“Moonraker”

Moonraker is the 3rd James Bond novel . It was published in 1955. It starts with a brief glimpse into Bonds life between missions. Reading reports , reviewing data , he even has a secretary. Due to his expertise at gambling M asks Bond to come to his club and investigate whether one of the other members (Hugo Drax) is cheating at cards. Drax is a prominent public figure involved in the development of a nuclear missile for  the defense of Britain and M is concerned about the possible scandal if it should come to light. Bond confirms Drax is cheating and then cheats him in turn with a stacked deck.

Bond is then assigned to Drax’s installation after the death of the previous security officer. Bond subsequently discovers (with the help of Drax’s secretary – an undercover police officer) that Drax is actually not a British war hero but a Nazi saboteur bent on destroying London with the missile.

Bond and the secretary ( Gala Brand ) are captured and tied to chairs to be incinerated during the launch of the missile but manage to escape and reset the targeting of the missile back to the target zone in the north sea. Drax is fleeing on a Russian sub and is killed when the misled strikes.

The Movie was the 11th Bond movie made and the 4th to star Roger Moore and was released in 1979. what can I say. It has the name right, bond and the heroine are almost incinerated by rocket exhausts and the villain definitely had ideas about the master race. That pretty much ends any similarity between the 2 stories.

wikipedia entry for the novel

Wikipedia entry for The Movie

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“Live and Let Die”

The second James Bond Novel. Published in April 1954. Bond is sent to The USA and Jamaica to investigate the smuggling of 17th Century gold coins (suspected of being the lost treasure of Henry Morgan)  from the British Territories to the USA by a Negro criminal “Mr Big” who has links to organized crime, voodoo cult’s and SMERSH (the Communist secret service 1st encountered in Casino Royale ) . 

On arrival in the USA James is teamed up with Felix Lieter in a joint operation with the CIA. James and Felix head to Harlem to investigate Mr Big and are naturally captured. James has his finger broken by Mr Bigs henchman TeeHee. They are subsequently released after James is vouched for by Mr Big’s fortune telling employee (Solitaire) . James fights and kills TeeHee.

Solitaire runs away from Mr Big and travels to Florida via train with James. Felix meats them in Florida. Solitaire is kidnapped from their hotel . Felix goes to investigate Mr Bigs dangerous fish importation business. James returns to the Hotel and finds Felixs blood soaked and barely alive body on the bed. He had been fed to sharks by Mr big and had lost an arm and part of one leg. Felix is taken to hospital and James heads to Jamaica.

Bond swims through shark and barracuda infested waters to the island where Mr Big is frantically loading a ship with tanks of fish. The tanks contain the cold coins in the sediment at the bottom of the tank. Bond places limpet mines on the base of the ship but is subsequently captured by Br Big.  Mr big tie bond and solitaire together to a rope and drags them behind his ship with the intent of dragging them across the reef where the would be slashed by the coral and subsequently eaten by the sharks and Barracuda.

The Limpet mines go off as the ship crosses the reef and Bond and Solitaire watch as  Mr big gets  eaten by sharks.

It was an enjoyable novel. the only parts I didn’t like was some of the dialog involving conversation between some of the Negroes. Very reminiscent of the dialog for the uneducated negro slaves in Gone with the Wind.

Now for the Movie.

The Movie was released in 1973 and was the 8th bond film. It was the 1st film to star Roger Moore and was loosely based on the novel. Solitaire was played by Jane Seymore.

There are significant differences between the film and the novel.

  • Mr Big is smuggling 2 tonnes of Heroin not gold into the USA which he then plans to distribute freely to increase the number of addicts and to undercut the existing crime cartels and drive them out of business.
  • The train trip is at the end of the film not the middle and that is where James kills TeeHee.
  • Felix is not fed to the sharks
  • the car and boat chases don’t even occur in the novel. let alone the comic relief of the sheriff.
  • Mr Big is killed by a compressed air pellet and exploding.
  • Voodoo has a much bigger influence in the movie.

There are a lot of other differences but that’s what you expect from a film adaptation. That being said the movie was entertaining and was a big box office hit.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Live_and_Let_Die_(novel)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Live_and_Let_Die_(film)

“Casino Royale”

Casino Royale was published in 1963. It is the 1st Bond novel and introduces James Bond (007) a British agent newly promoted to the 00 rankings ( a requirement of which was that he had killed 2 people as part of his duties as an agent). Set during the 1950’s in the environment of the cold war it involves M sending Bond to France to bankrupt the over extended paymaster (Le Chiffre ) of a communist backed french Union while gambling at the Casino Royale. Assisting Bond are another British agent Vesper Lynd and a french agent Rene Mathis. Bond initially loses but is funded by the CIA in the form of Felix Leiter (who also appears in other bond Novels). Bond eventually beats Le Chiffre in Baccarat.

