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Moonraker: Reviews and Ratings

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Moonraker: Reviews and Ratings

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#1 freemo


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Posted 29 April 2004 - 11:25 PM

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This thread is intended for reviews and ratings of Moonraker by members of the The Blades Library Book Club here.

Please do not reply directly to reviews in this thread, rather start a new thread to ask questions or post comments about reviews.

#2 ChandlerBing



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Posted 01 May 2004 - 02:26 AM

Ian Fleming's Moonraker...or how I learned to play bridge and pretend that I was with James Bond at Blades.

The Nazis are coming, the Nazis are coming! Well, ok, a few of them are, anyway, but not many people know that fact, and James Bond has only a brief amount of time to stop these "goose-stepping morons" before they launch a nasty little weapon at England.
One of the few things Die Another Day did right was to take the concept of Moonraker and try--halfheartedly--to use the material of a disguised villain and his weapon of mass destruction hiding behind a facade of a true humanitarian wanting to help the world. Before one can cough "bull[censored]" James Bond and Gala Brand are off to the races to stop the sicko from killing a whole lot of people.
I like this one quite a bit. James Bond gets hurt pretty badly, in true Fleming fashion. The burns he suffers really do hurt. That is due to good writing that we feel Bond's pain. Speaking of Bond's pain, what about the woman here, Gala Brand? Does he do her in zero grav before attempting re-entry? Nope. He doesn't even get to second base in this version. She leaves to go with her fiance, some chap working for Scotland Yard. This is the James Bond Ian Fleming wrote about. This is the reason I liked it so much when Raymond Benson tried to mine the same element with Never Dream of Dying. James Bond gets hurt. He doesn't always get the girl. He suffers.
Moonraker is one of Ian Fleming's best James Bond novels. It's a pity it has never been properly adapted. One of these days, after they do Casino Royale the right way, this one ought to be next on the list.

#3 CommanderBond



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Posted 01 May 2004 - 02:58 AM

to me it was a good follow up to LALD. Not as good as LALD but a good follow up. Fleming made you think you were in the book watching the card game being played with M and Bond. Great attention to detail but the plot was lacking something to me but overall i gave it 4 stars

#4 1q2w3e4r


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Posted 01 May 2004 - 01:37 PM

Definantly a good read. I think it's a little under appriciated actually. We get a good feel for Bond and M's relationship and is the only time apart from a visit to Quarterdeck in OHMSS that we see the two interact outside SIS.

The gambling scene is great, as is the entire Blades sequence.

Gala Brand, while I never really got Bond's huge attraction to her because she's not one of Fleming's best written women (I think T. Case is) the end is great, because Bond's human, capable of failure and mistakes while remaining himself and full of self confidence.

It's also probably the best example of Bond's home life. And the book reads like what a good adaption of it should have been. Bond knows Drax is up to something, but not what. He snoops around, collects circumstancial evidence at best but follows his hunch. EON tried this for about 5 minutes of DAD and the cuba sequences were what most viewers say was the most "Bond part" of the movie.

I like this one better than LALD which drops off in parts where Fleming plugs his friends book on voodoo. For me it's just behind CR, FRWL, DAF (which I love don't know why it gets a bad wrap) and Majesty's

#5 Johnboy007


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Posted 02 May 2004 - 05:52 PM

Another excellent novel. I had this misfortune of starting this book, then having to stop for a few months then have to read it very fast. The gambling scene is probably Fleming at his best.


#6 Kingdom Come

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Posted 02 May 2004 - 06:45 PM

Thought you meant the film! Sorry but I've rated the film.

#7 Loomis


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Posted 02 May 2004 - 07:15 PM

Not my favourite of the Flemings. I want to read about Bond in exotic locations, not in places like London and Kent (Bond may be a Brit, but he sure as heck doesn't belong in Britain - he belongs on Caribbean beaches, in New York, in the south of France, in the Far East....). And 007 doesn't even get his end away!

