The Fatherly Nightstand

The Coolest James Bond Adventures Are The Ones You've Never Heard Of

Let's talk about the 007 books written AFTER Ian Fleming.

Originally Published: 
Cover of German Edition of 'Never Send For Flowers,' art by Michael Gillette
Michael Gillette
Fatherly Guide To James Bond
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Ian Fleming changed popular culture with his twelve novels and two collections of short stories about his super spy James Bond. Numerous novels that carried on Bond's literary adventures have been published since Fleming’s passing in 1964. And those varied works include traditional continuation novels about the spy’s fraught missions, as well as works about Bond’s teenage years, Miss Moneypenny, a pseudo-biography, movie novelizations, short stories, and a planned trilogy about the next generation of Double O agents. In other words, beyond the famous films, and the Fleming literary canon, there have been a slew of books about James Bond, all officially authorized by Fleming’s estate. Since 1967 — the same year You Only Live Twice hit theaters — new Bond novels, written by authors other than Ian Fleming continued to be published. It’s a tradition that continues to this day. And I should know! I’m the author of James Bond After Fleming: The Continuation Novels, the first-ever nonfiction guide to the non-Fleming world of 007.

Although you may not be familiar with every one of the more than fifty books, there is a varied selection to suit any taste. Here’s a brief overview of just a few of the post-Fleming James Bond novels, and why you should consider adding at least one of these adventures to your nightstand, ASAP.

Colonel Sun

Fleming's family chose Kingsley Amis to pen the first traditional Bond continuation book. His two earlier Bond-related works, The James Bond Dossier and The Book of Bond or, Every Man His Own 007, amply demonstrated his familiarity with and affection for Fleming's writing. The James Bond Dossier is an analysis of Fleming's books, while The Book of Bond offers a lighthearted guide to living the Bond lifestyle. In Colonel Sun, Bond must find out who kidnapped M. The book ends with an agonizing torture scene that filmmakers repurposed for Daniel Craig’s fourth Bond movie, Spectre. Bond continuation author Anthony Horowitz wrote an introduction for a new edition that recently hit bookstores.

James Bond Junior

Colonel Sun might be one of the better-known early Bond continuation novels, but it wasn’t the first. That honor goes to The Adventures of James Bond Junior 003½, which was published in 1967, a year earlier than Amis’ thriller. In the children’s book, 007’s nephew suspects that his neighbor is involved in a recent robbery of gold bullion. So, without any help from adults, 003½ sets out to prove his theory and bring his neighbor to justice. It’s best not to give too much thought to how 007, who didn’t have any siblings, has a nephew. Nor is it wise to question why civilians know the adult Bond’s true identity or his code number. Instead, we’re asked to take The Adventures of James Bond Junior at face value and enjoy this boy’s adventure series for what it is. R.D. Mascott’s name appears on the cover but the book’s true author is English novelist Arthur Calder-Marshall.

James Bond: The Authorized Biography of 007

John Pearson wrote this account of Bond’s life and times. The unusual premise of the book is that Bond is a real person and Fleming fictionalized his exploits. In the book, M instructs Bond to share his life’s story with Pearson, who is also a character in the book. As Fleming’s biographer, Pearson was uniquely suited to tell Bond’s life story. Bond, who is on the verge of marriage to Honeychile Rider, reveals the never-before-told story of what happened in between Fleming’s books. The book also sheds light on Bond’s childhood and explains how Bond earned his facial scar.

James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me

When Fleming sold the film rights to his novels, he stipulated that The Spy Who Loved Me could not be made into a movie. Years later, Fleming's heirs gave the film producers permission to borrow the novel's title but not its plot. As a result, there are few similarities between the film and Fleming's book. Christopher Wood, who co-wrote the screenplay for Roger Moore’s third Bond flick, was chosen to adapt the screenplay into a tie-in. The novelization was renamed James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me to differentiate Fleming's book from the film. Novelizations are not generally considered great works of literature. Yet, Wood effectively channeled his inner Fleming and wrote a nerve-wracking torture scene that took aim squarely at Bond's manhood.

James Bond Goes to Euro Disney

John Gardner went on to write more Bond books than Fleming. From 1981 to 1996, Gardner wrote fourteen original Bond novels, as well as the novelizations for Timothy Dalton’s last Bond movie Licence to Kill and Pierce Brosnan’s first outing GoldenEye. During Gardner’s tenure, Bond would trade in his Walther PPK for an ASP, swap his Aston Martin for a Saab, and rise in ranks from Commander to Captain. In Never Send Flowers, Bond goes to Euro Disney to stop a serial killer who has set his sights on Princess Diana and her two sons, Harry and William. Bond going up against a serial killer might seem like an unlikely idea but Gardner was determined to chart his own path and break the formula.

