The two thirty eights roared simultaneously.So begins Moonraker, the third novel by Ian Fleming Published in 1955, it continues the exploits of British Secret Service agent James Bond following Casino Royale and Live and Let Die, with the long running film series adhering to Fleming s bibliography neither in order or in story content This smooth, spare spy thriller bares next door to zero similarity to the film released in 1979 and while I grew restless with the acrobatics of the back half, I loved the business in the front half, which takes readers through a day at the office with a gaming expert and modern male sophisticate occasionally called on to assassinate enemies of the state.The novel starts with James Bond having a bad case of the Mondays, worked over in the basement firing range by his instructor his sidearm is a Colt Detective Special before going up to his eighth floor office of Secret Service headquarters, Radio Tests Ltd to any curious pedestrians in Regent Park Bond, also known as Agent 007, might field an assignment two or three times a year that require his particular skills, but is typically tasked with the chores of a civil servant reviewing dockets and files full of geopolitical or technological data while playing cards or golf with a few close friends on the weekend A red phone on Bond s desk summons him to the ninth floor office of the head of the Secret Service, known as M Bond is caught off guard when his boss refers to him by his given name and asks for his opinion on Sir Hugo Drax, a British industrialist who cornered the market on a ore called Columbite, which has a very high melting point Drax is nearing completion of a rocket called the Moonraker, which will have the range to strike any city in Europe, guaranteeing Britain s security A member of the private card club Blades, M has come by information that Drax cheats at bridge Seeking to avert a national scandal, M requests Bond join him at the club to investigate There are one or two other small refinements which contribute to the luxury of the place Only brand new currency notes and silver are paid out on the premises and, if a member is staying overnight, his notes and small change are taken away by the valet who brings the early morning tea and The Timesand are replaced with new money No newspaper comes to the reading room before it has been ironed Floris provides the soaps and lotions in the lavatories and bedrooms there is a direct wire to Ladbroke s from the porter s lodge the club has the finest tents and boxes at the principal race meetings, at Lord s, Henley, and Wimbledon, and members traveling abroad have automatic membership of the leading club in every foreign capital.At the gaming table, Drax is a crass, larger than life man, with one side of his face shiny from scar tissue left over from the war, when he survived a bombing on a rear liaison headquarters by German saboteurs known as The Werewolves that left many Allied soldiers killed or maimed Put off by the man s bluster and sweat, Bond ascertains that Drax is using the reflection of his silver cigarette case to sneak a peek at the cards he deals Partnering with M, Bond agrees to the high stakes Drax enjoys, ultimately switching a hand dealt by Drax with a stacked one Bond slips out of his pocket, gutting the obnoxious multimillionaire for 15,000 and M hopes, teaching him a lesson.Nursing a hangover at work the next day, Bond barely has time to consider what he ll spend his winnings on when M calls him into his office, this time on business Four days before the test launch of the Moonraker, two men have been killed at Drax s plant on the cliffs of Dover and Deal An RAF security officer in charge of protecting the perimeter was shot by one of Drax s men, a German worker who was apparently jealous of the officer s relationship with Gala Brand, Drax s secretary, who unknown to the industrialist, is an agent of the Special Branch Not wanting the launch delayed, the Cabinet has opted to replace the murdered security officer Bond reports to Drax Metals and is impressed by the multimillionaire Drax s dogsbody Willy Krebs comes across as a sneak while Gala Brand refuses to partake in Bond s repartee 007 uses his predecessor s files to discover that the man observed an object in the sea and was likely killed for it Bond and Gala Brand are nearly buried during a walk on the beach when the cliffs above them are blown up Brand discovers that Drax plans to strike London with the Moonraker Her boss abducts her and reveals he is a German seeking revenge for his homeland Bond gives chase in his Bentley but is captured Taken to the plant with Gala, Bond receives a lecture by Drax but is no longer impressedYes, said Bond He looked levelly at the great red face across the desk It s a remarkable case history Galloping paranoia Delusions of jealousy and persecution Megalomaniac hatred and desire for revenge Curiously enough, he went on conversationally, it may have something to do with your teeth Diastema, they call it Comes from sucking your thumb when you re a child Yes, I expect that s what the psychologists will say when they get you into the lunatic asylum Ogre s teeth Being bullied at school and so on Extraordinary the effect it has on a child Then Nazism helped to fan the flames and then came the crack on your ugly head The crack you engineered yourself I expect