Fleming must have been in a particularly sadistic mood while writing "Moonraker", as though determined to deny his readers the very thrills that made them seek out his novels in the first place.

#8 Triton


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Posted 02 May 2004 - 09:06 PM

I enjoyed reading Moonraker very much and will give a four out of five stars.

I believe that an ICBM silo and a story about the creation of an ICBM in Great Britain was exotic, exciting, futuristic, and interesting back in 1955. Remember that this novel was written two years before Soviet rocket scientist Sergei Korolev launched the R-7, the world's first ICBM, with the world's first man-made sattelite aboard, Sputnik. An event that started the space-race between the United States and the Soviet Union.

In 2004, people frequently lose sight of what a technological accomplishment it was to create the world's first artificial sattelite and launch it successfully, put the first person into orbit, and then land the first human beings on the face of the moon.

The novel also plays into the fears that people had at the time of atomic bombs and death from nuclear war was a very real possibility.

I also think that the idea of having a Briton financing the world's first ICBM appealed to Fleming's sense of national pride.

The British aviation industry at the time was also one of the most technologically advanced and had a commanding lead in commercial aviation by producing the world's first jet passenger aircraft, the de Havilland Comet. So where else would Fleming had set is novel other than London and Kent?

The idea of employing German rocket scientists, most of them ex-Nazis, to build the next generation of military rockets and spacecraft was also contemporary. Remember this was the time that Dr. Werner von Braun was in the United States evangilising man's conquest of space and making films with Walt Disney on the subject.

Also the idea of an ex-Nazi masquerading as a captain of industry who intends to inflict revenge on one of the allied powers for the defeat of the Third Reich was also a new one at thetime. The idea would be used so many times since the publication Moonraker in books, television, and films that it has become a tired cliche. I don't know if Fleming came up with it, but after all the ex-Nazis we have seen in television shows like The Saint and movies like The Odessa File and Boys From Brazil, I am sick to death of the idea.

Since I have never travelled to England or Europe, the locations of London and Kent are exotic to me.

The novel itself is more of a mystery for James Bond to solve than an action/adventure thriller. I like the element of chance that brings M and James Bond into the story. If Basildon, the Chairman of Blades, hadn't approached M about exposing Drax as a cheat at bridge the conspiracy to destroy London would never have been revealed.

I did find the bridge game between Bond, M, Drax, and Meyer to be very exciting and interesting.

We also have the explosion of the chalk cliff intended by Drax and Krebs to kill Bond and Gala Brand.

The car chase between Bond's Bentley and Drax's Mercedes Type 300 S was exciting.

Kreb's threat of torture with "The Persauder", blow torch, does cause suspense and tension.

We certainly can feel Bond's flesh blister and burn when Drax and Krebs use hot steam to flush out the hiding Bond and Gala Brand.

The idea of perishing from the fiery blast of a rocket was also probably new at the time.

In the climax of the novel we have an atomic blast of the Moonraker that kills the fleeing Drax and Krebs on a Soviet submarine in addition to collateral damage, such as the destruction of the HMS Merganzer and the South Goodwin Lightship. Again, the idea was probably new in 1955.

I also like the fact that in the end James Bond doesn't get the girl with Gala Brand announcing that she intends to marry Detective-Inspector Vivian.

My only complaint of the novel really, and this is a big one, is that it was much too convenient for Graf Hugo von Drache to masquarade as British officer Hugo Drax. I felt that was very sloppy story telling on Fleming's part that there just happened to be a Hugo Drax in the listing of officers assigned to the barracks that the Nazi commando team destroyed. What an incredible co-incidence. I found it too incredible to be believable.

#9 Qwerty


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Posted 04 May 2004 - 02:34 AM

A true masterpiece from the creator himself. I've always loved Moonraker, but this reading, like all other previous ones, just got more enjoyable. I find the main location of this novel, and the only location, England to perfectly suit the dark and nasty story that lurks in this book, the pure mind of the villain, Drax, is clearly shown in Chapter 22, Pandora's Box, and it is shown off to a good extent. This story works with just one location, because it allows everything else to take first place in the story with great emphasis, namely the characters and the plot, which are key in Moonraker.

