|Gotta have a retirement plan.|
I do think Fleming grew tired of Bond but understood it was his cash-cow to milk. Bond changed as a character as Fleming grew older, the vigor ran low. The Bond of "Moonraker" is not quite the Bond of "You Only Live Twice." I prefer the earlier pulpier stuff, but the later more literary Bond's are surely better books, I just have skewed taste-buds. Any-who, the title cut to "Octopussy" is light on Bond, he stands around and basically listens to a story. It's a find story that sweeps right to a very Fleming ending but it probably would have been stronger as a standalone tale. Bond is basically playing the policeman part of the story coming to bring someone in. It's an awkward fit. It did give me a lust for a Fleming series of Scotland Yard mystery/adventures. Nearly all of his literary output is comprised of Bond it would have been interesting to have had a stand-alone or another series character to compare to OO7. A more hard-boiled detective operating a near-Bond world of evil masterminds and global conspiracies would have been killer, all wrapped in nice Pan paperback covers? Good gravy, one can dream.
The film version of "The Living Daylights" is one of my favorites, the short story in "Octopussy" is
also one of my favorites. I do believe I read it a million years ago, but I could have just been experiencing flashbacks from the film as it's fairly faithfully recreated as the pre-title sequence. It's the strongest entry in this collection. Bond is sent to Berlin to act as a counter-sniper to protect a defection. It's a few days spent in Berlin and restless nights waiting for the moment of action. Bond of course sends it eating eggs, drinking and wandering. He also reads "Verderbt, Verdammt, Verraten" a fictional German pulp novel with a half naked woman on the cover, which is about the trials and horrible tribulations of a German woman. It's a nice parallel to the female character in the short, which we learn absolutely nothing about but would have had a hard-go of it because of her circumstances. The story builds into a fine piece of action and we see Bond being as temperamental as ever, cursing his rank and the stuffed shirt the service stuck him with as a sniper spotter.
"The Hildebrand Rarity" is a tight nautical noir of a James Bond story. I enjoyed it but it didn't scream James Bond to me. Bond ends up on the yacht of Milton Krest (the name popped up in the film "License to Kill, gotta squeeze every drop out) and gets entangled in murder. Not really wanting to get himself involved with an investigation Bond does a little evidence tampering then sails off with the dead man's wife who may have killed him. That's the most Bond thing to do. A lot of these stories just feel like the pre-title sequence or a chunk of the middle of a Bond movie, they make you wonder about the rest of the story. That's damned fine short tale telling, Fleming paints broad pictures with short word counts.
I'm going to save "For You Eyes Only," "Risico," "Property of a Lady" and "Quantum of Solace" for another time. Oh, I'll get "OO7 in New York" out of the way real quick here at the end. Bond's in New York to tell a agent that her boyfriend's bad news bears and his recipe for scrambled eggs is actually pretty good. The story is super short and actually fairly humorous. Fleming was a guy who could write. The Bond shorts aren't going to change your life, they are pretty much only there for when you've ran through all the books and don't want to touch a Gardner. None of them are objectionable, they may be forgettable which is worse. Fleming was better in long form when he could take his time and talk about what people should eat and wear and have all the deformed villains he could ever want.
|This relic of a toy has been in various Bond since middle school.|