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  1. The 007th Chapter: Colonel Sun – Not-So-Safe-House

    A literary meditation by Jacques Stewart

     

    CSWC600

     

     

     

     

     

    Kingsley Amis, with six double whiskies inside him, sat in the final departure lounge of Acapulco airport and thought about killing James Bond with a bazooka. It could have happened…

     

    Apologies if you sacrificed a disappointing child to ensure that this had ended. Can’t claim that continuation 007thChapters match the originals (for good or ill) and even a sympathetic reader filled with milky sap will conclude that I’ve exhausted an idea of debateable sustainability, given the knotweed of ennui throttling the initial run. You go spot a parallel, you clever old you.

     

    I recently acquired a 1970 paperback Colonel Sun for 25p, coincidentally its price at the time and, like all books, more expensive in Australia. Why does it cost so much to stock a prison library? I suspect the bookmonger involved rejects decimalisation, and soap, but troglodytes have their uses: the book is in good condition and worth the princely sum. Second-hand bookshop for second-hand Bond: fitting. He (probably a he) muttered, through a greasedribbled beard / nest, “It’s not a real one”. I replied that he was therefore fencing counterfeit goods and I would report him to the Bizzies. Cracking him across the for’ead with me alabaster swordstick, cape a-twirl I sashayed from the emporium, the gay applause of other customers a-ringing like a peal of church bells heralding savage war, and my way festooned with seasonal blooms. Ectually, I didn’t do any of that and, in shuffling out into the drizzle, tripped over a pile (apposite collective noun) of Clive Cusslers meeting their natural fate by stabilising a table. The truth in this escapade is only in what he said, this “person” who – in principle – would be assumed to “know” books. Unrealistic to expect he had read all his wares (and, with the Cusslers, heartless to require it), but an interesting attitude. He didn’t try “Kingsley Amis wrote that”, suggesting he didn’t know / care and his ignorance / apathy had cheated him of, ooh, another five pence (max). I assert not that this is the approach of all booksellers but since in five years’ time the World’s only bookshop will be a warehouse staffed by exhausted dead-eyed polo-shirted slaves on six-hundred hours per week, I can’t expect knowledge going for’ard.

     

    What is it – that the Flemings are “real” and the “not Flemings” are…imaginary? Imagining Colonel Sun I can accept, but dreaming up High Time to Kill? Jee Harvey Christ; must lay off the Moldovan Wait Wayne. Such examples cause pause. Colonel Sun. High Time to Kill. Same “thing”, ostensibly. Wow. OK, the Flemings fluctuated, and the films “vary”, but as widely as that? A hell of a chasm right in one’s face. I do feel it in my face. It’s hurting my nose. Perhaps I shouldn’t turn it up so high.

     

    My purchase contained an insert from 1968 for “the Companion Book Club”, promising members a saving of 14/6 on Colonel Sun’s price (if reading in “American”, five trillion dollars). Further discounts were available upon introducing a friend (unlikely) to the cabal, who could claim a gift of a “Horrockses set” (not a clue), a Food Can Opener (canned food? For humans? Is that really a thing?) or the LP “It’s Easy to Remember” by George Shearing, even if it’s not easy to remember George Shearing. An insight into the persons at whom these books are aimed, or thrown. There’s a list of members – including Major R. G. H. Savory (mmm) – and mugshots that would now be silhouetted in a tabloid. N.J. Prentice of Drumadd, Co. Armagh, says he “enjoyed” the club’s choices, his photo betraying that N.J. Prentice of Drumadd, Co. Armagh’s concept of enjoyment is swallowing a whole Mars bar sideways whilst being told that his doggy is dead. A. Phillips of Pitlochry congratulates “a high standard of diverse yarns”, quaint, like his “face” and Mr T.B. Vadge (I’m not making this up) of Burton-upon-Trent (surely he’s suffered enough?) says “…your books are the envy of all”, but only because he introduced reading to Burton-upon-Trent but, considered a fad, it never caught on.

    continue reading…

    Helmut Schierer @ 2015-04-08
  2. Conversations with Kingsley Amis now available

    Conversations with Kinglsley Amis, edited by Thomas DePietro, is now available to order online.