Yes, it's interesting to note minimal references to Die Another Day --

He suddenly decided to be ruthless. "I'm told that Five and Five is your limit. Let's play for that. -Moonraker, Chapter 6.

Let's play for this. I picked it up in Cuba, I believe it's one of yours. -Die Another Day

The character of "good old" Sir Hugo Drax is one of Fleming's best villains ever, pure mania driving his obsession with fury and his loyalty to the Moonraker project, and any scene with Bond antagonizing him is done very, very well. The description he gets during the card scene, and how Bond uses his deformities to anger him during his telling of his true identity is very effective.

Gala Brand, the woman who is just as apt as James Bond, a true heroine who fights the whole way with Bond for the cause, and whose frosty exterior quickly melts away as soon as she gets to know Bond, without the watchful eye of Drax, Krebs, and Walter. I find their golden day encounter to be a very effective chapter, with the swimming, bleeding flowers, and the cliff accident, that is exciting.

The card scene is pure magnificence, and is quite gripping to the the reader, seeing the tension building up throughout the entire game, especially as Drax realizes that perhaps Bond does indeed have an interesting hand. True villainy as Drax spats orders and insults at his partner, and gets his comment cut short as he loses. A very fine scene.

Overall, I think I enjoy the first two-thirds of Moonraker slightly more than the final third because I think it reads a bit more exciting for me, but the final third is still quite fantastic, such as the waiting for the pressure hose to finally reach Bond and Gala, and the countdown to the launch, all well written.

A true 5 star novel.

#10 Willie Garvin

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Posted 25 May 2004 - 02:43 PM

Five stars.

Moonraker is one of Fleming's very best novels almost equal to From Russia With Love and the three books comprising his masterful "Blofeld Trilogy"(Thunderball,On Her Majesty's Secret Service and You Only Live Twice).Everything works here and the story itself is fascinating.In a sense,this is our first introduction to the more fully realized James Bond of the later books.The human 007.And in that sense alone,it's really quite remarkable.

Casino Royale is an interesting albeit tentative experiment on Fleming's part,and Live and Let Die is a fine thriller introducing us to more of Bond's world.We met Felix Leiter in this and this is the film Licence to Kill drew it's inspiration from.But Moonraker,is I think,the superior novel.

In Moonraker ,James Bond has more dimensions than Fleming has shown us before and thus there's a greater depth to his world.For example,we learn how old (the ageless) James Bond is.We get a more detailed description of the Double-O division.We see Bond's office and his first secretary,Loelia Ponsonby.Also the shooting range and we even learn more about the guns 007 favors and why he likes them.Moreover,we see Bond's grey Bentley,his flat and are introduced to his cleaning lady,"the old Scottish treasure" May.And we even enter the ultraexclusive Blades Club.So much...and so much more than the previous entries in the nascent series.

Additionally,Moonraker presents the reader with the first fully realized grotesque villain of the series.The first true larger than life ogre who'll serve as the template for so many of 007's future adversaries.Sir Hugo Drax is a very bad man--we first know this because he cheats at cards.But also because he is ugly and bad tempered and rude.Not a gentleman but a monster.And Drax is also foreign born--almost always a sign of evil in Fleming's world(although he's fairly forgiving of Americans and the occasional Australian).Sir Hugo Drax is a dragon indeed, and the clearest instance of such for Bond's St.George to confront and destroy.

The card game is a true highlight and the scene preceeding it,with M askiing Bond to do him a favor and expose Drax as the cheater he is, is one of the best sequences in the entire series.It shows us that even the implacable Admiral Messervy is human and it also lays the groundwork for the gruff Father/Son relationship M and Bond have in the remaining novels.

