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ChickenStu on Gardner's Sequels and Novelizations


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#1 ChickenStu

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Posted 17 March 2014 - 10:17 PM

Well after I did my Fleming marathon last year my Mum bless her tried to get me into the Jack Reacher books by Lee Child which she loves. I considered it (and have already read One Shot and saw the Tom Cruise movie based on it). But my Fleming marathon just left me wanting more. I wanted to continue with Our Man dammit! So I read the Markham book, the Pearson book and two Wood novelizations all the while whilst building a complete collection of the Gardner titles. I wanted ALL of them lined up on a shelf. I bought the Fleming ones in dribs and drabs and was often left having to wait a day or two for Amazon to deliver the next batch. I made no such mistake this time. They are ALL here! (as well as the Benson's and Westerberg's - but all in due course). I've also been collecting ALL the soundtrack albums (am only waiting for Skyfall) now. Bought with the expressed intention of listening to them whilst reading the books. The Fleming thing last year kind of was a spur of the moment thing - this time PLANNING is the key word.

 

Licence Renewed

 

I read this all in one sitting. Finished about half and hour ago. And I LOVED it! Murik was a dastardly villain, as was that Scottish brute who was his henchman and that ROTTER Franco. Dear Tilly was a wonderful Bond girl. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this tale of derring do. Gardner I daresay actually writes in a bit more of an accessible style than Fleming (that's not meant to disparage Fleming though - I liked his stuff). Gone are flowery descriptions - this is all about ACTION DAMMIT!!! Murik's dastardly scheme to bring about a worldwide nuclear disaster was a gripping plot - and the penultimate big action sequence on the crashing plane EXHILARATING!!! 

 

I really, really enjoyed this clear concise and inventive read. Do I have criticisms? Of course. A lot of the time it felt too much like a Bond movie than a book and parts of it really reminded me of Goldfinger with the way Our Man is constantly kidnapped, escapes and is kidnapped again. Ends on a plane... Operation Meltdown sounded quite reminiscent of Operation Grandslam... big nuclear angle...

But still, for sheer entertainment value this one is just a WINNER!!! 

 

Plus I listened to the Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball and You Only Live Twice soundtracks whilst reading that really helped with the atmosphere! 

 

If one day they decide to reboot the movies again - Gardner's first Bond adventure would be a damn good place to start I reckon. I cannot wait to get started on the next one! I sure hope "Q'ute" comes back too. Like what they did there.

 

A winner. Not as good as Fleming - but DAMN close. For me Spring 2014 is about Bond... Gardner's Bond!  B) 


Edited by ChickenStu, 18 March 2014 - 09:01 AM.


#2 AMC Hornet

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 12:32 AM

You sound like me in the summer of '81.



#3 ChickenStu

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 09:01 AM

You sound like me in the summer of '81.

 

Que'?



#4 AMC Hornet

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 02:38 PM

Licence Renewed

 

I read this all in one sitting... And I LOVED it! Murik was a dastardly villain, as was that Scottish brute who was his henchman and that ROTTER Franco. Dear Dilly was a wonderful Bond girl. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this tale of derring do. Gardner I daresay actually writes in a bit more of an accessible style than Fleming (that's not meant to disparage Fleming though - I liked his stuff). Gone are flowery descriptions - this is all about ACTION DAMMIT!!! Murik's dastardly scheme to bring about a worldwide nuclear disaster was a gripping plot - and the penultimate big action sequence on the crashing plane EXHILARATING!!! 

 

I really, really enjoyed this clear concise and inventive read...But still, for sheer entertainment value this one is just a WINNER!!! 

 

Me, in the summer of 1981, when LR was published.



#5 ChickenStu

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 02:51 PM

Oh right, I see! lol. 



#6 AMC Hornet

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 11:09 PM

I'll try to refrain from disagreeing with you too much when you post about For Special Services. When you get to Icebreaker and Nobody Lives For Ever, then we'll talk.



