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Looking Back: 'The Facts Of Death'


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#1 Qwerty

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Posted 01 July 2007 - 12:31 AM

Now on the CBn main page...



Raymond Benson's second James Bond novel


#2 Secret Treaties

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 02:01 PM

The first time I tried reading it I ran into this passage on page 12 of the paperback edition and it stopped me cold.

"The door was still open, and Bond could see two camouflaged figures from his position. One was holding a gun to the pilot's head. The aircraft had been hijacked!"

It might seem like nitpicking to some. However, that final sentence, with an exclamation point no less, was so amateurish it stopped me cold. I'll try again, because I want to like Benson, so we'll see how it goes when I do.

#3 marktmurphy

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 02:03 PM

It doesn't improve much! :)

#4 glidrose

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 10:14 PM

Wait 'till you get to page 246.

"How is he doing being Ambassador to the World?"

DOING BEING???

#5 zencat

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 10:32 PM

The first time I tried reading it I ran into this passage on page 12 of the paperback edition and it stopped me cold.

"The door was still open, and Bond could see two camouflaged figures from his position. One was holding a gun to the pilot's head. The aircraft had been hijacked!"

It might seem like nitpicking to some. However, that final sentence, with an exclamation point no less, was so amateurish it stopped me cold. I'll try again, because I want to like Benson, so we'll see how it goes when I do.

Really? You register on CBn and search out a 4 year old thread just to voice your objection to an exclamation point?

What took longer? Reading those 12 pages or writing this post?

(Ironically, I'm also re-reading TFOD at the moment.)

#6 Secret Treaties

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Posted 10 November 2011 - 05:56 PM

Really? You register on CBn and search out a 4 year old thread just to voice your objection to an exclamation point?

What took longer? Reading those 12 pages or writing this post?

(Ironically, I'm also re-reading TFOD at the moment.)


I haven't made my intentions clear. I'm not here to trash anyone indiscriminately. I'm very impressed
by the site and have been reading many of the articles. This was one and, since I had recent experience
with this book, I wanted to comment. Nothing more, nothing less. I am sure you noted that I want to
like Benson; the Bedside Companion was a big deal to me as a kid and I respect many of his opinions on
the novels and movies.

Lastly, I didn't know that it was poor form to comment on an article, no matter its age. I presumed
that the live link directing me from the article to this forum meant comments were still welcome. If
not, I apologize. This is a great site and, as I spend more time here, I hope you will discover that
my strongly held opinions don't necessarily equate to [censored]. :)

#7 dlb007

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Posted 10 November 2011 - 06:53 PM

Hi Secret Treaties, welcome to the forum. Your opinion is definitely welcome here. I agree with your assessment of the line Benson wrote. I too tried to like his work. It's not the worse stuff I've read, but far from the best. However, I appreciate Benson's entries in the literary Bond world; I'd much rather have them exist than not. I look forward to reading your opinions, whether they differ from mine or not.

#8 Matt_13

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Posted 10 November 2011 - 07:02 PM

Say what you will about Benson, but he definitely came up with some dynamite plots for his books.

Oh, and yes, feel free to voice your opinion (it is a forum after all), but try not to resurrect threads just for the sake of expressing negativity about the author (an author who has been known to check out these forums, mind you). It wasn't too harsh of a dig, and I understand your intent for adding to this thread, just offering a friendly piece of advice for future reference. Welcome to the forums, by the way.

#9 Jim

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Posted 10 November 2011 - 07:24 PM

The first time I tried reading it I ran into this passage on page 12 of the paperback edition and it stopped me cold.

"The door was still open, and Bond could see two camouflaged figures from his position. One was holding a gun to the pilot's head. The aircraft had been hijacked!"

It might seem like nitpicking to some. However, that final sentence, with an exclamation point no less, was so amateurish it stopped me cold. I'll try again, because I want to like Benson, so we'll see how it goes when I do.


You should read On Her Majesty's Secret Service - exclamation marks peppered around like bloody bullets, that one.

#10 doublenoughtspy

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Posted 10 November 2011 - 08:37 PM

Welcome Secret Treaties.

We have no statute of limitations on old threads – we welcome comment on anything and everything on Bond.

I’m glad to hear you enjoyed Benson’s Bedside Companion – It was important to me as a kid as well, and it honestly meant the world to me when Raymond heaped praise upon my OHMSS book.

While the passage you’ve quoted isn’t Shakespeare – I don’t see anything particularly offensive about it. And might I ask how YOU would re-write the line?

#11 Secret Treaties

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Posted 10 November 2011 - 08:52 PM

Say what you will about Benson, but he definitely came up with some dynamite plots for his books.


I couldn't agree more. The books have interesting, intelligent plots and the writing isn't
uniformly bad. If I didn't think it was worth my time, I wouldn't be trying again.

#12 Secret Treaties

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Posted 10 November 2011 - 09:11 PM

While the passage you’ve quoted isn’t Shakespeare – I don’t see anything particularly offensive about it. And might I ask how YOU would re-write the line?