Drax's suspicious Moonraker missile program is not without interest as well.An attempt at giving the U.K. something resembling an early space program and if only within the context of the story it's quite impressive.Fleming's fondness for Bond's two-way radio in the Bentley is one of his few attempts at giving the literary Bond state-of-art gadgetry.It's simplicity is charming.

And then there's Galetea "Gala" Brand--the first and only woman among the many feminine protagonists in the many novels to turn James Bond down.She's well drawn and is one of Fleming's more fully realized females.Another good addition and certainly an offbeat one.

One of the greatest strengths of this novel--beyond it's colorful characters-- is its sense of time.The clock is ticking and there's a real urgency that won't be evident again until the appearance of Thunderball.And the locations-all of them in Britain-- mark another change of pace for Fleming.As always his descriptions are what make the book work.Fleming's skill with the English language turns even the most fantastical moments-- among them Hugo Drax's climactic revelation-- seem almost normal and credible.

Overall,Moonraker is easily one of Ian Fleming's better books.He was clearly enjoying himself with this one and his enthusiasm shows.Yes,the Die Another Day movie was inspired by this book and so was the Moonraker motion picture, but this novel is vastly superior to them both.


Edited by Willie Garvin, 25 May 2004 - 11:37 PM.

#11 rafterman


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Posted 02 June 2004 - 02:04 AM

I'll give this one four stars. An excellent third novel in the series. This one lacks a lot of the Fleming sweep, which at this point was still building, but it sacrifices al that in exchange for a great face off between Bond and the baddie. That's all there is to this one, much like Casino Royale, Moonraker is all about the relationship between our hero and the villain. It sets them up in another high stakes world, this time Bridge and lets their personalities clash. For the first third of the book we're practically without a major plot, just a simple case of Bond doing M a favor. It all adds to the character of Bond and illuminates his world.
The book only takes place over a week, but plenty happens and it all culminates with two things that would never find their way into a film adaptation these days-Bond loses the girl and doesn't face the villain. Rather Drax is killed by his own plan being sabotaged by Bond. It's poetic justice.
All in all it's a great noveland a sure sign that the series had legs.

#12 clinkeroo



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Posted 02 June 2004 - 04:30 PM

What strikes me with Moonraker is that Fleming must have decided at this point to abandon his "Bond as an everyman" approach and actually began to delve into Bond's character more, giving us details of his England, his job, his flat, his life, that had been denied to us previously. Early on in the series, Fleming spoke and wrote about wanting Bond to be an undetermined character, so that the reader could easily place himself into the protagonist's role. But as the public's hunger for Bond grew, he began to flesh out the character more, making him more human, and less of the hard case blunt instrument that Fleming originally envisioned.

Leaving the book in England gives it more of a gritty feel to me, and fleshes out the series and the character more by showing us the details of his day-to-day life. Maybe it makes Bond more human to know that he sometimes lives a life that isn't all too different from our own, and that he too doesn't always get the girl in the end, he doesn't always get exotic locales, and stay in the finest hotels. The pain he experiences in this novel comes across as more intense, not just because of Fleming's excellent prose and descriptions, but because we now see Bond as a defined, real human being (something the films have lost entirely) and when the horrible things start to happen, we feel for him.

This is the novel that ties Bond to England the most, and defines him as an Englishman. We see him interacting within the social structure of the country, and we also how deeply his patriotic feelings are part of his make-up. For the time, the plot was one of the most fantastical of the series, and Fleming took quite a bit of criticism for it (even in the Authorized Biography of 007 Pearson writes off the entire adventure as a fabrication), but I think that Fleming pulls it off so well because his characters are so realistic; they bleed, they blister, they have their petty little quirks and misgivings.

The only thing that bothers me about this book is the number of times in the first third of the novel that someone thinks, or says, "But why would a man such as Drax cheat at cards?" I know it is a significant plot device to keep driving the point home, but Lord, it becomes like the beating of Poe's Telltale Heart. It would make a great drinking game as well; while reading Moonraker take a drink every time someone wonders why Drax was cheating.

