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Looking Back: 'Zero Minus Ten'


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#1 Qwerty

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Posted 13 June 2007 - 04:12 AM

Now on the CBn main page...



Raymond Benson's first James Bond novel


#2 dlb007

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Posted 03 May 2010 - 03:02 AM

Why not? No one else has written on this. I just started reading Benson (after Fleming, Amis, Wood, and Gardner), and while I'll agree with most that his writing is the weakest of the group, it is by no means horrible. It reads rather quickly, a la Clancy, with more focus on the plot itself than the language used to tell it; in many ways Fleming is the exact opposite. Regardless of whether the prose is weak, I enjoyed Zero Minus Ten. It was a fine story and did exactly what I wanted it to do: entertain me; it also prolonged the Bond storyline, which is always fine by me.

The one problem I expected: imagining Brosnan as Bond, fortunately, did not occur; instead, the shadowy faced figure that I first imagined while imagining the smell of that casino and that particular time in the morning.

Nice job Raymond! Let's see how that Tomorrow Never Dies novelization goes.

#3 Jeff007

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Posted 03 May 2010 - 04:34 AM

I really liked the beginning of this novel where 007 is on an exercise at "Shamelady". Works just like a pre-title sequence. Gratuituos sex and violence. B)

#4 DAN LIGHTER

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Posted 03 May 2010 - 04:38 PM

The general feeling (I think) is it's the weakest of Raymond's Bond books. Even he himself prefers his later versions. But I loved Zero Minus Ten, although I confuse it with the Bourne book and Typhoon by Charles Cumming as all were set in Hong Kong. A mouth-watering subject matter. Slap Bond in among it and you have a winner.

#5 AMC Hornet

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Posted 03 May 2010 - 06:23 PM

I found Zero Minus Ten to be a welcome return to the world of Bond after five less-than stellar entries from the late Mr. Gardner. Like Fleming, Benson took the time to describe background details, like the taste of exotic food and the tension of a high-stakes Mahjong game (I was totally unfamiliar with the game before reading ZMT. After reading that sequence, I felt like I knew how to play it). It really was a case of Benson "writing as Ian Fleming" - an honour later bestowed undeservedly on Sebastian Faulks.

For me, the only other of Benson's books that comes close to matching this entry is High Time to Kill (aka A Better Way to Die), and for the same reason that John Gardner's Icebreaker is so popular: Benson too had the nerve to break from tradition and give us a story that deviates from the usual formula. I only wish that the rest of Benson's canon had lived up to the standards set by these two adventures (again, IMCO).

#6 marktmurphy

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Posted 03 May 2010 - 11:42 PM

I liked how, as he rarely described anything in any detail, he thought we might not notice when he drops in the details that Thackeray was a MAGICIAN and that when he appeared to be killed, he DISAPPEARS BEHIND A VAN FOR A SECOND OR TWO. Gosh; who can the villain be? B)

#7 Jeff007

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Posted 04 May 2010 - 03:24 AM

I liked how, as he rarely described anything in any detail, he thought we might not notice when he drops in the details that Thackeray was a MAGICIAN and that when he appeared to be killed, he DISAPPEARS BEHIND A VAN FOR A SECOND OR TWO. Gosh; who can the villain be? :tdown:

I remember that. LOL B)

#8 tristanjblythe

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Posted 04 May 2010 - 07:58 AM

I picked this up from my local library in hardback shortly after it was published. Although a Bond fan I didn't have a clue a new author had been appointed (or that Gardner had stepped down). I really loved the book and its Fleming/movie crossover feel. I bought it as soon as it was available in paperback.

Re-reading the book I still enjoy it. It is Bond movie (specifically a Brosnan-bond movie) but given the literary treatment. Whilst maybe not written in a Fleming style the plot and broad sweep of the book is clearly Benson interpretation of the Fleming model.

Benson is at times (as pointed out on by others on this post) a weak writer, but this one is one of my favourites of his and doesn't have the flaws some of his later ones do.

#9 godwulf

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Posted 13 November 2010 - 05:55 PM

Have just finished Zero Minus Ten, and enjoyed it very much...particularly, as someone else has posted, after reading a number of less than stellar entries by the late JG. Aside from a tendency toward the same sort of plot heaviness and inertia (more action, far less talk needed) that Gardner too often displayed, I thought that it was very well done.

I do have a problem with Benson's descriptions of fight scenes, however. Without very much exaggeration at all, they all read something like, "Bond grabbed the other man by the throat and punched him in the stomach. The albino leapt aaide and grabbed onto a low-hanging railing, then kicked 007 in the face. A nearby explosion temporarily blinded Bond, and..." etc. Benson's fight scenes read exactly like a film script description, and - as so often happens in the movies - the fights go on and on, long after one or both parties ought to have been dead or unconscious.

I will confess that I am one of those readers who does not appreciate detailed descriptions of the rules of games, nor page after page describing some game being played, by Bond or anyone else...whether it's Fleming doing it with golf or various card games, or Benson doing it with mah jong. If the author is fascinated with some game, that's wonderful - let him write a guide to it, but keep all of the incredibly detailed (and, to me at least, boring) descriptions of its rules and play out of what is supposed to be a thriller.

#10 Guy Haines

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Posted 13 November 2010 - 06:53 PM

I was amused that Benson had as his villain an alcoholic racist - I wondered if this bar room bigot would stay sober long enough to know what he was doing when it came to irradiating Hong Kong (hic! hic!) :)

Cheers!

#11 PrinceKamalKhan

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Posted 13 November 2010 - 11:14 PM

Re-reading the book I still enjoy it. It is Bond movie (specifically a Brosnan-bond movie) but given the literary treatment. Whilst maybe not written in a Fleming style the plot and broad sweep of the book is clearly Benson interpretation of the Fleming model.


I like the way you put that, tristanjblythe. It's been a while since I've read ZMT but I remember enjoying the plot. It was very similar to Bruce Feirstein's initial script draft for Tomorrow Never Dies with the villain planning to level Hong Kong prior to the U.K.'s returning it to Red China-

http://www.universal...scripts/tnd.pdf

I wish EON had filmed it. Perhaps Benson could've been a scriptwriter for them.




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