1. Looking Back: 'James Bond And Moonraker'

    By Devin Zydel on 2009-02-23

    The ‘Looking Back’ series continues on with the second of Christopher Wood’s two contributions to the literary 007 canon: 1979’s James Bond and Moonraker. Like his previous James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me novelization, James Bond and Moonraker translated the screenwriter’s storyline for the popular Bond film from screen to page with some minor changes.

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

    'James Bond and Moonraker' UK Jonathan Cape Hardback

    James Bond and Moonraker UK Jonathan Cape Hardback

    American space shuttles don’t just disappear. M knows they had better not even seem to disappear when on loan to the British Government if Anglo-American relations are to avoid taking a pounding. So Miss Moneypenny has her instructions: find 007. Now.

    Bond’s first port of call is a dumb-founding French Renaissance chateau and space complex in the Californian desert, where the unlovable Hugo Drax first manufactured the shuttle Moonraker and from which he now conducts 40 per cent of the American space programme. As Drax’s appealing helicopter pilot Trudi puts it, ‘what he doesn’t own he dosen’t want.’

    From there to Venice, where Bond discovers a dastardly Drax laboratory in the bowels of a Venetian glass factory which, when he comes to reveal it, has vanished during the night. On to a penthouse in Rio de Janeiro–so palatial that it seems to stop just short of the Pacific coast and comes complete with swimming pool and shapely swimmer. Outside, however, amongst the revelling Brazilian throng, is a carnival figure sporting an obscene set of jagged stainless steel teeth which Bond is soon to recognise as belonging to the killer Jaws. His next stop after a deadly chase over squalling falls in a tropical rain forest is–unbelievably–outer space.

    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 1955 novel of the same name, Wood’s novelization was titled James Bond and Moonraker for all printings in the UK and US.

    Although counted inside the official James Bond canon, Wood’s James Bond and Moonraker 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 £300 ($450).

    Novelization/Film Differences

    While Christopher Wood’s James Bond and Moonraker novelization is generally much closer to the film of the same name as compared to his earlier James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me, there are still a few differences that can be pointed out:

    • Novelization: The assistant to Hugo Drax is doomed helicopter pilot Trudi Parker.
    • Film: In the film, the character is named Corinne Dufour.
    • Novelization: In chapter 17, ‘Take The Weight Off Your Feet’, James Bond engages in an ‘outer space walk’ that results from his fear that the laser turret mounted on the Drax spacestation may be able to fire at the oncoming US assistance. Reaching this area via the passages inside the station would require Bond to pass by the most heavily guarded areas, so he chooses this alternative route.
    • Film: No such sequence is present in the film.
    'James Bond and Moonraker' French Paperback Edition

    James Bond and Moonraker French Paperback Edition

    A Major New James Bond Movie

    A very regrettable incident has occurred. A US MOONRAKER space shuttle, on loan to the British, has disappeared–apparently into thin air. Who has the spacecraft? The Russians? Hugo Drax, multi-millionaire supporter of the NASA space programme, thinks so. But Commander James Bond knows better.

    Aided by the beautiful–and efficient–Dr Holly Goodhead, 007 embarks on his most dangerous mission yet. Objective: to prevent one of the most insane acts of human destruction ever contemplated. Destination: outer space. The stakes are high. Astronomical even. But only Bond could take the rough so smoothly. Even when he’s out of this world…

    UK Panther Paperback

    Release Timeline

    • 1979: 1st British Jonathan Cape Hardback Edition
    • 1979: 1st British Panther Paperback Edition
    • 1979: 1st American Jove Paperback Edition

    CBn Forum Member Reactions

    In both [James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me and James Bond and Moonraker], though, I think Wood demonstrated a familiarity with the Fleming/Bond canon and the ability to make the fanciful storylines Fleming-like. A small example: In James Bond and Moonraker, Bond is recalling his latest fitness report while on the plane. The sequence definitely recalls Fleming’s Thunderball novel. It’s a nice touch among a chapter depicting fantastic events. Wood did that sort of thing throughout both novelizations. It would have been interesting if Glidrose/IFP had hired Wood to do his own original novel.

    CBn Forum member ‘Napoleon Solo’

    'James Bond and Moonraker' UK Panther Paperback

    James Bond and Moonraker UK Panther Paperback

    I’ve been championing Wood’s novelisations for ages. James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me is significantly better, in my opinion, than James Bond and Moonraker, which is more straight novelisation and less of the great stuff he’s infused into The Spy Who Loved Me.

    I don’t know who picked Gardner over Wood, but that was a HUGE mistake, in my opinion. Not to diss on Gardner, but Wood’s stuff was just wonderful.

    CBn Forum member ‘Bon-san’

    I have just finished reading the two Christopher Wood continuation novels James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me and James Bond and Moonraker and I wondered if anyone else had any views regarding their merit (or otherwise!)? In my humble opinion, Wood makes a good job of trying to imitate Fleming’s narrative and gives us the “literary Bond” as opposed to the “screen version”. Unfortunately, Wood cannot resist including some “Bond quips” in both novels, but they are few and far between. Wood also equips Bond with Q gadgets, but not to the extreme of the movie versions. Not as good as a Fleming original (of course!) or Amis’s Colonel Sun in my opinion, but a fine effort anyway. Though they are both quite difficult to get hold of now (I got mine second hand from ebay), they are both worth the effort of tracking down in my opinion.

    CBn Forum member ‘marmaduke’

    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 just read Wood’s Moonraker novelization. It left me fairly unimpressed, unlike his previous effort. It was just too… movie novelization-ish. But it was still far above the Gardner/Benson novelization efforts.

    CBn Forum member ‘Harmsway’

    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’