I’ve just read that John Gardner, the novelist who wrote a number of James Bond books after the death of Ian Fleming, has recently passed away.
Gardner was the author who placed Bond in a Saab 900, nicknamed The Silver Beast, instead of his usual British ride.
Gardner’s efforts began with “Licence Renewed” (1981) and resulted in 14 titles, which exceeded Fleming’s output and appeared to be among the most successful examples of one writer devising additional exploits for another’s character.
Regarded as serious and thoughtful, Gardner was said to lack sympathy for Bond’s obsession with high-end brand names and luxury products or for Bond’s restrictive view of the role of women.
But Gardner said he viewed writing the new Bond series as a challenge, and “once I got the bit between my teeth, I wasn’t going to let go.”
He said he had hoped to add depth and dimension to the character, to make him grow and to bring him out of the world of fantasy into reality. Gardner’s approach was reflected in matters such as giving Bond a concern for gas mileage and putting him behind the wheel of a sturdy and sensible Saab.
If not sacrilege, it was close, Gardner said, and “the die-hard fans wouldn’t have any of it.” Recognizing himself as an entertainer above all else, Gardner bowed to marketplace demands. Although critics sometimes looked askance, a number of his Bond books made bestseller lists.
John Edmund Gardner was born Nov. 20, 1926, in Seaton Delaval, Northumberland, England.
Gardner died on August 3, aged 80.