Great, great stuff. This is my fourth reading, and it loses nothing. It's strange, how as one ages, more facets of Fleming's writing are opened up to the reader.

Edited by clinkeroo, 02 June 2004 - 04:32 PM.




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Posted 05 June 2004 - 01:13 AM

Great, enjoyable read Moonraker was. I enjoyed the fast-pace storytelling by Fleming. Maybe the plot was reasonably on the side of less credibility, but I enjoyed nonetheless. Great characters were a plus in this entry. Gala Brand was a smart, independent Bond girl. She didn't fancy Bond's charms, but near the end she gained his trust in order to stop the evil Hugo Drax. Brand's surprising personal twist at the end of the book was realistic and more credible in a Bond novel. Not everybody can be wooed by James Bond, Agent 007.

A fun read!

#14 TheREAL008


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Posted 14 June 2004 - 02:42 AM

Four stars. Great book. Wish the film resembled the movie.

#15 Xenobia


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Posted 15 June 2004 - 09:11 PM

I think what makes [novel]MR[/novel] stand out is the fact that both times someone tried to make into a movie (Moonraker and Die Another Day), they failed when they strayed too far from the text.

IMHO, Pervis and Wade would have had a stronger script had they stayed nearer to the story of [novel]MR[/novel], and had two good girls, with Gala's goodness being up for question until the end.

But as for the novel itself, I like the ease in which M and Bond can be together at dinner, and how Bond can enjoy the finer things in life while still being on the job.

MR is a great illustration of the literary Bond being emotional to the point of stupidity: So someone cheats at cards -- BIG DEAL. Equally stupid is how fast Bond swings from liking him, to disliking him, to liking him to the final realization of what he is. I think Fleming is quite good at making Bond inherantly human in those moments, but as a reader I wonder why someone like that got double-oh status in the first place.

I also enjoy how Fleming does manage to keep things tidy. Poisonbery keeps 007 informed on the status of the other double-oh, and we do see Bond's final debriefing on the matter. Also in the case of Bond and Gala as opposed to Bond and Solitare, the build up of their relationship is more natural and realistic. As she gets to know him, Gala warms to Bond. It's not an instantanous lust like Solitare displays for Bond; Gala's affections are more grounded in what they have been through.

And yes, Bond doesn't get the girl in the end. Typical of reality, which, ultimately Bond must return to.

I also think, given the timing of when this book was written, the world would welcome someone with the ultimate nuclear power, and I suppose that would be the thing to end all wars. I suspect had we had more time to understand what his satellite could do, in a peaceful way, Graves would have had the same reaction.

A great read, four out of five stars, because I would have prefered to see Bond a little more steady in his thinking.

-- Xenobia

#16 Bond111


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Posted 16 June 2004 - 04:45 AM

I gave it 4/5 stars. Not perfect, but very close. I thought it had somewhat of a slow start (although I love seeing Bond's life in London), but it picked up in the middle, and had a great end. Definitely in my top five.

#17 Trident



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Posted 06 July 2004 - 02:51 PM

Moonraker was the first Bond-book I read back in 1977 after seeing TSWLM in the cinema. I was a kid then and didn't know what to expect from the novels. You can imagine I was thorougly surprised. And badly hooked for the rest of my life.

MR simply breaths the smells and tastes and feelings of the story. While reading I could smell the cigarette-smoke at the Blades Club, the industrial-metallic mix in the rocket-shaft, the clean air of the may-afternoon at the cliffs. I tasted with Bond various alcoholics and cigarettes. Not to mention the exquisite food and wine. I felt the wind rushing by in Bonds face as he tailed Drax' Mercedes and the leather-upholstery Gala was thrown on Drax' backseat.
I smelled burnt rubber and spilled gasoline after Bond's crash and the overwhelming chemical stench back at the rocket-site. I fliched with Bond as he was punched by Drax (while feeling the wires around his wrists and feet) and I hissed while Bond cut the wires with the blowtorch (after burnig his face considerably with the desk-lighter). I felt the abrasive concrete surface of the ventilation-shaft and I heard the horrible noise of the steamhose. And all these impressions culminated in the take-off of the Moonraker. I was stunned and from that day on had to read every Fleming-novel I could possibly lay my hands on. Thank you, Mr. Fleming. I owe you some of the most interesting moments in my reading-life!

