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

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James Bond's Literary Afterlife   | Raymond Benson
Raymond Benson

Gardner’s replacement in 1996 was – Shock! Horror! – an American! Raymond Benson had previously been behind The James Bond Bedside Companion, as well as computer games and role-playing campaigns, and ended up writing six original novels, three short stories and three novelisations for the series, ending with The Man With the Red Tattoo in 2002. His tenure ran alongside Pierce Brosnan’s onscreen stint as Bond, but while the female M imposed on him by Glidrose “couldn’t help but be Judi Dench”, he tells Empire his Bond isn’t Brosnan, but “the guy I envisioned back in the sixties when I first read the Flemings.” He neither particularly acknowledges or much contradicts the Gardner chronology, but restores the Walther PPK to Bond’s holster (Gardner gave him a semi-automatic Browning), and reinstates Boothroyd at Q Branch.

All Benson’s novels can stand alone, but three are connected as a trilogy involving The Union: a new enemy organisation to replace SPECTRE and SMERSH, headed by the shady and mysterious Le Gerant. Best of the bunch is High Time to Kill, an Eiger Sanction-ish Nepal-set mountaineering adventure, where Bond races several dangerous rivals to a McGuffin at the site of a plane crash near the summit of Kangchenjunga. “Ian Fleming was a huge fan of climbing when he was young,” says Benson. “It was very Bondian but it had never been done before. It felt like something Fleming would have done eventually!”

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