#7 ChickenStu

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 06:07 PM

For Special Services

 

Hmm. Yeah. Not too bad I suppose. Bismaquer and Luxor were suitable dastardly villains and Cedar Leiter a fairly interesting new sidekick. The highlight of this book was the Nena character. I don't want to say anymore about her really because I do not wish to ruin anything for anyone who has not yet read the book. The other stuff about the resurrection of SPECTRE and the mind-control drug however was really quite clever and led to a tense ending.

 

All in all pretty good but not as good as the first Gardner adventure. It was nice to listen to the soundtracks to On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever and Live And Let Die whilst I read it too!  



#8 ChickenStu

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Posted 23 March 2014 - 02:01 PM

Icebreaker

 

An interesting enough read. The constant double crosses and even triple crosses were fairly nicely done - although it grew a bit tiresome toward the end. Von Gloda was a interesting villain but I feel that more could have been done with him. Everything that happened with Kolya Mosovich I saw coming. Paula Vickers was pretty cool though. A for effort for John Gardner on this one... but since I the reader could see a few of the twists coming - I'm surprised Bond didn't. Not really a fan of the way Gardner wrote him here. Also, I'm finding the way he writes "M" a bit jarring too. He's far too avuncular. It's not a bad book but by the end it felt like an episode of Scooby Doo. I was almost expecting the bad guy to say "And I would have got away with it too if it weren't for that pesky Bond!

 

Oh well. The journey continues.

 

Whilst reading I listening to The Man With The Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy. 



#9 AMC Hornet

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Posted 23 March 2014 - 05:22 PM

I've always compared Icebreaker to the best of Alistair Maclean. Sure, there were a few too many triple-crosses, and Bond spends most of his time being captured and rescued by others, but the neo-nazi plot was classic and the arctic circle locales were a refreshing change of pace - a type of story not to be seen again until Raymond Benson's High Time To Kill.

BTW you must be reading this books very quickly, in order to miss that the characters' names are Kolya Mosolov and Paula Vacker.



#10 glidrose

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Posted 23 March 2014 - 08:37 PM

My two cents about Gardner. The tone was wrong from the get-go. Really wrong. I don't think anybody seriously asked him to write like Fleming - which is just as well - but it's like Gardner just didn't get it. Fleming's Bond was tough, melancholy and efficacious. Gardner's Bond was smug, glib and reactive.

Gardner is a considerably more polished writer than Fleming. I know what ChickenStu means here. On the other hand Gardner seems in some ways to be a much lazier writer than Fleming. Too much unnecessary dialogue. And his books are much longer than Fleming's.

The plots are much weaker. Too much Bond worms his way into the villain's lair and waits for something to happen to get the story back on track. That sums up the first four books, especially FSS and ROH.

Will say this, tho'. The early Gardner entries have some good villains, heroines and some memorable moments and people. They linger in the mind. Up to and including Nobody Lives Forever. After that the books really taper off. (Quick, who's the villain in Win, Lose or Die and what was his plan?) Like Gardner was only doing it because if he didn't, somebody else would. Gardner's agent used those words at the outset when Gardner was going to turn down the Bond offer.

#11 AMC Hornet

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Posted 23 March 2014 - 09:48 PM

 (Quick, who's the villain in Win, Lose or Die and what was his plan?)

Robert Besavitsky, aka Bassam Baradj, and he intended to hijack HMS lnvincible and hold NATO's (and the USSR's) top brass for ransom. I considered it Gardner's most audacious plot to that date.

Just boastin'.

 

True, Gardner didn't write like Fleming, nor should he have tried, but that doesn't make his writing lazy or uninformed - just different.

 

Nobody writes like Fleming anymore, and outside of Bond fans I don't expect anyone wants to read mid-20th C-style prose anymore anyway (more's the pity). When I do, I read Fleming, Maclean, Charteris and Wodehouse.

