SpyCast 3.26.24
Ep 626 | 3.26.24

“Bond After Fleming, the Continuation of an Icon” – with Mark Edlitz


Erin Dietrick: Welcome to "SpyCast", the official podcast of the International Spy Museum. I'm Erin Dietrick, and your host is Dr. Andrew Hammond, the museum's historian and curator. Each week we explore some aspect of the past, present, or future of intelligence and espionage. If you enjoy the episode, please consider leaving us a five-star review, and if you want to dig even deeper into the content of this episode, you can find links to further resources, suggested readings, and full transcripts at cyberwire.com/podcast/spycast. Coming up next on "SpyCast."

Mark Edlitz: One of the other things that Ann Fleming requires -- or required for them to go forward with these continuation novels is that the family had to read them and vet them. And if they didn't like them, they couldn't be published. And that's actually what happened. [ Music ]

Erin Dietrick: This week's guest is Mark Edlitz, director, author, and James Bond fan extraordinaire. Mark is the author of "The Many Lives of James Bond: How the Creators of Bond Decoded the Superspy", and "The Lost Adventures of James Bond". He joined Andrew to talk about his new book, "Bond After Fleming", which explores the trajectory of the world's most famous spy in fiction, after the death of its creator, Ian Fleming. In this week's episode, you'll learn about the original Fleming novels, intellectual property and authors' rights to iconic characters, the evolution of Bond as a literary character, the relationship between the Bond books and the Bond movies, the questions, "Can ions truly ever die," and, "How malleable are our favorite characters?" The original podcast on intelligence since 2006, we are "SpyCast". Now, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. [Sounds]

Andrew Hammond: Well, I'm really excited to speak to you about your "Bond After Fleming" book and about all of the research and work that you've done on James Bond. So tell us about -- more about this book. How did you come to rate her, what's the book about? Just give us the heddling, so to speak.

Mark Edlitz: Thank you for having me. This is my third book on James Bond. The first one was primarily about the films and it included interviews with actors who played James Bond in different media. It's called "The Many Lives of James Bond". And the second one was about more overlooked aspects of James Bond and it was called "The Lost Adventures of James Bond", and it was about Timothy Dalton's third film about Bond in comics, Bond on radio. And I figured, "What else has not been said about James Bond?" And the answer is very little. It's a well-worn topic. However, nobody's ever written a book on the James Bond continuation novels. And so I thought I could add to the Bond literary bookshelf with my book, "James Bond After Fleming".

Andrew Hammond: So I think I should mention to the listener that you've got some really great interviews for "The Many Lives of James Bond" book, people like Roger Moore, George Lazenby, David Niven, some of the directors, and so forth. So how did you actually get these people? How did you talk them into speaking to you?

Mark Edlitz: That is a very good question, and I'm not sure I have the right answer for it, [Andrew laughs] other than I reached out to them sincerely and enthusiastically. And I was very lucky in the number of people who agreed to speak with me.

Andrew Hammond: Sincere enthusiasm goes a long way. [Laughter] So let's move on to your current books or "Bond After Fleming". So the way that you have described that to me as the -- as literary overview of all of the novels that come after the death of the author and originator of James Bond, Ian Fleming. So before we go on that journey, can you just tell our listeners a little bit more about Ian Fleming, just in case they're a little rusty on this? How many novels did he write, where did they all come from, when did he start, who packed up the baton first, et cetera?

Mark Edlitz: So Ian Fleming is, of course, the creator of James Bond. He wrote 12 novels and two collections of short stories. The first novel was "Casino Royale", and that came out in 1953. And the last James Bond novel, "The Man with the Golden Gun" was published in 1965, a year after Fleming died. Fleming died in 1964. But they're not quite complete manuscript to "The Man with the Golden Gun". And so the estate wanted to make sure it was published, and -- but it wasn't quite finished. There's -- you know, even though the story is all there, still needs to be edited. And they turned to Kingsley Amos, the noted author for editorial notes, not to rewrite it, not to make it, you know, "What would you do differently," although he did have suggestions along those lines. But they really said, "In terms of keeping it as a pure editing proposition, what would you do, Kingsley Amos?" And the reason they turned to Kingsley Amos is because he had written a couple of books that were best described as "Bond appreciation books", where he went into the novels that Fleming had written and said really about what do they well, and what he liked about the character. He also wrote a tongue-in-cheek guide to be in the James Bond lifestyle, which was written as if it were written by one of Bond's work colleagues. So he had the -- not only was he a noted author, but he had the Bond bona fides, and he also knew Fleming. So he helped edit that book. And then they published another book of short stories called "Octopussy and The Living Daylights" and there were no more Bond books or stories penned by Fleming. And then the question is, "Well, what happens to the character of James Bond? Does it die with the -- with its creator and author, or is there a way to continue?" Now, Ian Fleming was married to Ann Fleming, his wife, and during his lifetime she was not a fan of the James Bond character. It was not the kind of literary writing that she best appreciated. Those -- you know, she -- it were -- there were thrill writing and it wasn't a literary book.

