MI6 looks back 30 years to when John Gardner was first announced as the new James Bond continuation author...

007 Coming Back With 1980s Flavour

8th May 2011

James Bond fans were in for a surprise in October 1980, as their favourite literary hero - who had lay dormant for more than 10 years - was about to burst from the pages once again. British author John Gardner was announced to the press as the new continuation author six months ahead of his first 007 adventure hitting bookstores. As "Licence Renewed" is celebrating its 30th anniversary this month, MI6 looks back at how the Gardner era of Bond books began...

Bond will return with flavor of the '80s - Associated Press - October 16th, 1980
James Bond is coming back, still with his 007 licence to kill but otherwise with a 1980s flavor. He will be a little more respectful to women, consume fewer vodka martinis and smoke low-tar cigarettes.

John Gardner, British writer of best-selling mysteries, has been selected by the late Ian Fleming's literary executors to bring Bond back to life in three books. "We are picking up Bond form where we left him in the '60s and bringing him in to the '80s," Gardner said in a telephone interview from his retreat in Ireland's Wicklow Mountains.

When Fleming died in 1964, at 56, he was correcting the proofs on his 14th Bond book, "The Man With the Golden Gun," which was posthumously published. Later two of his short stories were published under the title "Octopussy."

Gardner, 64, said the invitation to bring Bond back "Is a challenge, especially on the technical side. I will enjoy it as a relaxation from my other work. I like to write one serious book and one of mystery of spy fiction each year."

His first Bond book, provisionally titled "Meltdown," (note: this later became "Licence Renewed") has been written and publication is set for next April, the time of year Fleming's books were always launched. Gardner would not reveal the plot, saying he had been told to keep it secret. But he did indicate it was the traditional fight between good and evil, with Bond assigned to save the world.

Gardner said Bond will be pitted against an individual with immense resources and a nasty streak whose malignant activities have to be stopped. "We have kept to the Bond formula. He loves his country and his service. Naturally there was a clearout of the '00' service following the defector scandals, but fortunately Bond came out clean," Gardner said.


Above: John Gardner was announced as the new James Bond continuation author in October 1980.

The enigmatic spymaster "M" who sends Bond on his missions will be back behind his desk. Miss Moneypenny, still unmarried, will wait faithfully to back up Bond and mother him when he returns, scarred but triumphant over the forces of evil.

"We won't age them, but we have to fit them into the '80s. We hope readers will see him as the Bond they remember," Gardner said. "But times have changed. There won't be so many casual girls - we've had the effect of women's lib meanwhile. Also Bond won't drink so many vodka martinis. He's cut down smoking too. He now favors low-tar cigarettes, but still has them specially made for him."

The high technology Bond used, Gardner noted, has in some cases become fact instead of fiction. The unique submarine used by Goldfinger (sic) in his bid to rule the world was later matched in real life by Howard Hughes' Glomar Explorer, which was actually employed in true Bond style in a bid to recover secret equipment from a sunken Soviet nuclear submarine in the Pacific.

"So Bond's technology has been updated. Everything he uses I have handled myself and it is available either on the open or covert markets," Gardner said. Gardner knows his stuff about weapons. He was an officer in the British Royal Marine Commandos in World War II. Fleming was a commander in British Naval Intelligence.

After the war, Gardner was graduated from Cambridge University and emulated his father by becoming a priest of the Church of England. But he said that after about a year, "a little voice inside my head said 'wrong'." After a long struggle between conscience and belief he was allowed to relinquish the Holy Orders. He then went in to journalism. Later he wrote the first of his best-selling Boysie Oakes books, "The Liquidator," ironically the first comedy spy spoof to the James Bond cult.

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