Ian Fleming famously wrote a series of 12 James Bond novels between 1953 and 19651 as well as nine short stories2. Yet he is not the person to have written the most James Bond novels. That honour belongs to James Gardner, an author who wrote fourteen James Bond novels and two novelisations of James Bond films between 1983 and 1996.
Author John Gardner (1926-2007) was a former magician, clergyman and an ex-Royal Marine commando. His first novel, Spin the Bottle (1959) was semi-autobiographical, dealing with huis alcohol addiction. His second featured his most famous creation, beginning his Boysie Oakes spy spoof series about a coward in the secret service (1964-1975), the first novel of which was adapted into film The Liquidator (1965) starring Rod Taylor and Eric Sykes. He also two novels featuring the further adventures of Professor Moriarty published in the mid-1970s. This persuaded Glidrose Publications that he was ideal to publish a new series of Bond novels.
Initially Gardner declined, saying,
I didn't even like Bond that much, I thought he was po-faced. [But] I made sure I handled and tested the gee-whiz technology 007 used in the books and tried to make sure I visited everywhere I sent him.
The rights to the James Bond novels were held by Glidrose Publications, since renamed Ian Fleming Publications in 1999. This was a company that Ian Fleming had bought in 1952 and which held all Flemings rights to the James Bond series. John Gardner wasn't the first author after Fleming to write James Bond books, and certainly isn't the last either. Kingsley Amis wrote the first spin-off novel, Colonel Sun, in 1968 using the pseudonym Robert Markham. This had been intended to be a shared alias used by other authors writing new James Bond novels, however only the one book was published at this time.
The fourteen novels and two novelisations John Gardner wrote are:
- Licence Renewed (1981)
- For Special Services (1982)
- Icebreaker (1983)
- Role of Honour (1984)
- Nobody Lives for Ever (1986)
- No Deals, Mr. Bond (1987)
- Scorpius (1988)
- Win, Lose or Die (1989)
- Licence to Kill (1989)
- GoldenEye (1995)
While John Gardner was the official novelist writing James Bond books, seven James Bond films were made, three starring Roger Moore, a rival production starring Sean Connery, two starring Timothy Dalton and the first Pierce Brosnan3. Only the last two films in the series during this era, Licence to Kill and GoldenEye, were novelised.
Bond in the 1980s
John Gardner aimed to bring the character of Bond into the 1980s. In these novels Bond is generally dismissive of the trappings of spy fiction. Rather than having a classy, stylish and British James Bond Car like an Aston Martin or Lotus, Gardner at first has Bond driving a Saab 900 Turbo which in his second novel he calls 'The Silver Beast'. The Saab 900 is noted for being one of the ugliest cars of the 1980s as it resembles a cross between an iron conservatory and a clog.
Major Boothroyd, best known as Q, has virtually retired and has been replaced by Ann Reilly, who being a woman is nicknamed Q'ute. This is for contractual purposes as Q was a character invented for the films; in the novels the head of Q Branch is Major Boothroyd, but he is never called 'Q'. Boothroyd appears in the first Bond film in 1962 played by Peter Burton and is considered to be a different character to Q as played by Desmond Llewellyn 1963-1999. By having a female Q, there is no copyright violation. The most common gadget that Bond uses is a briefcase with secret and shielded compartments useful for smuggling guns, explosives, tools and rope undetected through customs.
Bond's boss is still the original M, who Bond considers to be the father he never knew. As the series proceeds M becomes increasingly frail before being forced to retire, while second-in-command is Bill Tanner, another character from the original novels. Moneypenny is mentioned but she rarely contributes to the stories. Something that often appears are committees in which Bond's potential actions are discussed in committees that can include MPs, senior policemen and members of other intelligence organisations. Most people at these committees, particularly members of the Foreign Office, keep putting pressure on M to resign.
Bond spends most of his time using the alias Boldman, James Boldman, while his codename is Predator. He is also the last remaining member of the Double 0 Section, which from SeaFire onwards Gardner renames 'Team Two Zero'. There is also an added emphasis on interdepartmental COBRa - the Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms - meetings between different security concerns that involve other intelligence agencies as well as the police. In the early novels Bond has a habit of changing his gun from book to book, having stopped using the Walther PPK; until he settles on an ASP (Armaments Systems & Procedures) 9mm each weapon he uses is listed also.
