Wednesday, December 26, 2007

License revoked or renewed? Will James Bond be 007 in DMC?

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.


  1. I can understand Faulks starting a new part of Bond's life, but the dates don't really add up for this post to be correct IMHO. I'd be okay with this premise, in theory - a new section of Bond's life. We have the early years, we have the Fleming peak 007 years and maybe now we'll have "the later years". Who knows, but Bond is ageless. 1920 is not a generally agreed upon date. That's really IFP's (Pearson's) date for Young Bond. It doesn't work for all of Fleming's novels (if any). You Only Live Twice definitely indicates that Bond is 38 in 1962/1963 (thus born in 1924). Golden Gun takes place in 63/64 and I bet Bond is 38 in that too ;) In any case 1967 makes him low 40s if he were to actually age. Still 00-able.

    Who knows. :)

  2. Another thing that troubled my mind lately was: how does Bond get along with M? Of course Fleming firmly established a kind of father/son relationship for M/Bond throughout his books. But 'TMWTGG' breaks that pattern with the assault of the brainwashed Bond on M. While ultimately no serious harm was done and the act was committed by Bond in hypnosis-enduced trance, Bond still seems far from being trusted again even after his reconvalescence.

    It's true that M selected Bond's next target Scaramanga. But it's Tanner who comes to explain the gun practice, gives him M's orders and sends him on his way. After the mission M sends his congrats and approval to the intended K to Bond's CMG, but that's also not face to face.

    So in the Fleming canon Bond's last words to M were 'It would be a start if the warmongers could be eliminated, sir. This is for number one on the list.' before he drew his cyanide-gun. Maybe we will see a little shift in the Bond/M relationship?

  3. The issues in Fleming's infamously lax continuity and playing around with Bond's age,as Kevin points out, would seem, most likely, to be addressed, and therefore presumably 'corrected' by Higson in YB5.

    My preference would be for Faulks to pick Bond up in clear-water post CS (as I'd hate to lose Amis magnificnet work from continuity).

    But consider - in Final Fling's publicity blurb, Sam Weinberg has Bond out of the service by the mid-60s....

    Will IFP address this? Will the notoriously unrealiable (viz continuity) MS Weinberg resolve the matter? Can't see IFP publishing two volumes in the same timeline within the same month which conflict...