Andrew Hammond: Just briefly, Mark, so for her it wasn't the very genre or she just thought it was too lowbrow; or both?

Mark Edlitz: She thought it was too lowbrow. Yes, yes, she thought it was too lowbrow, she thought it was also distracting Ian Fleming from, you know, other things that he should be doing. But she just thought it was too lowbrow, plainly speaking. But she didn't -- that's not necessarily the reason why she didn't want the character to continue. She felt, as many people did, that James Bond came from Ian Fleming, that James Bond was a reflection of Ian Fleming's interests, and likes, and tastes, and it got all over the writing. So she argued, fairly, "How can we continue? Maybe we shouldn't continue. I don't want to continue. Let's not continue." While this was going on, there were other people who were trying to insert James Bond into their novels, or people who had aspirations of writing either a James Bond novel itself, or as I said, inserting the James Bond character into another novel, including from -- including internationally. So now there's a problem where there is an interest and a demand for James Bond's continuing adventures, but so what are you going to do about it? And the estate felt like it was necessary to continue. And then so there were two first James Bond post Fleming works. One of them was a James Bond novel by Kingsley Amos, the guy who edited "The Man with the Golden Gun", called "Colonel Sun", but before that there was another book called "The Adventures of James Bond Junior 003-1/2". That was 1967. "Colonel Sun" was 1968. So the first James Bond post Fleming book was this hearty boy style adventure book called "003-1/2" or "The Adventures of James Bond Junior".

Andrew Hammond: And when you say, "The estate," do you mean -- is that his wife, is -- or like how are his and the estate different, if at all?

Mark Edlitz: So before Fleming died, he bought a company called "Glidrose Productions". He did this for tax reasons. And he put the literary copyright for Bond in Glidrose. Obviously everyone knows that he sold the movie copyright to other people. Broccoli and Saltzman, who made the James Bond films got the bulk of it, although there were one or two that were outside of that. Glidrose Productions was a -- as I said, was created to protect his taxes really. He was being charged something like 95% on his taxes, and by putting the copyright into Glidrose, he was able to shield himself in part; because he knew -- this was two years before "Casino Royale", and he knew that success -- or he anticipated that success was coming. Shortly before his death, he sold Glidrose to Booker, which was a -- or Booker McConnell, which was a trading company or a sugar firm in an unusual move to protect his taxes. Now, they had -- Booker had not done that before, but now Booker, this company, was in charge of 51% of the character of James Bond. The other 49% was held by Ian Fleming's -- well he was a -- Ian Fleming while he was alive, and then it went on to his wife and son. And so there are two entities. "Glidrose Productions" became "Glidrose Publications", and then it became "Ian Fleming Publications". Ian Fleming Publications is really owned by the Fleming family, or the Fleming estate, and Ian Fleming Publications manages it for the family. And so they really -- there's not too much daylight between those two parties.

Andrew Hammond: So just a bit on perspective, I'm assuming the family and descendants of Ian Fleming, I'm assuming the theoretically they don't -- they wouldn't have to work; I'm assuming the money just continues to cascade them for them over the years. Does --

Mark Edlitz: The descendants are in fact wealthy, but it's not the Fleming books that necessarily drive that, although the, you know, money does come in. They're sort interest one bank to another bank and so they became fabulously wealthy from that sale. So their interest in the -- in Fleming's really comes from a place of preserving his legacy. It really comes from love. It is not a primarily financially motivated endeavor, although of course, they want to make money and they want to make sure that that's done correctly. But it's not that money that they're relying on to pay the bills.

Andrew Hammond: It's a fascinating family story, isn't it? I think his grandfather is -- comes down from Scotland, makes money, and Ian Fleming goes to good schools and then from there the descendants of Ian Fleming they sell one banking interest another bank and money comes from that, but it all comes from this initial journey to England. It's a fascinating family story I think.

Mark Edlitz: Oh, it's absolutely fascinating. And their interest -- my belief in these continuation novels is a way to preserve and protect Fleming's legacy. It's important to -- you know, the copyright, but having these literary works out there is what keeps the focus on the novels so that it's not just the movies that people think about when they think of James Bond. And so then there are 50 continuation novels and spinoff works and short stories that fall into different categories. There are about 27 or 28 novels that focus on the adult Bond. And then there are nine about young Bond, the James Bond -- which is to say James Bond in his teen years. There are three about Miss Moneypenny, which are called "The Moneypenny Diaries". There is a new trilogy of books being -- coming out now by Kim Sherwood about the other agents in the double O division. There is that children's book, "003-1/2". There's a novela. So there are all these -- there are novelizations. You know, there's all this great stuff to talk about.

