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Octopussy and 007 in New York by I Fleming

Octopussy and 007 in New York (edition 2008)

by I Fleming

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Title:Octopussy and 007 in New York
Authors:I Fleming
Info:Penguin Books (2008), Paperback
Collections:Your library

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Octopussy and The Living Daylights by Ian Fleming



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Having now completed all 14 Bond books by Fleming, I have these observations:

1) Bond is very much a man of his time who reflects Fleming's attitudes about the world. He is particular about women, food, drink, cars, guns, and many other things that are fascinating to men who don't really want to grow up.

2) Bond's worldview values order and freedom. He thinks the English are best suited to facilitating a world that fits his view.

3) Bond is a romantic. He loves a certain kind of woman and values them as helpers, companions, and lovers.

4) I say Bond is a romantic despite "rants" in Casino Royale and other novels against long-term relationships and family life. The later books all have Bond musing about the possibility of "settling down." This persona, by the way, is very different from the Bond of the movies, except maybe for the Daniel Craig movies, in which Bond seems a little more tender toward the women in his life.

5) Some of my favorite moments in the novels are when Fleming spends time writing about non-spy things in which he is interested. For example, food, cards, and golf.

6) Although Bond is an iconic character - and Fleming had to know this once the series took off - the author shies away from making Bond a flawless hero who is always at the center of the action of the novel. Fleming spends long sections of books examining the antagonists and the worlds from which they emerge, and even steps away from Bond entirely in a couple of stories and the disastrous The Spy Who Loved Me.

Overall, well worth the time I devoted to them. A completely new perspective on the character I have loved in the movies.
  scootm | Jun 30, 2015 |
The last of Fleming’s 007 books, and that means I’ve now read the lot. I can now cross them off the list. Yay. Although, to be honest, I’m not entirely sure why I decided I had to read them all – because it turned out they were all pretty terrible. Octopussy & The Living Daylights is, as the title might suggest, a collection – and both story titles have been used for Bond movies, although the films bear zero resemblance to the source material (as usual). In ‘Octopussy’, an ex-SOE man who was a bit naughty with some gold in Italy just after the war finished is visited at his home in Jamaica by Bond. Certain hints are dropped, but the man accidentally gets stung by a stonefish while feeding it to an octopus he has sort of adopted. In ‘The Living Daylights’, Bond has been charged with killing a sniper who they’ve learnt will make an attempt on a defector who’s making a run for it from East to West Berlin. Bond has always been brutal, but this one is more brutal than most. ‘The Property of a Lady’ sees Bond trying to flush out a Soviet spy during an auction for a Fabergé globe. The last story is a squib in which Bond flies to New York, daydreams about the day ahead… only to cock up the reason he’s been sent there. Meh. ( )
  iansales | Feb 22, 2015 |
In these shorter works, Fleming's mastery at creating suspense even without a complex plot or much action is on display.

"Octopussy" is the story of a British major who stole some Nazi gold during the war, committing murder in the process. Bond is sent to investigate, and basically shows up in the story just to inform the major that the jig is up. The story is basically a morality tale about how crime doesn't pay, truth will out, and all those sorts of clichés...but Fleming does an excellent job of showing why they are actually true---and more profoundly, how good ends cannot be achieved by evil means, and an action such as this results not in happiness but misery, even while one may (temporarily) "get away with it". A really interesting character study, and quite philosophically and psychologically astute.

In "The Living Daylights", Bond is sent to snipe a sniper...an assignment about which neither he nor M is thrilled. It's not quite murder, he knows, but almost...close enough from his perspective as the man who has to do it, at any rate. Lots of interesting characterization of Bond himself in this story.

"The Property of a Lady" is about a triple agent---a Soviet spy turned double, but actually still working for Moscow---being used by British intelligence to unwittingly pass on false information to her Russian spymasters. This part of the story is hardly fictionalized, and was much more interesting to read after learning about similar real-life espionage activities (see, for example, Agent Zigzag by Ben Macintyre). But when an unusual payoff reveals her true allegiance, Bond sees an opportunity to uncover her boss, the head of Soviet espionage activities in Britain. Again, for a story with basically no action (in the form of physical peril to Bond), this is surprisingly suspenseful. ( )
  AshRyan | Dec 14, 2011 |
The last of Flemings Bond books. Once again Bond is shown as a fuller, more flawed, and interesting character than in the movies. These 4 shorts stories leave me w a Bond that I want to read more about. But alas. . . . I hope the new movies continue telling the stories of this fallible and remarkable character. ( )
  JBreedlove | Dec 28, 2010 |
"Look my friend, I've got to commit a murder tonight. Not you. Me. So be a good chap and stuff it, would you?"

1966 saw the release of the final publication from Ian Fleming, the short story collection Octopussy & The Living Daylights. Originally published with the two title stories, a third short story was added upon the release of the paperback edition, The Property of a Lady. When the tome was reprinted by Penguin in the early 2000's, a fourth tale was added to the mix, 007 in New York. All four stories are wildly different in tone, each showcasing a different aspect of Fleming's style and flair that seemed to effortlessly flow out from his golden typewriter. Although the collection is perhaps not on the same level as one of Fleming's full-length novels, it is still an enjoyable afternoon read, and after the rather unfortunate mess in The Man With The Golden Gun (the unfinished novel Fleming was working on at the time of his death), is a fitting return to form to close out the original series of James Bond stories.

