Saturday, August 6, 2011
Thunderball - Ian Fleming
Well after nine novels I can honestly say I think this is the best one yet!! Dr. No is the only other one that really impressed me, with the others having their individual moments among the datedness. I always thought, From Russia With Love, would be the best. But even though I thoroughly enjoyed it, Thunderball, for me surpasses it. It just doesn't have the datedness of the preceding novels, and if anything still retains a certain freshness. I think it is because of some of names involved technology wise are still known to us, even after 60 years. I mean we all know the weapon names of Polaris, Atlas, Titan, Snark, Matador, and Super Sabre. Also just the use of nuclear weapons as a plot line still has a relevance, and can still be easily imagined by modern readers.
Another thing as far as datedness went also leapt out at me. And that was the use of language. Before, Thunderball, the strongest word Fleming had used was bitch. But in, Thunderball, he uses crap, bloody, bastard, and the strongest word yet in, arse. Remember this was 1961, so this was heady stuff indeed! Funnily enough, even in the modern Bond films, the language is fairly straight laced and follows the novels. To be sure they are considered family films, and it is quite refreshing when you consider the amount of bad language prevalent in our modern age.
But Thunderball does follow in its predecessor's footsteps with Fleming's sexism exposed once again. Here he has Bond being driven about by Bond girl, Domino. Through Bond, Fleming tells us why woman are such bad drivers, and the obvious fact that they shouldn't be allowed to drive AT ALL! I laughed my head off at the absurdity of it. Fleming wouldn't be able to get away with anything like that today would he??! And surprisingly, Thunderball is more sexually explicit than the last novels. It doesn't get graphic, but the sex scenes are definitely more advanced in detail than before. Surely a sign of the times, as the world was breaking down previously held taboos within literature.
Thunderball is the novel where Bond's nemesis, Ernst Stavro Blofeld makes his first appearance ( but without the Persian cat! ), along with his criminal organisation SPECTRE ( Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion ). Fleming used the name after becoming enamoured with if from his use of the name Spectresville ( a town near Las Vegas ) in the novel Diamonds are Forever. He also furthered it from his use of the name, Spektor, for the device from the novel, From Russia With Love.