The Spy Who Loved Me


The Spy Who Loved Me
by Ian Fleming
narrated by Nadia May
4.9 hours

The Spy Who Loved Me is the ninth novel in the James Bond series and completely different from Fleming’s other books in the series: The story is told from the view point of a female character and is devoid of much of the action and language that are the coin in the world of espionage. Instead, what we have is a sexual ingenue who gains experience rather quickly through this story arc which takes her from her native French-speaking Canada to London, Switzerland and back to North America. In seeking to start over from her misadventures of the heart and body, Viv has fled Europe and seeks to start over in Florida. She first heads back to her hometown and then starts her journey southwards. In upstate New York, short on funds, she agrees to work as a front desk clerk at The Dreamy Pines Motor Court. Here, a situation develops and Viv finds herself in a jam.

Enter James Bond. His car has broken down on a dark and stormy night and he seeks refuge at the motel. The scene is set: There’s thunder, lightening, bad guys and a damsel in distress! The action unfolds quickly and with missing scenes: For the first time in a Bond novel, we are not sure of what Bond is doing throughout as we are only seeing him when and how Viv sees him. And the image that she sees, without the benefit of actually knowing him, provides another dimension to Bond’s character in that we have a greater sense of his physicality and presence via the impact he has on his surroundings and people.

The sexual content of The Spy Who Loved Me is surprisingly explicit, given that it was published in 1962 – a time when social conventions had not yet allowed for open discourse on sex and sexuality. Even now, nearly fifty years later, the sexual candor may make the listener uncomfortable, especially when Viv delivers the lines about how,

All Women love semi-rape. They love to be taken. It was his sweet brutality against my bruised body that had made his act of love so piercingly wonderful…

Fleming always manages to deliver a provocative sentiment in his Bond novels; but the whole of The Spy Who Loved Me seems to have been intended to incite unconventional sentiment: The departure from the action-adventure modus, the detailing of Viv’s sex life, the contempt Fleming seems to bear women… At the same time, there is a certain literary bravery in Fleming’s willingness to write something different and controversial, inserting it into a successful series where certain expectations had been set.

The Spy Who Loved Me was narrated by the British-American narrator, Nadia May (a.k.a. Wanda McCaddon.) Nadia May delivered the story with confidence and empathy; but Ms May sounds a bit old to be voicing a twenty-five year-old, especially as there is no convention with the story indicating that The Spy Who Loved Me is the reminiscence of an older woman. The tense is only slightly “future past,” so listeners may reasonably have expected a younger voice. There were minor processing issues in regard to the quality of the audio itself, most noticeably at the beginning of the audio; but nothing terribly egregious: Perhaps a slightly-too-heavy hand on the expander which led to an odd sound chop at the end of some words.

See Also:
The Shaken, Not Stirred: A Simon Vance Audiobook Challenge Featuring James Bond (Offical Web-Site)
Casino Royale (Audiobook Review)
Goldfinger Audiobook Review)Quantum of Solace/For Your Eyes Only (Audiobook Review)
Thunderball (Audiobook Review)

Other Stuff: The Spy Who Loved Me (by Ian Fleming; narrated by Nadia May) is a part of the

I received a MP3-CD edition of The Spy Who Loved Me (by Ian Fleming; narrated by Nadia May) from Blackstone Audio, Inc. under professional courtesy/reviewer auspices. I had no involvement in the production of this title. I receive no monies, goods or services in exchange for reviewing the product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post.

Thunderball

Thunderball
by Ian Fleming
narrated by Simon Vance
(P) 2001, Blackstone Audio, Inc.
7.60 hours

James Bond, 007, spy in Her Majesty’s Secret Service, is sent into the Bahamas to vet M.’s hunch that the island area is the site where a military aircraft and it’s cargo of two nuclear missiles has disappeared to. Thunderball introduces listenership to S.P.E.C.T.R.E. (Special Executive for Counter Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion), the successor organization to SMERSH in the Bond canon; to Blofeld, the mastermind behind the criminal organization and, to Bond Girl, Dominette “Domino” Vitali.

