As I sit and digest my Christmas dinner and enjoy a vacation from the picket lines, my thoughts turn to next year and the release of Sebastian Faulks' Devil May Care, which sees the return of the adult James Bond 007.
But wait. Can this James Bond still be "007"?
Here's the thing. Bond's double-O status is revoked in Ian Fleming's You Only Live Twice. Is it restored in The Man With The Golden Gun? I don't recall, but considering Bond's inauspicious return to the secret service (as a brainwashed Russian assassin), I don't think it is. Also, according to the very fine James Bond The Man and His World by Henry Chancellor, mandatory retirement for a Double-oh is age 45. If we accept the generally agreed upon 1920 birth date, James Bond is 46 or 47 in 1967 when Devil May Care takes place. So even if his license to kill was resorted in The Man With The Golden Gun or after, Bond has hit the retirement age.
Taking all this into account, how can Bond possibly be "007" in Devil May Care?
Now, it's possible Faulks will simply blow past all this and stamp his Bond as Agent 007 as Kingsley Amis did in Colonel Sun. This wouldn't send me into fits. I'm not really a stickler for continuity when it comes to James Bond (if I were, I'd have to accept that Bond is 82 in The Man With The Red Tattoo).
However, if Devil May Care aspires to be a true continuation of the Fleming canon as advertised (with Faulks "writing as Ian Fleming") the uncertain status of James Bond's famous double-oh number should be addressed, wouldn't you think?
Just another aspect of this book to look forward to.