1. Looking Back: 'James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me'

    By Devin Zydel on 2009-02-20

    The ‘Looking Back’ series now moves onto the Christopher Wood era and the first of his two contributions to the literary 007 canon: 1977’s James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me. As the first true James Bond novelization, James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me translated Wood’s story for the popular Bond film from screen to page and added in several brand new elements.

    CBn looks back at James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me through publication details, cover artwork, the original jacket blurbs, trivia notes, reactions from forum members and more.

    'James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me' UK Jonathan Cape Hardback

    James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me UK Jonathan Cape Hardback

    Major Anya Amasova had scored well in the course on ‘sex as a weapon’, although the SMERSH report had noted a risk of emotional attachments. James Bond was as wary of her presence in Cairo as he was charmed by her proud self-assured beauty. Where did the Russians find such women? But Bond was not an agent to be distracted from his mission: someone had learned to plot the course of nuclear submarines and, impossible as it sounded, M told him in London that the 370-foot nuclear-powered H.M.S. Ranger was ‘missing’.

    Not since Dr. No and Auric Goldfinger has Bond locked wits with an opponent so dedicated to his private obsession or shielded by such deadly cunning as Sigmund Stromberg. His double-0 prefix meant that Bond was used to death, but what Stromberg’s killer could do with his two rows of stainless steel teeth was an obscenity.

    UK Jonathan Cape First Edition Hardback


    Christopher Wood

    Christopher Wood

    As many James Bond fans are aware, Christopher Wood also wrote the screenplays for The Spy Who Loved Me (shared with Richard Maibaum) and Moonraker films. His two novelizations of these films represent the first novelizations in the literary 007 canon. John Gardner and Raymond Benson would later go on to write novelizations for the films Licence to Kill through Die Another Day.

    To possibly avoid confusion with Ian Fleming’s original 1962 novel of the same name, Wood’s novelization was titled James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me for both the UK hardback and paperback printings. In the US however, where it only received a paperback printing, it was titled The Spy Who Loved Me.

    Although counted inside the official James Bond canon, Wood’s James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me has never been reprinted. While copies of both the UK and US paperbacks are generally easy enough to locate online, the UK Jonathan Cape hardback printing is increasingly difficult to come by and is often found for sale in excess of £700 ($1,000).

    James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me is dedicated to director Lewis Gilbert.

    Novelization/Film Differences

    There are several notable changes in the James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me novelization compared to Wood’s screenplay of the same name. Some of them include:

    • Novelization: The villain is Sigmund Stromberg.
    • Film: The villain is Karl Stromberg.
    • Novelization: The real name of henchman Jaws is revealed: Zbigniew Krycsiwiki.
    • Film: In the film, he is simply referred to as Jaws.
    • Novelization: Villains organization SMERSH (‘Death to Spies’; the organization responsible for internal security in the armed forces) is present early on in the novelization when Anya Amasova meets with her KGB superiors. Previously, SMERSH was featured in several of the early Ian Fleming Bond novels before SPECTRE became the primary villains organization.
    • Film: There is no mention of SMERSH in the film.
    • Novelization: Following the killing of Fekkesh by Jaws, the novelization features a rather painful torture sequence in which electric cables are attached to Bond’s genitals by KGB associates of Anya.
    • Film: No such torture sequence is present in the film.
    • Novelization: There is no mention of Naomi.
    • Film: In the film, Karl Stromberg’s personal assistant, Naomi, eventually hunts down Bond and Anya in the late helicopter/Lotus chase.
    'James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me' UK Jonathan Cape Hardback (Adrian Harrington Rare Books)

    A Major New James Bond Movie

    Two armed nuclear submarines are missing. One is Russian, the other British. But who is the shared enemy? The Cold War thaws as the might of MI5 joins with the cream of the KGB for one unique mission. Britain needs him: Commander James Bond, 007. Russia needs her: Major Anya Amasova, Agent Triple X. The world needs them both and in the most dangerous and complex assignment of their careers, they form an unholy, all-action and sometimes all-embracing alliance in a race against global destruction.