that settled it From then on you were really mad Same sort of thing for people who think they re God Extraordinary, what tenacity they have Absolute fanatics You re almost a genius Lombroso would have been delighted with you As it is you re just a mad dog that ll have to be shot Or else you ll commit suicide Paranoiacs generally do Too bad Sad business Nearly all the wonderful things about Moonraker occur in the first half of the book I found the details about James Bond s office space to be cheeky and fun I can t remember seeing the 007 of film really doing anything but gambling, smoking, being briefed on his mission, seducing women and then blowing shit up Does this man have an office A secretary Miss Moneypenny is M s secretary What are his work hours What s his take home pay Does he take the tube to work, or carpool This material grounds the novel as it segues into an Esquire article on how to spot a card cheat or how to drink vodka add pepperIt s a trick the Russians taught me that time you attached me to the Embassy in Moscow, apologized Bond There s often quite a lot of fusel oil on the surface of this stuff at least there used to be when it was badly distilled Poisonous In Russia, where you get a lot of bath tub liquor, it s an understood thing to sprinkle a little pepper in your glass It takes the fusel oil to the bottom I got to like the taste and now it s a habit But I shouldn t have insulted the club Wolfschmidt, he added with a grin.M grunted As long as you don t put pepper in Basildon s favorite champagne, he said drily.The buildup to Bond and Drax s bridge duel is sophisticated, exciting and fun but climaxes everything that follows it The goings on of an arms factory aren t anywhere near as compelling as the action at Blades While Gala Brand doesn t do the business with Bond Ian Fleming being less chaste than Walt Disney but quite austere , she doesn t do much but earn 007 sprofessional respect Fleming s comfort zone is clearly the snapshots of modern male living, with a little gambling and some pyrotechnics thrown in I enjoyed the glimpses into 007 s job and the novel s setting precludes the rampant racism of Live and Let Die, but neither the villains or Bond s straits are memorable. Rating 4 of fiveYes, again I m rating the 1979 movie, not the 1954 book Get over it.The pre credits sequence of this film is the absolute all time best thrill ride in the Bondiverse Seeing it again on the teensy netbook screen was just as thrilling and pulse pounding as it was to see it in the theater 34 years ago A parachuteless Bond flung from a plane, chasing a villain with a parachute, wresting the parachute from the villain, and death to baddie while Bond tiptoes lightly to earth It s WONDERFUL.The plot s standard Bond piffle Villain with all the money in the world manages to hide a space base in the jungles of Brazil, creates a supermegaultra whiter than white Master Race, blah blah you know the drill What makes this fun to watch are the chase scenes in Veniceso beautiful, Venice Rio de Janeiro s cable cars, which had me whimpering in terrorand lastly, most campily, in outer space That bit, the last half hour or so, hasn t aged well.I really love this film for its sheer, balls to the wall speed of pace Unlike many Bond films, the yip yap seems to take less time than usual This perception is helped along by the forgettableness of the yip yap, I think.Possibly the stupidest thing that happens in the film is the 7ft2in tall assassin, Jaws, who repeats from The Spy Who Loved Me, turns good because of the love of a tiny, blonde woman Jeez Possibly the best thing that happens, after the amazing opening sequence, is the launch of six space shuttlesfilmed before even one had actually launched It s quite impressive.Shirley Bassey s back, singing Moonraker , the last one she d ever sing Thank goodness Apparently the producers asked her to do this after Kate Bush said no The tune s just about what you d accept in a 1959 film, not a 1979 film All there is to say con, I still give this one a pro rating. Moonraker gets fiendish with its plot and villains, making this the first of the James Bond books to feel like a James Bond movie.Pure Cold War spy bliss, this book taps into our collective fear of mass annihilation after the successfully brutal bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki A war hero has offered his vast fortune, ambition and knowledge to create and construct a missile supposedly capable of defending Britain in case of attack A test of the missile is scheduled soon and Bond is put on security detail, because something just isn t quite right with the whole situation, so thinks he and his boss M.Iam Fleming s own spycraft knowledge from having worked in intelligence during WWII is put to good use in these books For a genre guy, he s also a decent writer Doesn t it seem like all public school trained Englishmen know how to string along a decent sentence or two This is the first book in the series where we get a real decent in depth look at M It was a pleasant and unexpected treat to get to know M intimately and see a little bit about what makes him tick The book in general was fun, even if the bad guy and his righthand toady were a bit over the topmaybe it was fun because they were soooo dastardly For all of you who read my previous James Bond reviews Casino Royale and Live Let Die this