Alex Massie

Whither Bond?

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Via Chris Orr and Ross Douthat, I see there's a trailer for the new Bond flick Quantam of Solace. First impressions? Could be good!

Anyway, it has to be better than the latest Bond novel...

The first Bond novel, "Casino Royale, was published in 1953. And yet, dated and hackneyed as some of the novels can seem, they have life in them yet. Just as he does in the movies, Bond refuses to die. And since he is back in cinemas, courtesy of Daniel Craig's muscular interpretation of Britain's foremost killer; it's only fair that he return to book stores too.

To mark the centenary of Fleming's birth, his estate commissioned Sebastian Faulks to write a new bond novel. The best-selling travesty that is "Devil May Care" is with us now, offering a reminder that sometimes the original really is best.

Still Faulks must have seemed a sensible choice, not too literary to be threatening, yet sufficiently well-respected as the author of popular middlebrow novels such as "Birdsong" (which has sold an astonishing three million copies) as to give the exercise some credibility.

Perhaps it also helped that Faulks had written a volume of literary parodies which included a send-up of Fleming himself. But this should have been understood as a warning, not a declaration of promise. After all, other writers have tried to pick up the series where Fleming left off. Kingsley Amis, writing as Robert Markham, was the first, publishing "Colonel Sun" four years after Fleming's death in 1965. It was not a great success.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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