funny. During the BCW7 in Key West and all the collecting/trading that went on in Miami before the crew headed south, Flicka had gotten a copy and read it over the trip referring to it as an "interactive travel guide" - Zencat and Athena should remember those countless hours in the vans with her nose in that book.

Of the great piece of work that it is, one of the funniest bits is Pam's explosion after Lupe visits the hotel with her and Q. It was cute in the film. In the book it's better.

*grabs copy*

"Si!Yes. Franz is taking him on some trip, with the Chinese. They leave at ten. Please! Please! You must help him." She was also near tears. "I couldn't go on living if anything happened to him. Lord help me, I love James so much."

Q saw Pam's back stiffen and knew what might come. He hurried over and took Lupe by the arm, leading her towards the door. "My dear, you must go back to Sanchez's place before you're missed. Now, don't worry, we'll think of something." And with that he hustled her out the door.

When he turned back to Pam, the situation was much worse than he expected. The anger had flooded scarlet to her face, "The lousy, two-timing, double-crossing, lying, male chauvinist son-of-a-bitch!" she exploded. "Oh, I love James so much." She imitated Lupe's voice with a fair degree of accuracy. "Well, I'm damned if I'll help him. Self-centered, reptilian, ungrateful, fornicating, useless cretin. James bloody Bond can go to hell in a handbasket as far as I'm concerned. I wouldn't even help him to cross the road."

Chapter 14 - The Temple of Meditation - Licence To Kill


Great stuff and there are more little tidbits throughout.

If you haven't read it, do so.

:cooltongue:

#7 Double-0-7

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Posted 03 June 2007 - 02:52 AM

"Self-centered, reptilian, ungrateful, fornicating, useless cretin." But Pam is not bitter!

#8 Righty007

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Posted 06 October 2009 - 04:54 PM

Check out this awesome Hebrew edition! B)

Attached Files

  • Attached File  LTK.jpg   73.99KB   24 downloads


#9 Qwerty

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Posted 07 October 2009 - 12:04 AM

Nice find, Chris. You seem to be doing pretty well in tracking down these Hebrew editions.

#10 Righty007

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Posted 07 October 2009 - 02:15 AM

Nice find, Chris. You seem to be doing pretty well in tracking down these Hebrew editions.

My Israeli book dealer is amazing. I request a specific Bond book in Hebrew and she finds it for me within a few weeks. B)

#11 Syndicate

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Posted 07 October 2009 - 06:53 AM

Here goes the Charter cover, I scaned from my copy. I got it back in the early 90s when one of my local mom and pop used book store was closing. I still have not read the book, so can't give any comments.

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#12 The Ghost Who Walks

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Posted 07 October 2009 - 09:22 AM

Check out this awesome Hebrew edition! B)


My favourite Dalton photo. Would've liked to own it as a poster.

#13 Kangch

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Posted 07 October 2009 - 04:55 PM

Wasn't the last time a character came back from the dead though. Benson accidentally did it in The Facts of Death IIRC.


It's rather in Never Dream of Dying, with the character of Che-Che who died during the fight at the Piz Gloria in On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

And so far, the novelization of Licence to Kill is my favorite Bond written by Gardner (and the worst is Goldeneye). I love the film, so... (it isn't that I don't like Goldeneye, the film, but I find this novelization really awful).

Edited by Kangch, 07 October 2009 - 04:58 PM.


#14 Solex Agitator

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 04:14 PM

I just pulled out my Armchair Detective hardcover of this title and noted its rather large print. The "Looking Back" article that lead me to this thread states there was not a large print edition of this title. Any chance that someone here can weigh in on my edition and what exactly I have in my collection.

It is:
ISBN 0 922890 14 5

There is a mention of a "library edition" on the copyright page.

Any idea of its value?

Thanks in advance!

Edited by Solex Agitator, 11 July 2011 - 10:56 PM.


#15 OmarB

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 06:14 PM

I liked the LTK novelization. It was actually the last of the Gardner books I got my hands on so maybe that even elevates it's standing a bit. Yes, there is a bit of forced-continuity-ism in there but I found it pretty funny. I thought he was throwing it in for the people who know LALD and for those new readers who might think "second incident with a shark?"

What I found as with a lot of novelizations is that the story is pretty much just presented. There is little flair to the writing, very workmanlike. There are some novelizations that are good, some great, and some that just get the story across. In the case of LTK, it got the story out and added a few scenes. From a guy like Gardner who is the official Bond writer and knows the universe quite well when presented with a script (the most detailed outline ever!) his job was to dress it up in his style writing in his world.

