John Gardner 1926-2007

Thriller writer and Bond novelist John Gardner has died aged 80.
A former Royal Marine (who lied about his age to enlist during World War II) Gardner was born in Seaton Delaval, a village near the city of Newcastle. He eventually became a successful thriller and spy writer with work including the Boysie Oakes series and a series including Professor Moriaty. Gardner had a particular interest in a more realistic approach to the spy genre, an approach he brought to his James Bond novels.
He was invited by Glidrose to write three Bond novels in 1981, and - although he was not tremendously enthusiastic at first - ended up writing 14, along with the novelisations of Licence To Kill and GoldenEye. Gardner wasn't keen on taking on another author's character but he soon relished the chance to update 007 and put his own personal stamp on Bond in his continuation novels. Despite a mixed reception from Bond fans, Gardner's 007 novels were successful and popular.
Gardner said:
 I had made up my mind that I would only take on Bond if they allowed me to go about it in my own way. What I wanted to do was take the character and bring Fleming's Bond into the eighties as the same man but with all he would have learned had he lived through the sixties and seventies. 
I described to Glidrose how I wanted to put Bond to sleep where Fleming had left him in the sixties, waking him up now in the 80s having made sure he had not aged, but had accumulated modern thinking on the question of Intelligence and Security matters. Most of all I wanted him to have operational know-how: the reality of correct tradecraft and modern gee-whiz technology.
Gardner always appeared to be slightly miffed that his novels were not adapted or used by Eon for the James Bond movies, his books considered by some as interesting and exciting as the scripts written for the film series during this time. Licence Renewed and For Special Services, his two first Bond novels, did well enough to make Bond a regular fixture in bookshops again. Role Of Honour in 1984 and Win Lose Or Die in 1989 were probably the best, and most fun, of his James Bond novels.

-  Robert


c 2007 Alternative 007