Anyone up for WW2 / Post-WW2 Era Bond prequel novels?

Well, Anthony Horowitz’s third Bond novel is out next year, and while there’s nothing officially confirmed, I have a feeling it might be the last of his contributions. He’s covered the beginning, middle and now the end of the Fleming timeline after all.

Which inevitably brings up the question of what’s next for the literary Bond. Do they continue with novels set after or during the Fleming canon, which has been the norm since 2008 (Carte Blance notwithstanding?) Do they attempt another modern-day reboot?

One option which I haven’t seen discussed yet anywhere but which could be interesting is the possibility of additional prequels - but not to Bond’s early missions as 007, but rather, to his service during WW2 and/or his early post-war service.

A WW2 set novel could feature the exploits of Lieutanant Bond during the war, as part of Naval Intelligence. We’d see the beginnings of his career in espionage, and the experiences that start to transform a teenaged orphan into one of Britain’s finest agents. Or we could see Bond work with the Special Operations Executive (SOE), as it is often speculated he did.

Then there’s the post-war era of course, with Bond first joining the Secret Service. We already know, from the odd reference in the Fleming novels, that Bond spent some time on a long assignment in Jamaica after the war, working with a man called Charles DaSilva. This could be an interesting period to explore - we have a Bond who’s a war veteran but who’s starting to navigate the realities of being a secret agent just as the Cold War begins. And it would also present us with Bond in the years leading up to his becoming a 00.

Both are exciting options, with the post-war option giving us something a little closer to the kind of Bond adventure we’re used to. Of course, an argument could be made that this approach doesn’t exactly give us the ‘‘James Bond 007’’ we all know and love. But if the world can accept Young Bond, then I think a Bond who’s actually old enough to be a spy, but young enough to be a very different take on the character, could be interesting.

Yet another option is to maybe set the book across two timelines, and have Bond in the 50’s or 60’s dealing with a mission that has its roots in an earlier mission from the war or post-war period.

Thoughts?

I’ve always been interested in the idea of a ww2 set James Bond novel. However, I think I’d rather see a proper sequel to Carte Blanche and a return to a modern day storyline. There’s only so many times they can go to the well with the Fleming timeline. Especially since IFP doesn’t commit to a proper canon and every continuation author seems to outright ignore all of the others.

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It’s been 10 years since Carte Blanche, so I think the ship has sailed on that, unless they get Deaver to return.

I think the Fleming timeline is the most pragmatic approach for IFP, since they don’t really have to worry about maintaining a ‘proper canon’ as you say. Continuation authors can come and go and write their standalone installments, throwing in the odd continuity reference to the original novels, with the framework of the Fleming canon holding it all together.

Creating a new rebooted canon for the literary Bond requires consistency and commitment. If IFP is ready to commit to, say, Deaver doing 5-6 books, then they can let him gradually build out a fresh universe and stick to it. In the absence of that commitment, the Fleming canon at least serves as a useful bulwark.

That’s not even getting into the fact that many continuation authors might simply be interested in writing period pieces with Fleming’s version of the character.

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Any Bond novel will do only if its writer does not consider himself superiour to Fleming which happens every time with a director writer who feels the need to piss over the previous instalments.

Surprised to see no mention of Jeff Parker’s excellent “James Bond Origin” comics which are literally this - young Bond in WW2 being recruited into a new, special branch of naval intelligence that train him up in all the skills we see him exhibit in the books and the films. It skews a little bit closer to Movie Bond with Fleming wallpaper, but it’s wonderful, cracking fun. The best James Bond comics I’ve read.

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All the Dynamite comics are like that. Their Moneypenny owes Naomie Harris a royalty check, frankly.

These have a bit more charm and wit to them than the other Dynamite stuff I’ve read, all of which makes Bond rather faceless and dull (or worse - a sarcastic Deadpoolian cad; a hateful mutation of the Brosnan Bond). He’s a tricky character to get right in a comic - without the broad canvas allowed from an actor’s performance or the prose of a novel, he can feel a bit blank and ill-defined.

