Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Young Bond Book 3 FIRST DETAILS

As Charlie Higson's first Young Bond novel, SilverFin, continues to fly off store shelves and anticipation grows for the January release of Book 2, Blood Fever, we have uncovered the first details of Charlie Higson's third Young Bond novel.

The yet untitled Young Bond Book 3 will be set almost entirely in the darkest corners of 1930s London where young Bond battles Russian spies who are attempting to build an early computer. The release date is currently set for January 2007.

Some fans speculated that Ian Fleming Publications might release Book 3 in late 2006 to take advantage of the onslaught of James Bond publicity surrounding the release of Daniel Craig's debut as 007 in Casino Royale. However, it appears IFP is sticking with their plans to release a Young Bond book every year -- which means the series will continue until 2009, overlapping the adult centennial Bond novel due in 2008.

Thursday, September 8, 2005

RED TATTOO museum launches two websites

The 007 The Man With the Red Tattoo Museum in Naoshima Japan has launched two new websites featuring art and images from this unique museum devoted to Raymond Benson’s last original James Bond novel.

The first is the museum’s official website, which is currently only in Japanese. In conjunction with the official site is the 007 Location Promotion Committee, featuring general information about the museum and ongoing efforts to petition Eon into making a James Bond movie in Naoshima. A link in English takes you to a plot synopsis, drawings exhibited in the museum, and other goodies.

Designed by Hidemi Inoue of Inoue Commercial Space Planning, The 007 The Man With the Red Tattoo Museum is located at 2310 Miyanoura, Naoshima (one minute from Myanoura Bay). For more information, contact the International Affairs Division, Kagawa Prefectural Government, Tel: 087-832-3026, Fax 087-837-4289.

Raymond Benson recently provided CBn with a exclusive report on the museum’s opening day ceremonies with his own personal pictures from the event. CLICK HERE to read Raymond’s report.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

New Adult Bond Novel Coming in 2008

Ian Fleming Publications have announced plans to commission a one-off adult James Bond novel to celebrate the centenary of Ian Fleming's birth in 2008.

Following the success of Charlie Higson's Young Bond series (Book 2, Blood Fever is to be released in January 2006), IFP are keen to commission a big-name author to pen the new novel.

"We are still in the planning stages, but at the moment the idea would be to have it done by an established author - potentially a big name," said Zoe Watkins of IFP. "The literary Bond is something we want to focus on and any work would have to be in keeping with the literary aspects of the books. If it was successful there could be scope for further novels."

According to Ms Watkins, the new novel will be far removed from the gloss of 007's cinematic incarnation, marking a return to the dark and complex nature of Fleming's early works.

Scotsman.com reports the early favorites to be approached to pen the new novel include Lee Child (Killing Floor), Frederick Forsyth (The Day of the Jackal) and John le Carré (The Tailor of Panama).

John Gardner, who penned 16 James Bond novels throughout the 1980s and 1990s (including two novelisations) has ruled himself out for taking on the new project. "Sorry, but for me Bond is very much in the past. No more comments, no more interviews."

The adult literary James Bond went on hiatus in 2002, following the publication of Raymond Benson's The Man With The Red Tattoo and the novelisation of Die Another Day. Earlier this year, Penguin released the first in a series of five novels by Charlie Higson, focussing on Bond's time at Eton in the 1930s.

Asked about the possibility of him writing the new adult Bond novel, Higson commented, "I'm very honored. But I'm busy writing the young Bond books and I can't take the time out. It's a shame because I'd love to do it."

Source: CommanderBond.net

Monday, July 11, 2005

Young Bond Book 2 is BLOOD FEVER

PRESS RELEASE

Following the huge success of the first Young Bond book, SilverFin, Puffin Books and Ian Fleming Publications are delighted to reveal the title and jacket image for the second book in the series, Blood Fever, which will be published on Thursday 5th January 2006. The book is by the much-acclaimed author of SilverFin, Charlie Higson.

SilverFin, which was published in March this year, has sold 125,000 copies in the UK alone, and was in the Top Ten of the Children's Bestseller lists for 11 weeks. In the book, readers are introduced to a 13-year old James Bond, who gets involved in an evil plot in the Scottish Highlands while in his first year at Eton. Blood Fever is set largely in Sardinia, where James is spending his summer holidays, and features, in Charlie Higson's words, pirates, bandits, art thieves and a shoot-out in a cave; everything you could want from a James Bond book. It is the second in a planned series of five Young Bond books.

Francesca Dow, Managing Director of Puffin, said: "We are delighted with the success of SilverFin and anticipate a huge second bestseller in Blood Fever. Gritty, action-packed and villain-ridden - it is unputdownable."