There are no people of average build in the novels. Naturally all women are stunningly beautiful and young, whereas all the male villains have a physical peculiarity. This occurs with such regularity that you begin to wonder whether, had Gardner ever played Twister, the villain in his next Bond book would have had a right hand green and left foot blue. Not every Bond girl lives happily ever after; if you read the fateful sentence 'she reminded Bond of his wife, Tracy'4 you can pretty much guarantee she isn't going to make it to the end of the novel.
A quick summary of the books can be seen below. Characters in Bold appear in more than one novel in the series. Be aware that characters are classed as 'Allies' even if they prove ultimately to be on the villain's side in order to avoid giving away plot spoilers.
1. Licence Renewed (1981)
|Plot||Alerted by a worrying meeting between international terrorist Franco and disgraced nuclear physicist Murik, the Laird of Mulcady, Bond poses as an ex-army mercenary to investigate. He learns that Murik plans to infiltrate nuclear power stations around the world unless he receives $50 billion.|
|Setting||Ascot Racecourse, Mulcady, Scotland and Perpignan, France|
|Villain||Anton Murik, Laird of Mulcady and nuclear physicist|
|Bond Girls||Lavender 'Dilly' Peacock, Murik's ward|
Ann O'Reilly nicknamed Q'ute, Q's assistant, appears regularly from now on.
|Henchmen||Franco Oliviero Quepscriado, international terrorist |
Caber, big Scottish thug.
|Allies||No new allies, but Bill Tanner has an active role in operations.|
|Gun||.44 Magnum revolver and Browning automatic handgun|
Licence Renewed was published as License Renewed in the United States but Gardner's intended title was Meltdown. Bond's licence is not renewed at any point in the book, that title merely reflects that it is a new Bond book. Many of the Scottish scenes are reminiscent of the 1967 James Bond spoof film Casino Royale. The Saab 900 Turbo has a hidden compartment which contains various useful things including night-vision goggles for driving the car at night without headlights on – presumably Bond uses these when driving at night just so no-one spots him in such an ugly vehicle. Fortunately he crashes his car.
2. For Special Services (1982)
|Plot||SPECTRE has returned! Bond and Cedar Leiter, Felix's daughter and CIA Agent, investigate millionaire Markus Bismaquer who may have a connection with the organisation, which is now led by someone who was Blofeld's unidentified illegitimate child. Who is this new head of SPECTRE? Bismaquer, or his sinister right-hand man, the skeletal Walter Luxor? And what are their plans for infiltrating NORAD5?|
|Setting||Louisiana, New York, Texas|
|Villain||Blofeld – but who is Blofeld?|
Markus Bismaquer – millionaire ice-cream manufacturer
Walter Luxor – racing diver and Bismaquer's right-hand man.
|Bond Girls||Cedar Leiter – CIA agent and best friend's daughter|
Nena Bismaquer – one-breasted wife of Markus Bismaquer
|Allies||Felix Leiter – former CIA agent, Bond's best friend and Cedar's father|
|Gun||Heckler & Koch VP70|
This is considered one of the highlights of the series; while there is no doubt the story is punchy for the first 90%, the ending is disappointing and inexplicable and after all the build-up over the new SPECTRE and the threat it poses, Blofeld is quickly killed off. This is particularly disappointing as the novel had kept readers guessing who the new Blofeld is.
The title comes from a gun that was presented to Ian Fleming by General Donovan in 1944 which was engraved 'For Special Services'. In 1941 Ian Fleming wrote a memorandum for US General William Donovan, Coordinator of Information (COI), describing the structure and functions of a secret service organisation which was used in the official charter of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the organisation that in 1947 became the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Bond is back in a Saab Turbo in the follow-up book, although whether it is the same Saab repaired or a new Saab modified in the same way is never revealed. In either case the car has gained the name 'The Silver Beast' and is specified as being silver.