#18 manfromjapan



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Posted 18 February 2006 - 09:08 AM

I read all the books when I was a teenager, but I never really READ them if you get what I mean. I have recently startd reading them in chronological order.
Moonraker is so far a little disappointing. I am about halfway through. It suffers from being a little dull, and slow paced. It doesn't have the sweep of Casino Royale or Live and Let Die. I didn't really need all that information about the rocket. It is a rocket, I understand. Let's get on with it. The casino sequences are good, but nothing will ever beat Casino Royale. I really think Fleming was losing inspiration with this book.
Then again, pre-empting the responses, maybe I should finish the book first!!

#19 manfromjapan



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Posted 19 February 2006 - 09:31 AM

Just finished the book. It really did pick up its pace and improve. In the end, I think it is a good book, but not as good as the previous two. It lacks scope, the Fleming sweep and a sense of location. The beginning of the book is dull, despite learning more about Bond (too much?) and an exciting if not so new card duel. I liked Bond's relationship with Gala (it had humour similar to Roger Moore's needling of Anya in SPY), and the fact he didn't get his ****s in. Drax is an interesting villain too. BTW I know EVERYBODY already recognised this, but i was amused by Flem's reference to Lonsdale when describing Drax. it was Michel Lonsdale who played him in the 1979 film!!

I also thought the deliberate miscalculation of the rocket perhaps inspired the deliberate miscalculation of the GPS signals in TOMORROW NEVER DIES.
And there is the villain attacking London as personal revenge - GOLDENEYE.

Edited by manfromjapan, 19 February 2006 - 09:47 AM.

#20 Ice Station 0

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Posted 03 March 2006 - 07:54 PM

I haven't read any of the James Bond novels is many years. For some reason I decided to dig out my books and I choose Moonraker to start my rediscovery of Bond. I have to say that I really enjoyed the book but one scene just really bothered me. Bond and Gala were tied onto chairs by Drax and once they free themselves (by using a blow torch) Bond takes a shower (!) and Gala goes to freshen up in anonther bathroom. Wouldn't you want to hightail it outta there and fast? What if a Drax henchman came back to check on them and found Bond washing his #@*^?

#21 Lazenby880



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Posted 03 March 2006 - 10:33 PM

The beginning of the book is dull, despite learning more about Bond (too much?) and an exciting if not so new card duel.

Interesting; personally I love the opening of MOONRAKER for that very fact. Good to see some of Bond's humdrum life, not always globe-trotting and tracking down implausible villains via remarkable coincidence. Grounding the story more and revealing more aspects of Bond's life allows the reader to identify with him to a greater extent, as well as providing a deeper (and fascinating) characterisation. In that sense I concur with clinkahoo, the pain that Bond experiences in the novel is all the more real to the reader given that one feels that he is a more recognisable human being. And in my opinion the Fleming sweep is most definitely evident in MOONRAKER, there may be little exoticism in comparison with, say, DR NO but his prose is just as mesmeric.

In fact, I very much appreciate the change in pace with MOONRAKER, testament to Fleming's flexibility. The novel may not be gritty in any meaningful sense, however I like the fact that here we are given a far more down-to-earth adventure that is just as enthralling (moreso, in some respects) than some of his other rather more 'wider of scope' novels. And the bittertsweet ending is something to beat.

Edited by Lazenby880, 03 March 2006 - 10:36 PM.

#22 Sir Hugo

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 01:18 AM

It was quite good. I just finished it. I thought that it had excellent description, moved adequetly fast, and had some good character development. I especially loved the card scene! Can't wait to see the film (I always read the book first!).