 

Fleming wrote crackingly imaginative secret-agent stories which were already a bit dated in their day, as far as technology and tradecraft were concerned. Gardner attempted to keep his technology and tradecraft up-to-date, and if it all seems quaint now, then that should only add to his canon's charm, if the same is to be said of Fleming's.

 

And I disagree about Gardner peaking with Nobody Lives Forever. I thought Scorpius, Win Lose or Die and Brokenclaw were just the fix I needed after NDMB.



#12 ChickenStu

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Posted 24 March 2014 - 09:32 AM

Role Of Honour

 

Rather dull in the first half as the pieces are being put in place but picks up halfway through when Our Man is "recruited" so to speak. I found the firefight sequence rather exciting. I'm noticing an irritating habit of Our Man getting stopped by someone as he's about to leave the bad guy's lair. This has been done a few times now and it's getting on my tatty-bo-jangles. It's all really rather becoming predictable. 

 

Also, I TOTALLY disbelieved the idea of SPECTRE recruiting Our Man after EVERYTHING that's happened before, but I suppose it did make sense at the end. I enjoyed the whole thing about the EPOC frequency.

 

I'm getting fed up with Gardner's one dimensional villains. Tamil Rahani is not as charismatic nor fleshed out as Blofeld. Still - it ended on a nice cliffhanger. 

 

These books are very blandly written. So blandly it's sometimes difficult to take in and I keep having to go to previous pages to remind myself who someone is or why Our Man is there. This does not happen when I read Fleming. There's nothing about Gardner's writing that glues my eyes to the page. 

 

But still, I started this journey and by hook or by crook I shall finish it. These books had such a strong start with Licence Renewed. I can't quite understand why it all seems to be falling apart. 

 

Listened to A View To A Kill, The Living Daylights, Licence To Kill and half of Goldeneye while reading. 


Edited by ChickenStu, 24 March 2014 - 09:34 AM.


#13 AMC Hornet

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Posted 24 March 2014 - 03:40 PM

ROH had such a slow start, but such an intriguing buildup, that I expected a wow finish for a payoff. Perhaps it was my own fault then for being disappointed.

Agreed, SPECTRE thinking they could recruit 007? Only if they didn't tell him. And watching Bond being trained as a computer nerd lacked excitement - it was like those scenes of lab work on CSI, only without the hot soundtrack to speed things along.

Of course, Gardner was hampered by both McClory and his video game, and EON and their upcoming blimp scene, so there were a lot of unsatisfactory rewrites which weren't his fault.

If Simon is lurking about, he'd be able to explain far better than I what his father went through during this period.

He more than made up for it with Nobody Lives For Ever, though. You'll see.



#14 ChickenStu

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Posted 24 March 2014 - 11:03 PM

AMC Hornet you are absolutely right my old friend. For I have just finished Nobody Lives Forever and that was more like it!  :)

 

This one really hits the ground running. The whole "Head Hunt" operation to bring the head of Our Man to Tamil Rahani/SPECTRE was an ingenious and intriguing plot. The kidnapping of May and Moneypenny kept the tension unbearably high throughout the tale. Our Man here is no ordinary secret agent out to achieve an assigned goal - more a desperate man in a race against time to save the lives of two people he holds dear. I LOVED the bit with bat in the shower - and Kirchtum and Quinn were highly entertaining rotters (reminiscent of Wint and Kidd I daresay?) 

 

Nanny and Sukie were also entertaining and very well written.

 

If I have one criticism it's that I knew who the villain's so called "inside man" was going to be the very second that character entered the story. It was no real surprise to me when the identity was revealed. Still, nicely done - highly entertaining. For now, Gardner's series seems to be back on track.

 

Listened to Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies and The World Is Not Enough whilst plowing through this little page turner! 



#15 AMC Hornet

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Posted 24 March 2014 - 11:19 PM

You ain't seen nothin' yet.

It just so  happens that I'm currently rereading Win, Lose or Die, so our exchange of comments will be right up-to-date.



#16 ChickenStu

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 08:26 AM

You ain't seen nothin' yet.

