Wednesday, January 13, 2016

COLONEL SUN by Kingsley Amis

© by Gerald So | | 6:30 A.M.

In the first James Bond continuation novel, published May 28, 1968, the sixtieth anniversary of Ian Fleming's birth, Bond happens upon a brazen attack on the estate where his chief, Admiral Miles Messervy (M), is convalescing. The assailants kidnap M and nearly Bond himself. Clues deliberately left in the aftermath lead Bond to Greece where, with the help of two natives, he uncovers plans for an attack by the Communist Chinese on a Russian conference. Bond's and M's bodies were to be planted so as to blame the attack on the British.

Born in the 1970s, I can't very well relate to Colonel Sun's initial reception, but I can look at it in light of almost fifty years of subsequent Bond adaptation and continuation books and movies. I like that Amis's novel is steeped in the political tension of the time and that his Bond has none of the exaggerated personality and gadgetry of the movies. This is a very personal quest and plausible plot. Bond's main adversaries, on the other hand, are more familiarly Fleming-like in their physical quirkiness and mental derangement.

Continuation is tricky. New authors can neither please all of the original author's fans nor get away with everything the original author did. Like the movie of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, it seems Colonel Sun has been more appreciated with time. It was well worth my snapping up a copy of the 2015 Vintage Books paperback.

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