    Although the British author is known around the world for his many novels, poetry collections and short stories and has been called ‘the finest British comic novelist of the second half of the twentieth century’, James Bond fans best know Amis as the man behind the first 007 continuation novel, 1968’s Colonel Sun.

    Conversations with Kinglsley Amis is available in paperback format, published by the University Press of Mississippi.

    Kingsley Amis

    Kingsley Amis

    “If you can’t annoy somebody, there’s little point in writing” – Kingsley Amis

    Soon after Kingsley Amis (1922-1995) published his first novel, Lucky Jim, in 1954, he became an object of literary and journalistic scrutiny. This attention would continue until his last days, four decades and forty books later. Conversations with Kingsley Amis includes both the first and last interviews Amis gave. Celebrated by reviewers and critics for his wit and irreverence, Amis rose to the occasion whenever interviewed. His clever and common-sense views covered everything from the state of the novel and current intellectual trends to the circumstances of his domestic life.

    Not many writers can hold the interest of inquisitors from both Penthouse and the Economist as Amis does. Not many writers, for that matter, articulate views worth recording on sexual relations, about which Amis is something of a failed expert, and on the modern university, about which he could claim a greater authority. English periodicals of all varieties sought out Amis for his opinions on culture, both high and low. Along the way, Amis also entertained literary interrogators from the Paris Review and other journals, including talks with a number of distinguished men of letters such as Clive James, Michael Barber, and John Mortimer.

    Conversations with Kinglsley Amis will retail for $22.00 / £21.00. Order online:

    For up-to-the-minute literary James Bond coverage, always turn your browsers to the CommanderBond.net main page. Be sure to check out our new Twitter feed as well.

    Devin Zydel @ 2009-12-31
  3. The Everyday Drinking: The Distilled Kingsley Amis paperback now available

    The paperback edition of The Everyday Drinking: The Distilled Kingsley Amis by Kingsley Amis has been released this month in the UK.

    Kingsley Amis

    Kingsley Amis

    Originally published in hardback in early 2008, The Everyday Drinking: The Distilled Kingsley Amis focuses on his interpretation of the art and practice of imbibing.

    Amis is best known by James Bond fans for his one and only continuation novel in the literary 007 canon, 1968’s Colonel Sun. In addition, Amis also wrote 1965’s The James Bond Dossier, which was a critical analysis of the Ian Fleming Bond novels and The Book Of Bond Or, Every Man His Own 007, published under the pseudonym ‘Lt Col. William (‘Bill’) Tanner’.

    The official blurb follows:

    Kingsley Amis was one of the great masters of comic prose, and no subject was dearer to him than the art and practice of imbibing. This new volume brings together the best of his three out-of-print works on the subject: Kingsley Amis in Drink, Everyday Drinking and How’s Your Glass? In one handsome package, the book covers a full shelf of the master’s riotous and erudite thoughts on the drinking arts: Along with a series of well-tested recipes (including a cocktail called the Lucky Jim) are Amis’s musings on The Hangover, The Boozing Man’s Diet, The Mean Sod’s Guide, and (presumably as a matter of speculation) How Not to Get Drunk – all leavened with fun quizzes on the making and drinking of alcohol all over the world. Mixing practical know-how and hilarious opinionation, this is a delightful cocktail of wry humour and distilled knowledge, served by one of our great gimlet wits.

    The Everyday Drinking: The Distilled Kingsley Amis is published by Bloomsbury and retails for £7.99 / $10.00. A US release is scheduled to take place on 27 April 2010. Order online:

    For up-to-the-minute literary James Bond coverage, always turn your browsers to the CommanderBond.net main page. Be sure to check out our new Twitter feed as well.

    Devin Zydel @ 2009-11-23
  4. Conversations with Kingsley Amis due out in December

    A new book focusing on British author Kingsley Amis will be arriving early next month.

    Although he’s known around the world for his many novels, poetry collections and short stories and has been called ‘the finest British comic novelist of the second half of the twentieth century’, James Bond fans best know Amis as the man behind the first 007 continuation novel, 1968’s Colonel Sun.

    Conversations with Kinglsley Amis, edited by Thomas DePietro, is set to be published in paperback by the University Press of Mississippi on 1 December 2009 in the US. A release in the UK is scheduled to follow on 1 January 2010.