Andrew Hammond: The other 007s, those are quite interesting. We can come back to them, but one of them is on someone who's gay, one of them is on a Muslim, one of them is on women. So they're really broadening out the aperture that Fleming started with. You know, I wanted to come back to this, but what does the family make of this broadening; because the James Bond from, say, "Casino Royale" or "Dr. No" is different from the Bond that we're seeing on the screens anyway more recently. And of course there's always talk in the news that, "Is James Bond becoming -- " you know, quote, unquote, "woke?" Is James Bond really becoming someone that we don't recognize anymore and so forth? Has the estate or the family or the thoughts on that in terms of Fleming's legacy is this a development they support, or they're quiet on, or they're against it, or is it more complicated than that?

Mark Edlitz: No, they definitely support it. These are books and initiatives that are only done with the support of the family. One of the other things that Ann Fleming requires -- or required for them to go forward with these continuation novels is that the family had to read them and vet them. And if they didn't like them, they couldn't be published. And that's actually what happened. You know, the -- I said "Colonel Sun" was the first adult one that came out. But there was another one called "Per Fine Ounce" that was written by an author who he said it was at the suggestion of Ian Fleming. And the estate commissioned the author to write it. He -- the author handed in the book, "Per Fine Ounce", and they rejected it. So there is a mechanism in place to stop works that they don't want. But even before they get to the point of asking a writer to write something, the ideas need to get approved of by the estate.

Andrew Hammond: Wow. So if I wanted to go out and write a James Bond novel just now and independently publish it, I would just get a massive lawsuit basically?

Mark Edlitz: You cannot.

Andrew Hammond: You cannot, the --

Mark Edlitz: Even -- no I mean you could write it for fun and keep it on your computer, but if you attempted to disseminate it and sell it, is where you would run afoul; because James Bond is right now a character under copyright. So only authorized people can write and sell James Bond books; in most countries.

Andrew Hammond: And it will be like that for like 85 years and then it will be open season?

Mark Edlitz: TBD.

Andrew Hammond: TBD, okay.

Mark Edlitz: You know, like you see it with Sherlock Holmes, where the estates -- Sherlock Holmes I believe is now completely in the -- I think as of 2023 -- I might be wrong about this. I think at least since 2023 he's a public domain character. He might have been -- there might be a few books that are still under copyright, but at least the majority of them are not. But that family still -- the Conan Doyle family still manages it. But you also see different Holmes iterations. In TV and movies he's well represented.

Andrew Hammond: And I mean just before we get onto the Bond after Fleming part, I mean as an interesting question that you raised earlier, Ann's point, the family's initial point, this was what he and Fleming did, this is the way that it should stay. I mean, you wouldn't send the descendants of William Shakespeare to write the continuation plays or, you know, what happened to X character afterwards and some new playwright imagines that. I mean, it just wouldn't happen. So that's an interesting question.

Mark Edlitz: Well, the purpose of a copyright enables -- it's a way to incentivize creators to have ownership of their work for many years. And then after a certain while, you know, we've seen it with that one iteration of Mickey Mouse. You know, they do go into the public domain and now there are plenty of characters in the public domain. Santa Claus is in the public domain. And you could do what -- you could tell any kind of Santa Claus story that you want. There could be a horror film, there could be a family film. But with James Bond it's -- I think there's a huge benefit in having someone -- in my opinion, having an interview control it because there's some sort of oversight and they are trying to keep true to Fleming. One of the things that the family insists on -- I wouldn't say, "Insists on," but expects, they expect all the continuation authors to go back and read Fleming before they start writing the new thing. They frequently send them a box set of all the Fleming James Bond novels and, you know, say, "Enjoy." And then they -- and the writers do, they read them all, and they get their inspiration from Fleming. The continuation novels do not reference each other for the most part. You know, you'll see -- sometimes you'll see a slight reference or sometimes Raymond Benson will talk about John Gardner's villain or Bond -- or love interest. But as a real practical matter, these are all discrete works, and the canons do not overlap. So we're used to seeing Marvel and "Star Wars" where what happens to Darth Vader in the videogame is sort of what's supposed to have happened to him in the movies, and they're not supposed to violate anything. The only thing that the continuation authors must do is not violate Fleming. So on a small level, that means if Bond likes coffee and not tea, their Bond has to also like coffee and not tea.

Andrew Hammond: Okay. [Laughs] So like the character and the continuation novels would still have the martini shaken not stirred sort of thing?

Mark Edlitz: Absolutely, absolutely. [ Music ]

Erin Dietrick: To help you digest this episode, here is a brief interlude on James Bond. James Bond was born in Philadelphia, in the year 1900, and would go on to be the curator of ornithology at the Academy of Natural Sciences. He was also the leading authority on the birds of the Caribbean for half a century. He visited more than 100 Caribbean islands, and his expertise was captured in his classic 1936 book, "Birds of the West Indies". This is where the fictional and much more famous James Bond would get his name. Ian Fleming came across this book, a keen birdwatcher himself, and recounted, "It struck me that this brief unromantic Anglo-Saxon and yet very masculine name was just what I needed." And so a second James Bond was born. The author of "Birds of the West Indies" then was the real James Bond. And one day in 1964, the real Ian Fleming met the real James Bond for the one and only time when the latter came with his wife, the Fleming's Golden Eye estate in the north of Jamaica. [ Music ] [ Background sounds ]

Andrew Hammond: And let's pivot back to Kingsley Amos, who -- he's the first -- more or less the first person to pack up the baton that Fleming left. So he's a friend of Fleming's. He's Sir Kingsley Amos, one of the biggest figures in postwar British faction, right? Can you just tell a little bit more about that first iteration and a little bit more about Kingsley Amos?