3. Icebreaker (1983)
|Plot||Terrorist organisation the National Socialist Action Army is assassinating Communists, which could destabilise the world's balance of power. Bond joins an international taskforce including members of the CIA, KGB6 and Israeli agency Mossad7 to investigate the possibility that the NSAA are smuggling their weapons out of Russia across the frozen Russian/Norwegian border in the Arctic Circle. This mission is codenamed Icebreaker, but during the Cold War in the Arctic, who can be trusted?|
|Setting||Libya, Portugal and the Finnish/Russian Border|
|Villain||Arne Tudeer aka Count Konrad von Gloda, ex-SS officer who longs to be the next Führer.|
Rivke Ingber, Mossad Agent
Paula Vacker, Norwegian girlfriend
|Allies||Nicolai 'Kolya' Moslov, KGB agent|
Brad Tirpitz, CIA Agent
|Gun||Heckler & Koch P7, Ruger Redhawk .44 Magnum|
4. Role of Honour (1984)
|Plot||A series of daring crimes are being committed worldwide with computer-like precision. It is believed that these are being planned by Dr Holy, a computer genius previously believed dead and now believed to call himself Professor St John-Finnes, who can create computer programmes used to help train the criminals and prepare them for any eventuality. He provides this service to anyone able to afford his prices. Bond apparently resigns from the secret service and goes on a spending spree following allegations that he is considered dishonoured and sold his country out, hoping to attract Holy's attention. This works, and Bond learns that Professor St John-Finnes is indeed Dr Holy and preparing something called 'The Balloon Game'. How does this fit in with SPECTRE planning on disarming the world's stockpile of nuclear weapons? Will the balloon go up?|
|Setting||London, Monte Carlo, Banbury Cross, unknown location called 'Erewhon'8 and Switzerland|
|Villain||Professor Jason St John-Finnes aka Dr Jay Autem Holy, computer genius|
Tamil Rahani, new head of SPECTRE
|Bond Girls||Persephone 'Percy' Proud, CIA agent and Holy's ex-wife|
Cindy Chalmers, CIA agent and Holy's assistant
|Henchmen||General 'Rolling Joe' Zwingli – US soldier who believes in nuclear disarmament|
Dazzle, Holy's current wife
Peter Amadeus, Holy's gay and pedantic protégé9
Good news! Bond buys a new car to finally replace the terrible Saab 900 Turbo; a Bentley Mulsanne Turbo. SPECTRE hire Holy to create a flawless computer programme to train them in their plan to hijack the USA's and USSR's nuclear weapons by capturing the Goodyear Blimp and hovering over the building where the US President and Russian Premier are holding a peace conference, as that way they can fool those superpower's defence computers into believing that any signal sent on the official channel using the correct codes from directly over the President and Premier's location is from the President and Premier. This is planned in meticulous detail, yet curiously neither SPECTRE nor Holy's organisation thought about having someone who would actually pilot the airship?
5. Nobody Lives for Ever (1986)
|Plot||Bond is driving across Europe to collect his Scottish housekeeper, May, from where she has been convalescing in Austria when he prevents a gang of thugs from attacking Principessa Sukie Tempesta, an attractive young widow. Soon after it appears that everywhere Bond goes, violence follows. He learns that Tamil Rahani, the head of SPECTRE, is dying of cancer of the airship10 and has pledged to give a fortune to any criminal or political organisation that can kill Bond. Soon he learns that his old Russian adversary SMERSH have kidnapped Moneypenny and May in order to force him to come to them. Dogged by assassins everywhere he goes and accompanied by Sukie and her bodyguard Nannie, can Bond rescue Moneypenny and May, avoid the assassins, discover who can be trusted and defeat SPECTRE once and for all?|
|Setting||Across Europe including Belgium, France, Germany and Switzerland and then Florida's Shark Island|
|Villain||Tamil Rahani, dying head of SPECTRE|
|Bond Girls||Principessa Sukie Tempesta, young widow|
Nannie Norrich, head of Norrich Universal Bodyguards and Sukie's protector
|Henchmen||Inspector Heinrich Osten aka Der Haken, corrupt cop who likes torturing people with a butcher's hook.|
|Allies||Steve Quinn, British agent based in Rome|
Dr Kirchtum, May's doctor at Klinik Mozart
This novel was released as Nobody Lives Forever in America, although Gardner's working title was You Only Die Once. Another Shark Island had previously appeared in Live and Let Die, yet this one is the base of operations for SPECTRE which is cunningly disguising itself as la Société pour la Promotion de l'Écologie et de la Civilisation', or SPEC for short. That'll fool all the world's security organisations looking for SPECTRE.