"The door was still open, and Bond could see two camouflaged figures from his position. One was holding a gun to the pilot's head. The aircraft had been hijacked!"

instead...

"The door was still open and Bond saw two camouflaged figures. One was pushing a gun against the pilot's head."

If Bond sees two camouflaged figures, we already know that he sees them from "his position". Secondly, if there's a man holding a gun to an aircraft pilot's head in a story, the reader doesn't need to be told that the plane in question is hijacked. It's obvious. Show, don't tell.

Edited by Secret Treaties, 10 November 2011 - 09:13 PM.


#13 David_M

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Posted 10 November 2011 - 09:13 PM

I had a similar experience with the excerpt on the jacket of "Zero Minus Ten." I don't know the exact wording, but the gist was that Bond was standing there with a machine gun hosing down scores of Chinese foes and thinking (more or less) this was the kind of thing he lived for.

Yikes. Happily it was not a terribly representative sampling of the contents (which were more "meh" than "yikes").

Still, nothing ever put me off like the scene in a Gardner Bond (again, the memory's going, so I don't know the title) where Bond is riding in the front passenger seat of a car (probably a Subaru) going over paperwork from his new job as a department head while his fiance Flicka drives. There's so many things wrong in that single scene that I don't know where to start. Desk job? Fiance? Woman driver? Subaru? The only thing missing was a Starbucks in the cup holder and Celtic Woman playing on the car stereo. By that point I think the literary "James Bond" would have been as unrecognizable to Fleming as Roger Moore popping his head out of an alligator submarine.

#14 zencat

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 12:18 AM



Really? You register on CBn and search out a 4 year old thread just to voice your objection to an exclamation point?

What took longer? Reading those 12 pages or writing this post?

(Ironically, I'm also re-reading TFOD at the moment.)


I haven't made my intentions clear. I'm not here to trash anyone indiscriminately. I'm very impressed
by the site and have been reading many of the articles. This was one and, since I had recent experience
with this book, I wanted to comment. Nothing more, nothing less. I am sure you noted that I want to
like Benson; the Bedside Companion was a big deal to me as a kid and I respect many of his opinions on
the novels and movies.

Lastly, I didn't know that it was poor form to comment on an article, no matter its age. I presumed
that the live link directing me from the article to this forum meant comments were still welcome. If
not, I apologize. This is a great site and, as I spend more time here, I hope you will discover that
my strongly held opinions don't necessarily equate to [censored]. :)

My apologies, Secret Treaties. This just caught me at the wrong moment.

#15 glidrose

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 01:53 AM

I haven't made my intentions clear. I'm not here to trash anyone indiscriminately. I'm very impressed
by the site and have been reading many of the articles. This was one and, since I had recent experience
with this book, I wanted to comment. Nothing more, nothing less. I am sure you noted that I want to
like Benson; the Bedside Companion was a big deal to me as a kid and I respect many of his opinions on
the novels and movies.

Lastly, I didn't know that it was poor form to comment on an article, no matter its age. I presumed
that the live link directing me from the article to this forum meant comments were still welcome. If
not, I apologize. This is a great site and, as I spend more time here, I hope you will discover that
my strongly held opinions don't necessarily equate to [censored]. :)


Hi Secret Treaties. Welcome to the site. I'm new here too. It's not poor form to comment on old articles or resurrect old threads. I did it myself last week.

You should read On Her Majesty's Secret Service - exclamation marks peppered around like bloody bullets, that one.


Anybody else remember Anthony Boucher's scathing New York Times review? "I must set down my opinion that this is a silly and tedious novel. It is still a lazy and inadequate story. Far too little happens for the inordinate amount of words, and even that little is far too simple...an impression heightened this time by a girlish rash of exclamation points."

Fleming's response: "I've got a very good publisher's reader, William Plomer, who's a great poet and an extremely nice man, and he said some time ago that I never put in any exclamation marks. This stuck in my mind, and so in my last book I put in exclamation marks like pepper. And my publishers stupidly enough left them in. Then I get a fierce review from The New York Times saying not only is Ian Fleming a very inferior writer but he has the girlish trick of putting in exclamation marks all over the place."

#16 AMC Hornet

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 02:17 AM

It was a Saab, not a Subaru, and I think that scene (from Seafire) helps us not feel too sorry - or surprised - when Flicka didn't make it as a series regular (rather reminiscent of the Tick's nightmare of being trapped in a daytime office job).

I am also rereading TFOD and I have to admit that I too found that five-word sentence to be unnecessary.

The problem with TFOD (and apologies to Mr. Benson, if you are indeed looking in) is that, like Mr. Gardner's For Special Services, it reads like the publishers said to the author, "You're first novel was great! For the next one let's have even more of this and this and this..."

The same demand for excess turned Moonraker into a three-ring circus.

