1. The 007th Chapter: Live and Let Die – Mister Big

    A literary meditation by Jacques Stewart



    Sense of adventure. (My emphasis).

    I’m fibbing – can’t take the credit. Not my emphasis at all. The very first sentence of the Bond “thing” directly appeals to sense or, more precisely, the scents. Wiser minds than mine write of a Fleming Sweep; I prefer a Feel, and that’s not an invitation. Oh, put it away.


    Even just over one book in, one can unimaginatively deduce that Ian Fleming is a sensual writer, and not so much in the commonly adopted sexualised understanding of “sensual”, despite this 007th chapter of Live and Let Die concluding with a 20-stone Negro, having leatherstrapped a man to a chair (an act described at excitable length), proceeding to whip a witch with an ivory riding-crop whilst a voodoo scarecrow leers on. Might have been yer average Tuesday round Goldeneye way but is an unusual domestic encounter for most, I’d wager, and would doubtless justify police intervention. I mean – ivory. Tsk!


    A swift hand of bridge it is not. That’s in the next one.


    Usually at its strongest when he’s neglecting the tedium of “plot”, look at where the detail frequently – if not, admittedly, universally – lies, in engaging the base senses. How often Fleming lets his descriptions fly towards (say) food and drink – the enjoyment of both the descriptions of the menus and the experiences of the tastes – and elsewhere, be it places or people or flowers, birds and weapons: the smell, the touch, the sound. The sickly zoo smell of Oddjob. Recognising countless perfumes and soaps. The sight of Honeychile Ryder emerging naked from the sea. Cars are not a means of getting to destinations but a sensual destination in themselves, an immersion in a highly tactile experience; there are very few passages of Bond driving when he’s not totally engaged in the sweat, the smoke, the blast of wind in the face, the supercharged sound of it. The “touch” of a carpet beater.  Guns and engines don’t fire; they roar. That the sex never goes – never needs to go – beyond the first erotic touches. All five senses engaged in a midnight wander through Blofeld’s Garden of Death. As atmosphere, it’s thermosphere, so heightened is the delivery.






    Then, the trick emerges, and the trap is set for those unwise enough to follow. The easy perception is that Fleming does “detail”; ooh, lots of “detail” in Fleming, there is. The failing is not acknowledging that he knew when to let it go, only wanting to describe those things that interested him. Once he has you by the senses, once you are immersed by his drowning you in the sights and the scent and smoke and sweat of wherever he’s placed you – Northern France, Japan, Istanbul, Jamaica, matters not – he can step back and leave you to wallow, enblissed floating. There’s a key example of this in the 007th chapter of Live and Let Die. He’s led us, whirling, through a turbo-fictionalised Harlem for a couple of chapters, soaking in its juices, and here, so drenched are we, we’ll just imbibe without question that Mr Big has a pistol masked by a drawer keyhole. We have been prepared for the ludicrous.


    “Again, there was nothing absurd about this gun. Rather painstaking, perhaps, but, he had to admit, technically sound.”


    Come off it, no it’s NOT. And yet, we gulp it down. It’s only later do we question what we’ve been spiked with. That is trust. Perhaps a trust abused, but you take it at the time, giggling slightly. There is no explanation of how this gun works. There doesn’t need to be. Your Clancys, your Lee Childs, closer to home your Gardners and Bensons, would tell us that the protagonist takes only an atosecond to work out – if not an atosecond to describe, unfortunately – how it was a Sillitoe-Bumpluck point 660 with a Horace flange and dingadong buttress and forty leveret hosiery and some such boring, boring unnecessariness. The skill is that one needs to know when not to describe, when to stop fact getting in the way of a good story. So convinced are these others that you would doubt what they say, they clobber you over the head with neanderthal factual detail to nail misguided veracity onto a patently farcical enterprise, thereby ironically undermining its allure, its success, rather than promoting it. Desensitising is counterproductive as a seduction technique: ask any lorry driver. It’s possible that Fleming was too idle to describe it “properly”; equally so that he rightly considered anyone actually interested in guns as a wee bit mental. Still, the evidence suggests that Bond is not about relentless description of every frickin’ thing. It’s about knowing when the trigger doesn’t need to be pulled. Probably because it patently wouldn’t work.


    Damn damn damn damn.


    Once you’ve been seduced, once he’s touched you, you can only give in and just snort it all up. Otherwise you’d realise that this is a tale in which one man threatens to shoot another with his desk.



