Here's the bit where I talk about Moonraker - which I place in May of 1952.
The dating of Moonraker
Moonraker presents conflicting information concerning not only when it occurs, but how old Bond is at the time.
As I have stated elsewhere, Fleming sometimes got confused as to when the event occured versus when he was writing the story (see my comments on Dr. No for an example. Fleming did not really start settling down his dates for Bond until Goldfinger.)
As an aside note, when I first started figuring this chronology, many, many years ago, I used the rough guideline of
1. The events took place.
2. Fleming wrote about the events the following year.
3. The story was published.
This actually works quite well until the last two books!
Part of Moonraker calls for the story to be placed in 1954, when Fleming actually wrote the story (published in 1955). The other part calls for it to be placed in 1952, and finally, using 1924 as Bond's birth year *, part of it calls for "Moonraker" to be set in 1961 - 1962!
The 1952 pointer:
The primary one occurs in M.'s office. M. and Bond refer to Bond's last assignment Live and Let Die, and M. remarks that Bond is "still sunburnt" from his Jamaican assignment. A sunburn does not last for over a year, which is why I placed Moonraker in the same year as Live and Let Die.
The 1953 / 1954 pointers:
- Drax addresses a letter to the Queen ( HMS Elizabeth II ascended the throne upon the death of her father in 1952, however, the coronation was not until June of 1953 )..
- At the end of the novel Bond buys a 1953 Mark VI Bentley.
- It is remarked that Bond already has his C.M.G.
The 1961 pointer:
In chapter one Bond is mulling over the fact the he would most likely be killed before the "statutory age of forty-five", when he would automatically be taken off the 00 list. "Eight years to go ...."
The Mark VI Bentley's - the 4 1/2 liter engine version, was only in production in 1951 and 1952 (source: A Pride of Bentleys by John Adams and Ray Roberts ).
As for the other pointers, Fleming was writing in 1954. By then Bond had been awarded the C.M.G. and Fleming was being proper in having this as part of his name. Much the same way we would say Dame Diana Rigg portrayed Emma Peel in the televison series The Avengers. She was not a Dame at the time, but her title is the proper one to use. This is why in "From Russia with Love" it is noted that Bond was awarded the C.M.G. in 1953. Logically, saving London from an atomic bomb is more worthy of the award than recovering lost Pirate Treasure.
The "eight" years to go may have originally been "eightteen", referring to 1970 as when he would have been taken off the 00 list. (NOTE: Fleming once stated in an interview that Bonds' age was, and always will be "in the middle thirties".)
And the Queen to whom Drax wrote could have been either the Queen Mother or Elizabeth II. Or Fleming could have merely changed the reference from King to Queen because by 1954 HMS Elizabeth II sat on the throne of England.
*1924 in the Japanese zodiac was “The Year of the Rat”, which we discover Bond was born in that year during the events of “You Only Live Twice”.