Fans of James Bond can look forward to a new novel, “Devil May Care,” to be published on May 28, 2008, the 100th anniversary of the birth of Ian Fleming, the creator of 007. The book, to be published in the United States by Doubleday and in Britain by Penguin, publisher of all 14 of Fleming’s Bond adventures, will be the work of the English writer Sebastian Faulks, whose novels include “The Girl at the Lion d’Or,” “Birdsong” and “Charlotte Gray.” (Other authorized Bond novels have been written by Kingsley Amis, John Gardner and Raymond Benson.) Doubleday said, “‘Devil May Care’ is set in the cold war, and the action is played out across two continents, exotic locations and several of the world’s most glamorous cities.” Mr. Faulks, who said he was asked by the Fleming estate to carry out the commission, said: “In his house in Jamaica, Ian Fleming used to write 1,000 words in the morning, then go snorkeling, have a cocktail, lunch on the terrace, more diving, another 1,000 words in late afternoon, then more martinis and glamorous women. In my house in London, I followed this routine exactly, apart from the cocktails, the lunch and the snorkeling.According to Wikipedia, “Faulks finished [writing] the book in six weeks and has followed the Bond style with exotic locations, glamorous women and larger-than-life villains. He says Devil May Care is about 80 per cent Fleming and is set in 1967, the year after Fleming’s final Bond book--a collection of short stories called Octopussy and the Living Daylights--was published posthumously.” Devil May Care will apparently find Commander Bond widowed and “slightly more vulnerable” than he has appeared in previous stories, but always up for a sexual challenge.
The MI6 site quotes Faulks as saying, “I was surprised but flattered to be asked by Ian Fleming Publications last summer if I would write a one-off Bond book for the Ian Fleming centenary. I told them that I hadn’t read the books since the age of 13, but if when I re-read them I still enjoyed them and could see how I might be able to do something in the same vein then I would be happy to consider it. ... On re-reading, I was surprised by how well the books stood up. I put this down to three things: the sense of jeopardy Fleming creates about his solitary hero, a certain playfulness in the narrative details, and a crisp, journalistic style that hasn’t dated.”
One wonders how seriously amused Fleming would be, were he able to return from the grave, 43 years after his death, and discover that the fictional British superspy he developed is as popular as ever--the star of a forthcoming, 22nd film in the James Bond series (due out in November 2008) and the protagonist in a heavily promoted new novel due out next year. While sipping a martini and overlooking the Jamaican landscape, would he be honored to still be read, or would Fleming think the world foolish for still paying attention to a character he created merely to make money?
READ MORE: “The Name’s Faulks, Sebastian Faulks ... Bestselling Author Writes New James Bond,” by John Ezard and Esther Addley (The Guardian); “ The New Bond,” by Olen Steinhauer (Contemporary Nomad); “The Author Is Faulks, Sebastian Faulks,” by Sarah Weinman (Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind); “Bond Back Between Covers” (The Sydney Morning Herald).