Thursday, June 15, 2006
For Your Eyes Only is a collection of short stories written by Ian Fleming and published as a collection in 1960, just after the success of Goldfinger and just a few years before the film series started. Some of the short stories were plots for episodes of a half-hour TV show that never materialized. Several others had appeared here and there, in magazines. (See link below for more details.) Fleming adapted the old TV show plots into short story form.
It's kind of a mixed bag, but overall I like it. The first story, "From a View to a Kill," isn't very good and has nothing in common with the movie that used the title. (Sort of.) The other stories are much better. "For Your Eyes Only" has Bond doing a little unofficial killing as a favor to M. He runs into a wild girl, with a totally, fricking cool metal crossbow, who is gunning for the same guy because he killed her parents. It's a pretty good story, and it was used for part of the film For Your Eyes Only. "Rosico" was also folded into For Your Eyes Only, and the ending of the novel Live and Let Die was used as the end for For Your Eyes Only.
"The Quantum of Solace" is a very interesting story where Bond just sits and listens to a colonial official telling a story. Very unusual for a Bond story, it never turns into anything you expect, and it shows that Fleming was a very talented writer who just needed to put a little more time into rewriting. He wrote a few very good books, sure, but almost all of his books have some dumb stuff in them.
Which leaves "The Hildebrandt Rarity," a story about a rare fish, the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean, and an asshole American millionaire who dies when a poisoned fish is shoved in his mouth when he is asleep. (This character was used in the film License to Kill.) Bond is just along for the ride, vacationing between assignments, he went on the expedition to find the fish just out of boredom. Now he has to cover up a murder and figure out who did it ...
(Note: The wikipedia entry gives a plot summary that tells who did it. Well, I just read it and I think wikipedia is wrong.)
There are worse ways to spend a few hours. Unfortunately, For Your Eyes Only is missing the heaping tablespoons of racism we have come to expect and love. Oh, yeah, every once in a while you get something like this:
When darkness came he had dinner and a short sleep and then diluted the walnut stain and washed himself all over with the stuff even to the roots of his hair. He came out looking like a Red Indian with blue-grey eyes.
And the millionaire asshole says a lot of really dumb things, but it's all in character, and Bond is quite disgusted with the fellow. So you can't fault Ian for that. Maybe Ian was growing up a little.
For more information on For Your Eyes Only, click here for the wikipedia entry.