Vesper is kidnapped , Bond capture and the tortured by Le Chiffre and Le Chiffre is executed by an agent of SMERSH (a soviet agency) for his financial risks.

Vesper and Bond are rescued By Rene and then go to a quiet hotel for convalescence. Bond Falls in love with Vesper who subsequently commits suicide after admitting in a letter that she has been working as an unwilling double agent for the Russians. Bond reports everything back to London with the words “The bitch is dead”.

This Novel was a big success and sold out 3 printings.

Now for the Movie.

There have been 3 screen adaptations of Casino Royale. One was as an episode in an American series called Climax! , the next was a comedy produced in 1967 with David Niven playing Sir James Bond. The final one was the 2006 film staring Daniel Craig and this is the one I’ll talk about.

This movie is a reasonably accurate translation of the book which is more than can be said for some of the other movies. Of course the political scene has changed since the 1950’s so instead of being the banker for the Communists Le Chiffre is a banker for Terrorist organizations. In the book Le Chiffre loses money by investing in Brothels in France just prior to the french government cracking down on prostitution but in the Movie he invests in the stock market while knowing about a terrorist attack which is subsequently foiled by Bond. This of course sets the scene for the gambling at the Casino. The only major differences here are that they play high stakes poker instead of Baccarat and Rene is identified as one of the villains in the end. the rest is pretty much the same although vesper kills herself by drowning rather than pills. Bond still uses the line “the bitch is dead” at the end when reporting to M.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casino_Royale_(novel)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casino_Royale_(2006_film)

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Ian Fleming

Ian Lancaster Fleming (28 May 1908 – 12 August 1964) . Best known as the author of the James Bond Novels he was also a Journalist and served as a naval intelligence officer during WII. His experiences as a journalist and in naval intelligence stood him in good stead while writing the James Bond novels.

He wrote 11  James Bond Novels between 1953 and 1966, he also wrote Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for his son in 1964.

Whats next?

Ive read a few other novel since i finished the Heinlein Project. Most notably Nathan Lowell’s latest To The Fire Called .

My next project is to read the original James Bond Books by Ian Fleming and where possible compare them too the Movie .

“To Sail Beyond the Sunset”

published in 1987. It was the last novel published before his death in 1988.

The novel is the Memoir of Maureen Johnson Smith Long the mother of Lazarus Long. It starts with Maureen waking up in a hotel in bed next to a dead man with no recollection how she got there. She is arrested and imprisoned and recounts her memoirs into a personal recording device. Maureen is a time agent and her constant “companion” is Pixel (”The Cat Who Walks Through Walls”) .

Her Memoirs start with her as a young girl in Missouri in the late 1800’s and progress through her formative years, her marriage , her children and through her life as a member of the Howard Families ( “Methuselah’s Children”)

An interesting read it shows a different viewpoint on the events of some of the other novels.

Heinlein obviously knew this would be his last novel as he finishes it of effectively by saying that they all lived happily ever after.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/To_Sail_Beyond_the_Sunset

Thats the end of the Heinlein novels. I found a few more short stories that were written with different pen names so I’ll try a few of them later. But for now I’ll read something different.

”The Cat Who Walks Through Walls”

Published in 1985 Written in the 1st person it starts with Colonel Colin Campbell on a date with Gwendolyn Novak at a restaurant on a space station when he gets framed for a murder. He and his date are evicted from their apartments and manage to escape the space station one step ahead of the station guards. There spaceship then crashes on the moon . It appears that someone is trying to kill Colin. Gwen turns out to be Hazel Stone (“The Moon Is A Hard Mistress” , Rocket Ship Galileo ) who is a Time agent sent by Lazarus Long to recruit Colin to rescue Mike a self aware computer (“The Moon Is A Hard Mistress” )

As you can see this book forms part of Heinleins multiverse series .

The title of the book refers to a young cat Pixel who doesn’t know he can’t walk walk through walls so he just does it. Pixel doesn’t appear in the book umtil about 2 thirds of the way through it.

A fast oaced book with lots of changes and action.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cat_Who_Walks_Through_Walls

 

“Job: A Comedy of Justice”

Published in 1984  Job: A Comedy of Justice takes its name from the book of JOB in the old testament it is essentially a satire of American Evangelical Christianity. The main character Alex meets a danish cruise ship hostess ( Margrethe) and together they experience a series of random world changes. They find themselves in parallel universes normally with only the clothes on their back (and sometimes not even that). They work there way slowly from Mexico to Kansas and as they near there destination are separated by the Rapture (  the rapture refers to the controversial “predicted” end time event when all Christian believers—living and resurrected dead—will rise into the sky and join Christ for eternity) . Alex can not bear to be without Margethe and descends to hell to look for her.

An interesting read although I must admit I came close to giving up on it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Job:_A_Comedy_of_Justice