Forever And A Day - Anthony Horowitz (SPOILERS! BEWARE!)


#61

Yeah, I totally get what you mean.

I think Gardner and Benson could arguably still get away with it to an extent. Their Bond couldn’t be a WW2 veteran anymore, but he could still be a Cold War-era spy (even if it was only backstory for Benson’s Bond). But no Bond set in the 21st century can be anything other than a reboot. Yes, one could do with Eric van Lustbader is doing with Jason Bourne - make vague allusions to the original books and pretend its a continuation, but it really wouldn’t be a logical ‘continuation’ of Fleming’s character.


#62

We’ve been down this one before, numerous times actually. There is the natural affection of the fan for more of his/her favourite pastime. And then there is the sore feeling of disappointment when it doesn’t live up to expectations. Only a few days ago Jim revisited The Man from Barbarossa (so we don’t have to) and to me it revealed, bafflingly, how eagerly I used to soak up everything with the 007 monicker back then.

With Horowitz it’s obvious many fans enjoyed his first try. I’ve been much less impressed myself, for all the reasons we’ve mentioned in this and other threads. I suppose my lack of enthusiasm simply stems from my unwillingness to invest time in a so-so effort. Trigger Mortis sure had its moments, and there’s no doubt it also had a proper thriller plot, which was sorely missing from Solo. But I feel not overly tempted to pick up an okay-ish book when I could read a really good one, albeit without ‘James Bond’ on the cover.

So I will not pick up this latest product of the machinery unless there is solid evidence it will be a pleasant surprise.


#63

This is a good point. There’s plenty of great fiction out there that delivers thrills and fun, written by the authors who created the characters themselves and have the power to make interesting, impactful and lasting changes to those characters as a result. Bond continuation authors have their hands tied from Day One – they have to leave Bond in the condition they found him – so the best we can hope for is mild diversion with the faint echo of something that used to be more vital and alive.

A critic once compared the (80s) Star Trek movies to running an electric current through a corpse so we could watch it twitch and pretend it was still alive. Harsh, but it kind of applies to continuation novels. It may be fun to visit the old home town, but ultimately it’ll never be the same as you remember it.

I couldn’t buy it with Benson. Hey, Bond has a son with Kissy Suzuki. Cool, huh? Because they had an affair in…um, 1964. So his kid is, what? 30-something? Which means Bond is…okay, never mind, let’s keep moving, folks, nothing to see here.


#64

I’d felt much the same way about Bond since around the time of The Living Daylights. Nothing new did anything for me for 20 years, but it was okay because I had old favorites to watch/read.

Then Skyfall came out.

I loved it. It’s easily in my top 3 films. I give every movie or book a chance, because I never know if I’m about to experience another Skyfall.

I think it might have been Zencat back in the day who said he always got excited when the gunbarrel came on because it meant he could be about to watch the greatest Bond film ever made. I choose to approach each new project with the same kind of hope.


#65

I wonder how Zencat felt about the ones where the gunbarrel didn’t show up until the end. :slight_smile:

For me, the “this is why I keep coming” film was Casino Royale, which ended a very, very long dry period (since TLD). Of course that’s been a long time ago now, itself. Even then, the fun came from the unexpectedness of it all: having wondered forever how they were going to breathe life into the old formula, it never occurred to me the answer was to throw it out and cook up a new formula.

That said, it hasn’t gone as interestingly as I’d hoped, given that strong relaunch. Skyfall, for me, was kind of a mess. Great visually, and the best villain in eons (ahem) but otherwise deeply frustrating.


#66

Thing is, we still talk about the Fleming effect as though in this day and age, and for what could quite possibly be 90% of the books’ audience, Fleming’s influence on a reader’s choice to pick up the latest continuation effort has any meaning whatsoever.

If (and it really is a big IF with no scientific knowledge whatsoever) the average age of a Fleming book reader was 20 when they were released, then it might just be that the average age of a Horowitz reader is also 20. What appealed to a 20 year old reader of Fleming’s output in 1960 might just be what appeals to a 20 year old reader of Horowitz’s output today. And they really couldn’t give a good God damn about what Fleming did back in his day.

it rather reminds me of when the new-ish Star Wars films came out in the 90’s. A 15 year old kid got a kick out of Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back, and then wonders why, 20 years later, he is not so fond of The Phantom Menace. Why would he ever be?

The product’s demographic doesn’t shift, but the age of an ongoing fan does. And hopefully, the son of a bitch actually Does grow up.