Ian Fleming wrote contemporary novels which reflected the values and fears of Post-War men and women. After two atomic weapons had been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Atomic Age was ushered in with all it’s possibilities and terrors. The promise of atomic energy was that it would be the driving force behind the manifest industrialism of the Western world; but security concerns and the threat of Communism were equally prevalent. While many view Bond’s adventures as fantastic, Thunderball is less so in creating a scenario that even today is not impossible: a NATO plane is high jacked and a terrorist organization seeks to blackmail the Western world with the threat of detonating the bombs unless its demands are met.

Thunderball is the ninth title in the James Bond series and if you’ve read the preceding eight titles, there are certain things you may find familiar and welcome: the casino card games, the setting in the Caribbean Community, the underwater tableaux and, of course a Bond Girl. What’s great about Bond novels though, is that despite these recognizable features, you still don’t know what to expect! Instead of being formulaic in his plotting, Fleming uses the familiar as metaphorical touchstones in unfamiliar territory.

Inasmuch as Fleming write of his times, listeners may rise an eyebrow at certain expressions that have fallen out of favor or meant something completely different in 1961 than they do now. To wit, there are frequent references to “nigger heads” which is a term that was used to describe certain kinds of coral and; there is a chapter called “How to Eat a Woman” which is not the sexually explicit reference in the context provided!

Simon Vance is the British narrator for Thunderball and voices the multi-national raft of characters with astuteness, making discernment of the characters easy. If some accents are more challenging for Vance, such as American or the Island Patois, after eight Bond novels he has definitely settled into a comfort zone that accommodates and ameliorates those challenges. It’s also worth noting that Fleming didn’t throw a figurative curve ball in characters in Thunderball either: no white Anglo colonial daughter raised by a Jamaican nanny (cf. Doctor No)! Simon Vance has definitely taken ownership of Fleming’s Bond and roster of characters. Just as Fleming used the familiar touchstones to explore the unfamiliar, Simon Vance has created the vocal equivalent in character work.

Convo Starter:
In the beginning of the novel, Bond is sent to a health spa to detox. The health regimens, outside of the exercise machines, should be surprisingly familiar to 21st century listeners: Emphases on fresh foods and, admonishments against refined sugars, alcohol and tobacco. Bond’s housekeeper decries this lifestyle as ill-serving a man of action! While a seemingly ridiculous charge at first, I seem to find myself playing the role of May Maxwell IRL! As a couple of my friends temporarily lose weight on The Juice Fast; but have also become noticeably weaker and, less focused and shorter in their attention spans, I do wonder at the lasting effects of this particular diet and if overall it warrants more concern than admiration. I’ve already decided that The Juice Fast is not for me; but what do you think about The Juice Fast?

See Also:
The Shaken, Not Stirred: A Simon Vance Audiobook Challenge Featuring James Bond
Casino Royale (Audiobook Review)
Goldfinger Audiobook Review)
Quantum of Solace/For Your Eyes Only (Audiobook Review)

Other Stuff: Thunderball (by Ian Fleming; narrated by Simon Vance) is a part of the


I received a MP3-CD edition of Thunderball (by Ian Fleming; narrated by Simon Vance) from Blackstone Audio, Inc. under professional courtesy/reviewer auspices. I had no involvement in the production of this title. I receive no monies, goods or services in exchange for reviewing the product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post.




Quantum of Solace/For Your Eyes Only


Quantum of Solace
by Ian Fleming
narrated by Simon Vance
Ⓟ 2008, Blackstone Audio, Inc.

The first five stories = 5.60 out of 9.30 hours
  • “From a View to a Kill”
  • “For Your Eyes Only”
  • “Quantum of Solace”
  • “Riscio”
  • “The Hildebrand Rarity”

After having shared seven adventures with 007 in previous novels, you become somewhat inured to Fleming’s political incorrectness and you start appreciating the other elements of his writing: the way he can create tension and surprise you; the way he shapes Bond’s interior dialogue; the attention to detail beyond the travelogue descriptions – and in the end you begin to like Bond again, even after the misogynistic fiasco that was Goldfinger. It’s not that Bond has changed much. He’s still thinks and says things that place him squarely in the ranks of the mid-century man; but in this collection, we sense that perhaps his views, however much they are shaped by his times, are not concretized – that Bond has the capacity to turn things over in his mind and realize that all may not be as they appear. This idea of deception becomes the theme of the collection (or at least the first five stories):