    Kingsley Amis

    Kingsley Amis

    “If you can’t annoy somebody, there’s little point in writing” – Kingsley Amis

    Soon after Kingsley Amis (1922-1995) published his first novel, Lucky Jim, in 1954, he became an object of literary and journalistic scrutiny. This attention would continue until his last days, four decades and forty books later. Conversations with Kingsley Amis includes both the first and last interviews Amis gave. Celebrated by reviewers and critics for his wit and irreverence, Amis rose to the occasion whenever interviewed. His clever and common-sense views covered everything from the state of the novel and current intellectual trends to the circumstances of his domestic life.

    Not many writers can hold the interest of inquisitors from both Penthouse and the Economist as Amis does. Not many writers, for that matter, articulate views worth recording on sexual relations, about which Amis is something of a failed expert, and on the modern university, about which he could claim a greater authority. English periodicals of all varieties sought out Amis for his opinions on culture, both high and low. Along the way, Amis also entertained literary interrogators from the Paris Review and other journals, including talks with a number of distinguished men of letters such as Clive James, Michael Barber, and John Mortimer.

    Conversations with Kinglsley Amis will retail for $22.00 / £21.00. Order online:

    For up-to-the-minute literary James Bond coverage, always turn your browsers to the CommanderBond.net main page. Be sure to check out our new Twitter feed as well.

    Devin Zydel @ 2009-11-17
  5. Looking Back: 'Colonel Sun'

    The CommanderBond.net ‘Looking Back’ series now moves onto Kingsley Amis and his 1968 contribution to the literary 007 canon, Colonel Sun. As the first true James Bond continuation novel (unless one adds factors in 1967’s 003 1/2: The Adventures of James Bond Junior by R.D. Mascott), Colonel Sun has since been cited numerous times by Bond fans as one of the few that really comes close to capturing the “Fleming sweep” that makes the original adventures so readable.

    CBn looks back at Colonel Sun through publication details, cover artwork, the original jacket blurbs, trivia notes, reactions from forum members and more.

    'Colonel Sun' UK Jonathan Cape Hardback

    Colonel Sun UK Jonathan Cape Hardback

    Sooner or later, as James Bond’s followers have known, certain effects of his lifework would begin to show. The reflexes would be just as fast; the audacity as unflagging; but in a man of Bond’s intelligence and perception a certain speculative turn of mind was bound to develop. Inevtiably, he would begin to question not the clear necessity of his work but its cost in human lives and human values. Thus, within the old Bond, a new Bond was destined to emerge… within the man of action, a man of feeling.

    It’s happened. Bond is pitted against a world-menacing conspiracy engineered by the malign Colonel Sun Liang-tan of the People’s Liberation Army of China. The stakes have never been higher, nor the dangers more complex and terrible. His allies–the fine-boned, tawny-haired agent of the rival secret service and the Greek patriot with a score to settle–are all too quickly neutralized. Alone, unarmed, Bond faces the maniacal devices of Colonel Sun… an ordeal that pushes him to the verge of his physical and moral endurance.

    Robert Markham is a nom de plume for Kingsley Amis, author of The Anti-Death League, Lucky Jim, and The James Bond Dossier. Incredibly, he has added to the Bond saga not only his supple prose and marevelous sense of place but his own imaginative impetus, which intensifies and deepens the excitement, pace and glitter of a vintage Fleming novel.

    US Harper & Row First Edition Hardback

    Trivia

    'Colonel Sun' UK Pan Paperback

    Colonel Sun UK Pan Paperback

    Kingsley Amis wrote Colonel Sun under the pseudonym ‘Robert Markham’. While the UK and US first edition hardbacks (which share the same cover artwork image) only list Markham as the author, later paperback printings eventually added Kingsley Amis onto the cover as well.

    Kingsley Amis provided a brief introduction to the novel, describing how he approached writing Colonel Sun, choosing Greece as the main location of events and following in Ian Fleming’s footsteps. This introduction can be found in the following editions of Colonel Sun: UK Coronet paperback (1991), UK Coronet paperback (1997) and US HarperCollins paperback (1993).

    Colonel Sun is dedicated to the memory of Ian Fleming.

