Nov 12, 2007

BLOGIVERSARY: The List Revisited
Revisiting a list made one year ago as the inaugural post on this blog.

5. Charlie Higson & Anthony Horowitz

There’s been no lack of coverage on the Double O Section of Charlie Higson and his Young Bond novels. In fact, two such volumes have been published since my original posting on the subject a year ago, Double Or Die and Hurricane Gold (as well as a Young Bond Rough Guide To London). Higson’s fifth and, as of now, final book in the series is due out in 2008. But that’s not all that’s happening on the Young Bond front. The first Young Bond graphic novel, illustrated by Kev Walker, is also due next year. It’s an adaptation of SilverFin, Higson’s first Bond novel. I’m very, very excited for this, as I dearly want to see more James Bond comic books in general. (This will be the first new material since Topps published two issues of an aborted four-part adaptation of GoldenEye in 1995.) However, I would honestly rather see original Young Bond adventures in comics than adaptations of the existing novels. (The last original Bond comics came from Dark Horse in the early ‘90s, and also included a half-finished mini-series.) I really hope that if the novel series truly concludes with Book 5, as it is supposed to, Higson turns his attention to penning some original comics about the teenage James Bond. I also hope that if the SilverFin adaptation is successful, Ian Fleming Publications doesn’t stop with Young Bond comics, but goes on to license original stories about the adult 007 as well.

On top of the new novel and the comic book, there are also rumors (courtesy of the Young Bond Dossier, naturally!) of a Young Bond short story in the offing. Higson told a group of fans that he was toying with the idea of writing one as a bridge between Hurricane Gold and the as yet untitled fifth book, wherein James is reunited with the SilverFin Bond girl Wilder Lawless aboard on ocean liner bound from Mexico back to England. He didn’t indicate where the story would see print, but maybe it could form the basis for a whole, For Your Eyes Only-like collection of Young Bond stories down the road!

Of course, Anthony Horowitz has already beaten Higson and IFP to the punch with teen spy short stories, just as he did with teen spy novels. (Though to be fair, Young Bond is not strictly a teen spy, like Horowitz’s Alex Rider, but a teenager who will one day grow up to be a spy.) Horowitz has produced two Alex Rider short stories so far, both of which are available online (which seems the most likely ultimate destination for a Young Bond story as well), one via The Daily Mail and the other on Horowitz’s official website (though you have to register to access it). The former is a Christmas story that serves as a prequel to the entire Alex Rider series; the latter takes place between Alex’s third and fourth adventures. These serve as good primers for potential readers to get a taste of Alex Rider without digging into an entire book (although the books are lightning fast reads).

I had thought that Horowitz’s teen agent series was originally slated to last for seven volumes, but the seventh Alex Rider novel, Snakehead, is due out tomorrow in the US and I’ve seen no fanfare about it being the final one, so plans must have changed. The movie version of the first book, Stormbreaker, trickled into US theaters for about one week last fall (after making a decent performance at the UK box office), then got dumped on an initially Wal-Mart-exclusive DVD courtesy of The Weinstein Company. Sadly, I think we can take its lack of American success as a sign that no one’s in a hurry to produce a sequel, which is too bad since the second book, Point Blanc, is a better story. Fans who want to see Point Blanc adapted into another medium can at least look forward to a graphic novel adaptation this Christmas. The first Alex Rider comic was adapted from the film; the second is a translation of the novel. As with Young Bond, I’d rather see original adventures in this format, but I am looking forward to Point Blanc.

I’ve only read the first several Rider books, but so far I stand by what I said about them last year. They’re not quite as well written nor as educational as the Young Bond books, but they are a lot of fun and quick, addictive reads. Alex Rider is definitely one of the better examples of the surprisingly fertile teen spy genre, even if the first few books are rather blatant repackagings of Ian Fleming plots.


bish8 said...

Hey, Tanner!

Great updates. As a huge fan of the 60s spy fad (and the current YA resurgence), I always enjoy your blog and check it frequently.

The recent news of The Champions movie was refreshing. I really enjoyed the show the first time around. I still have the TV tie-in novel in my collection.

Thanks for all your efforts.


Paul Bishop

David said...

The youth market seems to be growing at quite a rapid pace. I was in the kids section of my local bookshop the other day (for my son, you understand) and I was quite surprised to see that Jack Higgins has his first child friendly spy novel on the shelves. And Andy McNab, author of the Nick Stone spy novels, has 3 youth orientated spy books on the shelves.

It appears that the success of Horrowitz and Higson has opened the eyes of the other successful authors to what a lucrative market young readers are (JK Rowling could have told them that).

Even Clive Cussler wrote his first 'children's book' last year...although in the past there have been young reader editions of his Dirk Pitt books (with all this activity, it is strange that they have not been dusted off and repackaged?)

I wonder how long it will be before Tom Clancy, Frederick Forsyth and the other big guns of spy fiction enter the youth market?

bish8 said...

In actuallity, the Jack Higgins, Andy McNab, and Clive Cussler YA books were all ghost written -- the publishers cashing in on the name value of the high profile authors.

This doesn't mean they are bad books, just deceptive marketing.


bish8 said...
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bish8 said...
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Tanner said...

Thanks for the comments, guys. Bish, that Champions remake shot to the very top of my list of upcoming spy projects I'm excited about as soon as it was announced. It's just such a weird, out of left field announcement! I don't think anyone could have seen that one coming. I love Del Toro, but never would have expected THIS as his next movie. I'd have sooner expected to see news on almost any other ITC show being remade, like "Johnny Depp to star in Jason King movie" or something. (Which ISN'T happening, as far as I know!)

David, even though the Cussler books were adapted for young readers quite a while ago, I think you're definitely right that there's a particular boom in young readers' spy series right now. I think that the Harry Potter books were a great thing for childrens' books well beyond their obvious sales records. They not only raised the amount of young adult books out there, but also the quality. Suddenly, Goosebumps just won't cut it after Hogwarts. And we're seeing that in a lot of new spy-related series.