Exactly a year on from the announcement that William Boyd would be writing the next James Bond novel, publishers Jonathan Cape have used the occasion of the London Book Fair to finally announce the title. The book, taking Bond back to 1969 after Jeffery Deaver's modern-day Carte Blanche, will be called Solo.
With perhaps a smidgeon of a Licence To Kill vibe, the story sees Bond going rogue from MI6. "Sometimes less is more," explains Boyd. "For me as a novelist the simple beauty of Solo as the title of the next James Bond novel is that this short four-letter word is particularly and strikingly apt for the novel I have written. In my novel, events conspire to make Bond go off on a self-appointed mission of his own, unannounced and without any authorization, and he’s fully prepared to face the consequences of his audacity."
Bond's journey takes in three continents, with the bulk of the narrative in Africa. "It’s what happens to Bond in Africa that generates his urge to 'go solo' and take matters into his own hands in the USA," says Boyd.
Sebastian Faulks' Devil May Care kicked off this occasional series of new literary Bonds for the Fleming centenary in 2008, and Boyd's novel marks the 60th anniversary of the publication of the first Bond novel, Casino Royale. Solo also constitutes a homecoming of sorts, since Jonathan Cape was the publisher of the original Fleming novels, and of the first ever post-Fleming continuation, Kingsley Amis' Colonel Sun, written in 1968.
"Ian Fleming had a great aptitude for naming his books," says Corinne Taylor of Ian Fleming Publications, "and his Bond titles have become true classics. Solo is a simple yet striking title which fits perfectly alongside the other books in the Bond canon."
"Not only did it fit the theme of the novel perfectly, it’s also a great punchy word," continues Boyd. "[It's] instantly and internationally comprehensible, graphically alluring and, as an extra bonus, it’s strangely Bondian in the sense that we might be subliminally aware of the “00” of “007” lurking just behind those juxtaposed O’s of Solo…"
The book will be published on September 26. Be sure to check out Empire's handy history of post-Fleming Bond novels at some point in the meantime, and you can register for updates at the official Solo microsite.