New Bond: FOREVER AND A DAY, coming in May

Holy cow! Non-challenge-related blog content!

For the first time since Raymond Benson’s “The Man With The Red Tattoo” in 2002, Ian Fleming Publications is actually letting an author write more than one Bond novel. Since 2008, Sebastian Faulks, Jeffery Deaver and William Boyd were each given only one novel (and they were fairly disappointing, at that). Then, the author of the Alex Rider YA spy series, Anthony Horowitz, had his debut Bond novel, “Trigger Mortis,” released in 2015 — and, apart from a cringe-worthy title that seemed literally shoe-horned into the narrative, it was really good. So they’ve let him do another.

This May, Horowitz’ second Bond novel, “Forever And A Day,” will be released. While “Trigger Mortis” was inserted into the continuity of the novels by placing it immediately following “Goldfinger,” this one is a prequel to the first Bond novel, “Casino Royale.” It will feature the death of the previous 007, and the promotion of Bond to that position.

The marketing text:

007 IS DEAD.

M laid down his pipe and stared at it tetchily. “We have no choice. We’re just going to bring forward this other chap you’ve been preparing. But you didn’t tell me his name.”

“It’s Bond, sir,” the Chief of Staff replied.

“James Bond.”’

The sea keeps its secrets. But not this time.
One body. Three bullets. 007 floats in the waters of Marseille, killed by an unknown hand.
It’s time for a new agent to step up. Time for a new weapon in the war against organised crime.

It’s time for James Bond to earn his licence to kill.
This is the story of the birth of a legend, in the brutal underworld of the French Riviera.

Obviously, I’m in. Looking forward to it.

Tour De Bond: The Music of James Bond

Just finished reading The Music of James Bond by Jon Burlingame, which is a film-by-film exploration of the themes and scores of all of the Bond film up until Quantum of Solace. For somebody like me, both a music geek and a Bond obsessive, this is manna from heaven. Burlingame gives an analysis of each film’s score, track by track, but also the behind-the-scenes stories of the music’s creation, including false starts and lost themes along the way.

We hear about the original theme to Moonraker, with lyrics by Paul Williams (The Muppet Movie, etc.), which was going to be sung by Frank Sinatra. The For Your Eyes Only theme sung by Blondie (and eventually included on their 1982 album, The Hunter). The fact that Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart were supposed to do a theme for License To Kill, but that during the screening, Lennox was put off by the shark attack scene and backed out.

One of the coolest bits of information, for me, was the fact that there was an entire verse cut out of Diamonds Are Forever during the recording session. Diamonds is my favorite of the Shirley Bassey-sung Bond themes — although the film is, frankly, pretty bad, I love the song even more than Goldfinger:

The book reveals the lyrics to the missing verse:

Diamonds are forever
I can taste the satisfaction
Flawless physical attraction
Bitter cold, icy fresh, till they rest on the flesh they crave for

The book also tells the story that David Arnold was chosen as the composer for the past five films largely due to his album of reworked Bond themes, Shaken and Stirred, which showed the producers that he could mix traditional Barry-style arrangements with more modern electronic techniques.

I love that album — it’s out of print, but if you can find it, grab it. My favorite track, a mash-up of the theme from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and the Space Capsule music from You Only Live Twice, done with The Propellerheads:

With Skyfall opening in the US next week, and the 50th anniversary of the films, it’s a great time to be a Bond fan.

Thoughts on a Bond Day

Today marks the 50th Anniversary of the release of the first James Bond film, Dr. No (which I had the joy of seeing on the big screen for the first time last month). It’s been declared “Global James Bond Day”, a celebration of all things 007. So, y’know, absolute catnip for a guy like me.

Yesterday, the theme for the new film, Skyfall was released, performed by Adele. It hearkens back to the classic Bond ballads, like You Only Live Twice, Moonraker, The Spy Who Loved Me, and For Your Eyes Only. It’s funny — I’ve seen criticism online (go figure, it’s the internet) that it isn’t “hard-hitting” or “a call to action” — which makes me wonder if those making such charges are familiar with the tracks I mentioned.

Here’s the debut “lyrics video” for the song:

The release of the theme, the forthcoming release of the score (due at the end of October) and the film itself, plus all of the associated 50th anniversary hoopla (books, etc.) have definitely put me in a very Bond frame of mind.

Over on Facebook and Google+ I posted the following image:

That’s the front and back cover art to the James Bond 007 roleplaying game, published in the early 80s by Victory Games. That was the game that made me want to become a game designer. Before it, I had never seen a game system that emulated a genre — systems were, in my meagre experience of the time, mathematical models of action, and that’s it.

But James Bond 007, designed by Gerry Klug, showed me that you could create systems that helped to bring across the feel of a thing — the chase rules, for example, bring the tension and rising stakes of a chase directly to the players through the rules, not just the results. It was an epiphany. I’ve never had the opportunity to meet Mr. Klug — he’s long since left tabletop gaming — but I’ll take this opportunity to publicly thank him.

In the mid-90s, I ran a long-term campaign, one-on-one with my friend John Phythyon, where he played Richard Deming, 001. We dove into it– a new “film” every few weeks, complete with all NPCs described in terms of the actor cast in the role (Deming himself was initially portrayed by a pre-Bond Pierce Brosnan, before Adrian Paul stepped into the role)…

Hey, I said we dove into it.

There were movie posters, even soundtracks — John would compose and record a theme tune, an action piece and a “sneaking around/contemplative” piece for each “film”, working off the titles I’d give him (at the end of the previous adventure, of course — “Richard Deming will return in…”). We started to have friends interested in just watching us play, and then they’d start coming in as guest stars, playing recurring characters like Deming’s CIA Liaison, etc.

It was, hands-down, the best roleplaying game experience of my life. Yet to be topped.

I’m very pleased to hear that Joseph Browning of Expeditious Retreat Press is working on a “retro-clone” of the Bond game, under the title CLASSIFIED. Here’s hoping for a robust release schedule filled with adventures. I may have to dive back in…