I'm traveling right now and thought I had this blog well covered with a few evergreen, non time sensitive posts in the pipeline, but the literary and filmic curators of James Bond seem determined to prove I picked the wrong time to travel with all sorts of big reveals and announcements this week! In addition to the slew of Skyfall stills that MGM released, Ian Fleming Publications made a huge announcement yesterday, reported by The Book Bond (a truly excellent resource for all sorts of information on the literary 007, from the latest breaking news, like this, to detailed examinations of older editions by Fleming and his followers, which I check religiously every day): esteemed British author William Boyd has been selected by IFP to pen the next James Bond novel. The untitled book, due to be published in Fall 2013 by Jonathan Cape in the UK and HarperCollins in the USA, will return 007 to his 1960s roots. The last time we got a historical Bond novel by an artsy, award-winning author, the result was Sebastian Faulks' Devil May Care, a crude Fleming pastiche I didn't care for one bit. But I'm much more hopeful about Boyd's take on the most famous literary secret agent of all time. Faulks was dismissive of the assignment from the start, making it clear in every interview that his book was a literary lark for him, and he considered himself well above the material. Boyd, however, has demonstrated a clear passion for Ian Fleming over the years, and used Fleming as a character in his novel Any Human Heart. (In the 2011 TV adaptation, Fleming was played by Casino Royale co-star Toby Menzies.) I'm somewhat ashamed to admit that I haven't read Any Human Heart, though it's been in my Amazon wishlist since its 2004 publication. I've never read anything by Boyd, but I'm certainly eager to see his take on Ian Fleming's incredible creation.
The most recent James Bond continuation novel was last year's Carte Blanche by Jeffery Deaver, which somewhat rebooted the series in a contemporary setting. Some fans seem surprised that IFP would go back to a period setting (Boyd's untitled book is set in 1969, shortly after Fleming left off and shortly after the events of Devil May Care, if the new author chooses to acknowledge or reference them in any way) after Deaver's much ballyhooed but blessedly not very drastic "reboot." I'm not. The current regime at IFP seem keen to explore numerous creative possibilities with different authors (besides the Deaver and Faulks books, they've brought us Charlie Higson's Young Bond series and Samantha Weinberg's Moneypenny Diaries, both of which were offbeat, but very, very good), and as long as they keep selecting exciting writers, it makes sense to let each writer decide on his or her own approach, including the period. That said, reading between the lines of remarks that Deaver made on his Carte Blanche book tour, I wouldn't be at all surprised if he or someone else picked up where that book left off in a few years with another new contemporary Bond thriller. Hopefully the reading public is sophisticated enough to grasp the notion of two (or more) timelines running at once. Personally, I'm overjoyed. I hope they keep hiring interesting and well-regarded authors to pen one-off Bond novels. It gives fans the opportunity to read a lot of different takes on their favorite spy hero. And I'm including Faulks among the interesting authors. I may not have liked his take, personally, but the beauty of this model is that there's always another take I might prefer right around the corner. This rotating novelist plan still leaves the doors open for the likes of Mark Gatiss, Lee Child, Stephen Fry, Jeremy Duns, Charlie Higson (who has yet to tackle the adult 007) and any number of authors I'd love to see tackle a Bond novel! Who knows? Maybe they'll even entice notorious Bond hater John le Carré to take a crack and show us how he would do it... The possibilities remain endless. (Though, I'll admit, that last one I mentioned seems really unlikely!)
Additionally, The Book Bond also reports that IFP is looking to continue the Young Bond series started by Higson... but, unfortunately, with a new author. Higson apparently confirmed this in a tweet, acknowledging that they couldn't wait forever for his schedule to free up. The search is on for that new author.