For Special Services (James Bond 007)
"FOR SPECIAL SERVICES" by John Gardner
THE GOOD NEWS: Bond is back, better than ever!
THE BAD NEWS: SPECTRE is back too, and so is Blofeld. Not Ernst Stavro Blofeld, mind you, whom 007 most definitely killed back in "You Only Live Twice," but an relative/heir apparent of his. But who is it? Is it Markus Bismaquer, a caricature-ish combo of Boss Hog, Foghorn Leghorn, and J.R. Ewing (only this time an ice cream tycoon, not an oil man) rolled into one? Or is it Bismaquer's sidekick, the Skeletor-lookalike Walter Luxor? Or....?
MORE GOOD NEWS: Leiter is back too....this time as in Felix Leiter's lovely ans coquettish daughter Cedar, an up-and-coming CIA operative in her own right.
This was the first-ever John Gardner 007 novel I ever read, back in 1988 at the tender age of 12, and after all these years, even with the Cold War being long over and thus rendering the storyline dated, it is still rollicking entertainment, with the action, adventure, humour, and sexy women one has come to expect from a Bond story. Is it realistic? No, but then again, you don't read a 007 novel (or watch a 007 film) for realism, you read it precisely for the outlandish escapism!
RANDOM STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS (and noteworthy passages):
--p. 3: "A little earlier, James Bond had been reclining, apparently relaxed and at ease, in an aisle seat on the starboard side of the Executive Class area of Flight BA 12." Is Executive Club what BA used to call Business Class/Club World back then?
Did SAS actually perform Air Marshall equivalent duties at one time?
--p. 5: "A statuesque blonde stewardess." Ah yes, the pre-PC days (1982 in this case), when you could still get away with "stewardess" as opposed to the non-gender-specific "flight attendant."
--p. 6: "The stewardess, still clutching a Model II Ingram submachine gun, in the swirl of smoke, lay sprawled on her back," Doesn't the word "sprawl" specifically mean face-down as opposed to face-up?
--p. 7: "Bradbury Lines, 22 S.A.S. Regiment’s base near Hereford." Hmm, I've seen many references to Hereford, but not Bradbury Lines. (Perhaps better known as Stirling Lines? It's been since relocated to Credenhill.)
--p. 15: Was this python inspired at all by the one belonging to Hugo Drax in the "Moonraker" film?
--p. 19: HK VP-70! (Gardner forgot the "z" designation after the "0," though.)
--p. 22: "Bond thought of the other women who had played such a decisive role in his Service career: Vesper Lynd, who, in death, had seemed moulded like a stone effigy; Gala Brand, now Mrs Vivian, with three kids and a nice house in Richmond (they exchanged Christmas cards but he had never seen her again after the Drax business); Honey Rider; Tiffany Case; Domino Vitale; Solitaire; Pussy Galore; the exquisite Kissy Suzuki; his latest conquest, Lavender Peacock" Aahh, what a trip down Memory Lane, Bond Girl-style!
--p. 39: "Sharing a bottle of Dom Pérignon ’69." Cheers!
--p. 50: "the vast twin towers of the World Trade Center dwarfing everything else." Well, that passage right there certainly renders the novel dated!
--p. 52: "small, snub-nosed S & W ‘Highway Patrolman’ with the four-inch barrel and spare ammunition;" Um, a 4-inch barrel is considered standard length for a revolver, Mr. Gardner, not a snubnose!
--p. 75: "A compartment slid open to reveal the large Ruger Super Blackhawk .44 Magnum"....."One properly placed bullet from this magnificent, single-action revolver could wreck an engine." Even if it could, a single-action as opposed to a double-action revolver isn't a very technologically or tactically sound choice. Why not go with a Redhawk or an M29 instead?
--p. 80: "Bond asked for a very large vodka martini —shaken, not stirred —giving her the precise instructions." Aahh, just like ol' times, 007!
--p. 179: "But now Bond again made a silent vow: anyone remotely connected with the original Blofeld would also pay. The light of his own happiness had been extinguished without compassion. Why, then, should he show compassion now?"
--p. 209: "U.S. Air Force Base, Peterson Field, Colorado." The correct label would be Peterson AFB, Colorado.
--p. 230: "'‘Hate the muck, sir. I can’t even look at it.’" WTF? I could've sworn in earlier editions of the novel, the word used was "sh*t" instead of "muck."
CENTRAL CASTING: Roger Moore (RIP) as Bond, Wayne Newton as Mazzard, Joe Don Baker (or John Candy, RIP) as Bismaquer, Ian McDiarmid (the Emperor Palpatine actor) as Walter Luxor, Maria de Medeiros or Mirelle Mathieu (she'd have to grow her hair out, though) as Nina Bismaquer