Having said that, I would like to backpedal and say that I agree with the words I put in the publishers' mouths. Zero Minus Ten and High Time to Kill (book 3) are my favorites of Mr. Benson's works, and for the same reasons that Licence Renewed and Icebreaker - Gardner's first and third - rank among my favorites from his canon:

First, a re-introduction that, as The Times said (in 1981), "...captures that high old tone and discreetly updates it."

Then, after an entry to satisfy those who want more of the same, a story that breaks from tradition and takes Bond and us into a situation outside of his usual experience, in an adventure that could have been written by Alistair Maclean at his best.

I hope that makes up for my initial nit-pick.

Welcome to CBn, ST. I doubt we'll always agree.

#17 Secret Treaties

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 05:35 AM

My apologies, Secret Treaties. This just caught me at the wrong moment.


Thanks, no harm done. It happens to us all.

#18 Jim

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 05:39 AM


I haven't made my intentions clear. I'm not here to trash anyone indiscriminately. I'm very impressed
by the site and have been reading many of the articles. This was one and, since I had recent experience
with this book, I wanted to comment. Nothing more, nothing less. I am sure you noted that I want to
like Benson; the Bedside Companion was a big deal to me as a kid and I respect many of his opinions on
the novels and movies.

Lastly, I didn't know that it was poor form to comment on an article, no matter its age. I presumed
that the live link directing me from the article to this forum meant comments were still welcome. If
not, I apologize. This is a great site and, as I spend more time here, I hope you will discover that
my strongly held opinions don't necessarily equate to [censored]. :)


Hi Secret Treaties. Welcome to the site. I'm new here too. It's not poor form to comment on old articles or resurrect old threads. I did it myself last week.

You should read On Her Majesty's Secret Service - exclamation marks peppered around like bloody bullets, that one.


Anybody else remember Anthony Boucher's scathing New York Times review? "I must set down my opinion that this is a silly and tedious novel. It is still a lazy and inadequate story. Far too little happens for the inordinate amount of words, and even that little is far too simple...an impression heightened this time by a girlish rash of exclamation points."

Fleming's response: "I've got a very good publisher's reader, William Plomer, who's a great poet and an extremely nice man, and he said some time ago that I never put in any exclamation marks. This stuck in my mind, and so in my last book I put in exclamation marks like pepper. And my publishers stupidly enough left them in. Then I get a fierce review from The New York Times saying not only is Ian Fleming a very inferior writer but he has the girlish trick of putting in exclamation marks all over the place."


That's exactly what I was thinking of. Thanks.

Perhaps, given context, that should be Thanks!!!!!!!

#19 glidrose

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Posted 13 November 2011 - 09:53 PM

I didn't know that it was poor form to comment on an article, no matter its age.


Not at all. In fact it's actively encouraged.

Edited by glidrose, 13 November 2011 - 09:56 PM.


#20 zencat

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Posted 13 November 2011 - 11:43 PM


I didn't know that it was poor form to comment on an article, no matter its age.


Not at all. In fact it's actively encouraged.

Especially when the top post is a masterpiece. ;)

#21 chrisno1

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 10:48 PM




You should read On Her Majesty's Secret Service - exclamation marks peppered around like bloody bullets, that one.


Anybody else remember Anthony Boucher's scathing New York Times review? "I must set down my opinion that this is a silly and tedious novel. It is still a lazy and inadequate story. Far too little happens for the inordinate amount of words, and even that little is far too simple...an impression heightened this time by a girlish rash of exclamation points."

Fleming's response: "I've got a very good publisher's reader, William Plomer, who's a great poet and an extremely nice man, and he said some time ago that I never put in any exclamation marks. This stuck in my mind, and so in my last book I put in exclamation marks like pepper. And my publishers stupidly enough left them in. Then I get a fierce review from The New York Times saying not only is Ian Fleming a very inferior writer but he has the girlish trick of putting in exclamation marks all over the place."


That's exactly what I was thinking of. Thanks.

Perhaps, given context, that should be Thanks!!!!!!!


And I thought it was just me! I wonder if Plomer also instructed Fleming on the use of brackets (just in case he forgot about them too). They are many-a-plenty in OHMSS (and usually in completely unecessary places).

Regarding The Facts of Death: if that one sentence is annoying you, Secret Treaties, you'd better stop reading. You'll want to burn the book when you reach the sperm donation scene.
Welcome to CBN by the way.

#22 Donovan Mayne-Nicholls

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 11:22 PM

The first time I tried reading it I ran into this passage on page 12 of the paperback edition and it stopped me cold.

"The door was still open, and Bond could see two camouflaged figures from his position. One was holding a gun to the pilot's head. The aircraft had been hijacked!"

It might seem like nitpicking to some. However, that final sentence, with an exclamation point no less, was so amateurish it stopped me cold. I'll try again, because I want to like Benson, so we'll see how it goes when I do.


You're not nitpicking. Benson's "prose" is filled with platitudes the likes of "The space around the earth is filled with an abundance of satellites, all circling the globe performing different functions and responsibilities". I find selecting such an amateur writer disrespectful to the readers.




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