It just so  happens that I'm currently rereading Win, Lose or Die, so our exchange of comments will be right up-to-date.

 

Sounds good to me mate! Although I'm going to take a couple of days break from reading cause I have commitments for the next two evenings.

 

.... just a question, you guys don't mind me doing these threads do you? 



#17 Jim

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 09:22 AM

Not at all, very entertaining. You read very quickly!



#18 ChickenStu

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 09:28 AM

Not at all, very entertaining. You read very quickly!

 

Thanks mate, I was scared that I was becoming a bit of a bore around here, lol.

 

Probably not as quick a reader as it would seem truth be told. It's not unlike me to read a whole book in one go - but it takes bloody hours! 



#19 glidrose

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 06:47 PM

(Quick, who's the villain in Win, Lose or Die and what was his plan?)

Robert Besavitsky, aka Bassam Baradj, and he intended to hijack HMS lnvincible and hold NATO's (and the USSR's) top brass for ransom. I considered it Gardner's most audacious plot to that date.
Just boastin'.


You're easily satisified, I see. By the time of WLD I realized Gardner would never "get it".

 

True, Gardner didn't write like Fleming, nor should he have tried, but that doesn't make his writing lazy or uninformed - just different.


That's not what I said. Gardner's Bond writing can be very lazy indeed - but not because he didn't write like Fleming.

 

Nobody writes like Fleming anymore, and outside of Bond fans I don't expect anyone wants to read mid-20th C-style prose anymore anyway (more's the pity). When I do, I read Fleming, Maclean, Charteris and Wodehouse.

And I disagree about Gardner peaking with Nobody Lives Forever. I thought Scorpius, Win Lose or Die and Brokenclaw were just the fix I needed after NDMB.


Been ages since I read Brokenclaw, but do seem to recall it's better than the several books that came before - if you can forgive all those hotel & briefing scenes.

 

Role Of Honour
 
Rather dull in the first half as the pieces are being put in place but picks up halfway through when Our Man is "recruited" so to speak. I found the firefight sequence rather exciting. I'm noticing an irritating habit of Our Man getting stopped by someone as he's about to leave the bad guy's lair. This has been done a few times now and it's getting on my tatty-bo-jangles. It's all really rather becoming predictable.


Wait 'til you get to the double and triple (and for all I know quadruple) crosses. 

 

These books are very blandly written. So blandly it's sometimes difficult to take in and I keep having to go to previous pages to remind myself who someone is or why Our Man is there.


Yeah, I remember that happening with me a couple o' times when I read the books first and even second time around.

 

There's nothing about Gardner's writing that glues my eyes to the page.


Ties in with my point several posts back. Another criticism often hurled against Gardner is that his research feels like, well, research. He read it in a textbook and so deigned to share it with us. Compare Fleming's enthusiasm for arcane details.

 

These books had such a strong start with Licence Renewed. I can't quite understand why it all seems to be falling apart.


Here's a clue: he was a hired hand who by his own admission had mixed feelings doing these books, didn't like Fleming's books and didn't like Fleming's Bond and struggled to make something of ol' JB while coping with deadlines (a book a year) and editorial interference and IFP's demands. He's got his own books to write which he much prefers. Add to that faltering sales and horrible reviews...


 

ROH had such a slow start, but such an intriguing buildup, that I expected a wow finish for a payoff. Perhaps it was my own fault then for being disappointed.
Agreed, SPECTRE thinking they could recruit 007? Only if they didn't tell him. And watching Bond being trained as a computer nerd lacked excitement - it was like those scenes of lab work on CSI, only without the hot soundtrack to speed things along.
Of course, Gardner was hampered by both McClory and his video game, and EON and their upcoming blimp scene, so there were a lot of unsatisfactory rewrites which weren't his fault.
If Simon is lurking about, he'd be able to explain far better than I what his father went through during this period.
He more than made up for it with Nobody Lives For Ever, though. You'll see.