    The 007th Chapter – Live and Let Die: Mister Big

    continue reading…

    Helmut Schierer @ 2014-03-15
  2. The 007th Chapter: Casino Royale – Rouge et Noir

    A literary meditation by Jacques Stewart
    Jacques Stewart was born in 1973 and educated at Eton. After a brief period at Top Man at Guildford he went abroad to waste his education. In 1994, having failed to be crowned Emperor of the Cress, he joined a Fiat Punto to a tree and amputated his left foot. During both Gulf Wars, he watched them on the telly. His wartime experiences provided him with first-hand knowledge of his expanding waistline.After the wars he continued as a self-employed menace with a private income. He bought his house, House, in Oxfordshire and there at the age of forty he wrote The 007th Minute, a meretricious e-book slagging of the films featuring Commander James Bond. By the time of his death in 2744, seven people had downloaded it and one had even finished it, disappointed. Dr No, the first film featuring James Bond and starring Sean Connery, was released in 1962 and is one he actually quite likes and the Bond films continue to be huge international successes despite what he or any other anonymous human dust on the internet types about them. He is also the author of the magical children’s book You Were A Mistake.The opinions of Jacques Stewart were immediately recognised as total pus by his contemporaries 007izkewl, iluvpiersbrosmam and downloadtransformersfourherehotbabes. With the invention of James Bond, Ian Fleming created the greatest British fictional icon of the late twentieth century.
    That, you already knew.This is not a serious experiment.

    It resolves nothing, and proves less. In seeking to establish what the 007th chapters of the Bond books tell us of the core ingredients of such enterprises, do not come expecting truth or revelation. The only fact that can be asserted of these brainbursts is that they are my opinions, but I might be lying about that, to tell the truth (or not). Nor are these pieces intended as a guide for aspiring writers of Bond – be they “official” or fan fiction. The latter category may glean nothing from this exercise; the Bond novels tend to have right good spelling and grammar. Plots. Characters. Big words. As far as those charged with filling remainder shops with licensed literary Bond go, they might just get depressed.

    However, if you’re familiar with the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988 (it’s a page-turner: the car chase is fab), you’ll be aware that copyright in literary works persists until 31 December of the seventieth year after the author’s death. Accordingly, in principle anyway, on 1 January 2035, it’s open season on Ian Fleming’s works. In principle. It may be quite tricky – you’re welcome to try, if you’re still around and fancy litigation as a retirement plan. There’s the small matter of the continuation novels and short stories, evidently created to better the cultural life of the planet and not just preserve rights (God forbid you’d think that: tchoh!) and the equally splendid situation that the books now come with the deathly warning that James Bond and 007 are registered trademarks of Danjaq LLC, used under licence by IFP (kind of them). Trademark protection only lasts ten years, but critically it’s renewable (whereas, in so many ways, Ian Fleming is not, however many grave-based revolutions folks assert he performs on hearing (despite being heavily death) of a blond Bond or an invisible car). Given the happy-go-lucky good-natured attitude to their intellectual property that Danjaq have often demonstrated to this website, one suspects they’re unlikely to forget to send the form in on time.

    I suppose that doesn’t technically stop someone from using the text of (say) Thunderball and changing the name and number – seemed to be the heart of the McClory argument, that – but one would doubt both the sanity and the point. I’m in no position to judge either, though, as will rapidly emerge.

    Insfoar as there’s any structure to the venture, let’s play Goldfinger:

    Volume 1: Happenstance will concentrate on the Flemings;

    Volume 2: Coincidence on the Gardners and Bensons; and

    Volume 3: Enemy Action, Although It’s Actually Extremely Damaging Friendly Fire, What the Bloody Hell Are IFP Thinking? on the likes of Higson, Faulks, Deaver and Boyd.

    Knowing full well that I have been amiss on Amis and ungood on Wood and [something para-rhyming with Pearson (nothing para- rhymes with Pearson)] on Pearson, my views on their efforts will have to wait until this emerges as an e-book although if you’re that desperate to know, you can make a pretty accurate guess.As a clue, the overall structure may follow the classic dramatic arc of a first bit where everything’s sunshiney and delicious; middle part, all dark and horrible and nasty and stuff goes very wrong; third act, heroically back to form. Not too confident about that last one, frankly, but let’s get going.

    For the 007th chapter, I’m concentrating on the actual chapter itself as a snapshot of the written Bond. Whilst, as with the films, I could digress into laboured reviews of the remainder of the (de)merits of the product, that would necessitate having to read them all, and I have neither the time nor the patience nor (when it comes to more than a handful of the non-Fleming output) the absence of dignity.