#23 dinovelvet



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Posted 18 April 2006 - 01:24 AM

It was quite good. I just finished it. I thought that it had excellent description, moved adequetly fast, and had some good character development. I especially loved the card scene! Can't wait to see the film (I always read the book first!).

You haven't seen the Moonraker film yet? Its a bit...different from the book :tup:

#24 Sir Hugo

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 11:56 PM

It was quite good. I just finished it. I thought that it had excellent description, moved adequetly fast, and had some good character development. I especially loved the card scene! Can't wait to see the film (I always read the book first!).

You haven't seen the Moonraker film yet? Its a bit...different from the book :tup:

So it seems from the plot summary I saw. :D Wanting to destroy the world to bring a master race back? I'll settle for destroying London, thank you...

#25 Robert Watts

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Posted 24 April 2006 - 09:21 AM

I read this a while back last year. It was my third Fleming, after CR and LALD and I was hooked from the minute I picked it up. I finished Part One in a couple of hours, and continued on a bit before going to bed. In the morning I suitably resumed reading from the point where we learn of Gala's morning. I finished the novel that day. The build up in the first two parts is excellent- once you reach part three and everything begins to to unravel itself so quickly you can't put down that final part, just like the previous two.

By far one of Fleming's best crafted stories, along with Thunderball, From Russia With Love, On Her Majesty's Secret Service and the seriously underated Diamonds Are Forever.

#26 blackjack60



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Posted 02 November 2006 - 08:38 PM

Fleming wrote Moonraker after interest had been expressed in turning Live And Let Die into a movie. But according to what Fleming told the movie-men, Moonraker would make an even better film, since it had been inspired by an idea Fleming devised for a movie. How ironic that the film of Moonraker has less to do with the original novel than any of the Bond films! If only the filmmakers had decided to adapt the book in 1967, instead of ruining You Only Live Twice.

As for the novel, it's in the second tier of Bond books: not one of the best, but pretty good. As Fleming himself admitted, the story is broken-backed: the novel divides into the bridge game (well-written, but not very exciting if you don't know anything about bridge) and the rocket story. As Andrew Lycett noted, MR is also a tribute to Fleming's favorite parts of England. Unfortunately, these locations don't have the exotic features of the more foreign locations of the other books. Dover and Kent are undoubtedly very pretty, but they're not gripping. In a way, that's the point: Drax wishes to destroy an England that's homey and comforting to Bond.

Drax himself is one of Fleming's more atypical villains. He is a vulgarian, unlike the sophisticated figures of LeChiffre, Mr. Big, Dr.No, or Blofeld. And Drax speaks English informally, like a native speaker. In these respects, the villain closest to him is Scaramanga, but Drax is an infinitely more interesting figure. With his inferiority complex, boorishness, and bullying, he may be the most psychologically developed of the Bond villains, as well as the one with the most childish motive: the get back at all the nasty boys who picked on him for sucking his thumb.

The prospect of a film adaptation may explain why Fleming decided to flesh out Bond's home world and habits (I'm hoping that Loelia Ponsonby will be introduced into the post-CR movies). And some aspects of the book, such as the auto chase, are inherently cinematic. Others, such as the bridge game, aren't. Neither is Fleming's frankly unsatisfactory method of havinga radio announcer tell us about the Moonraker's destruction. The climax gives Bond little to do beside adjust some gyros and get under a shower and wait. It's not enough to hear about Drax getting his comeuppance--I want to see the bastard explode, or at least have the grin wiped off his face when he sees Bond save the day. Fleming, after being left to cool his heels by the film studios, eventually sat down and wrote an actual script for Moonraker. I'd sell my grandmother to read it and see how he might have changed the book for the screen.

The most vivid parts of the book take place before the rocket's launch--when Drax reveals his true identity, beats up Bond, and when Bond and Gala escape . The beatings, painful escape up the air vents, and the ordeal with the steam-hose are described with a sensual immediacy and sado-masochistic vibe that resurface again in Doctor No, with Fleming fetishistically noting every painful sensations his hero/stand-in feels as he undergoes one physical obstacle after another, his endurance and tolerance of pain put to the test.