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It is very much at the mercy of the writer - Origins would easily be on the top tier of what they’ve done. Agent of Spectre was a huge improvement after the lacklustre Big Things.

I look forward to checking it out. I’m a tad skeptical about James Bond in a comic-book but I’ve heard interesting things about Origins.

I’ll add my endorsement for the “Origins” comics. They are well done and easy enough to reconcile with the Fleming canon, unlike Dynamite’s various titles set in modern times, which don’t fit Fleming’s version OR any of the films, not just in terms of continuity but in terms of Bond’s basic character.

I thought I’d be put off a bit by the fact that “prequel” stories by their nature rule out any real suspense, but I quite liked them. Also, if you’re determined to do an “origin” for Bond, I’d prefer to see him as he’s presented in these comics: thanks to his age a little unpolished when it comes to the particulars of spycraft, but already extremely clever and inventive, and highly adaptable with nerves of steel in moments of crisis. That works better for me than the Craig era “origin” where Bond is a lumbering bull in a china shop, all muscles and rage with a LOT of rough edges to polish off.

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I enjoyed CARTE BLANCHE, even though bond was a bit to much realiant on the apps on his smartphone! I hate to think what he would have done if the battery had died!

I also hoped this would be the start of a new era.

Bruce Fierstein must’ve had a hand in writing Carte Blanche lol.

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Casino Royale really isn’t as much of an ‘‘origin story’’ as it often gets labelled as. It’s Bond’s first mission as 007, but he’s already more or less fully formed as the iconic version of the character. I guess that’s a major part of its appeal - we get a younger ‘‘rougher around the edges’’ Bond, but he’s still recognizable as Bond, and it’s still very much a Bond film.

I’m not really sure movie audiences would be interested in a true origin story that focuses on how Bond becomes the man that he is in the books and previous movies. Casual audiences really aren’t that interested in seeing Bond in training learning the ropes - they want him to just do Bond things.

Which is why the comics, and maybe a novel, is the best place to explore this era of Bond’s life and career.

I’d agree with this assessment. Forever and a Day is more of an origin story, though its canonicity is up to debate, being a continuation novel. I personally wouldn’t mind a pre-MI6 adult James Bond novel. I don’t see the young Bond novels as canon and I’ve never read them.

You should, the Higson ones are very good.

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Well, fully formed in the sense that he’s already a killer and has already been assigned the double-0. But part of the “iconic version” involves suave polish and an unflappable demeanor, and he’s got a long way to go, there. There are tentative stabs into “origin” territory with things like “Look, everyone, this is how the vodka martini came about” and “Oh, so SHE’S the one who teaches him how to wear a tuxedo,” but it’s not like he has to go through some catharsis to get from “Wait, you want me to KILL people?” to being okay with it. And we don’t see him learning how to handle a gun or a car (his “superpowers”).

If anything, at the time CR seemed to me like the “origin” of Bond’s attitude: for decades, the Bond persona had been alternately mocked and berated for its callousness: how can any believable character treat women so disposably and kill with such indifference? By the end of the film, Vesper’s death seems to say, “Here’s your explanation: he cared once and it hurt too much, so he’ll never let himself feel again.” Except of course he goes on to spend the next four films getting personally, deeply emotionally involved in everything. So now it’s not so much the origin of the iconic Bond as it is a big reset button: “We’re redefining movie Bond as an emotionally tortured character, so get used to it.”

I think if they’d gone with Cavill – a mere youth at the time – they might’ve leaned harder into the origin angle, but as Craig was already 38 on Day One, those elements got dropped by the wayside. Where maybe if a younger guy was berated by M for lacking subtlety or restraint it would come off as “you’ve got a lot to learn, youngster” now it comes off more as “hmmm, maybe I should’ve considered more qualifications than just a willingness to murder people.”

Not that I’m against backing off the origin angle, really. If there’s one thing that can ruin a great movie hero, it’s having an origin grafted on late in the game. What makes most iconic movie heroes so great is that we meet them already fully formed and vaguely mysterious. The more you “explain” them, the weaker they get.

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