Thursday, September 18, 2008

Anatomy of a Bond Novel

I know I have written the "Anatomy of a Spy Novel" before, but James Bond holds a special place amongst all the spies of literary world. And that is why I thought I needed to go into more detail of a standard Bond novel.

Statutory warning for the movie lovers who want to read the novel: Don’t start reading a book thinking you know the story. You will be surprised.

Statutory warning for the readers who want to watch the movie: Don’t start watching a movie thinking you know the story. You will be shocked.

Don’t believe me? Here’s an example: During the course of Moonraker, the movie, Bond meets three women and gets to sleep with two of them. During the course of Moonraker, the novel, Bond meets one woman and gets to sleep with… none. (Come to think of it, same difference, right?)

You have been warned.

So, here’s how the story goes: Bond, who is usually bored going through the reading material, is called in M’s office and given his assignment. Happy to be out of his office, Bond sets off for his destination, and meets his contact. And then come the three must-haves in any Bond story:

  1. The "Bond Girl": Invariably, Bond’s contact/handler or one of his associates is a woman. At first, Bond is apprehensive about her involvement, but she proves to be very competent girl, capable of taking care of herself (Yes, Bond is quite a chauvinist). We all know where that is heading…

  2. A card game: Since Bond is “professionally” trained in various ways in which one can “win” at any card game (and hence, a card-game enthusiast), any and all of his “cases” must involve a card game of some type. It may be his assignment (Casino Royale), a part of it (Diamonds are Forever) or a precursor to it (Moonraker).
    Of course, any game will put him on the brink of bankruptcy, before a brilliant play will see him win.

  3. A car chase: Some time in the case, mostly towards the end of it, Bond will find himself involved in a big bad car chase. It may be because the enemy has kidnapped his girl (in which case Bond is the chaser), or because enemy is onto him (in which case he is the chased), during which time he might destroy a car or two.
    Of course, unlike the card game, car chase is not exactly Bond’s strong suite. So at the end of it, Bond is firmly in the hands of his enemy, who will then proceed to tie, beat and torture him.

…which of course sets him up for the climax, where with the help of his girl (and possibly some others,) the battered and bruised Bond is going to save the world, before going off into the sunset with his love. And if he has to destroy a submarine or two or a train or some cars for that, that’s not so difficult for our 007, is it now?

And that, my dear friends, is how Bond... James Bond works.

Now, where's my Vesper?

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken