“If I fail to report, 008 replaces me.”

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The surge of pseudo-sequels to the writings of deceased authors has reached the point at which a multi-paragraph summary of one literary franchise alone now seems required:

[William Boyd] is the third author in recent years to be invited by the Ian Fleming estate to write an official Bond novel.

Before him came American thriller writer Jeffery Deaver, who penned Carte Blanche in 2011; and Sebastian Faulks, whose Devil May Care was published to mark Ian Fleming's centenary in 2008.


Other writers to take on Fleming's hero include John Gardner and Charlie Higson, author of the Young Bond books.

My general view of authorised continuations is that their status is a side-effect of the law of copyright; except perhaps in rare and special cases, they are aesthetically of no inherently different status from any other fanfiction. Yet I’ve suspected for a while that the existence of a single successor figure, blessed by a late author’s estate, may have a certain appeal to readers left wanting more: that it plays on romantic notions of a Chosen One, an authentic heir, which are notions of exactly the kind which might play on the sympathies of... the kind of people who like to read novels. I wonder how long that effect can last in the face of such an obvious franchising operation.

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