Sunday, March 12, 2006
Moonraker, by Ian Fleming
(pb; 1955: third book in the original 007/James Bond series)
From the back cover:
“Moonraker, Britain’s new ICBM-based national defense system, is ready for testing, but something’s not quite right. At M’s request, Bond begins his investigation into Sir Hugo Drax, the leading card cheat at M’s club, who is also the head of the Moonraker project. But once Bond delves deeper into the goings-on at the Moonraker base, he discovers that both the project and its leader are something other than they appear to be...”
The third Bond novel, a follow-up to Live and Let Die, is more of a mystery-sleuth novel than an action novel. Bond spends most of his time hunting for clues to figure out why a preceding Secret Service agent disappeared, and wonders: what exactly is the brilliant but socially inept Drax is up to in regards to his Moonraker rocket?
Helping Bond is the attractive and clever Gala Brand, whose expertise in technological devices saves Bond on more than one occasion. Brand is Bond’s match in all things, especially near the end.
Fleming’s prose, as usual, is precise – he describes the surroundings of his characters too much, at times – but the author’s clarity lends credence to the novel’s plot and, later, action.
By now, Fleming has settled into a comfortable plot-series set-up: Bond investigates bad guy, Bond gets caught (often with female love interest) and briefly tortured by bad guy(s), Bond breaks free and kicks bad guy’s ass (with female love interest’s help).
One of the would-be torturers in Moonraker is the rail-thin Krebs, who’s handy with a blowtorch. Truly a nasty character – ouch!
Another highly enjoyable read from Fleming, less raw than the preceding
The book is considerably different than the movie, made in 1979. Characters were changed – Gala Brand became Dr. Holly Goodhead; Krebs became the steel-toothed Jaws, a carry-over villain from the previous Bond film, 1977's The Spy Who Loved Me. Also, the film has Bond going into outer space; the book has Bond staying in England – a series anomaly, as Bond usually travels in his adventures.
And yet again, the book-version Bond is not the slut that the film-version Bond is. He is, for the most part, notably different.
Roger Moore played Bond in the film. Lois Chiles played Goodhead. Michael Lonsdale played Drax. Richard Kiel reprised his role of Jaws.
Lewis Gilbert directed the film.
Moonraker, the book, was followed by Diamonds Are Forever.