Wednesday, September 23, 2015

“Sun” Rises Again

With all of the hullabaloo surrounding the October 26 debut, in the United Kingdom, of the 25th James Bond film, Spectre (the U.S. debut will follow on November 6), the British arm of publisher Vintage has decided to bring out a new edition of Colonel Sun (1968), the very first Bond continuation novel published after Ian Fleming’s death in 1964. Kingsley Amis wrote Colonel Sun under the pseudonym Robert Markham, and accordingto The Book Bond, that yarn hasn’t enjoyed a new release since 1995. Here’s how Wikipedia synopsizes its plot:
Colonel Sun centers on the fictional British Secret Service operative James Bond and his mission to track down the kidnappers of M, his superior at the Secret Service. During the mission he discovers a communist Chinese plot to cause an international incident. Bond, assisted by a Greek spy working for the Russians, finds M on a small Aegean island, rescues him and kills the two main plotters: Colonel Sun Liang-tan and a former Nazi commander, Von Richter.

Amis drew upon a holiday he had taken in the Greek islands to create a realistic Greek setting and characters. He emphasized political intrigue in the plot more than Fleming had done in the canonical Bond novels, also adding revenge to Bond's motivations by including M's kidnapping. Despite keeping a format and structure similar to Fleming's Bond novels, Colonel Sun was given mixed reviews.
Vintage Classics will re-release Colonel Sun in a 224-page paperback edition on October 15. Unfortunately, this seems to be a UK development only; Amazon shows no concurrent American release of Amis’ tale, though you can still pick up used paperback copies of it on this side of the Atlantic, ranging in price from $9.99 to $67.68. I’ve never read Colonel Sun, so I’m hoping one of the booksellers at Bouchercon next month will have the new UK edition in stock.

READ MORE:The Curious Case of Colonel Sun: Kingsley Amis’s Missing Bond Novel,” by Aug Stone (The Quietus); “Kingsley Amis’ James Bond Novel,” by Dan Piepenbring (The Paris Review).


Gary said...

I read it last month. I picked up a copy at my local library for free. It was almost as good as the Ian Fleming's versions, having just listened to a reading of The Man with the Golden Gun last week.

Anonymous said...

I read Colonel Sun a long time ago and was disappointed - it's a superb pastiche and much closer to Fleming than Amis, where it's Amis I prefer. Amis's The Anti-Death League also has Bondage elements.