The book opens with Octopussy, a story that has become almost as 'love it or hate it' as The Spy Who Loved Me, mostly because James Bond is not the main character. Bond only shows up roughly three-quarters of the way through, and never becomes directly involved in any action. Instead we have more of a character piece following the exploits of jaded military hero, Major Dexter Smythe, living out his retirement in style and luxury at his Jamaican estate thanks to a supply of Nazi gold he managed to steal during the war. Smythe got his grubby hands on the gold by murdering a man named Oberhauser, a man who also happened to be a mentor and father figure to one Commander James Bond. Showing up at Smythe's home unexpectedly, Bond gives the Major the chance to decide his own fate out of respect for Smythe's military accomplishments. Much of the story is told in flashback sequences, with Smythe divulging all of his dirty secrets to Bond in a final confession, knowing full well he's been caught. Bond leaves Smythe for the evening, giving Smythe some time to get things in order and make a choice before returning the next day. With Smythe seemingly waffling back and forth between facing the courts and suicide, the decision is ultimately taken out of his hands in a grotesque twist ending; a typical Fleming stunner.

Personally, I think Octopussy is among the better short stories Fleming wrote. Some dislike it for the lack of Bond and the lack of true action, but I see it as a gloriously dark account of one man finally getting his comeuppance. One can also see reflections of the author himself in both of the main characters: if Bond is the sexy, adventurous side of Fleming as most fans of his work seem to recognize, Smythe is an echo of the same man towards the end of his life - dodgy liver, heart condition, informed by physicians to give up the drink and smoke but refusing to do so, bored with life to a certain degree, safe in the knowledge he won't be living to a ripe old age - that's Smythe, and it was also Ian Fleming as his days were winding down.

Still, if Octopussy doesn't do it for you, most all Fleming fans are in agreement that The Living Daylights is a quality piece of work that will more than make up for any faults you may see in the prior story. Perhaps the most intimate Fleming ever got with the famous character he created, the story delves deep into the psyche of James Bond as he is sent on an assassination mission in East Berlin. We learn all sorts of things about Bond as he and an unfortunately clueless colleague wait for the time to strike in what is essentially a long stake-out: from the trivialities such as the type of novels he enjoys reading to his more serious concerns, such as the growing distaste he has for his profession and his hesitancy to kill. All of this comes to a boil when Bond discovers his target is the pretty blonde girl he's been watching from out of a window for the past few days. It's a moody little tale that was captured perfectly in the first fifteen minutes of the film version starring Timothy Dalton.

The third story, The Property of a Lady, had some of its elements lifted for the film version of Octopussy, namely the Fabergé egg auction at Sotheby's. While it's definitely overshadowed by the previous story, The Property of a Lady displays Fleming's knack for creating suspense and tension in seemingly innocuous settings, as Bond desperately scans the auction room for the mysterious KGB agent underbidding on the item in question in order to pay off their double agent working in London. Despite a lack of depth, the story is still a compelling page-turner.

Finally we have 007 in New York, a very brief story that originally featured in the New York Herald Tribune in 1963. This tale, while incredibly frivolous and adding virtually nothing of interest to the Bond canon, shows off Fleming's sense of humor with a very open brand of comedy rarely seen in the James Bond novels save for some passages of very dry and muted jocularity here and there. The plot, which involves 007 warning a young agent in New York that her new boyfriend is a mole for the KGB, was recently evoked to a certain degree in the conclusion to the latest Bond film, Quantum of Solace.

Individual Ratings:
Octopussy - 5 / 5
The Living Daylights - 5 / 5
The Property of a Lady - 4 / 5
007 in New York - 3 / 5 ( )
2 vote OrkCaptain | Feb 22, 2009 |
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"You know what? said Major Dexter Smythe to the octopus.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This anthology contains two shorter works only, "Octopussy" and "The Living Daylights." Please distinguish between it and any editions that also include "The Property of a Lady" or "007 in New York." Thank you.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0142003298, Paperback)

Whether it is tracking down a wayward major who has taken a deadly secret with him to the Caribbean or identifying a top Russian agent secretly bidding for a Fabergé egg in a Sotheby’s auction room, Bond always closes the case—with extreme prejudice.

This new Penguin edition comprises four stories, including  Fleming’s little-known story “007 in New York,” showcasing Bond’s taste for Manhattan’s special pleasures—from martinis at the Plaza and dinner at the Grand Central Oyster Bar to the perfect anonymity of the Central Park Zoo for a secret rendezvous.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:08 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

For James Bond, British secret agent 007, international espionage can be a dirty business. Tracking down a wayward major who has taken a deadly secret with him to the Caribbean, identifying a top Russian agent secretly bidding for a Faberge egg in a Sotheby's auction room, and more, it's all in a day's work for him.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

Legacy Library: Ian Fleming

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