Mark Edlitz: Well, he came from the angry young man authors. And one of the things that you'll see in Ann Fleming's letters is she's the -- she sort of pokes fun at that. And I think in one of the letters she says something like, "Oh, he was not nearly as angry as I imagined." The first James Bond novel -- adult James Bond novel, "Colonel Sun", is a quasi loose sequel to "The Man with the Golden Gun", the last Ian Fleming novel. And Bond's recovering from the gunshot wound that he sustained while battling Scaramanga, and he's feeling a little bit worse for wear. And it's a really fun book because two important things happen in that book; one within -- it starts off with Bond and Tanner, his friend in the service, Bill Tanner, playing golf. And then Bond goes to M's house and M's been kidnapped. So that's one important thing, because it's a way to incorporate -- to personalize the mission for James Bond. Normally M is the guy who sends Bond out on these missions. And here is a way to create a new wrinkle to the story. And this idea of M being kidnapped is something that we see in the James Bond movie, "The World Is Not Enough" when Dame Judi Dench is kidnapped and Pierce Brosnan has to go to save her. And then the other thing that happens of interest in that first one is this incredible torture scene where Bond gets -- how to best describe it, sort of like a long spike gets placed in his ear, and even up his nose. And it's so he's being tortured for the -- usually -- with a spike in his ear. And usually the villain wants information from Bond, and that's the purpose of torturing him. But this sadistic villain, Colonel Sun, is just doing it for the shear pleasure of doing it. And this scene and a few of the lines were adapted in "Spectre", the Daniel Craig James Bond movie, when Blofeld gets him and he's putting a needle in his ear. And that's really the -- and if you see at the end of the credits of "Spectre", they say, "Thanks to the Kingsley Estate," you know, some version of that. And that's the only official adaptation of a James Bond continuation novel into the Bond movies. Other than that moment of the ear torture, there's never been an official adaptation.

Andrew Hammond: That was actually one of the questions I wanted you to clarify for the listeners, what was the relationship like between the continuation movies and the continuation novels, and the answer, as not really any at all?

Mark Edlitz: There have been a number of novelizations. John Gardner wrote a couple. Raymond Benson wrote three. Oddly, those are all Pierce Brosnan era novelizations. And here's something interesting, Christopher Wood, who wrote the screenplays -- or co-wrote the screenplays to "The Spy Who Loved Me" and "Moonraker", novelized his own works, his own screenplays. That's relatively unusual, where the guy who actually writes the screenplay novelizes or adapts his screenplay into a book. And they're really good. Let me speak briefly about those. One is called "James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me", which is different from Fleming's novel, "The Spy Who Loved Me". And that's because "The Spy Who -- " Fleming's "The Spy Who Loved Me" is nothing like the movie. He didn't like -- it's told from the point of view of the Bond woman. And so he said, "I don't -- " when he sold the film rights he said, "You can't adapt this into a film period." Later they -- the Ian Productions made a deal with the Fleming estate to give them the title, "The Spy Who Loved Me". So if you went to the bookstore after seeing Roger Moore's "The Spy Who Loved Me" and picked up Ian Fleming's "The Spy Who Loved Me", you would have been disappointed or at least surprised why there is no overlap at all. So they made a novelization and to distinguish Fleming's "The Spy Who Loved Me" from the movie novelization, they called it "James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me".

Andrew Hammond: That's really fascinating.

Mark Edlitz: And so the one other thing that's interesting about that is that this -- most novelizations have a bad rap of being sort of just product put out and not very thoughtful; maybe they expand on the scene. But Christopher Wood did something very interesting. He put the whole movie -- the Roger Moore movie through a lens of Ian Fleming. So he sort of Flemingized -- he wrote it as if he were Ian Fleming. He wrote -- so it's sort of an Ian Fleming pastiche sort of event word because it means, you know, "imitation" and -- but he did, he wrote two novel -- novelizations that were written as if Fleming might have done them.

Andrew Hammond: And can you just tell our listeners a little bit more about some of these characters that have done this work? So I've spoken about Sir Kingsley Amos. Take us on a little narrative about -- obviously we won't -- we don't need to touch on every single one and we don't have the time. Like throwing a stone across a lake, just touch on some -- to get us to where we are now.