    'Colonel Sun' UK Coronet Paperback

    Colonel Sun UK Coronet Paperback

    A VICIOUS GAME AGAINST DEADLY ODDS

    From the cool complacency of an elegant lunch and the pleasant challenge of the Sunningdale putting green, to an explosive confrontation on a Greek island, James Bond is drawn back into Her Majesty’s service.

    M has been kidnapped, his servants brutally murdered. Bond himself has barely escaped to follow a baffling trail that begins in Athens with the lovely Ariadne and leads across treacherous seas to a remote isle. There, as the Russians convene at a top secret meeting, Colonel Sun, master of interrogation, waits to welcome Bond to a game of ultimate risk and consummate cruelty.

    It is a game without rules. It will played to the death. At stake: nothing less than global chaos…

    US HarperCollins Paperback

    Release Timeline

    • 1968: 1st British Jonathan Cape Hardback Edition
    • 1968: 1st American Harper & Row Hardback Edition
    • 1969: 1st American Bantam Paperback Edition
    • 1970: 1st British Pan Paperback Edition
    • 1977: 1st British Panther Paperback Edition
    • 1991: 1st British Coronet Paperback Edition
    • 1993: 1st American HarperCollins Paperback Edition

    CBn Forum Member Reactions

    'Colonel Sun' UK Triad/Panther Paperback

    Colonel Sun UK Triad/Panther Paperback

    Colonel Sun is one of the better non-Fleming novels: exciting, violent, excellently written, and with a version of 007 closer to the original than any of the follow-up books. The latter shouldn’t be much of a surprise, since Colonel Sun was written only a few years after Fleming’s death, and Amis was one of the first people in the British literary scene to take the Bond novels seriously. This book was written in a substantially different era than the later Gardner and Benson tales, one where Fleming’s shadow and influence were much more immediate. Colonel Sun in some cases seems purposely written in opposition to the Eon film series, which had just made their first leap into outrageous science fiction (and away from a Fleming story) with You Only Live Twice. Colonel Sun is primarily a realistic and often violent tale with an lack of gadgetry. Amis even writes a dismissal of high-tech gadgets at the conclusion when Bond thinks about how useless all of Q Branch’s additions to his clothing actually were.

    Amis is definitely the most skilled writer on the technical level to undertake a Bond story in Fleming’s wake, and it shows. Although a member of the literary establishment because of his novel Lucky Jim, Amis still makes his story essentially a thriller, and a fairly good one at that. His descriptions have some of the exotic thrill of Fleming’s, and I can hardly fault his style; nothing seems forced or clumsy, which is a complaint I sometimes have about Gardner and frequently have about Benson. (I haven’t yet decided about Higson, although so far I’m positive.)

    Colonel Sun moves at a better pace than most of the latter-day Bonds and it held my interest most of the way, despite a slow late middle section. The novel gets off to a running start with the daring scene at Quarterdeck and the abduction of M–a nice sequel to the shocker opening of The Man with the Golden Gun. Amis shows immediately that he isn’t afraid to smash Bond around and really put the screws to him (or the metal skewers, heh heh). The book keeps up the pace for a good while before it starts to falter as Bond and Co. near the island of Vrakonisi. After the exciting underwater assault on the boat, the novel starts to slow down and get a touch dull. When Sun finally lays his mitts on Bond at the end, it’s back to the thrill factor for the climax. Amis again lays down the hurt, and it’s exciting. My only problem with the finale is that Colonel Sun is one incredibly talkative bad guy when he builds up to the torture. We expect the villain to give speeches in a 007 novel–it’s a classic part of the formula. But Sun seems not to stop, and Bond’s vituperative demands that he “get on with it” were ones with which I was readily agreeing. It is one nasty torture though, and thank you Kingsley for not going into too much detail on it. Appreciate it.

    One significant difference between Colonel Sun and Fleming’s books is the amount of time Amis dedicates to political discussions and allegiances. Although Fleming casts his stories against the backdrop of the Cold War and frequently pitted 007 against the Soviets, his novels have little interest in the “whys” of the conflict. James Bond doesn’t fight against communists, he fights against the Russians. He works for the forces of good, his opponents for evil, and that is that. It’s an unexcused fantasy setting: an organization like SMERSH seems more comfortable in a pulp adventure than in real world espionage. On the other hand, Amis’s version of James Bond’s world places political affiliations on the front lines. The scene between Ariadne and the Russian general just gets too mired in political philosophy speech-making, and for me it slowed the pace down. Such additions might have made Colonel Sun timely and realistic when it was published, but I find it much more dated than Fleming’s fantasy environment.