“From a View to a Kill”
This is the first story in the collection and treats the idea of deception in the most basic and physical of ways. A dispatch courier is ambushed along an isolated highway by another courier wearing the same uniform. Bond, with his ability to sense “the invisible factor” or “the invisible man” – the element of a mission’s mystery that had been overlooked by others but turns out to be the key to the mission’s success, dresses in two different disguises to figure out what’s going on. First, Bond dresses in camo and uncovers a well concealed camp; and later Bond dresses as a dispatch courier himself to lure the would-be perpetrator out.
“For Your Eyes Only”
Set against the changing political climate of the Caribbean as Castro moves against Batista, the story looks at political subterfuge in the grossest criminal way: One of Castro’s henchmen, Major Gonzales, goes around Jamaica coercing plantation owners to sell their properties. A political exile, his business transactions are actually incidents of bullying and extortion with violent implications. Major Gonzales and his two sidekicks eventually end up in Vermont (!?) Bond assumes the identity of a game hunter, special attention paid to his clothing and licenses to complete this mission of justice (or revenge depending on one’s point of view) and encounters a woman along the way with a similar mission.
“Quantum of Solace”
The eponymous story of the collection, this is the piece that plays as an exposition of social and personal deception in two layers. It is actually a story within a story: Bond attends a rather dull dinner party and afterwards needs to kill about a hour with his host before he can politely leave. An off-chance remark of Bond’s initiates a story, as told by the host, about a man who marries an air hostess. The air hostess-wife eventually becomes involved in an indiscreet affair. Her true colors having flown, the first surprise is in what the husband then proceeds to do! The social charades and the personal face the husband tries to maintain play out against the rarefied air of the Service’s cliques in Bermuda. The story, which has engaged Bond beyond the hour that decorum had dictated, has a final surprise and teaches Bond a lesson about not making judgements from first impressions.
“Riscio”
The term “riscio” means risky business and ostensibly refers to the smuggling world into which Bond finds himself. Sent to Italy to track down illegal opium shipments, Bond is set up with a contact, Kristatos at a restaurant. The apparent quarry is Alberto “The Dove” Colombo, not only the restaurant’s owner, but a major player in contraband shipments. The story evolves out into a question of who to trust: Who are your allies and, who are your enemies?
“The Hildebrand Rarity”
This short, more than even “Quantum of Solace” displays more of Bonds interior dimension than the others. Though not has clever as “QOS,” even rather ham-handed in its way, “The Hildebrand Rarity” has Bond thinking about relative morality. Mr. Krest, a wealthy American man who uses his pleasure yacht to collect specimens for the Smithsonian (a tax evasion scheme) hires Bond and Fidele Barbery to track down a rare fish, “The Hildebrand Rarity” in the Caribbean. There is nothing to like about Mr. Krest: He is a mean boor, a sadist, a corrupt businessman, a drunk and overall unscrupulous. And yet, Bond puts up with quite a bit, “eating crow” for four days. Bond equivocates, is uncertain about what to do, questions his smaller actions against larger contexts. What does he really see? What does he really know? What is the right thing to do? In this story, Bond himself might not be the man we have been led to believe he is.


Perhaps “deception” is too broad a theme for spy thriller adventures – after all, espionage is built on subterfuge; and yet with this collection, one can’t help but notice the different kinds of deceits being played out very specifically in each story: From the basic physical deceptions of “From a View to a Kill” to the questioning ruminations of Bond in “The Hildebrand Rarity,” Fleming skillfully writes in layers about the various kinds of deceptions.
Simon Vance narrates the audiobook edition of Quantum of Solace. Inasmuch as readers and listeners may have become inured to Fleming’s provocative passages about social issues through seven novels, listeners have come to expect certain things from Simon Vance in the series as well. He narrates the stories, and wholly creates Bond and M. Though his American and female characters are usually suspect, SV delivered credibly and well in this collection. Mr. Krest (“The Hildebrand Rarity”) speaks like Humphrey Bogart and SV does an imitation well enough that the listener understands the vocal inference. Other foreigners (Italians, Jamaicans, etc.) are differentiated from Bond’s British accent and while they may not exactly sound native, the characters are well delineated.

