Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Introducing James Bond

Reissues of classic novels generally result from a resurgence in a book’s popularity, which is most often due to an upcoming release of a film or TV adaptation. That’s certainly the case with Penguin’s recent reissuing (recent in the UK, anyway) of Casino Royale (1953) as well as Ian Fleming’s other James Bond novels. These editions come complete with 1950s pulp-style covers, and each features a fresh introduction by a modern leader in the realm of crime fiction and/or thriller fiction. I am not surprised that Fleming’s work should have inspired so many writers, and I’m very pleased to see the Bond books back on store shelves once more.

Although I’m not sure that Great Britain’s favorite suave assassin really needs an introduction, I bought Penguin’s entire James Bond backlist (again), if only to revel in the nostalgia that their covers incite. And, of course, to see what the men and women penning these new introductions have to say about the novels’ origins and impacts. The authors commenting on individual Bond titles are:

Jeffery Deaver introduces Casino Royale, in which 007 made his debut. American Deaver told me once that his 2004 historical magnum opus, Garden of Beasts, was his personal homage to the British “Golden Age” thriller, and that Fleming ranks among of his favorite writers from that era.

Live and Let Die (1954) is introduced by UK author and Creasey Dagger-winning novelist Louise Welsh (The Bullet Trick).

Moonraker (1955) is introduced by Michael Dibdin, author of the Aurelio Zen mysteries (which include Back to Bologna).

Jonathan Kellerman, who writes the Alex Delaware mysteries (Rage, Gone, etc.) contributes the foreword to Diamonds Are Forever (1956).

From Russia with Love (1957) is introduced by novelist Charlie Higson, who also writes the young Bond series and is a British TV comedy writer.

Dr. No (1958) is prefaced by Simon Winder, who has also penned an interesting non-fiction study (The Man Who Saved Britain) of the 007 phenomenon from a postwar UK perspective.

“Miscellanies” collector Ben Schott delivers the introduction to Goldfinger (1959).

American thriller writer Barry Eisler (The Last Assassin) pens the prologue to For Your Eyes Only (1960).

David Wolstencroft, author (Contact Zero) and TV series creator (Spooks, aka MI5) introduces Thunderball (1961), a novel that’s credited--by legal agreement--to Kevin McClory, Jack Whittingham, and Ian Fleming. (Click here for details.)

The Spy Who Loved Me (1962) is introduced by Nick Stone, who coincidentally won the Crime Writers’ Association’s Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award for his 2006 debut novel, Mr. Clarinet.

Multiple award-winning Scottish crime writer Val McDermid introduces On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1963).

Japanophile Mo Hayder (Tokyo, aka The Devil of Nanking) welcomes readers into You Only Live Twice (1964).

The Man with the Golden Gun (1965) is prefaced by British espionage writer Charles Cumming (The Spanish Game).

• And Robert Ryan introduces Octopussy and the Living Daylights (1966), the 14th and final James Bond adventure.

So, pour a vodka martini, pull up a chair, drop that Walther PPK into your holster, and return to a bygone era with the world’s best-known fictional spy.

READ MORE:James Bond and I ... Long Tail on a Ghost,” by Colin Campbell (Shots).


Anonymous said...

These covers are the same as the US trade paperbacks of a few years ago. Looks like those are still what is in the US, no new introduction. We can hope, eh?

PS - this blog is read all over, so it would be helpful to identify UK only releases.

J. Kingston Pierce said...

I've made the stipulation that these Bond books are NEW IN THE UK, not necessarily in the States.

Anonymous said...

The introductions are totally new, and NOT currently available in the US
(or listed as forthcoming on Amazon).

Ali Karim said...

Hi -

As Jeff mentioned, I did indicate that these were Penguin UK editions, and these specially commisioned introductions are brand new -

Bond Collectors / Completists can order them easily from Amazon.co.uk and anyone into BONDage will love them!


Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

man I had this entire set in a box set from TESCO for £15