October 4, 2021
Bond returns to our screens in 2021 … and our shelves in 2022
by Tom Clayton
Remember “going to the movies”? No, me neither. But it seems like it’s a thing again, and following a Covid-plagued release schedule, James Bond is finally, finally back on our screens in No Time to Die. Someone fetch me a martini! And an Aston Martin while you’re at it!
It’s the 25th outing for the fictional spy, and Daniel Craig’s fifth (and reportedly final) appearance in the lead role. It only premiered in the UK on Wednesday, and went on general release Thursday, but the early reviews are promising. It also seems No Time to Die will be strikingly modern: Phoebe Waller-Bridge is on the writing team; Billie Eilish provides the (phenomenal) theme tune, and Lashana Lynch becomes the first black woman to take the famous 007 code number. Although frankly my ticket was booked as soon as they confirmed the excellent Ben Whishaw would return as Q.
No Time to Die is an original story written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and Cary Joji Fukunaga, based on Ian Fleming’s Bond. Indeed, the films have not drawn from Fleming’s novels in full for some time: the last “complete” adaptation was of The Spy Who Loved Me in 1977; all entries since have either riffed on or reimagined Fleming’s ideas, or been written entirely from scratch (with the exception of Craig’s first film as Bond, Casino Royale, in 2006).
Bond, however, has continued on the page—often in parallel to his cinematic adventures—since Fleming’s death in 1964. Kingsley Amis (writing as Robert Markham) wrote Colonel Sun in 1968; John Gardner and Raymond Benson revived the books for long stints in the 1980s and 1990s respectively; and Sebastian Faulks, Jeffery Deaver and William Boyd have all written stand-alone titles since the turn of the century.
But it’s Anthony Horowitz who seems to have cemented himself as Bond’s modern chronicler, with Ian Fleming Publications announcing earlier this year that he is currently writing his third Bond novel, set for release in May 2022.
The as-yet-untitled book follows 2015’s Trigger Mortis and 2018’s Forever and a Day. In the accompanying press release, Horowitz orients the reader, placing the story directly after Fleming’s final novel, The Man With the Golden Gun:
I am very excited to have started my third Bond novel with the continuing support of the Ian Fleming estate. Forever and a Day looked at Bond’s first assignment. Trigger Mortis was mid-career. The new book begins with the death of Scaramanga and Bond’s return from Jamaica to confront an old enemy.
As the Bond series faces yet another fork in the road, the possibilities for innovation open up again. One thing though, is certain: regardless of who eventually ends up playing the spy next, Bond fans need not worry about a lack of potential source material.
Tom Clayton is publishing executive at Melville House UK.