four star review will be giving you quite a shock.James Bond is going about his normal life as a Double 0 Operative And I really mean normal He reads boring reports and goes to the shooting range Then, he s called into M s office He and M discuss a man who s a current English celebrity Sir Hugo Drax A very rich man who has invested tons of money into creating a Moonraker, a large rocket thing that will be launched into the sky, and from there able to defend England from foreign threats A loud redhead with very bad teeth, lots of hair on his face and body and a huge scar on half his face from when he was found injured after WWII He was so injured, in fact, that little is known about him He doesn t even remember anything before the explosion He got out the hospital and went to work making money, becoming a millionaire in 5 years Everyone admires him and is grateful for his gift of the Moonraker to England It s going to be tested in a few days.Bond knows M isn t one to chew the fat, so he s waiting rather impatiently for M to get to the point This is the point Drax cheats at cards M is worried about this for a few reasons Why would such a wealthy man risk everything by cheating at some lowly card games Also, if he gets caught cheating at the super exclusive club he belongs to, he will disgrace himself and England So, M invites Bond to the ritzy club to beat Drax at his own game, so to speak.Bond elegantly and brutally reduces Drax to nothing, earning 15 thousand pounds in the process Drax is angry and humiliated and threatens Bond.That night, while Bond and Drax are playing at cards, two men in Drax s employ on Moonraker are killed in a murder suicide Allegedly over a beautiful woman who is also a secret agent Gala Brand Her full name is Galatea, so Gala is pronounced Gah lah M knows that blaming her for the murder suicide is bullsh t She is a professional and an agent Even Drax had hit on her repeatedly, and she always refused him, wearing an engagement ring When he gets too aggressive, she s forced to defend herself physically, which she is able to do, being an agent.Bond is assigned to take the dead man s place working for Drax Right into the heart of enemy territory What is in Drax s past Why are all his men sporting shaved heads and mustaches Why are they all German Is the Moonraker mission going to be sabotaged.This was a thrilling, engaging, edge of your seat mystery Fleming leads you along with little tantalizing clues and glimpses of what s REALLY going on with the Moonraker, and you are right alongside Gala and Bond as they work together to figure it out before the impending launch.James Bond definitely has a type so far, every single Bond girl has been black haired and blue eyed.Gala Brand is one of the best additions to the book and by far the best Bond girl yet Fleming makes her an agent, and he doesn t hesitate to show us how smart, capable, strong, and determined she is Unlike Vesper who was sulky and sullen, and Solitaire who was obedient, trusting and submissive to Bond, Gala really holds her own even against England s most dangerous agent, 007 Fleming really hammers home this point by letting Gala narrate 3rd person the story at numerous points This was very exciting to me and also helped me relate to and sympathize with the character in a way I never could with other Bond girls I loved seeing the world through Gala s eyes, and seeing her spy, plan, and figure things out often even before Bond.Bond himself is scads better regarding sexism in this book I can t comment on racism since there are no people in this book except whites I mean, he s no liberal woman s rights activist, and that s not what I m asking that s not what I expect him to be ALL I ASK from James Bond is that he a sees the woman he s with as a person not a toy or a stupid nuisance and b that he only engages in fantasizes about consensual sex and doesn t hurt want to hurt the Bond girl THAT S IT Those are my only requirements I m not even asking him to treat a woman as his equal only asking that he consider her a human being with feelings and desires of her own You d think this wouldn t be too much to ask, but then again it s James Bond.ANYWAY He is ALMOST perfect in this book He really looks after Gala he wants to protect her When she s in danger he worries about her instead of planning to let her die, as he so coldly did with Vesper in Casino Royale He saves Gala s life numerous times, often shielding her body with his and taking most of the punishment once during a landslide and once during an explosion He does his best to protect her and save her and keep her from harm He never made any snide, angry comments about how useless or weak she was which he often did with Vesper I was very proud of him.And on Gala s part, she is amazing Even Bond admits she s got a great head for numbers Gala impresses Bond with her bravery and intelligence again and again She even comes up with the final plan to save England at the end Bond is going to do something that would save England but kill a lot of people and she s tells him that he expects her to just take orders from him, but instead she s got a better plan Bond listens to her He trusts her In the end it s her own plan that saves England.The only times I was angry with Bond and this book didn t get 5 stars because of it 1 Stealing a kiss from Gala even that I could forgive, if