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Octopussy and The Living Daylights by Ian…

Octopussy and The Living Daylights

by Ian Fleming

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A collection of four short stories with James Bond as hero. While James is there, in the title story he is only the catalist. The narration was through the eyes of the villain as he told us why his actions in WW II led to Bond's targeting him.

Another story concerns the auction of a Faberge jewelled egg while another has Bond lining up an assassination of a Soviet sniper only to become attracted to her. The last story is Fleming's view of New York through the eyes of Bond as the city was in the early 1960's. ( )
  lamour | Jan 12, 2017 |
Note that I didn't read the full collection of short stories, but rather an abridged version comprising only of 'Octopussy' and '007 in New York'. It was a free promotional thing that The Times newspaper did back in 2008 for the release of the Bond novel Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks, and I found it today whilst I was digging through some old boxes in the loft. It was only 57 pages long, so I decided to read it.

Even though I have an interest in espionage and intelligence (even studying the topic at university), I've strangely never really had an interest in spy fiction. And though I like the James Bond films (some more than others, of course), I've never really taken to the Bond that Ian Fleming writes about. The literary 007 just seems dour, charmless and snobby. Fleming has always seemed to me to be more interested in explaining in great detail the right way to mix a martini or the merits of the poshest hotel in a city, and there always seems to be an element of upper-class toffery which makes me queasy.

Unfortunately, the two short stories offered here only served to confirm this view. The second, '007 in New York' was just an account of Fleming visiting New York, but with 'Bond' inserted in place of 'I'. There's one or two attempts to justify the trip as Bond on a secret mission, but it's rather clumsy and inconsequential. Fleming does, however, give a detailed recipe for scrambled eggs, so if that's the sort of thing you look for in your spy fiction then you're onto a winner.

The first story, 'Octopussy', had a bit more about it, even if a lot of it was literally about an octopus. Bond was barely in this one, though the story does perk up a little bit when it gets round to dealing with the theft of Nazi gold in the immediate post-WWII period. This is an interesting topic but Fleming doesn't really do much with it, and the end is anti-climactic.

Overall, this probably wasn't the best introduction I could have had to the James Bond literary canon, something which, as I explained above, I've never really been sold on anyway. Maybe I'll try reading something like Casino Royale one day, but this just wasn't much cop. Disappointingly, in neither of the two stories on offer does 'Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang' engage in any action, whether with guns or with his other *ahem* weapon. In fact, the only Bond-ish thing about it was the front cover, which showed a leggy blonde toting an AK-47. It says a lot that I found that to be the highlight of the book. ( )
  MikeFutcher | Jun 3, 2016 |
I have recently reviewed the first two stories in this collection, "Octopussy" and "The Living Daylights", under another volume. So I will only give my thoughts here about the added short story, "The Property of a Lady". It's a nice tale, wherein Bond must attend an auction of the Emerald Sphere, a gorgeous, and expensive jewel by Faberge. The goal is to find out who the Russian spy is. It's not a nail bitter, but it is a good read. And it sort of appears in a scene of the movie "Octopussy", though a bit altered. ( )
  Stahl-Ricco | Apr 17, 2016 |
When I first read through the Bond novels (32 years ago!) I didn't have much time for the short stories. I found them dull and I couldn’t wait to get back to the “real” action of the novels. But, having spent the last eighteen months or so re-reading the entire series of Fleming’s Bond books, the short stories are now among my favorites pieces in the canon.

Those collected here are tight and paced well and provide some sharp focus to the character that is often missing among the later novels.

I love the Le Carre-like character that emerges, especially in stories like The Living Daylights, and the more workaday settings that Fleming uses. Both elements make Bond seem gritty and more realistic than some of the more garish novelistic outings.

I’ll probably select a few of these books to read again at some point in the future, I can’t see myself reading the whole series again, but For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy will be among them for sure.
( )
  MartynChuzz | Feb 22, 2016 |
I listened to the audio book of this. I mean, come on, it's James Bond and read by T. Hiddleston- you can't really ask for a better match than that for tone quality and accent.
The way the stories were read made it very easy to just zone out and listen without getting lost or losing interest. That's a big bonus for me because I'm a visual/tactile reader. I love the feeling of pages between my fingers, the heft of a book in my hands and enjoying the type of font they've chosen for it.
I found myself really getting sucked into all three of the stories. I think I liked The Living Daylights the best. Something about some of the lines of James Bond getting annoyed or the Capt. getting excited made me rewind them to get a second listen since the first time I was too distracted giggling to fully hear what was said.

Lucy Fleming (Ian's daughter) read the final story "007 in New York" after a short interview with Tom Hiddleston. Lucy's reading definitely had a different feel to it from the other stories. Hers felt more...distanced? Probably because having Tom read the stories felt more like a performance (since the stories are incredibly masculine for obvious reasons) and Lucy's felt like having a friend visiting, reading to cheer you up if you were stuck sick in bed. It was still a great read and I enjoyed it. ( )
  jovemako | Aug 7, 2015 |
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First words
"You know what? said Major Dexter Smythe to the octopus.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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)

» see all 7 descriptions

Legacy Library: Ian Fleming

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