Mark Edlitz: Yes, let me quickly provide the parted history. So after Kingsley miswrote "Colonel Sun" in the '60s, there was this -- something that John Pearson, the Fleming biographer, wrote called "James Bond: The Authorized Biography of 007." And the concept of this 1973 book was that James Bond was forced to sit down and tell his life story. So in it, he -- James Bond tells his life story and tells his versions of all the events that Fleming told in his novels, as well as added to it. That was 1973. And then there were those two movie novelizations by Christopher Wood for "The Spy Who Loved Me" and "Moonraker". So that was the '70s, still no new traditional Bond novel. And it wasn't until John Gardner in 1981's "License Renewed" that we see the first James Bond novel after a while. John Gardner stuck with the gig for a while. He wanted to just tie Fleming. He wound up writing 16, if you include his 14 original novels as well as his two novelizations. He had the gig through the '80s and a lot of the '90s. Then they gave it to Raymond Benson. Raymond Benson wrote a book that is still loved today called "The James Bond Bedside Companion". And then Benson wrote six novels, three novelizations, and two published short stories, including one that was not published that he gave to the Fleming estate and they said, "I don't think this shot story is quite right." I think they might have thought it was so much of a prestige, but that -- I might be wrong about that. And that's an example of the Flemings continuing their oversight. And then he wrote that in -- his last one was "Die Another Day", the novelization in 2002. And they put those adult Bond novels on pause and they came back with two unexpected Bond spinoffs. One was called "Young Bond" by Charlie Higson, the "Young Bond" series by Charlie Higson. And he wrote five novels about the teenage Bond. And I know for many of us that will sound like a terrible idea, because James Bond is adult fare, and why would you consider writing a children's book? But it's -- but he doesn't have Bond meaning like a mini Blofeld a mini Jaws [phonetic]. Instead he goes over Bond's emotional arc. And that -- so it's very good. And then Samantha Weinberg, writing as Kate Westbrook, wrote a trilogy of books called "The Moneypenny Diaries". And in those -- those are three books that overlap with Fleming's timeline. Then for the centenary -- of Fleming's centenary, we get a trio of one shot, which is to say one book per author, Sebastian Faulks writing "Devil May Care" as a prestige. It was on the cover it said, "Writing as Ian Fleming." So he wrote one. Then Jeffery Deaver, the American, wrote "Devil -- " excuse me -- wrote "Carte Blanche", which was set present day. And then William Boyd wrote one that was written -- that was a period. Then Anthony Horowitz wrote a trilogy of books, which effectively go over Bond's career. One of them is a prequel to "Casino Royale". And in it, James Bond has to find out who killed 007, which is to say who killed the spy who held the 007 rank or code before him. And there's a middle book that takes place after "Goldfinger". And then Horowitz wrote one more that is a direct sequel to "The Man with the Golden Gun".

Andrew Hammond: So some of these people that you are speaking about, these are quite significant novels in their own right, right, Sebastian Faulks, the author of "Birdsong" and Jeffery Deaver, "The Bone Collector", which becomes a movie as well. So we're not talking about this is just someone that they found on some chart, say, online or something, right?

Mark Edlitz: No, you're absolutely right. And what you are identifying is the change in publishing strategy. Before that break at the centenary, Gardner and Benson had been writing effectively a book a year. I mean, there were -- sometimes there was a break where it's two. But we're talking about a Bond book a year for, you know, nearly two decades, from '81 to 2002, whatever -- someone do the math; that's not going to be me. So a long time. And then they changed their strategy and went to -- and wanted to make it more of an event where they would go to, quote, unquote, "literary authors," not thriller writers, not spy writers, not adventure writers, although Raymond Benson's first novel was -- is a James Bond novel. Could you imagine that as your first gig as a novelist; as a published novelist? And so now that's what they're doing, where they're going to these authors to write one book and turn it into an event. And now we're getting into a new era where we've got the Kim Sherwood book, which is expanding -- which is called "Double or Nothing". And its sequel comes out later this year, "A Spy Like Me". And as we said, it's about other agents in the double O division. And in the first one, James Bond is kidnapped. They don't know where he is; he's presumed dead. And so he becomes the McGuffin, and people are trying to figure out what happened to James Bond. And so they are trying to expand the stage so that James Bond is not the only character who we care about.

Andrew Hammond: Okay. That's just really, really fascinating. And how -- so you said there are over 50 continuation novels that have been given the sort of official blessing?

Mark Edlitz: Yes.

Andrew Hammond: Yes.

Mark Edlitz: When I say 50, I'm including novelizations and spinoffs. The traditional adult James Bond are about 27, 28.

Andrew Hammond: Okay. So this is not including the 12 that Fleming wrote?

Mark Edlitz: That's correct.