    Another strange thing that Amis does is include a chapter about George Ionides, the sailor who serves as an unwitting decoy for Bond and Niko Litsas. It doesn’t add much to story. The text could have just made mention of it when Bond and Litsas sneak onto Vrakonisi in a new boat, much the same way he mentioned the decoys in the car in Doctor No. It doesn’t help the pace at all in the slowest section of the novel.

    The characterizations are also a strong part of the book. I’ve already mentioned how well Bond is done. Litsas is an excellent ally (although, again, lots of political chat) with his own vengeance quest reasons for getting involved, and Ariadne is a vibrant, action-oriented Bond girl very much in keeping with the times. Colonel Sun is a bit reminiscent of Doctor No, but aside from his lengthy chatter pre-torture, he’s a deviously successful villain and comes to a good end.

    Colonel Sun definitely ranks among my favorites of the post-Fleming Bond novels, and it’s unfortunate that Kingsley didn’t have the opportunity to publish any further 007 adventures.

    CBn Forum member ‘Double-O Eleven’


    'Colonel Sun' US Bantam Paperback

    Colonel Sun US Bantam Paperback

    This book has taken the longest to finish of any Bond novel (including Spy). An interesting book. Amis has managed to ape Fleming’s style very well, and it sits easily with the Fleming canon. It is obviously well-written, but far too low-key, dull and political. It isn’t FUN, and is too serious. The ‘M’ kidnapping smacks of the age-old problem of writers taking over a franchise – let’s do something unconventional. It is probably a better book than some of the lessr Flemings, but Amis unequivocally lacks the Fleming sweep. I would have read further Amis adventures, but I think Colonel Sun is an interesting experiment and a nice thank you to Fleming, but ultimately,not Fleming. Whilst many different actors and technicians have handled the film Bond well, it seems only Fleming had the ease, the seductiveness, the playfulness to make one lose themselves in his world.

    The torture scene was extremely disturbing and Amis is more explicit about sex (but doesn’t mke it sound fun!). The story was good, Amis’s detest of Q Branch palpable. I find Amis’s prose difficult to read, Fleming, at least in the ’50’s books, tried to describe things in layman’s terms. Amis is obviously a verbose, intellectual writer. And perhaps too serious to write Bond.

    So, all in all, a worthwhile book. Probably (I haven’t read them all) the best non-Fleming book. But it is not an easy read for many reasons, and i find myself extremely ambivalent about the novel.

    CBn Forum member ‘manfromjapan’


    I got an old copy of this book and decided to review it. I’ve read it before and the book has always invoked strong feelings within me. It’s strange why this is the case. I personally think the book is one of the few James Bond continuation novels to be sufficiently seamy. By seamy I mean that there’s atmosphere and its dark and moody as a proper James Bond novel should be.

    I happened to like the Gardner and Benson novels but they’re continuations from the movie series in everything but technicality. I don’t honestly mind this and buy them because I like reading about movie James Bond. I haven’t purchased Devil May Care because I’ve become accustomed to the “new” style and don’t want to read a Bond book written in the 21st centuries set in the 1960s.

    I had heard of Ian Fleming’s widow writing an inflammatory review of the work and that it had been suppressed because of libel. I don’t know the contents of this work, though I would certainly love to read it. Unfortunately, I suspect that such a thing is lost to the ages.

    Having established that I think the book is wonderfully written, extremely seemy, and that there’s a very James Bond-ish plot (the literary James Bond not the movie James Bond); I want to warn people that the rest of this review is going to be extraordinarily hostile. I don’t like giving bad reviews but I’m not going to hide my feelings about the work or what they invoke.