Some other cinematic aspects of the book neglected by the cinema: the idea of a neo-nazi villain, which you'd think the Bond films would have used by now, and the beautifully done scene of Gala's rejection. 50 years later it's still shocking to see Bond not only not get the girl, but not even score. I don't think there's a single person who's read the book and not been surprised by the ending. If only the movies had the courage for such a realistic, downbeat touch!

As a character Gala starts off well--she's resentful toward the flashy double-00 agent and doesn't think he's all that--but like all of Fleming's heroines, once she opens up she becomes vastly less interesting. And by modern standards, Bond's behavior (sneaking up on her from underwater to plant a kiss) would be sexual harrassment. But Gala of course, cannot get angry at the dashing, undeniably handsome Bond, toward whom even the most frigid of lesbians ultimately must surrender, and if it weren't for that explosion, I'm not sure if Gala wouldn't have either. But her final decision to stick with her fiance makes her a memorable addition to the Bond girls pantheon. As a I reread the books in adulthood, I can finally understand John Pearson's critical complaint about the Bond girls being rather insubstantial creatures. He's right, though in the course of my re-readings I hope Tiffany Case, who I remember as spunky, neurotic and rounded girl, might prove an exception to the rule.

#27 bond_girl_double07


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Posted 06 November 2006 - 03:34 AM

As a I reread the books in adulthood, I can finally understand John Pearson's critical complaint about the Bond girls being rather insubstantial creatures. He's right, though in the course of my re-readings I hope Tiffany Case, who I remember as spunky, neurotic and rounded girl, might prove an exception to the rule.

I must defend my namesakes, blackjack! Of course there are some really insubstantial Bond girls in the novels, but I think Fleming does a far better job with the fairer sex than does the film franchise. I agree that Tiffany is a really well-done character, but what about Tracy, Pussy, and of course Vesper? Even Bond has to admit that Tracy is good enough to keep him happy and let him be adventurous for the rest of his life.. tisk tisk blackjack, beware a bond girl scorned :)

#28 David007



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Posted 14 December 2007 - 12:30 AM

great book, i love the scene about the dinner and casino,etc 5 stars

#29 solace



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Posted 21 August 2008 - 04:30 PM

Excellent book. The first half is superb. Never read about a card game and been so into it before. SPOT ON.

#30 manfromjapan



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Posted 01 September 2008 - 02:42 PM

I finished reading Moonraker again. My third read, my last being only 2 years ago.

I thought it was very good, and slightly better than the first time. An 8/10. It scores points for its unique England only setting; its excellent card duel, the attempted bombing of Bond and Gala, the car chase and the nail-biting climax; a vivid villain with an interesting backstory; another progression in the Bond/'M'relationship; the introduction of Loelia Ponsonby, and most of all, a more fleshed out and accessible 007 on the account of the detailed descriptions of his social and work life off-mission (and also him getting rejected at the end by the heroine!). The plot is the right balance of fantasy and reality, and Fleming's sweep, descriptive ability and tension gathering are in top form.

On the minus side, the pace slowed a little in the middle (Fleming once admitted he padded the novel out once it was clear it was not going to be a film), and I did miss the foreign locations whilst simultaneously enjoying the uniqueness of the England only locations. The book is a little dull at times to be a classic. Gala isn't one of the most memorable ladies, and the henchmen are strictly minor. Plus, the reasoning behind Bond's involvement in the mission doesn't convince, although 'M' asking him as a favour a la the later 'FYEO' is a nice touch.

All in all, a book I am pretty sure will go up in my estimations with each successive read. It's unique, low-key and a personal novel to Fleming due to the locations being ones he particularly loved. I also enjoyed the fact that the films MR, GE and DAD all took various parts of the story, plus I believe TND.

Edited by manfromjapan, 01 September 2008 - 02:52 PM.