6. No Deals, Mr. Bond (1987)
|Plot||A team of four attractive women and one man had been planted in East Germany on missions to seduce members of the opposition such as the KGB and find out secrets from them under the codename Operation Cream Cake. Years after their return to England under completely new identities, two have been gruesomely murdered with their tongues cut out. Bond is unofficially sent to locate the remaining former agents and discover who is killing them.|
|Setting||East Germany, England, Ireland, France, Hong Kong|
|Villain||General Konstanin 'Kolya' Nikolaevich Chernov, SMERSH11 head|
|Bond Girls||Heather Dare formerly Irma Wagen, Cream Cake|
Ebbie Heritage formerly Emilie Nikolas, Cream Cake
|Henchmen||Mischa, Russian-trained East German|
Yakov, Bogdan, Pavl and Semen, Russian thugs
|Allies||Colonel Maxim Smolin, defecting member of GRU12|
Frank 'Jungle' Basiley formerly Franz Belzinger, Cream Cake
Inspector Norman Murray, Irish Special Branch
Swift, agent who set up Operation Cream Cake
Big Thumb Chang, Hong Kong-based smuggler
Richard Han, friend of Mr Swift
This is a better book than the title would suggest. No-one in the book at any point says, 'No deals, Mr Bond'. Gardner apparently hated the title and had written it under the name 'Tomorrow Always Comes', which would prove remarkably similar to the title of Pierce Brosnan's second Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies.
7. Scorpius (1988)
|Plot||A number of British politicians are murdered by suicidal terrorists! It is believed that Our Father Valentine, head of cult the Society of Meek Ones, is international arms dealer Vladimir Scorpius. Bond investigates the threat that Scorpius is turning impressionable young people and making them believe that if they become suicide bombers they will be rewarded in the next life, getting them to target whoever he is paid to assassinate.|
|Setting||England, South Carolina, Washington DC|
|Villain||Vladimir Scorpius, aka Our Father Valentine, arms dealer / cult leader with hypnotic eyes|
|Bond Girls||Harriet Horner, US Internal Revenue Service agent|
|Allies||Sergeant Pearlman, SAS NCO|
Sir James Molony, the Service's medical expert
Chief Superintendent Bailey, Special Branch terrorism investigator
Wolkovsky, CIA Liason
It would have been nice to know who was hiring Scorpius to assassinate British politicians and why, rather than leaving it as a case of baddies being evil just because they are evil. In many ways this novel seems rather prescient of more recent suicide bombers.
8. Win, Lose or Die (1989)
|Plot||Terrorist group BAST – the Brotherhood for Anarchy and Secret Terror - plan to infiltrate a joint British-Soviet naval operation code-named Landsea 89. This operation is really a cover for a summit held between the Prime Minister, Russian Premier and US President being held on board HMS Invincible. Promoted to Captain and given an extensive training course on flying Harriers, Bond is in charge of their security, aimed with defending the world leaders from the four unknown heads of BAST, who are known only as the Snake, the Viper, the Cat and the Man. Having stolen milk from all the British children, will Margaret Thatcher steal all the navy's milk too? Who can Bond trust?|
|Setting||Somerset, Gibraltar, Naples, Portugal and on HMS Invincible.|
|Villains & Politicians||The Man: Robert Besavitsky aka Bassam Baradj|
The Snake: Abou Hamarik
|Margaret Thatcher, Milk Snatcher and Prime Minister|
Mikhail Gorbachev, Russian Premier
George Bush, US President (the one without the W).
|Bond Girls||Beatrice Maria da Ricci|
First Officer Clover Pennington, Wren
Nikki Ratnikov, Gorbachev's bodyguard
|Henchmen||The Cat and the Viper|
Obviously the best way to be an effective bodyguard is to be given flight training on a Harrier jump jet. This novel contains excruciating scenes in which Bond and Maggie are close friends. Thatcher had previously briefly appeared in Bond film For Your Eyes Only (1981). Gardner once more effectively plays the 'who can be trusted' card, but other than that the villains are quite dull and their scheme – to kidnap the world leaders and demand a ransom – not the most original. In fact The Rough Guide to James Bond (2002) speculates that the plot for the Cat, the Snake and the Viper to kidnap world leaders and demand a ransom is remarkably similar to Catwoman, the Penguin and the Riddler planning to kidnap world leaders and demand a ransom in film Batman (1966).