Andrew Hammond: Twelve? So we are -- so when -- so just taking a step back, so it seems like Fleming dies, there's the Kingsley Amos one, then there's not really much activity, and then in the 80s, it picks up, and there are novelizations in the '90s in the Pierce Brosnan movies, and then for the centenary, it goes to -- we're going to get some heavy hitting novels involved. And now where we are now is the series is expanding out beyond just James Bond. It's different characters. It's a whole universe like "Star Wars" rather than just Hans Solo or Luke Skywalker. Is that correct; sort of? [Laughs]

Mark Edlitz: Yes. Yes. No, no, you do have it correct. We are going to get -- we are going to continue to get Bond-focused books. So there are going to be two tracks, as it were. There's going to be the traditional Bond-focused books that everyone loves and expects, and then we're going to get these other iterations. And not every book is meant to appeal to every person. The "Young Bond" books are not meant to be read by adults, although we do. They were aimed at teenagers. You know, they were aimed at that "Harry Potter" group.

Andrew Hammond: Which is a huge market?

Mark Edlitz: It was a tremendous market; and it was a very popular series for them, the "Young Bonds". [ Music ]

Michael Castro: My name is Michael Castro, and I work at the International Spy Museum, a security officer. Our main objective is to observe and report, and then maintain everything in the museum secure. In a past life, I used to be a Marine. I was in from '03 to '07. I deployed twice to Iraq, and I was a field radio operator slash marine, which is a multichannel ultra high frequency transmitter operator. I was in charge of a radio called the N Mark 142. So it was like a big metal box, around 50, 60 pounds. It was stationary. It would either be a tent or in a Humvee, and there would be an RF cable run to it, telescopic antenna. It was a line of sight radio, so it would be pointed to another radio down about 30 miles away, and I would make sure that it was running and maintain it 24/7. And every month, I would do a crypto run from one base to another to secure the signal in order for it to not be intercepted. And we would use a -- it was called a kick 13 [phonetic], which would be like -- almost like a military flash drive. At the end of my enlistment, I was awarded the Iraqi Campaign Medal. I also had a mix of several mandatory masses and letter of appreciation due to my work as a radio operator over there, maintaining all the communications. When I passed through one of the displays, there's a little machine that looks exactly like the one that we use to transfer the data. I don't know what it was called, but it looks almost similar to it. But yes, it's -- I feel special work here as a security officer. I know that I'm -- you know, I was part of that.

Erin Dietrick: This year, for all of our listeners, Officer Castro was awarded Employee of the Year, yes, which was very, very well deserved.

Michael Castro: I want to give a shout out to the security department, everyone that also works here at the Spy Museum. And if it wasn't for you guys, you know, I wouldn't have gotten that award, and so I really, really give thanks to everyone.

Andrew Hammond: A few follow-up questions, Mark. So what's the market like for these books? Is it very large? You know, help me understand what's going on here in publishing terms.

Mark Edlitz: People are reading them, they're -- you know, whenever a new book is announced, it becomes a worldwide announcement. They often do quite well. The idea of making them literary events by these heavy hitters also helps. The idea of appealing to different demographics like the "Double or Nothing" series is doing helps. I try not to get too much into the weeds about book sales with my book, because it's really -- to me it's almost irrelevant. My goal is to get people to look at the books themselves and try to get -- and my book, "James Bond After Fleming" goes through all of these 50 works and devotes a chapter to each work. And each chapter I try to explain to the reader, who is probably unfamiliar with these works, what the author was trying to do. And each chapter is broken up into three different categories. One there's a summary because most people haven't read them. And I also think that the summary shows you how intricate these things are. But then there's the observations and commentary, which, is as I said, where I try to show you what the author is doing from their point of view and how it fits into this whole literary canon. And then the third part is sort of a Bond character study where I show what each author is doing in terms of Bond, his character, his family history, his work methods, his -- you know, his family tree, his inner life, his tastes.

Andrew Hammond: Help me understand if there's any relationship between some of the other writers that are brought in to work on the screenplays, the continuation novel. So maybe there isn't one at all, but I'm just thinking of Roald Dahl, who worked on "You Only Live Twice", and of course, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", George MacDonald Fraser, worked on "Octopussy", the author of the "Flashman" novel series. Those are a few people there that are heavy hitters, but they are never drafted in to work on the novels because separate streams, there's -- is that correct?

Mark Edlitz: Well, they definitely are separate streams. I mean, they have so many relationships where they do overlap. But for the most part, they're separate and should be thought of as separate. In the earlier times of Gardner and Benson, the books had a movie-like quality. The -- Benson was specifically told, "Take the James Bond character and drop them into a 'Bond' movie." So the -- and now -- and there was more overlap. You would see more signs of the movie in those books. You would see more movie references. You would see more quips. You would see more gadgets. Those were heavily influenced by the movies. Now that's not the case. Now it's ignore the movies totally and just respond to Ian Fleming's "Bond".

Andrew Hammond: That's interesting.

Mark Edlitz: And then -- but you know, you just mentioned Roald Dahl, is that that "Adventures of James Bond Junior 003-1/2", if you look at the book, it says, "Written by RD Mascott." And it says that he is a pseudonym of a well-known author. And there weren't going to tell you who, and they never really publicly did. And most people assumed because of the James Bond connection of "You Only Live Twice", as you just said, that Roald Dahl, the children's book author, wrote this James Bond children book. He did not. It was Arthur Calder-Marshall.

