Hey, you know who hasn’t taken all the money yet? James Bond. True, the recently released Skyfall – the 23rd of the film series featuring Ian Fleming’s most famous literary creation (sorry, Caractacus Pott, but you know it’s true) – is already the highest grossing release in UK box office history less than two months since its premiere, and increasingly looks like it could be the first Bond to break $1 billion worldwide, but what about the aesthetic purists who disdain the sorcery of the moving image and prefer to picture Bond as not looking like Daniel Craig? What about their wads of cash just waiting to be seduced by some casual misogyny?
Well worry ye not, weird 19th century luddites, for the print James Bond will return, as announced earlier this year, in a new novel to be written by William Boyd and due for publication in autumn of next year by Jonathan Cape in celebration of the series’ 60th anniversary, much as Skyfall celebrated the 50th year of the films. Boyd joins a perhaps startlingly high-toned lineage of authors charged with continuing the series after the death of Fleming, with his contribution following work by Sebastian Faulks, Jeffrey Deaver and a pseudonymous Kingsley Amis, as well as the less widely celebrated John Gardner and Raymond Benson.
Of course, given that we already knew all this in April, you may be wondering why it’s appearing as a news article in [checks calendar] December. Well, that’s because in an interview with the Radio Times, Boyd has now expanded upon his previous promise that the novel would be set in the 60s, assuring readers that he will place his Bond in 1969, the year of the film adaptation of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (that thudding sound you hear is George Lazenby running as fast as his aged legs will carry him to sit and wait by the nearest phone).
Judging by the way he’s speaking about it (beyond ‘cagily’, that is), Boyd appears to be approaching the novel with Fleming to the forefront of his mind: ‘Fleming died in 1964. He was in his mid-50s, so conceivably if he’d looked after himself a bit better, hadn’t smoked and drunk so much, he might have written a James Bond novel in that year.’ Whether that means Boyd is attempting to approximate Fleming’s authorial voice, or simply trying to imagine what might have caught his interest from that year, is obviously a question whose answer will have to wait until the book’s publication.