Film Novelisation: Licence to Kill (1989)
|Plot||Bond helps Felix Leiter arrest a drug lord, who escapes and feeds Leiter to a shark and kills Leiter's wife. Bond resigns from the Secret Service to seek revenge.|
|Setting||Florida Keys and Isthmus, a fictional Central American country.|
|Villain||Franz Sanchez – drug baron|
|Bond Girls||Pam Bouvier – CIA informant and pilot|
Lupe Lamora – Sanchez's girlfriend
|Henchmen||Milton Krest – drug distributor posing as marine researcher|
Dario – nasty sadist
Professor Joe Butcher – fake televangelist
Killifer – Corrupt DEA agent
|Allies||Felix Leiter – former CIA agent helping the DEA|
Sharkey, Leiter's friend
This novelisation had the difficult task of reconciling the novels and films continuity. In the novel Live and Let Die (1954), Felix Leiter had been eaten by a shark. This gruesome sequence did not appear in the 1973 film adaptation but it was included in film Licence to Kill (1989) instead. To reconcile this, Gardner has Leiter being eaten by a shark again, with the shark predominantly eating his prosthetic limbs and causing surprisingly few new injuries. The character name Milton Krest had appeared in Fleming's 1960 short story 'The Hildebrand Rarity' and had already been killed, but Gardner ignores this. Although Gardner had promoted Bond to Captain in Win, Lose or Die, in this novelisation he is still a Commander. None of his later novels refer to the events of this book.
In the film it is revealed that Sanchez has bought stinger missiles which he plans to use to threaten to destroy an airliner unless he is given ransom money, which leads to an exciting sequence at the end when Bond is driving a petrol tanker when Sanchez fires one of the missiles at him. In the novel, Gardner is obsessed with frequently stating that the missiles in question are not actually Stinger missiles and that Stinger missiles look completely different to the prop seen and also have more advanced target-seeking capabilities.
Curiously Leiter's daughter Cedar from For Special Services doesn't appear in this novel – not even to attend her father's wedding.
9. Brokenclaw (1990)
|Plot||Lee Fu-Chu has been kidnapping scientists and thus obtained the plans for a way of tracking submarines and also a way to prevent submarines from being tracked. He plans to sell this to the Chinese Government while also planning to hack into the US Stock Market in order to destroy the US economy. Bond and CIA agent Sue 'Chi-Chi' Chi-Ho can only stop them by pretending to be agents of China come to purchase the plans.|
|Setting||British Columbia, San Francisco, Washington State|
|Villain||Lee Fu-Chu aka Brokenclaw, half-Native American, half-Chinese millionaire|
|Bond Girls||Sue 'Chi-Chi' Chi-Ho, CIA Agent|
Wanda Man Song Hing, US Naval Intelligence Lieutenant
|Henchmen||Nolan and Wood, Corrupt FBI agents|
|Allies||Ed Rushia, US Naval Intelligence Commander|
Submarine tracking plans had been a major plot point of The Spy Who Loved Me. This novel is probably Gardner's most sadistic, with a convoluted torturous race in which Bond has to all-but pull his body apart to get to a bow and arrow before Brokenclaw does. Brokenclaw is so named because his left hand has his thumb on the opposite side of the hand to normal, effectively giving him two right hands.
10. The Man from Barbarossa (1991)
During Operation Barbarossa, Hitler's invasion of Russia, 33,800 Jews were slaughtered within 48 hours at Babi Yar, Kiev. A vigilante group known as the Scales of Justice kidnap an old man from America that they claim was Josef Vorontsov, a Russian Nazi collaborator who organised the massacre, and demand he be put on trial by the Russians for war crimes. Yet Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency, knows he is innocent and soon afterwards the real Vorontsov, who they had under observation in an attempt to gather enough evidence to convict him, disappears from America, having been secretly kidnapped by the French. Bond and a Mossad agent, Pete Natkowitz, are sent to Russia to help the KGB infiltrate the Scales of Justice, who refuse to listen to the Kremlin's explanations that the man is innocent and have started murdering one moderate prominent politician or military man a day until the Russian government places the old man on trial.
Yet the Scales of Justice is an elaborate cover used by extremist General Yevgeny Yuskovitch to remove his rivals and restore hard-line Communism. While Bond, Natkowitz and Russian KGB agent Nina Bibikova, the daughter of British defectors to Russia, seek to infiltrate the Scales of Justice posing as a British filmcrew planning on covering the trial, Yuskovitch has a more sinister plan involving nuclear weapons and the coalition's invasion of Iraq during the Gulf War. Can the French be trusted? Will the world be rocking and a rolling, rocking and a reeling from the Barbarossa man?