#67

While I certainly agree with the majority of comments here that the continuation novels typically pale in comparison to the Fleming originals, I also have personally enjoyed many of the continuation novels.

Gardner’s early work was very good (as was Scorpius), and I found myself really enjoying the final four Bensons (the first two weren’t exactly my cup of tea)-- I’d even rank High Time To Kill as one of my favorite Bond novels, and I found it far more original in concept and execution than many of the EON films.

Plus, I’ve seen most of the films dozens of times. You can mute it and I can recite the dialogue basically verbatim. The novels, on the other hand, given the sheer number of them (and the fact that it takes me longer to get through a novel than a film) means there are a plethora of new adventures for me to explore, and re-reading those that I’ve already read feels fresher than re-watching a film I’ve seen maybe forty times.

Having finished Amis, Gardner, Benson, Faulks, Deaver, and Horowitz, I still have others left to explore-- Boyd, Higson, Cole, Weinberg, Wood, and Pearson.

More isn’t always better, but I definitely appreciate being able to delve into new Bond adventures on a consistent basis.

I think the real need now is for consistency in the author department. I’m glad we’re getting another Horowitz installment-- bucking the trend of these one-and-done experiments that IFP have been into these past few years.


#68

I think I know where you’re going with this, but I’m not sure. I think you’re saying there’s no point in trying to “ape” Fleming when the average Bond book buyer isn’t old enough to remember Fleming and/or the 50s/60s in the first place. I’m not so sure that’s true: I would think the average Bond book buyer skews older and either remembers or has an interest in that era. Indeed, I would go so far as to say the average buyer of a Bond novel is on board out of sheer nostalgia and the clock is ticking on how much longer they’ll even be around. The average 20 year old – if he’s reading at all – is probably reading “Fantastic Beasts” out of his own nostalgia for the “good old days” of Harry Potter.

I confess to being immune to Star Wars-mania (even as a 12-year-old in '77 I was underwhelmed by SW…so sue me), but I’m pretty sure the consensus of fans, non-fans and critics alike is that “Phantom Menace” is simply a crap film. But I cede your larger point: you can only go back to the well so many times before the water turns brackish, or the whole thing dries up. I would argue the Bond films are the same: ultimately they are best experienced at around age 14.


#69

So no-one in the UK has legally had the best experience of LTK, Goldeneye or Casino Royale? :wink:


#70

Not really.

I am trying to say, perhaps badly, that what one likes in their late teens / early 20’s might not necessarily be what one likes, further to maturation, in their 40s and 50s. Especially if the product as an entity does Not mature with one.

If the product is perpetually aimed at someone in their 20s, and over the course of 50 years of delivery of said product, the aim does not change, then it is reasonable to assume the audience may leave it behind.

Or not leave it behind and face a lifetime of disappointment.

Hope that is better.


#71

For me there are many things I loved in my late teens that I still love - and many things from my early 20´s (when I thought I had matured and could not really bother with those childish teenage stuff) make me cringe and bore me.

I guess the 20´s are a phase in which one abandons childhood (so I turned my back on Bond), and in one´s 30´s one tries to reconnect with childhood again.

What I’m trying to say here is: those who enjoyed Fleming´s work at an earlier age might go back to his novels again.

I don’t think that the “young ones” today would rather read a “new” Bond novel than an “old” Fleming original. It all depends on what they are going for. Me, I was totally separating between Fleming, the real thing, and everything else, the poor imitations. So I always chose Fleming and only read (or tried to read) the continuation novels because I was always overfamiliar with the originals.

The movies, I believe, are a different beast. My nephews started to watch Bond films on DVD (during their teenage years), and they immediately connected to the Brosnan era more than to the others, even the CraigBonds. In fact, they like Craig as Bond but would rather stick with the Brosnan and the Moore era. Which kind of disproves the idea that only the current Bond you grow up with will be your Bond. Although, for me, it was Sir Roger and he still ranks as my favorite.


#72

That’s fair enough, except that I don’t think the “change” needed to maintain interest would be something as simple and superficial as advancing (or not) the time period the stories are set in. I’d think if there’s a danger of people getting tired of Bond, outgrowing him and moving on it’d be because Bond as a character, and the formula of his adventures, hasn’t changed significantly, ever. He is now what he always was, and that is not a particularly nuanced, multi-layered or complex character, and certainly not one who undergoes great growth, maturation or catharsis in his adventures, even at the hand of his creator. Whether he’s driving a Studebaker or a Tesla, in a world with Sputniks or drones, Bond at his core is in the same place as a character as he ever was; if you dig him, you’ll dig him in any era, and if you’re tired of him, no amount of contemporizing is going to make him more appealing.

