Blast from the Past

This Bond’s short story was published in the January 1997 issue of Playboy magazine. It was written by the third main Bond writer, Raymond Benson. The story goes around one of 007’s villains, known as Irma Bunt. Irma made her first appearance in one of Fleming’s novels, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, as the main assistant of the chief of Spectre, Ernest Stavro Blofeld. After helping Blofeld assassinate Tracy, Bond’s wife, she reappeared one more time in another Fleming’s book, You Only Live Twice. In this novel James managed to put an end to his arch enemy, Blofeld, by undermining his castle and garden of death in Japan. However, nothing was mentioned about the destiny of Irma, which left the door open for a comeback. The first writer to make this smart move was John Pearson who wrote a wonderful Bond novel called, The Authorised Biography of James Bond. In this chronicle and at the very last chapter, James is told that Irma is still alive and continuing Blofeld’s biological experiments in Australia. He is urged by Bill Tanner, chief of staff to rejoin the service and take on this new mission. The novel ends with Bond hurrying off across the runway to get on the plane to Australia. Now here comes our short story where Benson Decided to build on John Pearson’s ideas.

The author brought in two characters that two whole novels could have been based on: Irma Bunt and Bond’s son. Now let’s talk a bit about Bond’s son here. The whole idea of Bond having a son started in the novel You Only Live Twice when Bond lost his memory and married the Japanese girl who saved his life. We, as readers, were told that James left his pregnant wife and went to Russia and then back to the service in Britain. Thus Fleming added a whole new fresh element to Bond’s life. So yes, his beloved Tracy had been murdered but now a new wife with a baby was there. It was just unfortunate that death took over Fleming before we knew how he would have developed this new aspect. However, John Pearson informed us in his Bond’s biography that it was a baby boy and it was named James and that Bond used to visit and pay the lad’s university tuitions and he left things open for others to develop.

Now back to Blast From The Past, Benson’s short story, simply here is how the man utilised these two precious elements. The short story starts with the assassination of Bond’s son to which James responded in a way that made him look so unbelievably cold and lacking in human feelings. When I was reading, I felt like saying: ‘ Come on Ray, isn’t it enough that you just ended the boy’s life in a short story for the Playboy magazine? Now Bond is depicted as if a normal person died not his own son. There was no good and convincing narrative of how this affected Bond’s feelings. Shame, Bond was even more moved by the death of some of the women he had casual relationships with than his own son’s. Now the tragedy does not stop there because of course Bond had to avenge his son by killing the person who did it; and guess who did it? Of course Irma Bunt, another character that could have been used perfectly for another wonderful Bond’s novel. The man just eliminated two excellent ideas developed by Fleming himself in a short story for the Playboy magazine! Was it really worth it? I believe Ian Fleming’s publications should pass these two characters to an author like Anthony Horowitz to write a third Bond novel and make good use of these characters. The guy really deserves it.

Published by Shady

CELTA / DELTA Tutor, English Assessment, Cambridge University

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