Blast From the Past (1997) – Raymond Benson

Benson takes over 007’s adventures from John Gardner, and delivered this short story that first appeared in Playboy in 1997. Benson shows that he can tell a Bond story in true Ian Fleming style, though the ending definitely is a little more adult, but hardly surprising given the context of where it was published.

James Bond receives a summons to New York from his son, James Suzuki, in this direct sequel to the literary Bond adventures, You Only Live Twice. He arrives in Manhattan only to find his only son has been murdered, but a trap has been laid for 007 as well, and it has been planned by an old enemy.

In typical Bond fashion there is a chase, a beautiful woman, a confrontation with the enemy, the threat of torture and a romantic liaison, and in this case, it all plays out in a quick short story that kept Bond in the nineties, and retconned the Fleming novels into the 70s, much like Gardner had done.

His writing style fits with Fleming’s though, again, the last chapter of the short story seems jarringly out of place with the way the erotic scene ends the story. Up until that moment, everything else worked for me. Reading that bit just felt a little absurd, it didn’t jibe with the rest of the story, its style, or the way 007 love scenes are usually told.

However, Bond has his PPK back in hand, and the action sequences show Benson has a handle on them, and that perhaps his 007 may be a more successful marriage of the film and literary version, Gardner was never really able to reconcile the two, and his writing seemed to bristle when it tried.

Still, Benson shows that Bond stories on the page would continue, teasing us with this short tale, and familiar enemies, and preparing us for the moment when James Bond Will Return in…

Zero Minus Ten.

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