A Bond of our Time: Charlie Higson’s Progressive 007
It seems James Bond, British secret service’s most legendary spy, has developed a taste for kombucha. But that’s not all. In his latest incarnation penned by Charlie Higson, known for his prowess in The Fast Show and as the writer of the Young Bond series, Bond decidedly shuns an all-male function and openly condemns anti-immigrant sentiments.
Drawing inspiration from his commission by the Ian Fleming estate, Higson’s fresh narrative on the iconic spy in On His Majesty’s Secret Service has caused quite a stir. Perhaps it’s Bond’s (or Higson’s) disdain for Jacob Rees-Mogg, or his apparent Remainer stance, but the character certainly finds himself in the heart of modern political debates.
“I believe a contemporary 35-year-old is likely to be more ‘woke’ than one from 1952. I didn’t want him to be Jacob Rees-Mogg with a gun,” Higson observed in a candid social media exchange.
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Left/Right, Brexit and Wokeism: Where Does Bond Stand?
Higson doesn’t hold back in hypothesizing Bond’s political inclinations. Asked about 007’s stance on Brexit, he quipped: “Well, he travels a lot. He’s also half Scottish and half Swiss. And I think as a civil servant and someone who relies on the cooperation of international security services, he would have 100% voted to stay in the EU.”
Higson goes on to say Bond would square off against a far-right zealot who fancies himself “Aethelstan of Wessex”. This antagonist, a self-proclaimed descendant of Alfred the Great, isn’t the only character that echoes contemporary sentiments. Another figure, a former Tory MP, dives deep into the conspiratorial, marrying anti-trans rhetoric with Covid/5G conspiracies.
But to Higson, Bond’s evolution is not only about embracing the times but also paying homage to the essence of the character. He notes with a twinkle, “If Fleming had kept politics out of his books the first five of them would never have been written.” Indeed, Fleming once described Bond’s politics as “slightly left of centre.”
Addressing the critics who feel the essence of Bond has been lost in this ‘woke’ transformation, Higson retorted: “I’ve just made him a contemporary young man. In the same way that Eon completely updated Bond for each new decade in the films so that he wouldn’t feel dated.”
Guardians of the Bond Legacy
Higson’s fresh take on Bond is in good company. Over the years, accomplished authors like Sebastian Faulks, William Boyd, and Anthony Horowitz have lent their voices to continue the Bond saga, each offering a unique shade of 007.
Higson’s parting advice to traditionalists is sound and pragmatic: “The Fleming books still exist. All the films still exist. If you don’t like it, ignore it and move on.” After all, in a world ever-shifting, Bond proves he remains timeless, albeit with a contemporary twist.
You can find Charlie Higson’s new book On His Majesty’s Secret Service book here. Released to commemorate King Charles III’s coronation, the novel merges the timeless allure of James Bond with contemporary issues like populism and media manipulation.
Set days before the coronation, Bond confronts a threatening plot led by the enigmatic Æthelstan of Wessex. With riveting action sequences and complex characters, Higson’s latest outing retains Bond’s essence while reflecting on the UK’s present state. An essential read for Bond aficionados.