Zero Minus Ten

After Gardner handed in his license to thrill, Raymond Benson became the first American writer to write a Bond novel. Benson’s run includes six novels, three novelizations, and three published short stories. When he took over, Benson aimed to retain Fleming’s character, vices and all, and insert him into movie-style adventures. In the short story “Blast from the Past,” Bond needs to find out who killed his son, James Suzuki. A great entry point to Benson’s run is Zero Minus Ten, which is set against the handover of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to China. Zero Minus Ten is now back in print with a new introduction by the author.

Young Bond

On the surface, a series about Bond in his teenage years sounds like an ill-advised idea and an attempt to cash in on the success of Harry Potter. How could a writer transform Fleming’s adult-oriented novels into “kiddie fare”? Incredibly, Charlie Higson found a way to elevate this undertaking in a series of five novels and one short story. Higson sensibly refrains from pairing young Bond with a juvenile Blofeld or tiny Jaws. Instead, Higson’s books deftly map out young Bond's emotional growth with the Young Bond series acting as prequels to the Fleming books set against the backdrop of the 1930s. Steve Cole followed with four books that emphasize action and spectacle. In Cole’s Strike Lightning, young Bond swaps his tux for an exoskeleton suit in a steam-punk-infused escapade.

The Moneypenny Diaries

Despite its somewhat misleading title, Samantha Weinberg’s The Moneypenny Diaries are not Bond-themed romance novels. Instead, they are a trilogy of absorbing thriller mysteries. Ten years after Moneypenny’s death, her niece reads her aunt's secret journals. While going through the diaries, her niece (and the reader) learns that M’s secretary has a richer and more dangerous life than any imagined. Weinberg’s works are set primarily around the events of Fleming’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, You Only Live Twice, and The Man with the Golden Gun. Each of these books is highly recommended. Weinberg (writing as Kate Westbrook) also gives Moneypenny a first name–Jane.

Three One Shots

Sebastian Faulks, Jeffery Deaver, and William Boyd each wrote a single Bond novel; none of which require any previous knowledge of the previous 007 continuation books to enjoy. With Devil May Care, Faulks was tasked with writing his book in the style of Fleming. Deaver rebooted the series and set it in modern times. Bond must entertain the notion that his father might have been a spy who betrayed his country and was killed to keep him from exposing the Russian operation. Meanwhile, 007 must take on Severan Hydt, a man who gets a sexual thrill out of death. Boyd’s Solo finds Bond confronting his 45th birthday and nightmares about his time during the war.

Anthony Horowitz:

Horowitz confessed to The Bond Experience that he was watching Faulks, Deaver, and Boyd with "sheer jealousy" and wondering, “Why not me? When is the phone going to ring?” He needn’t have worried; as fate would have it, the family would call on him three times. Horowitz wrote a trilogy of Bond novels. Forever and a Day is set before Fleming’s first novel, Casino Royale. In it, James Bond is tasked with finding who killed the previous 007. Trigger Mortis, set after Goldfinger, finds Bond shacking up with Pussy Galore and going up against Jason Sin who uses specially designed cards to determine the manner of death of those who cross him. Horowitz incorporated material that Fleming had intended to use in an unrealized Bond television series in his first two novels. Horowitz’s third book, With a Mind to Kill, explores how 007 was brainwashed before the events of The Man with the Golden Gun. Taken together, the trilogy seems to span Bond’s career as a Double O agent.

Double Or Nothing

Kim Sherwood wrote Double Or Nothing, the first book in a planned trilogy about the next generation of Double O agents. Set in the present day, Bond is missing. MI6 sends their best spies to track him down. There’s Johanna Harwood (003), Joseph Dryden (004), and Sid Bashir (009). The book also features some old favorites, including Felix Leiter who hasn’t lost a step or his Texan charm. With witty banter and deep-Fleming cuts, Sherwood expands the stage and invites a new generation of spies to bask in the spotlight. It’s not entirely accurate to say that Bond doesn’t appear in Double Or Nothing. While he is “missing” in the present, Bond appears in flashbacks and he is very much a focus of the narrative. Sherwood’s second installment, A Spy Like Me, drops next year.

For England, James

Higson returned with 2023’s On His Majesty’s Secret Service. It is a timely tale in which 007 must ensure that King Charles’ coronation goes off without a hitch or a hail of bullets. Ian Fleming Publications’ Corinne Turner had the lightbulb moment that it was time to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the publication of Fleming’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Fleming’s family quickly agreed. Higson’s remit was to write a short story but he submitted a novella instead. Published two days before Charles’ actual coronation, Higson’s work quickly sold out and went into a second printing. On His Majesty’s Secret Service also marks Ian Fleming Publications' first foray into acting as their own publisher.

For a deeper dive into more than 50 years of Bond continuation novels, check out James Bond After Fleming: The Continuation Novels, the first book to explore all the post-Fleming Bonds by Mark Edlitz.

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