 
Generally agree with your points. Both Jim and I liked the initial French scene-setting. But it goes to pot when he enters Holy's placed. The plot is total rot. Logic was never Gardner's strong point in these books.

The re-writers weren't due to McClory, who wasn't that involved in NSNA, but rather it was IFP who feared the worst and so told Gardner to delete his initial chapter. Convinced you're wrong tho' about "EON and their upcoming blimb scene." ROH was published when AVTAK was in production. I suspect it was a surprise to IFP and EON when they saw/read each other's latest offering.

#20 freemo

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 03:04 AM

Role of Honor is a flat book, flatly written. I know that Gardner had problems with this one. He apparently wanted a year off after Icebreaker that he didn't get, and of course, had to drop the computer game sequence, that he'd put alot of energy into and was very proud of, for the "Bunker Hill" role-playing game, but when Bond and the villain sit down to the board game, with the pieces of the "still under construction" computer simulation around them, the feeling is that Bond has arrived for an adventure that isn't quite ready for him. Under done. Like a few people it seems, I prefer the oft-criticized Monte Carlo section with Bond learning computers to the rest of the book (but of course, with the later computer game sequence taken out, there's no pay off to Bond's training). Overall there's some good ideas here, but no mileage is got out of them. Not rotten, just all rather watered down and underdone. A bit of a pity, really. Gardner was building up nicely with his first three books, but I think he lost momentum here.

 

I too am enjoying your commentary, ChickenStu. More, please.



#21 AMC Hornet

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 12:40 AM

You're easily satisified, I see. By the time of WLD I realized Gardner would never "get it".

If by 'easily satisfied' you mean I'd rather like a Bond book despite it's not being written by Ian Fleming rather than dislike it because it wasn't, then I'm guilty as charged.

 

Moreover, being - like Winston Churchill - an FMP, I enjoyed reading about Bond being back on active duty. This was the book I'd been waiting for. The Christmas scenes were reminiscent of OHMSS without being blatantly so, and the multi-level revelation of the audacity of the plot literally took my breath away.

 

Fleming's day ended in the 1960s. Faulks and Boyd tried to write period pieces and came up short because they couldn't duplicate his style. Gardner didn't try to duplicate Fleming's style - IFP chose him because he had a style that was similar to Fleming's (in the '60s) and since Gardner had survived the '60s and was still writing relevant spy stories in the '70s, they must have predicted he could be the one to successfully bring 007 into the 1980s - which, IMCO, he did. Since no one else did it, I can't imagine who could have - not for 14 consecutive books.

 

If you want to know what a Bond book by Gardner in the late 60s would have looked like, read The Liquidator or Understrike (both now available through Kindle). Mr. Gardner's prose was almost as florid and contains a lot more humour.



#22 ChickenStu

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 08:16 PM

No Deals, Mr Bond

 

*sigh*. Found this one SO predictable. No memorable villains, allies, love interests... nothing stands out. I'd forgotten it almost as soon as I put it down. I know it started with something about some killer removing people's tongues, then it going back to a mission Our Man had done a few years before... then it became the usual string of double crosses (again, the villain's inside man being painfully predictable) world travel, Our Man shagging someone... the final battle with the four assassins was entertaining but I am so used to this schtick it's getting annoying...

 

Oh well, only TEN more to go....

 

Listened to Die Another Day, Casino Royale and Quantum Of Solace while reading. 



#23 AMC Hornet

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 10:19 PM

My main problem was that, after all the build-up, the climax and resolution were stuffed into one final chapter.

The pacing may not have been Mr. Gardner's fault, however; I tended to read his books too quickly the first time.

Roll on Scorpius! I thought that one was a corker (no influencing intended).



#24 glidrose

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 08:55 PM

You're easily satisified, I see. By the time of WLD I realized Gardner would never "get it".


If by 'easily satisfied' you mean I'd rather like a Bond book despite it's not being written by Ian Fleming rather than dislike it because it wasn't, then I'm guilty as charged.