Andrew Hammond: And just for our listeners, what -- where would they go to if they wanted to say, "I'm not going to get a box set of 50 novels," but ones that might want a couple, where would they start? Would they go to "Colonel Sun", would they go to Sebastian Faulks, would they -- yes help our listeners understand like a couple of touch points that they can go to.

Mark Edlitz: That's a great question. I wouldn't start at the beginning and work my way all the way through. A lot of people do start with Kingsley Amos's "Colonel Sun". And that certainly makes sense, it's been recently republished, and it's generally considered to be one of the better ones. But it really depends on sort of what your mood is and what's your Bond interest. For a modern one, I might recommend starting with Anthony Horowitz in "Forever and a Day". That's the one that begins with, "So 007 is dead." And they're a reference to the previous -- not James Bond, the previous guy. And that's a fun one to start with. But if you're not looking for a pure James Bond, you could go to "Double or Nothing", which is about the other agents, and not this sprawling story. Or if you want, you know, like a Fleming-esque spy thriller, even the first "Moneypenny Diaries" will get you there. It's not, quote, unquote, "chick-lit", despite the title "Moneypenny Diaries", it's an honest to good espionage spy thriller.

Andrew Hammond: Yes, there's a broad range there if you're talking about 50 novels. Do you have a personal favorite, Mark?

Mark Edlitz: No, no. That's what's so great about them is that they're -- depending on your mood, there is something for you.

Andrew Hammond: And when you read the novels, do you struggle to get out of your head the -- a measure of one of the movie actors? For me, I always struggle to get -- well it depends on the novel, but I always struggle to get Sean Connery out of my head when I'm reading some of the novels. Do you have the same kind of pressure?

Mark Edlitz: Yes. When I first started, I absolutely did. I think I thought of them all as Roger Moore because that was the Bond at the time, and then I think I moved to Timothy Dalton. And now I sort of use -- there was an artist who drew the comic strips in the Daily Express called "McLusky". And I often think of him.

Andrew Hammond: Okay. And for these continuation novels, what are -- how are some of the standard Bond stock themes developed or the Bond villains, the gadgets, the ladies, the cars? So how if at all are those used? How do they evolve in these continuation novels?

Mark Edlitz: Yes, I mean, you have to provide the reader with the Bond that they expect. So he's got to drink a martini. You also have to -- eggs, his coffee, his car. It's not generally the car in the film. It's not generally the Aston Martin. It's generally a Bentley, which is what he drove in Fleming books. They are -- all the authors are coming from Fleming, and so they're trying to replicate his -- the form of a Bond novel, but often as Anthony Horowitz said, "Giving us sort of a postmodern spin." So Bond's attitudes in many of those things are fixed. But the way those attitudes are framed often allows for modern sensibilities and beliefs, as they should.

Andrew Hammond: And you mentioned some people that were novelists who wrote one of these books. So it was like they were a novelist that just so happened to have written a James Bond novel. But those other novelists who were -- this is something that they've done for several iterations, or they had -- they wrote a number of these James Bond novels. So is there one that's generally considered to be the best James Bond novelist, somebody that wrote, I don't know, two, three, four of these continuation novels?

Mark Edlitz: When people talk about the top Bond books, they often go to Kingsley Amos and they often go to Anthony Horowitz. Charlie Higson and his "Young Bonds" are also well regarded. And recently, last year in a very short time, they -- it was they came up with this idea of it was parallel to the 70th anniversary of "On Her Majesty's Secret Service", and they said, "Oh, we ought to do something about that." And they came up with "On His Majesty's Secret Service" to represent the coronation that was taking place. So Charlie Higson in a very short time was asked to write a short story called "On His Majesty's Secret Service", and he turned that into like a 42,000-word Bond novela, where Bond has to keep the new king safe. So they're really responding to what's -- they are trying to also be nimble enough to respond to what's going on outside in the world.

Andrew Hammond: And you're maybe biased on this question, but how much legs do you think Bond has? Do you see it continuing indefinitely? Obviously, it's a different type of literature, but do you see it continuing like Shakespeare, or do you just see it living on?

Mark Edlitz: Oh, for sure. And I should say that I had not read all of these Bond novels before I started this -- these Bond continuation novels when I first started. And when I was first exposed to it, I didn't even know what to make of a Bond continuation novel. It did seem like an odd idea to me. And so part of this is to understand, you know, what is a continuation novel and what does it mean to take another person's character and continue him? And as it speaks to your question, yes, just like we get, you know, tons of Sherlock Holmes stories, I think Bond will continue. Certain characters don't carry on. I mean, I think Tarzan is a character that I don't think a lot of people have found ways to realize successfully in modern times because it's so fit into what was going on at the time and those attitudes. But Bond has been -- has adapted with the times while also trying to maintain the character's core attributes.