The actions scenes were also not that great. But as I said, it wasn't bad and I actually liked it when taken as a novelization. If I consider it's a Bond novel from an official Bond author I think it fails a bit in presenting him and his world.

#16 AMC Hornet

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 08:49 PM

I too came across this novelization one fine day in July, 1989. In my case the banner above the shelf read "Free Licence To Kill poster with the purchase of the book!" Double bonus!

I didn't really enjoy the movie that much - I found it nasty and un Bondlike (or, rather, too much like Fleming's Bond and not enough like the screen incarnation). The novelization, however, was a good read.

Is it just me, or is an author's first novelization always the best? Compare LTK with GE - I expected GE to even better, as it was more Gardner's kind of plot, but that was not the case. Christopher Wood's TSWLM was vastly superior to his MR, especially since he had a better story to work with his first time out. Raymond Benson's TND was well fleshed-out - including a chapter about Wei Lin's own investigation and how it led her to Hamburg, and more background on General Chang; TWINE and DAD were for the most part mere transcriptions of the screenplay into prose form.

I think it was Wood who said that he felt his initial effort was wasted, as no-one at IFP was really interested in the quality of the novelizations, but I don't think that's a good reason to give it anything less than your best effort. Being pressed for time, however, could be a deciding factor.

Edited by AMC Hornet, 11 July 2011 - 08:51 PM.


#17 Gothamite

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Posted 14 September 2013 - 11:18 PM

Read an e-book version of this while holidaying in Spain out of pure curiousity (don't worry - I read two Flemings shortly after). 

 

Gardner's decision to try and hamfistedly reconcile Fleming continuity with Eon cinema obviously doesn't work (he forgets that Milton Krest was already a Fleming character, as were many of the scenes and concepts in the screenplay) but the most jarring thing while reading the book for me was that Gardner seemed to be altering the dialogue (maybe he was writing from an earlier draft of the screenplay?) to fit his more Moore-esque version of Bond. 

I can't think of an example off the top of my head, but the dialogue was just generally lighter, busier and less to the point than in the film (i.e. "Make a sound...and you're dead." was changed to something a bit longer). 

 

Another peculiar thing I noticed was Gardner's attempt to cover up what (I suppose) was a plot-hole: in the film Sanchez has secured some stinger missiles which he will fire on a major airliner if the US don't 'back off' his operations. However when we see the stinger being used against Bond's tanker in the third act, it doesn't seek the heat of the tanker's engine. Gardner reconciles this by explaining that they're not exactly Stinger missiles but rather a less reliable precursor. This was a neat little consideration for him to make, even if I wouldn't have noticed if he'd left it out.

 

It was definitely a breezier read than any of the original Fleming novels, but I enjoyed it quite a bit (certainly more than the only other Gardner I've read - License Renewed which was a bit dull) and despite the discrepancies I still think it captured the atmosphere and the flow of the film (one of my favourites, I'm proud to say) well. 


Edited by Gothamite, 14 September 2013 - 11:34 PM.


#18 Major Tallon

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Posted 15 September 2013 - 12:32 AM

For me, the most jarring aspect of Gardner's attempt to fit the LTK novelization into the literary timeline was his writing that Sanchez dumping Felix in the shark tank was Leiter's second time to be ravaged by a shark, the first having occurred many years before in Fleming's LALD.  The novelization should have been treated as a standalone adventure divorced from the established timeline. 



#19 SecretAgentFan

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Posted 15 September 2013 - 12:42 PM

Just when Leiter thought it was okay to get back into water...



#20 glidrose

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 06:54 PM

Is it just me, or is an author's first novelization always the best?


It's not you, but I do think it's a coincidence. Yes, each author's first novelization beats his follow-ups.

Compare LTK with GE - I expected GE to even better, as it was more Gardner's kind of plot, but that was not the case.


God...how awful the GE book was. Mostly padding in the first half, then it's like his lost interest and rushed out the second half.

I think it was Wood who said that he felt his initial effort was wasted, as no-one at IFP was really interested in the quality of the novelizations, but I don't think that's a good reason to give it anything less than your best effort. Being pressed for time, however, could be a deciding factor.


I don't think Wood said that. I believe he claimed he put as much effort into his second as he did his first. However, TSWLM had a story that worked better on the printed page. MR has many more plot points, scenes and action sequences than TSWLM, and virtually no human drama, hence the MR novelization could never measure up.

#21 Gothamite

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 07:40 PM

Can someone link to me to the original 'Looking Back On' article or has it been lost? I'm interested to read the novelisation ones.






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