See Also:

The first five stories in Quantum of Solace are contained in the audiobook, For Your Eyes Only. The next two featured films in the Shaken, Not Stirred… Challenge are Quantum of Solace (starring Daniel Craig) and; For Your Eyes Only (Starring Roger Moore.) Both movies are based on these first five shorts in the collection. For a complete breakdown of the short stories featured in Quantum of Solace and their related movies, see FYI: Quantum of Solace. For a look at my brain while it is watching NFL playoffs and trying to figure out what Bond novels go with which movies, check out Old Skool “Infographic”: Bond Novels 08 – 14 🙂
For a breakdown of the tracks on the Quantum of Solace MP3-CD, see Quantum of Solace: MP3-CD Track List.
For other Shaken, Not Stirred posts, see:
Casino Royale (by Ian Fleming; narrated by Simon Vance)
Goldfinger (by Ian Fleming; narrated by Simon Vance)



Other Stuff: Quantum of Solace (by Ian Fleming; narrated by Simon Vance) is a part of the

I received a MP3-CD edition of Quantum of Solace (by Ian Fleming; narrated by Simon Vance) from Blackstone Audio, Inc. under professional courtesy/reviewer auspices.. I receive no monies, goods or services in exchange for reviewing the product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post.



Old Skool "Infographic": Bond Novels 08-14

It seems like everyone likes a sexy, eye-catching Infographic these days and I’m no exception. Last week, while I was trying to work through a workflow problem, I thought being able to create an Infographic would be really cool way to help me organize my thoughts. But I was watching playoff games on television and was disinclined to not watch – which is what I would had to have done in order to focus on dnloading the right-for-me program, learn it and experiment with it before finally ending up with the product I wanted. Instead, I got out a batch of mini-Post-It notes and produced a chart of approximately 75 scribblings. This is what resulted by halftime of the first game:

Interestingly, the chart is still being developed as my DH adds his two cents in every once in while and now the chart is closer to 100 pieces and counting. What I discovered was that I liked being able to move the Post-It notes around and being able to see it all up on a wall. There’s a flexibility and capaciousness to the whole IRL experience that I prefer over the confines of a program, however sophisticated and sexy it might be. In the past, I’ve drawn things out in elaborate detail on big (24″ x 36″) sheets of drawing paper. I once had a twelve sheet deal going for The Epic of Gilgamesh that, unfortunately, didn’t make the move out West. Since I’ve been here, I had been moving way from the thinking-with-drawings and such; but last night, after watching Goldfinger (Shaken Not Stirred: A Simon Vance Audio Book Challenge featuring James Bond), I was checking out the next title in the Bond Novels, Quantum of Solace. QOS is a collection of nine short stories; and it turns out, figuring out what stories went with what audiobook collections and movies was not as straightforward as one might have hoped. After a quick flurry of googling, I decided to put up a quick “Old Skool Infographic” of the relationships. With this on the wall, I then created the blog post, FYI: Quantum of Solace. The “Old Skool Infographic” isn’t sexy. In fact, it’s just another way to outline material; but I like it 🙂

Okay, the New York Giants are playing the SanFrancisco 49ers and halftime is over. See you later 🙂

FYI: Quantum of Solace


Quantum of Solace: The Complete James Bond Short Stories (by Ian Fleming; narrated by Simon Vance) contains nine “shorts”:
  • From a View to a Kill
  • For Your Eyes Only
  • Quantum of Solace
  • Riscion
  • The Hildebrand Rarity
  • Octopussy
  • The Property of a Lady
  • The Living Daylights
  • 007 in New York

