Saturday, November 06, 2021

Fleming’s Bond Never Expected This

Seven decades after Ian Fleming introduced British spy James Bond to the reading public, a woman is taking over the helm of the series he created. Not that it’s expected to look the same under her care.

Ian Fleming Publications announced earlier this week that publisher HarperCollins has “acquired the UK & Commonwealth and U.S. & Canadian rights to three contemporary thrillers by Kim Sherwood set in the world of James Bond that feature a new raft of Double O agents for the 21st century.” The first of those books—as yet untitled—has already been scheduled for release in September 2022.

Unlike other authors who have penned 007 continuation novels since Fleming’s death in 1964 (Kingsley Amis, John Gardner, Raymond Benson, William Boyd, and their like), the 32-year-old Sherwood was not at all familiar to me. So I looked her up. Turns out, she was born in Camden, England, and is currently a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh. Her 2018 debut novel, Testament, picked up the 2016 Bath novel award, and she was shortlisted for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award in 2019.

According to reports, in Sherwood’s coming trio of Bond-world yarns, “James Bond is missing, presumed captured or even killed. All of Bond’s contemporaries are gone and a new generation of Double O agents has been recruited to replace them and battle a global threat. At the same time, M and Moneypenny are searching for a mole in MI6. Will the truth be uncovered in time—or is this the end of the Double O section?” Kathryn Cheshire, HarperCollins’ editor for crime and thrillers, calls the trilogy “fresh, contemporary and thrill-a-minute, with a new generation of spies everyone will love.”

The Guardian quotes Sherwood as calling Bond “one of the enduring loves of my life since I first watched Pierce Brosnan dive from the dam in [the 1995 film] GoldenEye. … As a teenager, I chose Fleming when my English teacher asked us to write about an author we admired—I still have the school report. Since then, I’ve dreamed of writing James Bond. It’s rare that dreams come true, and I am grateful to the Fleming family for this incredible opportunity. I feel honoured to be the first novelist to expand the Bond universe through the Double 0-sector, bringing new life to old favourites and fresh characters to the canon.”

So, despite her stated affection for the protagonist, it appears Sherwood’s plans for updating the James Bond series call for 007 to be sidelined in favor of new, presumably younger members of MI6. Might that result in a loss of following among long-standing fans of the series? There’s no way to know at this juncture.

Meanwhile, we can all look forward to Anthony Horowitz’s third traditional-style Bond adventure, due out in mid-May of next year—five months before the first of Sherwood’s books hits stores.

READ MORE:James Bond Literary Series Gets Its First Female Author,” by Gary Dobbs (The Tainted Archive).

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