Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Moonraker


So... Moonraker. In my many years of Bond reading, I'd somehow always missed it. I could blame that awful, awful movie, Moonraker, but in principle that made me more curious about it. Or so I thought.

In my last post, Live and let die, I suggested why a James Bond series done in period would capture some of the books that isn't necessarily always captured on film. I was referring to Bond's tastes and the types of things he could have tastes for the "finer things" in, such as cigarettes, that no longer make sense.

Politically, I think many of the books make at least as much sense updated. In the age of Virgin Galactic, for example, it would seem even easier to make sense Hugo Drax, the wealthy war hero who, in the novel, uses his resources to privately build a missile defense system for the U.K.

The book is an enjoyable ride. It starts with an extended game of bridge, following-up, I assume, the climactic baccarat game. This left me slightly frustrated, although admittedly intrigued, as I don't know the rules of bridge and, unlike the baccarat, Ian Fleming does not explain it.

I enjoyed it quite a bit and found the adventure story consistently exciting and suspenseful.

Honestly, it builds around one of those cliché moments of Drax explaining himself to Bond, but I think Fleming does a great job of building and explaining Drax's megalomania in a way that it not only makes sense, it feels like the only way he could possibly behave.

On the other hand, Fleming does seem to try to pull more emotion from Bond's relationship with Gala Brand, an undercover agent of Special Branch, than I think the book quite earns. That's a small nit I wanted to pick with a very enjoyable book, though, and I'm on track with Diamonds Are Forever, another I haven't read since I was a much younger, much different person.


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