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The Book’s Bad. Very Bad.
Wednesday 9th December, 2009Posted by on
I heard someone recommend the recent Sebastian Faulks’s James Bond book and decided that if they thought it was very good then I would probably like it too. Apparently it has gone down well in the Bond circles. I have heard people in the past refer to Sebastian Faulks in tones of admiration so I figured this was a good thing.
Rather in the same way in which people are referring to an upcoming Doctor Who episode written by Michael Moorcock, the respected sci-fi writer.
In the Doctor Who world there is a term “fanwank” which was coined by the late Craig Hinton. It refers to written fiction by people so in love with the show that they want to express their knowledge and put a smile on the Doctor Who fans who are as obsessive as they are. You might, for instance have a story where the 10th Doctor met a companion from a previous era and they would discuss how they defeated an evil monster and how it was a good thing that it had never had a lethal death ray built in like the Daleks they fought in the 50th Century on Mount Megeshra on the planet Peladon, who were forming an alliance with the Ice Warriors and going to blow up the Earth in the past to stop humans from landing on Mars.
It is quite simply there to show off. “Look what I’ve got them doing here!” the author virtually screams.
Devil May Care started promisingly with a minion in the underbelly of crime being offed by a contact in whatever criminal organisation they were in. A good start, well written. And then in Chapter 2 Bond made his entrance and oh boy, did the fanwank begin.
Bond casually compares someone to Drax (Moonraker) and LeChiffre (Casino Royale). He travels from the South of France to Rome, not because he needs to, but for the author to show off how he understands the jet-setting continental lifestyle we come to expect from Bond. There’s no point in it, but he does it anyway. Bond ‘bumps into’ an attractive woman and, oh wow, her husband is conveniently away on business. She invites Bond in for “a drink”. And Bond, the serial womaniser who’d never turn down an easy lay says, “No Thank You”.
Bond says “No Thank You”.
That’s right. The author is saying “Look at me! Look what I’ve got Bond doing! You didn’t expect that, did you? Ah-ha-ha, I am a very clever writer, bow down to me, I do the unexpected. Yes, I am that good.” Ohhhh god.
In chapter 3 Bond goes back to his home and there his housekeeper (maybe she’s in the proper books, I don’t know) has a conversation with him about The Rolling Stones and how they’ve just been arrested for drugs. Yes, Bond is being clearly dated for us so we know when the story is supposed to be set. It’s heavy-handed and clunks along awkwardly.
Bond then goes to MI6 and has a conversation with Moneypenny where she tells him that M is into Yoga. I’m not making this up.
Bond goes in to see M and they have a chat about drugs and hippies and this “pop group” who’ve been arrested and urghrughrghgurgurghruhgruhghrughrug it’s just so awful. M casually drops Scaramanga’s name in, just so that we can, yet again, understand that the author is aware of other stories and “Hey, see? You remember those stories too, right?!!!”
This is chapter 3 and still no sign of a plot. M talks about the qualities of drugs and casually drops about 5 or 6 pharmaceutical companies’ names into conversation the way that you would normally. You know those conversations we all have in the pub about Glaxo Smithkline and what Beechams are up to these days. We all do it. It’s just normal everyday conversation. A briefing of utter madness and I’ve already lost respect for Sebastian Faulks, the Bond novelisation franchise and this book in particular. I shall try to soldier on, but it’s lost all my enthusiasm.
Did you know there’s a new Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy book, written long after the death of Douglas Adams, just to screw a few more millions out of, what is now, a franchise. Do you think it’ll be worth reading? My guess is, it won’t be. But you can bet your bottom dollar that Zaphod Beeblebrox will have a ‘hoopy’ conversation with Arthur: “Hey, remember when the mice wanted your brain?”.