1. Literary 007 Reviewed: Ian Fleming's 'Octopussy And The Living Daylights'

    By Devin Zydel on 2009-06-16
    Octopussy and The Living Daylights

    Octopussy and The Living Daylights

    With 2008 marking the centenary of Ian Fleming, the newest review series, Literary 007 Reviewed, now continues with the author’s fourteenth James Bond adventure, 1966’s Octopussy and The Living Daylights.

    As several CBn Forum members are already aware, every two months a James Bond adventure is chosen for members of the Blades Library Book Club to read. Proceeding in chronological order, the club first read Fleming’s Octopussy and The Living Daylights back in April 2006.

    What follows are selected reviews from the Book Club Forum members. For further details on the club or to post your own review of Octopussy and The Living Daylights, simply click here.

    Literary 007 Reviewed:
    Octopussy and The Living Daylights

    Ian Fleming's 'Octopussy and The Living Daylights'

    Ian Fleming’s Octopussy and The Living Daylights

    Octopussy and The Living Daylights reviewed by… Sbott

    Octopussy is a great short story from Fleming in which Bond plays a minor role. The plot has been covered by the previous reviewers so I won’t go over old ground. What I enjoyed is Fleming’s story telling, his ability to describe the detail/technicalities of a scene in such a manner that it creates an atmosphere instead of sounding like a manual for fixing your car. For example, the description of the scorpion fish is higly detailed and could have been very mundane. However, the use of military language (camouflage, supreme weapon, heavily toothed etc.) helps to create a sinister atomsphere which helps to set the story up.

    Fleming also uses the story to tell the readers more about Bond, we learn a little about his releationship with Oberhauser, the man Major Smythe killed, who was a father figure to Bond and taught him to ski when he was in his teens. This sets up a problem for Bond, he has tracked down the killer of Oberhauser, his mentor and he turns out to be an ex Royal Marine with an distinguished track record, until the murder and the stolen gold are discovered. Bond must have had mixed feelings about Smythe, but still gives him time to clear up his own affairs – the implication of which is the honourable way out. It reminds me of Trevelyan line in the film GoldenEye “Somehow I knew that 007’s loyalty was always to the mission, never to his friend”. Bond’s feeling towards Smythe are never explored in the story although Bonds demeanor gives us clues (for example “Bond said unemotionally”) and this is a shame.

    Captivating short stories are hard to write and this one is a gem.

    Octopussy and The Living Daylights reviewed by… Byron

    I really liked Octopussy, even slightly more than The Living Daylights. The Property of a Lady was decent and 007 in New York was fun.

    Overall I give this collection 3.5 stars.

    Out of the two short story collections I prefer For Your Eyes Only as it has 3 stories I really dig (Quantum of Solace, For Your Eyes Only and The Hildebrand Rarity), whereas this collection has one (Octopussy).

    Octopussy and The Living Daylights reviewed by… MHazard

    For some reason Octopussy has always left me a little cold. It’s not just that Bond seems incidental to the story, but for me, the story told isn’t particularly captivating. I don’t mind Fleming making Bond incidental to the story, which he does in Quantum of Solace a story I far prefer to Octopussy.

    In contrast, Bond is central to The Living Daylights which explores his distaste for killing (something you would never get out of any of the movies) and shows a somewhat burnt out Bond fed up with the moral ambiguity of his profession and dealing with a colleague who has absolutely no clue what emotional price Bond pays by doing his job. All of which comes to a head when he’s required to kill a beautiful girl. How he reacts to having all of these buttons pushed in him is fascinating.

    But hey, it’s not like I hate Octopussy as a story, I just don’t view it as one of Ian’s highlights.

    Octopussy and The Living Daylights reviewed by… manfromjapan

    A good little collection, but not as substantial or memorable as For Your Eyes Only. Octopussy and The Property of a Lady were entertaining if nothing special, 007 in New York was fun but a mere trifle, and The Living Daylights was simply fantastic. i enjoyed that particular story more than some of the novels (especially the tedious The Spy Who Loved Me). It made me hope that somewhere in the vaults is a finished full-length novel of the same title of which the story was merely the first few chapters!

    I give the collection a 3 out of 5.

    PS. It is fun reading all the novels in order and spotting where the film-makers have paid homage or lifted directly eg. the Fanshawe character in Property becoming Fanning in the Octopussy film.

    Octopussy and The Living Daylights reviewed by… Dr. Carl Mortner

    Octopussy was the first Fleming I ever read. Although very little of it has to do with Bond, I think it gave me a bit of a primer for Fleming’s style and prepared me for the culture shock of going from the films to the books.

    The Living Daylights is a great short story. Actually, I think Fleming was a far better short story writer than a novelist – this and most of the stories from For Your Eyes Only are much more action-packed and captivating than many of the full-length novels.

    Octopussy and The Living Daylights reviewed by… Red Grant

    Like size, length isn’t everything (apparently!)

    Despite their brevity, these two short stories are excellent. The Living Daylights is for me an almost perfect James Bond story. You learn more about his character, attitude to work, women and life in these few tense pages. The film of The Living Daylights managed to capture the spirit of the short story and remains very faithful in a filmic sort of way. Whilst The Living Daylights is not the best way to be introduced to the literary 007, it shouldn’t be dismissed entirely.

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