|Setting||New Jersey, London, Russia, Russian/Finnish Border|
|Villain||General Yevgeny Yuskovitch|
|Bond Girls||Nina Bibikova, KGB agent and child of British defectors|
Stephanie Adoré, DGSE13 agent
|Allies||Pete Natkowitz, Mossad agent|
Boris Stepakov, KGB agent
Major Henri Rampart, GIGN14 agent
Vladimir Lyko, Russian professor of English
Michael Brooks & Emerald Lacy – British agents who had defected to the USSR in the 1960s and Nina's parents
Nigsy Meadows, Pansy Wright, SIS agents
Although the slaughter of 33,800 Jews at Babi Yar on 29-30 September, 1941 is true – and was followed by further massacres meaning over 150,000 men, women and children were butchered there, Josef Vorontsov is a fictional character. Gardner had previously used the plot of an international team in which Bond works with the KGB and Mossad and them ending up on the Russian/Finnish border in his previous novel, Icebreaker. In this book it is revealed that the SIS agent based in Tel Aviv is named Fanny Farmer.
11. Death is Forever (1992)
|Plot||In post-unification East Germany Britain's network of agents, known as the Cabal, are all being killed along with the British and American agents sent to find them. Bond and an inexperienced CIA agent called 'Easy' are sent to find the few remaining members and learn who is killing them. With a traitor surely among the survivors, who can they trust? They soon uncover a plot to kill all Europe's political leaders when the first train through the Eurotunnel, in a symbolic gesture, contains every major politician in the European Community and lead to the revival of Communist totalitarianism.|
|Setting||Frankfurt, Berlin, Paris, Venice, Calais, the Channel Tunnel, London|
|Villain||Wolfgang 'Wolfie' Weisen aka The Poison Dwarf, who longs to be the next Stalin|
|Bond Girls||Elizabeth Zara 'Easy' St John, CIA Agent|
Praxi Simeon, Cabal surviving member
|Henchmen||Monika Haardt, Weisen's fanatic lover with reptilian skin|
Dmitri, jockey-sized henchman
|Allies||Karl 'Bruin' Kuckuk, Cabal member|
Harry Spraker, Cabal member
Kapitan Wimper, Cabal member
This book, the first post-USSR Bond tale, effectively leaves you guessing which characters can be trusted and who is the villain. It would be one of the highlights of the entire series had the plot of 'a traitor is killing off agents in an East German spy ring' not already been used five years earlier in No Deals, Mr Bond.
12. Never Send Flowers (1993)
|Plot||After a series of seemingly unconnected assassinations, an MI5 anti-terrorism agent is murdered on her holiday in Switzerland. Bond is sent to investigate, teaming up with Swiss agent Flicka von Grüsse. They discover the culprit is David Dragonpol, the world's greatest actor, who secretly kills famous people for a hobby. His next target? The assassination of Princess Diana and her sons William and Harry in EuroDisney, Paris. Can Bond be a knight in shining armour and save the Princess from the Dragon, or will Princess Diana die in Paris?|
|Setting||England, Switzerland, Athens, EuroDisney|
|Villain||David Dragonpol, world's greatest actor|
|Bond Girls||Fredericka 'Flicka' von Grüsse, Swiss agent|
Carmel Chantry, MI5 agent
|Henchmen||Maeve 'Hort' Horton, Dragonpol's widowed sister|
Lester, Dragonpol's butler
Charles and William, Dragonpol's nurses
|Allies||Detective Bodo Lempke, Interlaken police department|
A prophetic book in many ways as Princess Diana did indeed die in Paris. However the best line has to be Bond saying, 'I tend to get a bit angry whenever people mock EuroDisney', though close second has to be, 'Bond saw him for what he was: a crazed killer of dreams, a weaver of nightmares, a destroyer of the beautiful fairy tales that this place gave to men, women and children the world over' referring to both the villain and EuroDisney.
13. SeaFire (1994)
|Plot||On holiday on a cruise ship owned by Sir Maxwell Tarn, Bond and girlfriend Flicka defeat a terrorist hijack attempt only for the ship to be destroyed, apparently by a submarine. Wishing to find evidence incriminating Tarn of being an arms dealer, Bond warns Tarn when they are both back in the UK that he is about to be raided by the authorities, hoping to panic him into revealing incriminating evidence, only for Tarn and his abused wife to apparently be killed. Not only is Tarn alive but one step ahead of Bond at all time. Is there a traitor betraying Bond? Why does Tarn plan to next target an oil tanker with his submarine and set the waves alight?|
|Setting||London, Cambridge, Madrid, Germany and Puerto Rico|
|Villain||Sir Maxwell Tarn, millionaire and arms dealer who believes he is the next Führer|
|Bond Girls||Fredericka 'Flicka' von Grüsse, Swiss-born British agent|
|Henchmen||Cuthbert & Archie / Cathy & Anna, sadistic women masquerading as men|
|Allies||Felix Leiter, former CIA agent and Bond's close friend|
Burkenshaw & Hairman, aka 'Burke & Hair – service interrogators.