    So, if you don’t want to read further then note that if you’re not interested in subtext then you are absolutely welcome to check out Colonel Sun and will undoubtedly walk away with the book with a wonderful reading experience. Purely classic Bond and you’ll definitely get your money’s worth from the experience. I say this in terms of writing and plot 7/10. Now, my actual review is going to start with a 1/10… [click here to continue reading]

    CBn Forum member ‘Willowhugger’

    Devin Zydel @ 2009-02-18
  6. 'The Life Of Kingsley Amis' Now Available In US

    The Life Of Kingsley Amis, a new biography of the one-time James Bond continuation author (1968’s Colonel Sun) by Zachary Leader, has recently been released in the US.

    In addition to his only Bond novel, literary 007 fans also know Amis for 1965’s The James Bond Dossier, which was a critical analysis of the Ian Fleming novels and The Book Of Bond Or, Every Man His Own 007, published under the pseudonym ‘Lt Col. William (‘Bill’) Tanner.’

    Here is the authorized, definitive biography of one of the most controversial figures of twentieth-century literature, renowned for his blistering intelligence, savage wit and belligerent fierceness of opinion: Kingsley Amis was not only the finest comic novelist of his generation-having first achieved prominence with the publication of Lucky Jim in 1954 and as one of the Angry Young Men-but also a dominant figure in post–World War II British writing as novelist, poet, critic and polemicist.

    In The Life of Kingsley Amis, Zachary Leader, acclaimed editor of The Letters of Kingsley Amis, draws not only on unpublished works and correspondence but also on interviews with a wide range of Amis’s friends, relatives, fellow writers, students and colleagues, many of whom have never spoken out before. The result is a compulsively readable account of Amis’s childhood, school days and life as a student at Oxford, teacher, critic, political and cultural commentator, professional author, husband, father and lover. Even as he makes the case for Amis’s cultural centrality–at his death Time magazine claimed that “the British decades between 1955 and 1995 should in fairness be called ‘the Amis era'”-Leader explores the writer’s phobias, self-doubts and ambitions; the controversies in which he was embroiled; and the role that drink played in a life bedeviled by erotic entanglements, domestic turbulence and personal disaster.

    Dazzling for its thoroughness, psychological acuity and elegant style, The Life of Kingsley Amis is exemplary: literary biography at its very best.

    The Life of Kingsley Amis was first published in the UK by Jonathan Cape in November 2006. It is also available to order in the US (published by Pantheon and a whopping 1,008 pages in length). A UK paperback is due out later this year.

    Order The Life of Kingsley Amis hardback from Amazon.com.

    Order The Life of Kingsley Amis hardback from Amazon.co.uk.

    Pre-order The Life of Kingsley Amis paperback from Amazon.co.uk.

    Stay tuned to CBn for all the latest literary James Bond news.

    Devin Zydel @ 2007-05-18
  7. The Blades Library Book Club: Colonel Sun

    Welcome back to The Blades Library Book Club – the place for quality discussions of the books of James Bond!

    Every two months a James Bond 007 novel is chosen for the club members to read. A thread is posted in the club forums listing locations on where you can find the novel. Discussions about the book will go on as the book is read and when it is finished. Another thread will be created so that club members can post their review and give a rating on the current book.

    All fans of the Literary Bond are eligible for membership. All you need to do to sign up is register for the CBn Forums and then post your name in the sign up thread.

    The Book Club’s Fifteenth Book

    Currently we are progressing though the James Bond 007 novels in chronological order, since quite a number of members are using the club as an opportunity to read the books for the very first time. The club has just finished the fourteenth and final Ian Fleming James Bond novel. Therefore, Colonel Sun by Kingsley Amis will be the book in the hands of readers for June 2006. Colonel Sun, published in 1968, is Kingsley Amis’ first (and only) James Bond adventure.

    Obtaining The Book

    Ordering online should be fairly easy. Colonel Sun can be ordered online (although in used condition) from the following sources:

    Online sources for other versions of Colonel Sun:

    Discuss other places to buy Colonel Sun or where you got your copy in this thread.

    Discuss The Book While Reading

    Want to talk about the book while reading it? Post a new thread in The Blades Library. Be sure to title the thread with Colonel Sun and the chapter number you have read through.

    Review And Rate The Book

    After you have finished reading Colonel Sun, you can dicuss it with other club members in The Blades Library, and give the book your personal rating out of five in this thread.

    If you have any questions or suggestions just post them in a new thread. Happy reading.

    Previous Books Read

    Devin Zydel @ 2006-06-15
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