it had been the only infraction 2 And this is really my main problem Bond wanting to kick Gala as a punishment for get this not flirting with him o.O This kind of male entitlement annoys me to no end And after the Isla Vista killings, I can t even stand reading about this kind of man who wants to hurt women simply because they are not sexually interested in him If I didn t have enough to worry about from simply being born female, now in addition I find myself fretting over turning men down for dates I can t even tell you how awful and scary it is to think that rejecting a guy will lead to him hurting killing you My friend asked me the other day, How do I reject a guy in a way that he won t murder me and it just BROKE MY HEART For these reasons, I could not forgive Bond for thinking this way, and if the Isla Vista killings had never happened this might not have affected me so strongly, but they are still fresh my mind and the minds of my friends family.Bond s relationship with M is explored in this book and it s very touching I was even going, Awwwww sometimes when Bond and M were talking to each other Fleming really shows what a strong friendship the two of them have together.Lastly, I feel like Fleming did a great job of showing Bond s humanity He doubts himself, second guesses himself even berates himself for mistakes in this novel He s human both mentally and physically he takes quite a few beatings in this novel and Fleming does a great job as usual of showing a pretty realistic recovery period and how injuries would affect Bond s fighting abilities I really appreciated this human side of Bond s mind and body.Overall, this is a great book Bond really steps up and improves his behavior, Fleming provides us with our first capable love interest, and in addition we get a mystery that is fun to try and put together I can only hope that other books in this series continue with these trends I don t want to have to write a 1 star Bond review again BUT I WILL IF I HAVE TO Do you hear me, Fleming UPDATE Okay, I saw the 1979 film with Roger Moore Um.The only reason to watch this film is to see all the beautiful women in it There are tons of gorgeous women in the movie.However, if you re not attracted to women, or you actually want some kind of quality in your movie there s nothing else No cute men, no acting abilities, and zero plot It s confusing, silly, and nonsensical Almost a parody of a spy film I do not find Roger Moore attractive in the least.If you re choosing between the book and film, DEFINITELY pick the book It s 100x better. Why do all the men wear moustaches asked Bond, ignoring Drax s question Again he had the impression that his question had nettled the other man.Drax gave one of his short barking laughs My idea, he said They re difficult to recognize in those white overalls and with their heads shaved So I told them to all grow moustaches The thing s become quite a fetish Like in the RAF during the war See anything wrong with it Of course not, said Bond Rather startling at first I would have thought that large numbers on their suits with a different colour for each shift would have been effective Well, said Drax, turning away towards the door as if to end the conversation, I decided on moustaches Moonraker, the third Bond novel, was an odd read.The book has scenes that are very similar to Casino Royale, i.e Bond being pitched against a villain who cheats at cards Yet, Bond seems to be a rather different character in Moonraker He s not the condescending rake of the first two books, but comes across as quite the normal human being in this one he has to do chores and paperwork and, like many of us, Bond doesn t like Mondays.Of course, as in the previous books, part of the plot also has Bond in pursuit of the girl in this case a smart, confident agent by the name of Gala Brand, who is one of my favourite female characters so far not hard if we consider how little character Fleming has given to the ones in the first two books.What is strange as well is that while Fleming spent time fleshing out Bond and Gala in this one, he spent much less time on the villain of the piece Sir Hugo Drax, who, by the way, looks nothing like his film counterpartDrax gave the impression of being a little larger than life He was physically big about six foot tall, Bond guessed and his shoulders were exceptionally broad he had a square head and the tight reddish hair was parted in the middle On either side of the parting the hair dipped down in a curve towards the temples with the object, Bond assumed, of hiding as much as possible of the tissue of shining puckered skin that covered most of the right half of his face Other relics of plastic surgery could be detected in the man s right ear, which was not a perfect match with its companion on the left, and the right eye, which had been a surgical failure It was considerably larger than the left eye, because of a contraction of the borrowed skin used to rebuild the upper and lower eyelids, and it looked painfully bloodshot Drax is a mere cliche, a comic book villain view spoiler , a re hash of the stereotypical Nazi surviving WW2 and trying to fight on hide spoiler The third Bond I am reading, and in order So after making ill advised social commentary in his last book, Fleming begins to really get into the groove for which we know him best, fast action sequences Bond