M is expected to be retired from the service, meaning that Bond is now head of the Two Zeros section of British intelligence but everything he does must be approved by the MicroGlobe committee. Pete Natkowitz appears briefly in this novel, but appears to have changed his name to Steve. After Felix practically forced Bond to have an affair with his daughter Cedar in For Secret Services, he now says that he was very concerned when Bond and his daughter were together. An odd way to show fatherly concern...
Film Novelisation: GoldenEye (1995)
|Plot||GoldenEye is a Cold War era electromagnetic pulse weapon mounted in two satellites. With the Cold War over, a criminal with a connection to Bond's past plans to use this against London|
|Setting||Russia, French Riviera, London, Puerto Rico and Cuba|
|Villain||Alec Trevelyan aka Janus, former 006|
|Bond Girls||Natalya Fyodorovna Simonova, GoldenEye programmer|
Xenia Onatopp, member of Janus Crime Syndicate
|Henchmen||General Ourumov, corrupt Soviet general|
Boris Grishenko, head programmer on GoldenEye
|Allies||Jack Wade, CIA agent|
Valentin Dmitrovich Zukovsky, Russian mobster
A reasonably faithful adaptation of the film, although one sequence that Gardner adds to the book, in which Bond helps Natalya escapes from Russia by dressing her as a schoolgirl, made it into the GoldenEye 007 computer game. There are some changes made. In the film Zukovsky recognises that Bond is carrying a Walther PPK, a gun that Gardner had made a big fuss about how his Bond no longer carried, so the line 'Walther PPK, only three people I know carry such a gun; I believe I have killed two of them' is changed to 'I only know three people who carry that gun; I believe I have killed two of them'. The continuity is also slightly tweaked; in one scene Bond mentions that the last time he had been to Puerto Rico someone he loved became paralysed and will never walk again, referring to events at the end of SeaFire but making it apparent this book is set before the events of Gardner's next novel COLD, yet during COLD M is still a man and only at the very end of the novel is he replaced with a woman, which would set COLD before GoldenEye.
14. COLD (1996)
A tale told in two halves. In Part One, Bond is investigating a terrorist attack on flight 299 from London to Washington DC when he bumps into Principessa Sukie Tempesta, who was due to be on that flight. She warns him to beware 'COLD' before vanishing, believed murdered. COLD are the Children Of the Last Days, a religious cult led by General Brutus Brute Clay. They plan on taking over America with the help of Sukie's sons-in-law, the Tempesta Brothers, heads of a powerful crime family. Can Bond defeat their scheme?
Four years later, after returning from Puerto Rico at the end of SeaFire, Bond is forced to leave Freddie and go on active service to Geneva to aid the FBI in their attempt to capture the Tempesta crime family.
|Setting||London, Washington DC, Virginia, Iowa, Rome, Pisa, Tuscany, Switzerland|
|Villain||General Brutus Brute Clay|
The Tempesta Brothers, Luigi and Angelo
|Bond Girls||Principessa Sukie Tempesta, mother-in-law of criminal brothers|
Fredericka 'Freddie' von Grüsse, Swiss-born British agent
Beatrice Maria da Ricci, British agent
Toni Nicolleti, FBI agent
Felicia 'Fliss' Heard Skifflet, FBI agent
|Allies||Eddie Rhabb, Drake, Prime & MacRoberts, FBI Agents|
Published as Cold Fall in America. This novel followed GoldenEye, a film which had one scene set nine years before the rest of the film, and this story similarly has the first half of the story set five years before the second. For some unexplained reason Flicka's nickname has now changed to Freddie, Bond encounters many of the surviving characters from previous novels and one of the henchmen decides to change sides for no apparent reason. Makes a change from an ally ending up being a traitor, though. Bond, however, doesn't really seem comfortable in his new role as an aircrash investigator and spends most of the second half of the novel doing little favours for the FBI rather than investigating on his own or making his own decisions. At the novel's very end Bond heads off to meet the new, female M.
