While reading On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, I found myself wondering if Ian Fleming had ever been married and what his relationship with his spouse was like.
The question arose early in the story when the father of Tracey (the supposed love of Bond’s life) is having a conversation with Bond about the pursuit of Tracey’s mother. When the comment that some women just want to be raped came up (not for the first time in the Bond series, mind you), I couldn’t help but wonder about Fleming and his wife. Living in the world of easy researching, I quickly found out that the romance and relationship of Fleming and his wife was a volatile as I expected based on some of the comments made by various male characters in his novels.
And yet, interestingly enough, it’s never Bond who makes such statements. If Bond is intended as some type of Mary Sue for Fleming, it’s interesting to note that while he enjoys the company of the ladies, he doesn’t necessarily support forcing his interest on them. Of course, that doesn’t mean that Bond is exactly a knight in shining armor — though Fleming would have you think he is. Bond is a man of opinions and principles. While he isn’t agreeing that some women just need to be sexually assaulted, he is quick to agree that what the depressed Tracey needs is some good loving — and he’s only too happy to provide that interest for her.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service feels like Fleming is trying to do some character building with Bond, though whether or not it’s a success depends on the reader. Some of the more recent Bond movies have suggested that Bond is a relic of different era and it feels like Fleming is saying that in this novel. Bond is dismissive of certain trends that younger men seem to be showing throughout the novel and clearly believes that his old-fashioned ways are the way to a woman’s heart –or at the very least her bedroom. Continue reading
It’s been close to two decades since Star Trek: The Next Generation left the airwaves, so I’ve started to expect the “behind the scenes” confessional books from the cast to start hitting the shelves.
The closest we’ve got so far is Fan Fiction by the guy who brought Data to life, Brent Spiner. Billed as a story inspired by true events, I have to admit I spent more time trying to figure out which bits were taken from reality and which bits were taken from Spiner’s imagination than I did paying attention to the story.
Set at the height of Next Generation‘s popularity, Fan Fiction finds Spiner getting increasingly disturbing letters and mailings from an obsessive fan who only identities herself as Lal, the created daughter of his character on the show who expired at the end of her episode. Justifiably freaked out by these mailings and the missives of another female fan who is convinced she’s carrying on a steamy phone affair with the actor, Spiner turns to first to the L.A. PD’s department of obsessives and then the FBI for help.
It’s at the FBI that he meets agent Cindy Jones and her twin sister bodyguard Candy Jones. Spiner is immediately attracted to both and begins a romantic entanglement with Candy while pining for Cindy. It’s at this point, that I began to question just how much of this tale was from Spiner’s imagination and how much was from reality. I feel certain he got some interesting fan letters along the way as he played Data. But whether or not he met twin sisters who were both attracted to him — seems a bit far-fetched to this reader.
For a good bit of the story, I felt like Spiner was trying to do something clever with the twin sisters who never appear in the same room together — and I will give him credit that he does try a bit. It just never quite goes anywhere satisfying.
Indeed, the entire novel feels as if it wants to be more than it is. The noir aspect of the fem-Fatale and the threat to our hero feels well done and certain Spiner shares a love of older, lesser-known films over the course of the novel. But the ending doesn’t quite bring all the threads together in the most satisfying way possible and left me feeling a bit empty.
Listening to this one as an audiobook may add an extra layer of enjoyment for you if you’re a fan of TNG. Spiner gathers together his castmates to voice themselves in the novel. I do wonder how much of Spiner’s portrayal of his cast members is real and how much is tongue-in-cheek, but it certainly feels like everyone is having a good time here.
I wanted this one to be a bit more satisfying than it was. I wouldn’t say I regret reading it, but this one didn’t quite come together in the end.
Tie-in fiction was a staple of my reading life for much of my teens and early twenties. I eagerly picked up each new installment as it hit the shelves and would quickly consume them over the course of a few afternoons and evenings.
But then, in the late ’90’s, Star Trek fiction began to become a bit more insular. It started wit the annual (generally summer-released) cross-over events, then it continued with advancing the story and characters beyond the finales of DS9 and Voyager. Slowly, Trek fiction demanded (at least it seemed to this reader) that you have read a half-dozen or so novels leading up to the current one and be aware of the various new directions the characters were going. Alas, I started to get behind on my Trek reading because it felt too much I was missing details and was so far behind that I’d never catch up.
Which is why Cassandra Rose Clarke’s Shadows Have Offended is such a welcome, breath of fresh air to the Star Trek fiction universe – a standalone story set during the seventh season of TNG and focused on Deanna Troi and Beverly Crusher. Like many of the most memorable Trek novels of my earlier days, this one felt like an episode of the series, only without the constraints of a television budget.
The Enterprise is “volunteered” by Luxwana Troi to ferry guests for an upcoming Betaziod ceremony across the quadrant, much to the chagrin of Captain Picard. While doing this, a research station in a nearby sector suffers a tragedy. Picard sends an away team of Riker, Data, Crusher, and several other original characters to investigate while the ship continues its duties on Betazed.
The biggest compliment I can give this novel is that Clarke really knows the ins and outs of these characters. It’s easy to hear the actors saying the lines she gives these iconic characters. But she also takes a page from J.M. Dillard and other Trek writers and introduces her own creations into the canon. The members of the away team with Riker and Crusher are all well-drawn and interesting enough to warrant returning in a future offering should Clarke decide to visit the Trek universe again.
Shadows Have Offended won’t be mistaken for a great piece of literature. But, it’s a quietly, comforting novel that reminded me of the days when I was immersed in Trek fiction. I hope Clarke has another novel or two set in the TNG universe in her. This one is a lot of fun and every bit as entertaining as I’d hoped it would be.