battles against multi millionaire and British national hero Sir Hugo Drax, who we discover is actually German, but these are the post war years, so almost all the villains in all the books that have villains are Germans Fleming taps into our desires for wealth and luxury as we get into a card game at the world s most exclusive card club, where he of course bests Drax In this, the third book, it s everything exclusive fine whiskey, martins, Bentleys Alfa Romeos, Mercedes Benz, the finest weapons, all of it, and we want all of this vicariously through Bond And of course, fine women, here represented by Gala Brand, who is beautiful, of course, but also an accomplished scientist It is almost as if Fleming were responding to early critiques of Bond as harshly misogynist, as he has Brand actually narrate a couple sections to articulate her resentment that Drax and the other men don t respect her as a scientist because she is a woman And in the end, it is Brand that comes up with the scientific solution that saves the day Oh, he s still a womanizer, and he gets the girl, but she also gets him, and while he s no feminist he at least is respectful of her mind So this story, with it s focus on a great and truly impressive missile launching, is about the sudden race to space in the fifties, Russia vs well, in this case it is Britain instead of the US, but with the turn of the story it is also about fears about Germans turning those technological marvels into atomic bombs 3.5, rounded up because he sticks to what he does best, fast action sequences, fast car chases, big, possibly ending life as we know it explosions, high stake card games, escaping tight places with the girl Fun Now to see the movie again. For Several Minutes He Stood Speechless, His Eyes Dazzled By The Terrible Beauty Of The Greatest Weapon On Earth He S A Self Made Millionaire, Head Of The Moonraker Rocket Programme And Loved By The Press So Why Is Sir Hugo Drax Cheating At Cards Bond Has Just Five Days To Uncover The Sinister Truth Behind A National Hero, In Ian Fleming S Third Adventure A good James Bond novel.Ian Fleming first published Moonraker in 1955 and it is the third book featuring his master spy, 007 Oddly set in England Bond is almost always sent out of country due to jurisdictional procedures this features an erstwhile British rocket project with some loyalty issues Bond takes a lead from M and then in classic Bond fashion gets in to a lot than he bargained for.I will need to revisit the 1979 Lewis Gilbert film starring Roger Moore as Bond, but I think that elements of the book were used to create the 1995 Bond film Goldeneye starring Pierce Brosnan Fleming s villain this time around, Sir Hugo Drax, was very similar to Auric Goldfinger in that both are wildly successful tycoons who have a different measuring stick for winning Fleming used the proximity to World War II and the ongoing Cold War weapons race to fuel some of the anxiety and paranoia central to the plot. I have to say MOONRAKER didn t have as much action as either of the two previous Bond novels At least at the beginning anyway Sure there was the consummate card game and torture scene, but neither hit as hard or as fast as what happened in CASINO ROYALE But this was certainly an entertaining read, even though the female characters seemed to wilt at the first sign of trouble, or at least gave the distinct impression of the likelihood of such an occurrence.I know it s too much to ask and it s certainly not going to stop me from reading the rest of said novels , but just once I d like to see a woman kick some serious butt in this series I d have to say the closest female so far has been Vesper Lynd, and even she had her flaws Gala Brand held a certain amount of intrigue and promise, but I felt like the afterburner element was missing from her character.Bond does show a bit of his human side in this one by not actually getting the girl being just a mere mortal like the rest of us , which does make his character a bit interesting, even if said girl Gala does notice his ample charm And he, in turn, notices her abundant curves Yes, these novels might be called fluff, but like Bond, these novels hold a sophisticated air and charm that isn t easily quantifiable, and that s what makes them so gosh darn entertaining.Cross posted at Robert s Reads So far I ve given the Bond books I ve reviewed 3 stars They walk a sort of thin line They seem to appeal to younger males, but have slightly adult content though in todays market they might be thought a bit tamer than they were when published They are enjoyable, straight adventure yarns and may deserve a 3.5 at least one will get a 4 They re good books, just not as good as some others.In this one James saves England s missile program, uncovers a spy and, oddly doesn t get the a girl the only Bond novel where he doesn t have a romantic fling I believe.Just updated thisI typed there for they re sigh.
Librarian Note There is than one author in the Goodreads database with this name Ian Lancaster Fleming was a British author, journalist and Second World War Navy Commander He was a grandson of the Scottish financier Robert Fleming, who founded the Scottish American Investment Trust and the merchant bank Robert Fleming Co.Fleming is best remembered for creating the character of James
- 247 pages
- Ian Fleming
- 21 November 2018 Ian Fleming