Fleming's day ended in the 1960s. Faulks and Boyd tried to write period pieces and came up short because they couldn't duplicate his style. Gardner didn't try to duplicate Fleming's style - IFP chose him because he had a style that was similar to Fleming's (in the '60s) and since Gardner had survived the '60s and was still writing relevant spy stories in the '70s, they must have that predicted he could be the one to successfully bring 007 into the 1980s - which, IMCO, he did. Since no one else did it, I can't imagine who could have - not for 14 consecutive books.
 
If you want to know what a Bond book by Gardner in the late 60s would have looked like, read The Liquidator or Understrike (both now available through Kindle). Mr. Gardner's prose was almost as florid and contains a lot more humour.


You certainly know how to misunderstand my arguments. It has nothing to do with Gardner not being Fleming, or writing nothing like him. And everything to do with that smug, glib tone, a Bond in name only, and blatantly illogical plots.

I've read both Gardner books you cite. BTW, IFP thought the BO books were poor.

#25 AMC Hornet

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 09:15 PM

My apologies if I misunderstood your argument, Mr. G.

 

At the risk of doing so again, I never found Mr. Gardner's tone smug. Glib certainly, and if we're going to talk blatantly illogical plots let's start with LALD then move on to Dr. No and GF.

 

I'm not saying I don't enjoy and admire Fleming's more bonkers books, I'm just saying I can enjoy Gardner's bonkers books too - in fact, I think I enjoy them more than the more grounded ones like TMFB. Perhaps there is something to the argument that Gardner's wrote his books like screen treatments (in which case let's talk Dr. No, FYEO and TB).

 

As for IFP's opinion of the Boysie Oakes books: their loss, our gain.



#26 Double Naught spy

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Posted 29 March 2014 - 06:09 PM

Chicken Stu,

 

I'm glad to see you're venturing into the post-Fleming books and hope that you enjoy the journey.  

 

Personally, I have a soft spot for Mr. Gardner's novels.  Admittedly, I read them when I was a teenager when I was desperately seeking to get my 'fix for anything Bond' and wasn't the least bit concerned about plot holes and other criticisms mentioned above.  Of course, now that I'm older and have read them multiple times, some (if not most) of these criticisms are warranted.  

 

That said, keep in mind two points as you read his series.  First of all, imagine how hard it was to be a 007 fan back then.  Moore was getting long in the tooth and his swansong film was embarrassing.  This was followed by Dalton who, despite being a fine actor, just couldn't get the public interested in Bond.  His two-movie tenure was followed by the Great Drought of late 80s/early 90s.  But throughout all those years, Gardner was there each and every year with a new novel for us fans to read (and apparently pick apart!  LOL)

 

Secondly, reading Mr. Gardner's novels back-to-back over the space of a month or so vs. over the course of fourteen years might not be the best course of action to fully enjoy them.  I've done it myself in the past and it's similar to watching an entire season of the TV show 24 on DVD all in one sitting.  Those cliffhangers Jack Bauer gets into at the end of each episode become tiresome and implausible during one sitting; whereas if you watch the show in real-time, you have an entire week between episodes.  By having a Gardner marathon, all of the double and triple-crosses that occur in the fourteen novels tend to get a bit ridiculous. 

 

Anyway, that's my two cents regarding the Gardner series.  Keep up the good work and, as always, I look forward to your reviews, thoughts, and impressions.


Edited by Double Naught spy, 29 March 2014 - 06:10 PM.


#27 ChickenStu

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Posted 29 March 2014 - 07:59 PM

Thank you Double Naught Spy. I am taking the odd break between reading here and there. I had a free evening last night and decided to just laze in front of the TV rather than jump into one. The break did me good. I will be taking the odd day or two break here and there as I delve into the remaining ones. However I had the day to myself today so without further ado...