    All “quotes” from texts are, unless otherwise stated, copyright Ian Fleming Publications Limited.


    The 007th Chapter – Casino Royale: Rouge et Noir

    continue reading…

    Helmut Schierer @ 2014-02-24
  3. Happy Birthday Mr Fleming!

    Photo by Christian Yorke (c)

    Today it’s 105 years since Ian Fleming was born. Happy Birthday from and millions of fans around the world. Wherever you may be, we raise our glasses to you, Mr Fleming!*

    *Incidentally a certain Mr Blofeld also was born on the same date.

    Helmut Schierer @ 2013-05-28
  4. 007 joins the Diamond Jubilee Club – 60 Years of ‘Casino Royale’

    Bond 60 yrs

    Mark O’Connell ( and and congratulate the Secret Service’s best card player on 60 years of beating the odds


    On the 13th of April 1953 a new kind of hero emerged from the daydreams of Ian Fleming, right onto the pages of his first novel ‘Casino Royale’. So today it’s sixty years since the Cold War got its epitome hero and a cultural icon to boot. congratulates James Bond on six decades of playing for keeps, drinking for effect, love for breakfast and death after a hearty dinner. Not Bond’s death, mind you. Although that’s been in the cards more than once, too.

    But who would rescue the Secret Service – London, Britain, the world – if it wasn’t for James Bond? No, even when Bond was beaten to pulp, shot, stabbed, poisoned – he had to survive regardless. Let die and live to fight another villain, that was the motto Fleming gave his hero. It saved Bond from the hands of madmen Nazis, Russian spy controllers, deadly Chinese-German Tong-outcasts, scandalously rich Smersh spy bankers and at times even from the accidie of his own creator. For Fleming could get impatient or bored with his creation and threatened to end his short violent life with the deadly strokes of his gold-plated typewriter on more than one occasion.

    Thankfully these near-death experiences always proved to be of a merely temporary nature for our hero. His welcome return usually saw him in a refreshed state of fitness – see ‘Doctor No’ – or a reconfigured state of mind, as in ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’. When was popular fiction ever more entertaining as when we were allowed to share a hero savour sex, food and drink? Of course when we are invited to watch him killing his own boss – and ours, figuratively.

    But all is well and quiet on the Regent’s Park front, no damage is done to top floor personnel. Only the office needs a little fresh air and paint. Such is life in the Bond world: the devious villains brainwash the Secret Service’s best shot into an attempt at the head of Britain’s intelligence. And forget to provide him with a proper gun that would get the job done. Not that it would have helped a lot.

    Anyway, within a few pages the washed brain becomes unwashed and England’s least-secret agent is trusted with another suicide mission, with all involved in this decision – a sum total of one miffed M – safe in the knowledge that this time Bond will do better. 007 doesn’t disappoint.

    Meanwhile our hero stealthily set out to conquer further levels of existence, developed a life of his own on the silver screen and turned from a successful literary figure to a universally renown popular myth. In the process James Bond became an immortal character only rivalled by Sherlock Holmes, surviving his creator now by almost fifty years and not giving any signs of fading into obscurity in the foreseeable future. Other authors have taken up the challenge to continue the myth’s adventures, to give the readers what they crave: another deadly mission, another exotic locale and at least one more beautiful woman to kiss.

    Today James Bond has become its own brand of sometimes exotic, sometimes outrageous thrills and – relatively speaking – chaste sexual encounters, always remaining on the safe –  the entertaining – side of violence and action, topped off with gratuitous but highly welcome sex. James Bond – that means an entirely unique mixture of suspense and action, of passion and cold-bloodedness.  Somewhere along the road certain elements of this voyage threatened to drown out the original appeal of the character, the sheer physical courage and endurance of an ordinary human in the face of potentially lethal danger. At times it seemed as if the wallpapers and cummerbunds – no comment about means to tell the time of day or get from A to B here – had become more important than the character whose exploits they helped depict.

    But time and again Bond managed to leave that baggage behind, to remain relevant for casual and die-hard fans alike and inspire adventurous daydreams with people of all ages and walks of life. Readers still want to read about their favourite secret agent, very much so. Even if he’s on duty for sixty years and longer.

    Because nobody does it better.