Tuesday, July 5, 2005

THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH large print edition released

Raymond Benson’s novelization of The World Is Not Enough, originally published in 1999, has just been released in a large print edition by Ulverscroft Large Print and can be purchased at Amazon.co.uk.

What makes this particular book interesting (and collectible) is that it uses cover art radically different from what appeared on the original 1999 U.S. and UK releases. While many large print editions opt for variant covers, novelisations typically stick with the movie poster art. But not this time.

This is the second large print edition of a Benson Bond film novelisation, the first being Die Another Day. Benson’s original Bond books High Time To Kill, DoubleShot, and Never Dream of Dying have also been published in large print. There were plans for a large print edition of The Man With The Red Tattoo, but the book has yet to materialize.

Large print editions can be highly collectible as they are typically published in small quantities with most going to libraries. All the Fleming novels and most of the James Bond novels by John Gardner have appeared in large print editions.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

THE MAN WITH THE RED TATTOO museum to open in Japan

Raymond Benson
The government of Kagawa Prefecture in Japan will honour author Raymond Benson with a museum dedicated to his sixth original James Bond novel, The Man With the Red Tattoo.

Between 1996 and 2002, Benson, a resident of Buffalo Grove, Illinois, was the third writer officially commissioned by the Estate of Ian Fleming to pen 007 continuation novels. During his tenure, Benson wrote and published six original James Bond novels, three film tie-in “novelizations,” and three short stories. His sixth and final original 007 novel, The Man With the Red Tattoo (published in 2002 in the U.S. by Putnam and in the U.K. by Hodder & Stoughton), was set in Japan. A major part of the story takes place on Naoshima Island in Kagawa Prefecture.

Since the novel’s publication, Kagawa Prefecture, Naoshima Town, and a number of other organizations have been working together to promote the cinematic adaptation and filming of the novel in a move to revitalize Naoshima and the wider Seto Inland Sea region. Their efforts have been receiving a great deal of attention in the Japanese media, leading to the construction of a facility which could be used to introduce the locations on the island.

The 007 The Man With the Red Tattoo Museum aims to present Naoshima as a Bond location on a national scale, introduce visitors to the story of The Man With the Red Tattoo and other James Bond 007 novels, feature information on Benson and the other successive authors who have contributed to the legacy of 007, and exhibit material and memorabilia related to the novels and films.

Designed by Hidemi Inoue of Inoue Commercial Space Planning, The 007 The Man With the Red Tattoo Museum will open on July 24, 2005. It is located at 2310 Miyanoura, Naoshima (one minute from Myanoura Bay). For more information, contact the International Affairs Division, Kagawa Prefectural Government, Tel: 087-832-3026, Fax 087-837-4289.

To keep up with Raymond Benson’s latest work, appearances, and to purchase his books, visit www.raymondbenson.com.

Wednesday, May 4, 2005

CHARLIE HIGSON IN LOS ANGELES

Charlie Higson with CBn's Athena Stamos

CBn was on the scene last night when Young Bond author Charlie Higson appeared at Borders Books in Torrance, California to promote SilverFin. This was Higson’s fifth stop in his seven city U.S. book tour. Most of the attendees were a bit older than the Young Bond pre-teen target audience. “I’m glad to see so many kids here,” quipped Higson when he appeared at 7:00.

In person, Higson appears much younger than in his pictures. He is also quite soft-spoken and witty. Considering he is a major TV star in the UK, he’s surprisingly humble and self-effacing about himself and his work.

Higson started his talk by explaining how he got the job and his intention to create a good, rousing adventure novel and not a “boy spy” book. “This is not Cody Banks or Spy Kids,” he said.

He also talked about how Ian Fleming Publications (IFP) wanted to stay true to Fleming and initiate a whole new James Bond “line” with the new series. However, a problem arose in that Fleming fudged James Bond’s age throughout his books (and the films have fudged it even more). IFP and Higson made a decision to firmly plant Bond’s birth date in the year 1920, making him 13-years-old in SilverFin.

Higson then retrieved a copy of Ian Fleming’s You Only Live Twice and read a section from James Bond’s official obituary — the only time Fleming wrote about Bond’s past in any real detail. He explained this is what he used as the basics for Bond’s background in SilverFin. But Higson cautions he will keep Bond at Eton for more than “two halves” as stated in the obit. He fears purists will “crucify” him for this (and he wasn’t kidding, he really is worried about fan reaction here). He said he will work it all out in Book 5 — but I say what I think Fleming would say on this matter, “Don’t worry about it.”

Higson then spoke about the real Eton of the 1930s and read the introductory paragraph in which we meet young James Bond. He noted afterwards how he thought a boy at Eton would introduce himself quite formally as “Bond, James Bond,” thereby forming a lifetime habit. (Quite clever, that.)