 

Scorpius

 

Wow. Probably the best one yet! A suitably dastardly villain who for once was very well fleshed out by Gardner. This one seemed to somewhat jettison the previous formula established in Gardner's books. The story did remind me a little of Dr. No and (especially toward the end) You Only Live Twice. Such minor criticisms are moot though since the whole idea of Our Man going up against a crazed religious cult seemed in my mind to be rather new territory for a Bond tale. 

For once the villain's "inside man" wasn't who I thought it was going to be - and when I felt my eyebrows twitch at another easily telegraphed "Gardner Twist" I was pleasantly surprised to see it change tack and go in a direction I was not expecting. And of course, I enjoyed the little joke about The Untouchables! 

A cracking good yarn. Brilliant.

 

Listened to Skyfall twice and Quantum Of Solace whilst reading. From this point onward I shall not bore you with which soundtrack album I listened too whilst reading! 



#28 glidrose

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Posted 29 March 2014 - 08:34 PM

My apologies if I misunderstood your argument, Mr. G.
 
At the risk of doing so again, I never found Mr. Gardner's tone smug. Glib certainly, and if we're going to talk blatantly illogical plots let's start with LALD then move on to Dr. No and GF.
 
I'm not saying I don't enjoy and admire Fleming's more bonkers books, I'm just saying I can enjoy Gardner's bonkers books too - in fact, I think I enjoy them more than the more grounded ones like TMFB. Perhaps there is something to the argument that Gardner's wrote his books like screen treatments (in which case let's talk Dr. No, FYEO and TB).
 
As for IFP's opinion of the Boysie Oakes books: their loss, our gain.


Ah, but Fleming's plots hang together better than Gardner's. Other than GF hiring Bond on as his secretary, or Bond not killing Scaramanga when he has the chance, but apart from that F's plots congeal better than G's. The villains are better and I think their plans are better.

And of course it's been often said G's Bond is nothing like F's. Or for that matter what Bond should be.

And just so that it's clear, I have no problem with Amis, Pearson, Wood, Higson and to a lesser extent Faulks. They gave and still give me the Fleming fix I need in varying degrees. But Gardner and to a lesser extent Deaver and Boyd hit wrong notes for me. Benson would have hit the right notes for me if his prose was any good. Boyd was the opposite: stunning prose, but awkward, ill-thought-out content.

#29 Double Naught spy

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Posted 01 April 2014 - 11:18 AM

Despite the wink-and-nod to Sir Sean, The Untouchables reference gave me fits when I ran across it while doing the timeline for Scorpius

 

According to IMDB, the film didn't premier in the UK until September 18, 1987 (and June 3rd in the USA) which conflicts with the late May (1987 - due to the upcoming General Elections in the UK) date referenced in the novel.  


Edited by Double Naught spy, 01 April 2014 - 11:51 AM.


#30 ChickenStu

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Posted 08 April 2014 - 04:24 PM

Well guys - I've relaxed the pace a bit and taken a break, but last night I decided to dive right back in and continue where I left off. So without further ado...

 

Win, Lose Or Die

 

Pretty good actually! Gardner's prose is for once engaging and not a struggle to come to grips with. The idea of Our Man going back into the military is fairly amusing. The delightfully linear plot is easy to follow - and doesn't feel forced as the pieces fall into place. Baradj is an interesting bad guy. 

Really rather enjoyed the rip roaring finish. YET AGAIN I knew who the "inside man" was straight away and YET AGAIN Gardner stuffed too much into the final chapters but you know what? I'm starting to find it rather endearing now other than annoying. 

I was a bit "wtf" when Thatcher, Bush and Gorbachev showed up but then I just thought "Oh well, it's a Bond book" and it couldn't be worse than the end of the For Your Eyes Only movie now could it? (which I think we'll all agree was quite a tight movie until it ended with Mrs Thatcher sharing a phone call with a parrot). 

Also - this one ended on an optimistic note which made me feel pretty good when I put the book down.

 

A fine adventure and whilst it isn't quite Gardner's best - it's certainly FAR from his worst. Good stuff! 






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