    Helmut Schierer @ 2013-04-13
  5. Exclusive offer: Buy three 007 Reloaded audiobooks and save 33%

    AudioGo’s 007 Reloaded series of audiobooks represents one of the most exciting retellings of Ian Fleming’s classic James Bond novels. A high profile collection of actors tackle Fleming’s books for the audiobook series, including Rory Kinnear (Quantum of Solace, Skyfall), Bill Nighy, Rosamund Pike (Die Another Day), David Tennant, Kenneth Branagh, Toby Stephens (Die Another Day), Jason Isaacs and lots more. is pleased to offer its readers an exclusive offer on these fantastic new audiobooks. Simply order any three 007 Reloaded audiobooks (on CD or download) and enter the offer code “commanderbondreloaded” to save 33% off the total amount.

    To read more about – and buy – the 007 Reloaded titles, check out AudioGo’s special 007 Reloaded website.


    • Offer ends 31st December 2012
    • The promoter holds the right to withdraw the offer at any time
    • Offer not available in the US or Canada
    • Customers need to create an account with AudioGO to purchase
    • Valid on CD and Download of single 007 Reloaded titles
    Matt Weston @ 2012-11-30
  6. Drawn to Bond – Michael Gillette expands on his Bond work

    Amongst all the latest updates on the imminent ‘Skyfall’ premier – trailers, adds and whatnot – there is also the odd snippet on the literary Bond coming our way. And these days such news are connected largely to the name of one artist: Michael Gillette.


    Fans will remember Gillette is the artist behind the cover designs of Penguin’s 2008 Fleming reprints, giving that edition a distinctive and unique look. Now Gillette is busy making German publisher Cross Cult’s new Fleming translations a definite collectors item. Not only is it the first complete edition of the classic canon in German ever; Michael Gillette also provided two all-new original covers for ‘Thunderball’/’Feuerball’ and ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’/’Im Geheimdienst Ihrer Majestät’.














    continue reading…

    Helmut Schierer @ 2012-10-17
  7. ‘Everything or Nothing’ Coming October 5th.

    ‘Comingsoon’ have reported that a new James Bond Documentary will be making it’s way to our screens on October 5th. Everything Or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007, focuses on Albert R Broccoli, Harry Saltzman and Ian Fleming, and is described as a ‘ thrilling and inspiring narrative behind the longest running film franchise in cinema history’. Click here to read the full story.

    Matthew Harkin @ 2012-08-28
  8. ‘There is only one Bond’ – seven times from Vintage





    John Cox’s The Book Bond – the go-to place for news and curio about the printed Bond – just alerts us Vintage’s new series of Ian Fleming reprints has its first seven books listed as ‘in stock’ at now. Pre-ordered copies should already be shipping, express delivery is listed as optional, so buyers can expect their copies soonish. Book-stores will likely display them within days.


    You can read The Book Bond’s original report here and discuss Vintage’s two different print runs in this thread of the forums.

    Thanks to John Cox for the heads up.


    Helmut Schierer @ 2012-07-31
  9. At long last – Germans open the Fleming treasure chest


    Do fans of Fleming’s Bond dream of new material by the master? A lot of them do indeed. And for German fans amongst them the dream does come true this autumn, a full 59 years after ‘Casino Royale’ was first published.

    Cross Cult, renown German publisher specialised in quality comics and graphic novels (WHITEOUT, FROM HELL, THE WALKING DEAD) as well as genre fiction ( STAR TREK, CASTLE and TORCHWOOD novels, amongst others) picks up the Fleming originals. This is the first time the entire run of 14 James Bond books by Ian Fleming gets a complete and consistent edition in Germany, and with Michael Gillette’s unique cover artwork, if you please. It marks also the very first time German readers get a complete, unaltered and unabridged translation of all original 007 novels and short stories .


    Previous German translations date back to the first editions of the early 1960s. Due to post-war sensibilities and a generally less liberal atmosphere the books then were heavily edited and omitted all chapter titles, many descriptive passages, brand names and at times even whole chapters. The result were distorted and chopped affairs, missing out a lot of the atmosphere the originals were so rich with. It’s a testament to Fleming’s talent his works in their German translation sold well for decades, in spite of the desecration they had to suffer. continue reading…

    Helmut Schierer @ 2012-07-28
  10. Samples of the James Bond audiobooks on YouTube

    Since yesterday YouTube offers first samples of the James Bond audiobooks that are going to be released come September by AudioGo. Here is a snippet of ‘The Man With The Golden Gun’ read by Kenneth Branagh. If you follow this link you will find samples of all the audiobooks. One particular treat for fans may be ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ read by Rosamund Pike.




    Thanks to Martin Eccles for the alert.

    Helmut Schierer @ 2012-07-05
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