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Feature
James Bond's Literary Afterlife
Bond after Fleming, From Amis to Deaver

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James Bond's Literary Afterlife   | John Gardner
John Gardner

Rights-holders Glidrose decided to bring Bond back in a regular series of novels in 1980, choosing crime writer and ex-journalist John Gardner for the task. Gardner wrote sixteen novels between 1981 and his retirement in 1996 (including novelisations of Licence to Kill and Goldeneye which don’t strictly fit with his own series) beginning with Licence Renewed and ending with COLD. “We all came to the table with the same idea,” he told Raymond Benson in 1993. “I wanted to put Bond on ice and resurrect him in 1980 completely intact, with all the knowledge of the previous decade and a half. So much had happened in the world of espionage since the sixties.”

Gardner’s Bond aged over his series, approaching a Jack Ryan vibe in the later books. Unable contractually to use Q (who belongs to the films) he invented the female Q’ute as a replacement, although it’s not quite clear why he didn’t just say “Major Boothroyd of Q Branch” which would have been perfectly legal. The first half dozen novels see Bond up against a reinvigorated SPECTRE (including an instalment, Nobody Lives Forever, involving the kidnap of Moneypenny and Bond’s treasured housekeeper May). Later entries see him taking on a religious cult, a serial killer, and being reassigned to naval duty to protect Thatcher, Bush and Gorbachev.

Gardner’s favourite of his own Bonds was The Man From Barbarossa. Everyone else likes For Special Services.

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