The mere fact that we’re here having this discussion proves a lot of us are willing to hang onto something that doesn’t change substantially over time (despite new packaging now and then). Indeed, in Bond’s case that unchanging nature is arguably key to his appeal. I’m not saying people can’t outgrow Bond – there’s not much “there” there if you have an especially sophisticated palate when it comes to literature – but whatever appeal he does have to a large segment of the world seems not to hinge on the age of his audience, and apparently is not only immune to the need to change, but, for those fans anyway, strengthened by his refusal to do so.


#73

Well said.

I also might add that the Fleming Bond will become more interesting the more time passes because it actually offers a window into a world gone by. That could become even more appealing for future movie installments. Even if the past and current Bond films never wanted to become a period piece it is, IMO, very possible that this will change, just because the people in charge will find it too difficult to make another film without altering the basic idea of a chauvinistic British secret agent too much.


#74

Yes, I’d argue the need to “keep current” has worked against the series in lots of ways. As you say, softening Bond’s edges so he’s not such a chauvinist, doesn’t smoke, etc has arguably chipped away at his appeal. Then there’s the technology: in the 60s we could be amazed by a “pocket pager,” but today we all use cellphones and GPS and wireless connections to all the world’s knowledge as a matter of routine; we’re all 007, now. Now Bond either needs to use something ridiculously outlandish to stay ahead (like an invisible car) or just drop the gadget angle entirely. Plus, while it’s absolutely logical in the 21st century to put a wireless earpiece on an agent, or even a subcutaneous homing device, it also, IHMO, severly undermines Bond’s appeal as a “lone wolf” who survives in the field by his wits, cunning and intuition, and not through the help of a room full of geeks giving him instructions and guidance from HQ.

Then there’s the whole issue of geopolitics, which is much messier and fast-changing now than it was in the Cold War.

I agree much of the appeal of Fleming now, at least for me, lies in his ability to create a sense of time and place. The “place” part would have been more important in his day, as an accountant in Jersey could be transported to an exotic spot like Jamaica through the written word, but today the “time” angle is equally important, for instance in Fleming’s descriptions of American motels, eateries and signposts in the days before the Interstate highway system took all the fun out of road trips.

On the other hand, creating a period piece film means a huge outlay of funds from Square One, just getting all the locations, vehicles and costumes to look accurate. And that’s money they could spend on dodgy CGI and multiple boring photographic “character” posters.


#75

Interestingly, Star Trek, a series set in the 23rd/24th century, only very rarely resorts to this kind of gimmick, even though their supposed technology would surely allow for most missions to be closely observed and guided. The ‘away team’ generally is away and largely has to deal with things on their own until the situation is solved or intervention from a ship is ultima ratio. In terms of storytelling this restriction is vastly preferable over having characters perform for an audience inside the story itself.

The only example I can currently think of where the device of a ‘lifeline’ actually adds to the tension and suspense would be the audio connection used in the classic JUGGERNAUT. Here the use of technology not only follows logically from the story, it also adds enormous tension and momentum from the end of the second act right through to the climax. Unsurpassed to this day.


#76

Fleming had Bond living as a Japanese fisherman, getting married, and fathering a child, but him wearing an earpiece makes him less of a lone wolf?


#77

Why does Skyfall’s PTS get such a bashing - it is the only place in the Craig era where Bond is remote control Bond.


#78

Him wearing an earpiece is sadly seldom used to intensify the suspense of a given scene. Often it’s exposition, a running commentary that shouldn’t be necessary in the first place. Also it’s not really a device that would help in the field. That a team can communicate is modern warfare. That a bunch of execs gets a life feed of a situation is neither helping the people in the field nor decision making on exec level. It’s largely politics and showing they care.


#79

He didn’t have someone in his ear telling him how to fish, propose or get Kissy pregnant.

And when he fathered the child, he had amnesia, then remembered himself and forgot the kid. So it didn’t make much difference.


#80

It’s not just the SF earpiece. He has a conversation with Moneypenny in the midst of a car chase in SP (like it’s not unengaging enough already). I guess I use “earpiece” as short hand. The point is it feels like he drags along the office crew in one way or another everywhere he goes, like the 7 dwarves. And even when he’s not in contact with them, they track him through implants. At some point they’ll wake up and cashier him in favor of a drone. They work cheaper and won’t make so many headline-grabbing mistakes.