Andrew Hammond: What was your view on the last Bond movie? Did you have any particular thoughts as someone who's done all this research on James Bond both the novels and the movies?

Mark Edlitz: For the last Bond movie, I was absolutely gutted. It was not the ending I expected. And I remember when the lights came up, I was -- my mouth was on the floor. But it was also -- just putting my own personal emotional reaction aside, it also made sense in some way for that iteration of the character. Those Daniel Craig Bond movies are meant to sit outside the Sean Connery, Roger Moore, George Lazenby, Timothy Dalton films. They're -- it's meant not to continue those stories or be a prequel or a sequel, it's meant to be a completely different character. And so if you're doing that, that was their way of tying a bow on it or putting a final period to it. If he had not made a fifth film, they would have ended with how "Spectre", the fourth film ended, which was Bond driving away with a new love and with an Aston Martin. So if that happened, it would have ended up on a happy note. But that was not the case. And so once you end on that happy note for the fourth film sort of like an arc in a book, or a movie, or a TV series, the next has to go the other way.

Andrew Hammond: So is James Bond dead?

Mark Edlitz: In that universe, it would seem so. If they wanted to, they could continue. They could have said, "No, he's all right." Ian Fleming himself tried to kill off Bond before. There are instances in the Bond books like "You Only Live Twice" where Bond is presumed dead. So they could, if they wanted to write to that, and you know, he wakes up on an island and unsure of who -- has forgotten his memory and who is he. That's sort of the "You Only Live Twice"/"Man with the Golden Gun" plot. I don't suspect they're going to do that. I think they're going to leave those Daniel Craig films discreet and start fresh.

Andrew Hammond: So that's the -- and so that Daniel Craig movies are a discreet package?

Mark Edlitz: That -- yes that's my belief. But you know, the funny thing about these things is when -- because you know "Royale" came out -- the Daniel Craig 2006 if you were to ask me what that was, I would have said it's a prequel film. It's a prequel to Sean Connery. But it wasn't until like the third one when you realized, "Oh, no, none of these -- those -- the events happened to James Bond and those early films could not have also happened to this James Bond." So we'll find out, but I really do believe it's a discreet package.

Andrew Hammond: And who's working on the next novel, and when is it coming out?

Mark Edlitz: The next James Bond novel will be the Kim Sherwood "A Spy Like Me", which is about the other agents in Double O division who are on the hunt for James Bond and aim to rescue him. And that will come out I think in April?

Andrew Hammond: So it seems to be from our conversation as the -- there's not one James Bond anymore, there are definite James Bonds. There's the letter A [phonetic] James Bond, there's the Fleming James Bond, there's the Bond after Fleming, Bonds, and there's the movie Bonds. The Daniel Craig Bonds is different from the whole Bond canon. Is that fair?

Mark Edlitz: Yes, there's radio James Bonds, there's videogames James Bonds, there are comic book James Bonds. Yes, he's a malleable or a protein figure who keeps his core attributes but can be adapted into these different mediums. And I think it's more interesting ultimately -- this is just my personal preference, that there is not just one James Bond and one overarching story that connects every single James Bond adventure together. I think you get more -- by doing that, you limit the artist's ability to take them in new directions.

Andrew Hammond: And just throw our listeners a little tidbit, what's your favorite movie?

Mark Edlitz: I'm going -- today maybe I'm going to say it's Daniel Craig's "Casino Royale". I also love Dalton and Lazenby, and I did love "Moonraker".

Andrew Hammond: Okay. Well, I think just to close out, can you tell our listeners where they can get a hold of your book "Bond After Fleming"?

Mark Edlitz: Yes, please do get "James Bond After Fleming", I would be very grateful; you know, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, you could ask your local bookstore to order it for you.

Andrew Hammond: And it's out just now?

Mark Edlitz: Yes, yes, yes.

Andrew Hammond: Okay. Well, thanks ever so much for your time. It's been a pleasure to speak to you, Mark. [ Music ]

Erin Dietrick: Thanks for listening to this episode of "SpyCast". Please follow us on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. If you have feedback, you can reach us by email at spycast@spymuseum.org or on Twitter at intlspycast. Coming up in next week's show -- >> The Zodiac case had come into the news again because of the David Fincher film that had come out. And then the cyber just intrigued me because it had been unsolved for so long. And it seemed like a thing that where the answer could possibly be within reach because of, you know, my computer programming background and my interest in puzzles. If you go to our page, the cyberwire.com/podcast/spycast, you can find links to further resources, detailed show notes, and full transcripts. I'm Erin Dietrick, and your host is Dr. Andrew Hammond. The rest of the team involved in the show is Mike Mincey, Memphis Vaughan III, Emily Coletta, Emily Rens, Afua Anokwa, Ariel Samuel, Elliott Peltzman, Tré Hester, and Jen Eiben. This show is brought to you from the home of the world's preeminent collection of intelligence and espionage-related artifacts, the International Spy Museum.