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Oline Cogdill, who reviews mysteries for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and other papers, says there's more to 007 than big-screen special effects. Her take: Before James Bond got all tangled up in Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan and, finally, Daniel Craig, this spy series started as terrific escapist fiction written by Ian Fleming. To complement the film, Penguin Books has released Quantum of Solace: The Complete James Bond Short Stories. It’s in paperback and retails for $15.

The collection contains From a View to a Kill, For Your Eyes Only, Quantum of Solace, Risico, The Hildebrand Rarity, Octopussy, The Property of a Lady, The Living Daylights and 007 in New York. If some of these titles sound familiar as Bond films, the only thing they have in common with the movies are the titles and James Bond. The plots of these short stories – and that includes the aforementioned Quantum of Solace – have nothing to do with the movies.

So are the short stories better than the films?

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That depends on your definition of better and if you prefer the written word to the cinema. It also depends on whether you can separate these two forms and acknowledge that books are books and films are films and it is OK to have each be different, even if the same source material is used. The films have original plots, and, I as said before, lots of action, special effects and Daniel Craig.

Ian Fleming's short stories as well as his 12 novels are suspenseful, tautly written tales that, without the trappings of special effects, are almost personal. One man trying to save the world. Knowing that any day could be his last, Bond very much lives in the moment and this gave him a sense of empowerment to stop any villain. As a thriller writer specializing in the espionage genre, Fleming tapped into the concerns and fears of the Cold War.

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Sure, go see the film. After all, it's got Daniel Craig. But for real entertainment, read the novels and short stories. You can always prop up a photo of Daniel Craig nearby.

Photo from Sony Pictures

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