Higson then read from the chapter in which we meet the villain of the book, Lord Hellebore. He apologizing for making his villain an American, and for his own poor attempt at doing an American accent. “This will be my revenge for all those American actors who come over and try to do and English accents,” he said with a grin.

Far from being offended, the crowd seemed to enjoy being cast as the villain — which is always the best role anyway.

After the talk there was a lively Q&A session in which a few interesting new details about SilverFin and the Young Bond series emerged:

★ Higson will probably not be writing the Young Bond graphic novels himself, but he is a big fan of “comics” and hopes IFP will get a major graphic novelist for the new series (which Higson will oversee).

★ Higson was originally commissioned to write only one Young Bond book with the idea of there being a different writer for each of the five novels. But one by one the other writers “sort of fell away” and the full job was handed to Higson.

★ Higson completed the SilverFin manuscript well before IFP made the formal announcement of the Young Bond series. They wanted to see if the book worked before they committed to the concept.

★ Higson seemed excited about Book 2 and repeated what CBners already know about Sardinia, art theft, and bandits. But he added that he has a very Bond-like climax set in a cave “with lots of gunfire,” etc.

★ IFP planned to release Book 2 in Fall ‘05 in conjunction with the release of Casino Royale. But when the film was delayed a year, IFP decided they didn’t need to rush the release, hence the push back to Jan ‘06.

★ Higson said IFP has many exciting James Bond projects in the works with an announcement of something very cool coming soon. He mentioned a few of these projects, but then cautioned, “I don’t know what I can talk about and what I can’t.”

When the inevitable question about a Young Bond film arouse, Hisgon acknowledged that the question of James Bond films right is a complex one, but Eon doesn’t automatically own the film rights to the Young Bond series. Still, IFP wants to establish the books before they think about doing any Young Bond films.

(It should be noted that during the Q&A, CBn’s own Athena007’s cellphone rang out the James Bond theme, drawing a very amused reaction from Higson and the assembled crowd.)

After the Q&A, Mr. Higson signed copies of SilverFin and chatted one on one with all the attendees. He recalled doing his CBn Interview and said he thought it “helped.” He’s been pleased with fan reaction to his book.

As the crowd dispersed, Higson signed a stack of books for the store (yes, you can get a signed SilverFin from Borders Books in Torrance, folks).

Charlie Higson continues his book tour Thursday in New Jersey. The tour concludes Friday in Washington D.C.

All in all, it was a terrific time and a real treat to meet the man who now holds James Bond’s literary license to kill.

Saturday, March 5, 2005

BOOK BOND REVIEW: SILVERFIN by Charlie Higson

Contains mild spoilers.

SilverFin, the debut Young Bond novel by Charlie Higson, is a well-written “boy’s adventure”-type book that will please its pre-teen target audience. It should get glowing reviews, and Ian Fleming Publications should be very happy with author Higson’s hard work. While there is some gruesome violence in SilverFin, mothers can rest assured that there is not a whiff of sexuality within its 372 pages (the longest James Bond novel yet written). In these regards, Young Bond #1 is a resounding success.

However, this is a James Bond site run by fans for fans. We know our Bond and we know our Fleming. The juggernaut of SilverFin publicity has promised the book will "appeal to new readers and James Bond fans alike."

Well…

While Bond fans can certainly enjoy SilverFin as a well-written adventure book, they may have a slightly harder time embracing it as “A James Bond Adventure.” But make sure you read this review to the end because there IS a twist.

Critics complained that John Gardner and Raymond Benson could never step free of the shadow of Ian Fleming in their 007 “continuation novels.” The good news is Charlie Higson has finally stepped clear of that shadow…the bad news is he’s landed squarely in the shadow of J.K. Rowling. Far too much of SilverFin reads like a Harry Potter clone, and this will initially be the most difficult aspect for Bond fans to get past.

After a thrilling opening prologue that would not be out of place in a legitimate…err, I mean, adult James Bond novel, we meet young James (Higson’s elects to call him “James” instead of the traditional “Bond”) as he arrives at Eton in the 1930s. James is polite and self-effacing, gets lost “at least twice a day” on his way to class, and feels fear when confronted by bullies. Even though he’s described as tall for his age and athletic, he lacks competitive drive (not to mention killer instinct). James loses almost every Eton sporting competition he enters — which doesn’t seem to trouble him in the least. In fact, he is quite pleased to place 7th (get it?) in a shooting competition. While James is supposed to be 13 in this book, he reads much younger. Are “monsters in the dark” still a concern of 13-year-olds? In short, the James Bond of the first two thirds of SilverFin is a bit of a wimp. This is clearly NOT Fleming’s Bond. It’s not even Roger Moore’s Bond. But keep reading…

SilverFin is divided into three parts. Part I chronicles Bond’s life at Eton and involves a series of confrontations and competitions with brutish blonde American George Hellebore. At Eton the agreeable James quickly gathers a collection of colorful and diverse friends: an Indian boy, a German-Jewish boy, a boy from Hong Kong, a lovable chubby tuba player… Maybe it’s a foretelling of James’s amazing gambling luck that he would draw the only living quarters that didn’t contain a single Englishman. On the one hand, this works as a motivator of Bond’s future worldliness; on the other, it feels like pandering to a “politically correct” mentality and, again, to the Harry Potter crowd. While clearly very well researched, and despite the highlight of an exciting chapter-long foot race, this first section of SilverFin is a bit tedious and one hopes Higson will get young Bond bounced out of Eton sooner than later.

Bond breaks free of the Eton section and heads to Scotland in Part II, where the real SilverFin adventure begins. But just when you thought you were free of the Potter formula, Bond is instantly teamed with a talkative red-haired Irish companion ("Red") and the spunky girl of the story, Wilder Lawless. In what is certainly a low point of young Bond’s masculine development, upon meeting James, Wilder wrestles him to the ground and shoves leaves into his mouth. (There’s talk of this bizarrely humiliating moment being cut from the U.S. version.)

On a more positive note, the villain of the story, Lord Randolph Hellebore, is well drawn and his caper is teased out very effectively. (It’s a curious feature of SilverFin that, when Higson is free of young James, the book improves dramatically. One of the best chapters in the novel is told entirely from the point of view of Hellebore’s abused son, George.) Hellebore is American and shares a worldview consistent with the recently empowered Nazis. He makes bizarre speeches and could give Hugo Drax a run for his money in a debate on master race theory.

Many of Higson’s Bondian biographical touches, found mainly in this second section, may come off as a bit too cute for hardcore James Bond fans. Bond’s uncle Max teaches young James to drive in an early model Aston Martin (a Bamford & Martin Sidevalve Short Chassis Tourer). Bond’s love of Bentley motorcars, we discover, is rooted in the fact that his Aunt Charmian drives a 4.5 litre (the same car Bond drives in Casino Royale). Bond’s attraction to martinis (shaken, not stirred) has, apparently, nothing to do with the need to dull the guilt and fear that comes with being a paid assassin. Now, when we see 007 order his signature drink, we can assume his mind is drifting back to the memory of Wilder Lawless and her horse named, yep, “Martini.”

Ah…but now it’s time for our twist.

While the first two thirds of SilverFin may shake and stir old guard Bond fans, know that it is also by design. It’s no spoiler to say Young Bond #1 is a story of transformation and that, by the end of the novel, the timid boy has via his experience found his 007 steel and menace. If nothing else, this book HAD to be that. And when Bond finally shakes off his yammering Potteresque companions, the action of the final third of the book is downright thrilling! Higson knows how to write, and he weaves horror and sci-fi elements into the story very effectively. You’ll never look at an eel the same way again after reading SilverFin.

It’s in this final section that Higson shows us the true potential of a Young Bond series. Age becomes far less of a factor when Bond is facing off with a madman, or on his own battling for his life in the waters beneath a Scottish Castle. It’s here Higson begins to channel Fleming at his best, and it’s here that SilverFin becomes, yep, A JAMES BOND ADVENTURE! (There is also an interesting twist to Bond’s transformation that could have Bond chat boards buzzing for some time to come.) For this reviewer, the final third was a last minute save; a rousing return to Bondian basics with a dash of sci-fi horror thrown in. And when the bullies back at Eton see something “cold and frightening” in young Bond’s eyes, I suddenly found myself looking forward to Book 2 in a major way. Like young Bond himself, I was transformed in the end by SilverFin.

Bond fans gave the concept of Young Bond series a pretty rough reception when it was announced last summer. Asking 007 fans to embrace a kid-safe revisionist history of our “sexist misogynist dinosaur” may be asking too much. So for those fans predisposed to not liking the Young Bond series, know that SilverFin will probably not change your mind and maybe it’s best to skip it. For fans curious about 007′s past, but wary of getting it from a children’s book, I recommend seeking out a secondhand copy of John Pearson’s superb James Bond: The Authorized Biography of 007, which offers up a more interesting — or, at least more adult — version of young Bond’s upbringing.

But for those fans, like myself, who have enjoyed the various “continuation novels” and are willing to gamble on this Young Bond series, SilverFin will satisfy. It’s a good start. One just hopes Higson will shake off the Harry Potter contrivances and edge back toward that shadow of Ian Fleming in Book #2.

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