    UK Panther Paperback

    Release Timeline

    • 1977: 1st British Jonathan Cape Hardback Edition
    • 1977: 1st British Panther Paperback Edition
    • 1977: 1st American Warner Books Paperback Edition

    CBn Forum Member Reactions

    'James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me' US Warner Books Paperback

    James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me US Warner Books Paperback

    I was pleasantly surprised by Wood’s effort, and after reading it I immediately forgave him for some of the excessive silliness in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker–he can’t have been the only one to blame. He’s a witty writer and I really believe he should be brought back to do dialogue polishes on future Bond films.

    This novel has some terrific passages, Bond’s arrival in Cairo, the subsequent meeting with Felicca and the fight with the henchman are top-drawer Bond. Even Jaws and his metal teeth get a convincing background.

    CBn Forum member ‘Lounge Lizard’

    Wood’s Spy is far better than anything by Gardner, Benson, Higson or Pearson. Even against Amis, its close. It is everything a book involving Ian Fleming’s James Bond should be.

    Enough said.

    CBn Forum member ‘David Schofield’

    There are a great number of CBners who believe that Christopher Wood’s novelizations are the best Bond continuation novels out there. I for one agree with this position and if you want to get a taste of how much better Moonraker would have been if they had stuck to Wood’s original script then check out his novelizarion to that movie.

    Christopher Wood’s novelization of The Spy Who Loved Me was the first Bond novel I ever read (back in the late 1970s) so I have a particular soft-spot for it.

    CBn Forum member ‘DLibrasnow’

    'James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me' UK Panther Paperback

    James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me UK Panther Paperback

    Christopher Wood was a die-hard Fleming fan and chose to display that in the novelizations safe in the belief that no-one at Eon would read them! He describes the process of compromise and committee in writing a Bond film vividly and believably. Wood is very self-deprecating about the process.

    The excellent novelizations (I agree, James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me tips James Bond and Moonraker) are written by an excellent writer with the class, tone and insider polish that a good Bond author needs. Regardless of the plotting and characters (although Sigmund Stromberg and Zbigniew Krycsiwiki aka Jaws are wonderfully extrapolated), the writing is terrific and captures that high old tone of Fleming’s.

    Those who keep ragging on Purvis and Wade should heed Wood’s experience. The “writer” of a Bond film is a significant minority influence on these productions not the major guiding force some posters would have us believe.

    CBn Forum member ‘ACE’

    I enjoyed Christopher Wood’s novelizations as well–with James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me just a little bit more than James Bond and Moonraker. One thing I wish we could have seen that was omitted from either film was Bond’s space walking scene in James Bond and Moonraker. They already have him in outer space so why not take it a baby step further. It was a really good scene. Very suspenseful. But despite my liking of Wood’s novelizations, I enjoy some of John Gardner’s and Raymond Benson’s novels more.

    CBn Forum member ‘Double-Oh Agent’

    I think Wood’s Spy is excellent. In fact, I think it could be put over Amis. I’m not sure why Colonel Sun is instantly considered the best of all the continuations novels. Have you read it lately? It’s good…but I’m not sure it’s the best. Wood’s Spy, Blood Fever, Pearson’s Bio, even License Renewed I think are worth considering over Colonel Sun.

    CBn Forum member ‘zencat’

    Firstly, I enjoyed Both of Wood’s novelisations very much. I would say they are well clear at the top of my ranking of the novelisations. I also think that if they were included in the list of continuation novels they would also rank highly, especially James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me.

    Of the two I prefer James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me, which is interesting because I prefer the film of Moonraker to The Spy Who Loved Me. Wood is on top form in this book though, and I like the whole SMERSH slant which was added by Wood. Both novels pay close attention to the style of the Fleming novels, and Bond’s character is clearly Fleming’s Bond rather than Moore’s. I would heartily recommend these books to anybody who enjoys Fleming’s Bond, as they are a nice hybrid between Fleming and cinematic Bond. To be honest, I think that they should get Wood to write some continuation books.

    CBn Forum member ‘golrush007’