Thursday, 10 March 2016

Lessons Learned

In his introductory novel, Ensign Flandry, Dominic Flandry has a mentor, Max Abrams. Flandry learns that human beings have a duty to act, that sometimes they do their best, a few times they succeed, and they dare not ask for more. Duties include resistance to aggression. On this basis, Flandry begins his career in Intelligence. He will succeed more than a few times.

In his introductory novel, Casino Royale, James Bond has no mentor and has already been working in Intelligence since before the War. Nevertheless, he now learns the lesson that will propel him through eleven more novels and two short story collections:

"He would go after the threat behind the spies, the threat that made them spy."
-Ian Fleming, Casino Royale (London, 1965), p. 189.

In an invented history, the Merseian threat can remain in place from Flandry's youth to his old age whereas Fleming, keeping each novel contemporary, had to acknowledge some real world changes. Thus, the focus shifted:

SMERSH under Beria (a historical figure);
SMERSH under G (a fictitious character);
SMERSH members joining Blofeld's SPECTRE after Krushchev has disbanded their organization.

Nevertheless, in his twelfth novel, Fleming, confessedly writing the same book over again, has reverted to the KGB under Semichastny (a historical figure). Flandry's equivalents of Beria etc are Brechdan Ironrede and Tachwyr the Dark. But Anderson also shows us Flandry aging and, beyond that, the rise and fall of civilizations, thus transcending Fleming's exclusive focus on the active career of a single individual whose earlier biography had to be revised to prevent him from reaching retirement during the series.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Hmmm, I thought Bond's mentor was M, director of the Secret Service? And one way of handling the problem of an aging Bond would have been for Fleming to have him succeeding M as director of the Service.

Yes, by sheer cunning, audacity, undaunted courage, etc., Flandry more than a few times. In fact, because of him (and others, of course, like his daughter Diana) Flandry probably extended the lifespan of the Empire by two centuries. He achieved more than he had dared dreamed of doing!


Paul Shackley said...

M is Bond's boss but not his mentor.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Yes, M is OO7's boss, but I have a vague recollection of reading somewhere in the Bond books that 007 regarded M almost as a mentor.