Similarities with Bond Films
Though none of Gardner's novels have inspired Bond films, there are some similarities with scenes he has created and subsequent films. The fight between Necros and Bond in the open cargo bay of an aircraft in The Living Daylights (1987) is similar to the fight between Caber and Bond in Licence Renewed. Bond watching Murik cheat at Ascot Racecourse is similar to a scene in A View to a Kill and Bond is able to drive his Saab 900 Turbo by remote control, a trick that would appear in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997). After a plot involving the Goodyear Blimp in Role of Honour (1984), the climax to A View To A Kill involved Bond on an airship.
SeaFire features para-hawks and the climax involves Bond stopping a deliberately-caused disaster in an ageing Russian submarine in the Caribbean, while The World Is Not Enough features para-hawks and the climax involves Bond stopping a disaster deliberately caused on an elderly Russian submarine in the Black Sea.
On the whole John Gardner successfully toned down the sexist, sadist, racist and homophobic tendencies of the character when compared with Ian Fleming. Yet there is no doubt that he is also a less talented writer. His strengths are that he is good at creating scenarios in which the reader is unsure of who is trustworthy and is left guessing until the end who the real villains are. His weaknesses are the endings, in which truly terrible, global threats time and again are foiled simply by Bond killing off the main baddy. Another weakness is the characters. The head villains rarely appear until the last chapters, meaning that Bond does not normally develop a relationship of any kind with them. It is hard to fear or care about villains that only appear briefly before their inevitable defeat. Gardner often spends longer describing weapons and equipment than the main characters. So readers learn all the advantages and disadvantages of all the guns that appear in great detail but next to no information about the characters other than that they had an unusual physical characteristic.
There are also unnecessary ridiculous scenarios. For example in one novel the villains have captured Bond and hypnotised him with advanced mind-control techniques so that he is completely under their control. One of the villains then decides to give Bond the antidote for no reason whatsoever. Similarly the predilection for daft names continues, with women named Easy and Adoré. However male characters also would have been embarrassed during the school register; if you thought that Ian Fleming's character 'Pussy Galore' was the most blatantly sexually named character in a Bond novel, think again as Gardner gave one henchman the even more flagrant name of 'Semen', though the British Secret Service's agent in Israel, 'Fanny Farmer', is a close second.
For the main, the titles are dull and many of the individual words that make up the titles are interchangeable. In fact, take the words at random from Gardner's novel titles and mix and match them to create your own Bond novel titles. How about Ice Cold, Broken Breaker, Licence For Flowers, For Ever Is Never Forever or Mr Bond Is Nobody, Man?
John Gardner's James Bond novels aren't taxing or challenging and are not to be taken seriously. Readers picking up these books will inevitably know the outcome of every novel, that Bond will come through and the villain will be defeated and dispatched at the end of each story. If you are after unchallenging reading that is easy to pick up and put down and will provide entertainment while you are on a long journey or commuting to work on a ferry, train or bus, these books can do the job.
'007 in New York', 'The Property of a Lady' and 'Octopussy'. Another story, 'Murder on Wheels', was written to be a television episode of a proposed Bond television series and never published as a short story.3These were For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, Never Say Never Again, A View to a Kill, The Living Daylights, Licence to Kill and GoldenEye.4Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo née Draco appeared in Bond novel On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1963) and was played by the incomparable Diana Rigg in the 1969 film adaptation; in both novel and film she marries Bond at the end only to promptly die.5NORth American Air Defence.6Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti meaning Committee for State Security, this officially disbanded in 1991.7Full title aMossad leModi'in uleTafkidim Meyuhadim, this means Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations and is Israel's intelligence agency.8Almost, but not quite, 'nowhere' spelt backwards.9Though infinitely less homophobic than Fleming, Gardner does not come across as enlightened in his description of Peter.10According to this novel, parachuting out of airships in order to make a clean getaway in a previous book causes fatal cancer. Who knew?11Formed by Stalin in 1941, SMERSH stood for SMERt SHpionam meaning 'Death to Spies' and in reality was disbanded in 1946, however in these novels it was merely renamed and incorporated within the KGB, becoming initially Department V and, in this novel, Department Eight, Directorate S.12Glavnoye Razvedyvatel'noye Upravleniye, standing for Main Intelligence Directorate, this is Soviet Military Intelligence.13Direction Géneéral de Securitée Extérieur, French intelligence service.14Groupement D'Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale, French anti-terrorist unit.