The first five of these shorts are contained in the audiobook, For Your Eyes Only (by Ian Fleming; narrated by Simon Vance). The next two featured films in the Shaken, Not Stirred: A Simon Vance Audio Book Challenge Featuring James Bond, are Quantum of Solace (starring Daniel Craig) – viewing party on 02/25/2012 and; For Your Eyes Only (starring Roger Moore) – viewing party on 03/24/2012. Both movies are based on these five shorts:
  • From a View to a Kill
  • For Your Eyes Only
  • Quantum of Solace
  • Riscion
  • The Hildebrand Rarity
The movie, Octopussy (starring Roger Moore), which will be the subject of the Shaken, Not Stirred viewing party on 09/22/2012 is based on the next three shorts and are contained in the audiobook, Octopussy and The Living Daylights (by Ian Fleming; narrated by Simon Vance):
  • Octopussy
  • The Property of a Lady
  • The Living Daylights
The short story, 007 in New York (by Ian Fleming; narrated by Simon Vance) is unique to Quantum of Solace: The Complete James Bond Short Stories (by Ian Fleming; narrated by Simon Vance).
All of the stories that are in the audiobooks, For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy and The Living Daylights are in Quantum of Solace: The Complete James Bond Short Stories; but only the the complete short story collection contains 007 in New York.

Goldfinger

Goldfinger
James Bond Novel #7
by Ian Fleming
narrated by Simon Vance
08.50 hours
Ⓟ 2001, Blackstone Audio, Inc.

James Bond, agent with Britain’s Secret Service and with a license to kill (as denoted by the double-ought digits in his agent number, 007) meets up with Auric Goldfinger, a card cheat and greedy-for-gold businessman who is also suspected of gold smuggling and subsequently undermining world markets. Bond is given the assignment to figure out how Goldfinger is doing it. In the process, Bond discovers that Goldfinger has an even more ambitious scheme of robbing Fort Knox of $15 million in gold bullion!

One of the great things about the Bond novels is that, unlike the films, Bond is not the hero who emerges from his escapades unscathed and looking pretty. In past novels, the vicissitudes of the trade are visited upon Bond and others in rather shocking and graphic detail. As any given scene is introduced and unfolds, you really aren’t sure how it’s going to end and hence, Fleming brings true suspense to his spy thrillers:

“He let his head fall back with sigh. There was a narrow slit down the centre of the polished steel table. At the far end of the slit, like a foresight framed in the vee of his parted feet, were the glinting teeth of a circular saw.”

Scenes don’t end the way you think they will and, it’s in the how far they go that leaves readers a bit shocked or even gasping aloud.

Goldfinger was written in 1959, and what might give today’s readers/listeners pause in regards to the Bond novels is the political incorrectness in the stories. The sentiments that are expressed can be jarring and it is somewhat bizarre that in every novel so far there has been at least one passage or idea expressed that compels a knee-jerk reaction to the 21st century reader. In Goldfinger, there is this:

“Bond came to the conclusion that Tilly Masterson was one of those girls whose hormones had got mixed up. He knew the type well and thought they and their male counterparts were a direct consequence of giving votes to women and ‘sex equality’. As a result of fifty years of emancipation, feminine qualities were dying out or being transferred to the males. Pansies of both sexes were everywhere, not yet completely homosexual, but confused, not knowing what they were. The result was a herd of unhappy sexual misfits – barren and full of frustrations, the women wanting to dominate and the men to be nannied. He was sorry for them, but he had no time for them.”

Cringe-worthy indeed. Wait until you see how Fleming draws Pussy Galore :-/

Simon Vance narrated Goldfinger ably and well: His characters are well delineated, though if one were to quibble, it would be that his American accents are not quite what they could be. Vance’s later works (e.g. Paul is Undead by Alan Goldsher wherein he narrates the part of a native Chicagoan) show how far he has come in ten years 🙂

See Also:

Casino Royale (James Bond Novel #1; by Ian Fleming; narrated by Simon Vance) – Audiobook [Mini-] Review
Other Stuff: Goldfinger (by Ian Fleming; narrated by Simon Vance) qualifies for

I borrowed an MP3-CD edition of Goldfinger (by Ian Fleming; narrated by Simon Vance) from Blackstone Audio, Inc. I receive no monies, goods or services in exchange for reviewing the product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post.