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April 19, 2009

Moonraker

Moonraker has already piqued my interest. In the first few pages, we get a glimpse of the bureaucratic hierarchy in which James Bond operates. He has an office shared with two other '00's, 008 and 0011, and is the senior '00'. Here are some snippets that give a flavor of his routine between adventures.

He shrugged his shoulders and resolutely opened the top folder [of intelligence reports]...

It was the beginning of a typical routine day for Bond. It was only two or three times a year that an assignment came along requiring his particular abilities. For the rest of the year he had the duties of an easy-going senior civil servant...

He took no holidays, but was generally given a fortnight's leave at the end of each assignment--in addition to any sick-leave that might be necessary... He had a small but comfortable flat off the King's Road, an elderly Scottish housekeeper--a treasure called May--and a 1930 4 1/2-litre Bentley coupe, supercharged .. so that he could do a hundred when he wanted to.

...It was his ambition to have as little as possible in his banking account when he was killed, as, when he was depressed, he knew he would be, before the statutory age of forty-five.

Eight years to go before he was automatically taken off the 00 list and given a staff job at Headquarters. At least eight tough assignments. Probably sixteen. Perhaps twenty-four. Too many.

Those last two segments give us the tidbit that by the time of Moonraker, Bond is around 33 years old, and can look forward to having episodes of torture into his mid-forties.

The chapter closes out with a description of Bond's progress through a pile of memos, ticking them off, initialing them '007' and putting them into the out tray for the next bureaucrat. It really tickles me to see him outside the frame of action. It's like watching Superman relaxing in the Fortress of Solitude with a model kit, or working his taxes on a crummy too-old laptop.

Posted by dpwakefield at April 19, 2009 08:45 PM

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