Fleming. Ian Fleming

When Fleming and Bond had equal billing.

Recent James Bond movies have moved further and further from their origins in Ian Fleming’s series of novels (Wikipedia offers an exhaustive essay on the differences between the books and the movies). Skyfall, which opens next week isn’t based on an Ian Fleming book or short story (and thus, there is no tie-in novel, although there is a behind-the-scenes title, Bond On Set: Filming Skyfall by Greg Williams, Penguin/DK, 10/1/12). Unlike the first Bond movie, Fleming’s name is buried in the credits.

We haven’t yet reached the point where people are surprised to learn that the Bond character first appeared in a series of books. Movie reviewers are keeping his name alive. In his Newsweek review of Skyfall, historian Simon Schama mentions Fleming multiple times and calls Skyfall the best Bond movie yet (he also calls On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, “one of Fleming’s best books” and, the movie version, “stunningly shot and artfully written”).

Bond also continues in books, written by authors hand-picked by the Fleming estate. William Boyd accepts the mantle next, with an as-yet-untitled book, to be published in the fall of 2013, the 60th anniversary of the first Bond book Casino Royale. He will follow in footsteps of several others. Jeffery Deaver published Carte Blanche, in 2011 (S&S). It was a NYT hardcover best seller for 4 weeks. Sebastian Faulks’ Devil May Care (S&S, 2008) also spent a few weeks on the hardcover list. Raymond Benson published 6 titles from 1997 to 2002; John Gardner, 14 (the same number as Fleming wrote himself), from 1981 to 1996. Kingsley Amis, under the name of Robert Markham, was the first, with Colonel Sun in 1968.

Which Bond novels are the best? Several have offered their opinions:

GoodReads, Best/Favorite Bond Book 

BookRiot.com, The Best James Bond Novels: Ranking the Fleming Originals

The TelegraphCarte Blanche: the greatest James Bond novels

FlashlightWorthy.com, Bond. James Bond

If you are doing Bond book displays, include James Bond’s guides to birds, if you own them. Fleming, a birding enthusiast, named his character after this American ornithologist.

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