THE MANY LIVES OF JAMES BOND Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Matthew Kresal discovers you might live more than twice.
Since 1953, Ian Fleming's James Bond has been thrilling audiences across different media. What started as a series of novels and short fiction has spawned one of cinema's enduring franchises along with numerous comics, video games, and audio dramas presenting the adventures of 007. While attention often focuses on the actors who've portrayed Bond, a sizable group of creators has each played a role in bringing those tales to life. Mark Edlitz's 2019 book The Many Lives of James Bond collects interviews with those who've played a role in bringing Bond to life across the decades.

Divided into five parts, Edlitz takes a multi-faceted approach to use these interviews to explore Bond's appeal and history. Opening with Bond on Film, he interviews multi-Bond film directors Martin Campbell and John Glen, discussing their approaches to Bond in different decades. Their interviews ranged from Campbell's introducing two 007s to the world, Glen's working with Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton, or how he might have approached directing Pierce Brosnan if fate hadn't taken him out of the role of 007 in 1986. There are interviews with screenwriters, including Tom Mankiewicz before his 2010 passing and uncredited Never Say Never Again writers Dick Clement and Ian Le Frenais, who offer up their perspectives on that "rogue" Bond outing. Finally, the section concludes with a look at Bond songs, with lyricists Leslie Bricusse and Don Black offering their experiences and thoughts on what makes a good Bond song.

Edlitz soon moves from screen to page. Bond in Print features Anthony Horowitz discussing his pastiche novel Trigger Mortis, with the challenges of writing in the Fleming style and accepting responses for writing a Bond book. On the comic and graphic novel side of the equation are interviews with Graham McLusky, son of longtime 007 newspaper comic illustrator John, and 1980s-90s comic book writer and artist Mike Grell. McLusky discusses his father's work from the 1960s to the 1980s, while Grell discusses adapting the film Licence to Kill for the medium and his acclaimed but delayed original Bond comic Permission to Die. Together, they offer insights into writing and illustrating Bond, riding the often fine line between the literary and cinematic incarnations of the character with notes from both the Fleming estate and Eon Productions.

From there, the book moves into some of its most intriguing territories. Being Bond features 80 or so pages worth of interviews with actors who've played the role of Bond on screen, on stage, in radio drama, in video games, and more. There are interviews with the late Sir Roger Moore and George Lazenby, though given how numerous interviews with both men are, theirs are fun reads rather than insightful. Beyond those perhaps obvious Bonds, there's a myriad of other 007s with whom Edlitz has discussions. There are the children of Hoagy Carmichael (who Fleming said was a close match for his ideal of Bond) and Bob Holness, who played Bond in a 1958 radio drama adaptation of Moonraker for South African radio, with the interview bringing out new details about that seemingly lost production. BBC Radio 007 Michael Jayston discusses the 1990 adaptation of Fleming's novel You Only Live Twice, Simon Vance on the process of recording audiobooks of the Bond novels, plus a host of Bond's video game voices on approaching either imitating a screen 007 or putting their own spin on the character. There's dancing (!) James Bond in the form of Joseph Malone from the 1982 Oscars, Dietmar Wunder being the German voice of Daniel Craig's Bond, and Craig's stunt double Kai Martin doing Bond stunts. From the well-known to the obscure or overlooked, each of these interviews offers insights into taking on the world's most famous secret agent, even if no one is necessarily aware they've done so.

The final parts of the book look at the designing Bond and the evolving role of "Bond women." The designing portion features interviews with poster artists from the film franchise, including Never Say Never Again's Rudy Obrero exploring how he created art for a Bond film without any of the Eon iconographies. Craig-era costume designer Jany Temine discusses dressing a more down-to-Earth Bond, exploring some of the choices made for Skyfall and Spectre. Glen Schofield offers a behind the scene look at creating a Bond video game, having worked on EA's 2005 From Russia With Love game that saw him working with Sean Connery, who recorded dialogue in what turned out to be his final Bond performance. Last but not least, interviews with Lana Wood (who played Plenty O'Toole in 1971's Diamonds Are Forever) and academic Lisa Funnell explore the role and legacy of women in the Bond canon. While an academic interview might seem an odd note to end the book with, it's a solid enough choice as Edlitz knows which questions to ask to get the most insight.

From screen to page, costumes and audio dramas to video games, The Many Lives of James Bond is an insightful addition to any Bond fans library. How could it not be with the wealth of Bonds between it covers, let along those who've helped bring his adventures to life? After all, nobody does it better.

Matthew Kresal is a writer, critic, and podcaster with many and varying interests. His prose includes the non-fiction The Silver Archive: Dark Skies from Obverse Books, the Cold War alternate history spy thriller Our Man on the Hill, and the Sidewise Award winning short story Moonshot in Sea Lion Press' Alternate Australias anthology. You can read more of his writing at his blog and at The Terrible Zodin fanzine, or follow him on Twitter @KresalWritesHe was born, raised, and lives in North Alabama where he never developed a southern accent.

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