Wednesday, July 23, 2014

For Your Eyes Only | "Risico"

As we move into some of Fleming's short stories about James Bond, I need to talk a bit about chronology. There are three ways I could integrate the short stories with Bond's longer adventures: I could write about them in the order in which they were originally published by magazines and newspapers, I could write about them in the order in which they were collected in book form, or I could write about them as they happened within the chronology of Bond's career.

So far, I've been tackling this project in publication order and there's been no conflict because Fleming wrote and published the novels in the same order that they occur in Bond's life. With the short stories though it gets more complicated, especially when we get into the stories collected in Octopussy and The Living Daylights, which were published after Fleming's death and clearly take place earlier in Bond's career rather than after the dramatic events that closed Fleming's series.

Because I'm interested in Bond as a fictional character and how Fleming developed him, I'm going to write about the short stories as they happened to Bond. But that's going to be an anomaly in this project. After Fleming's death, a consistent chronology of Bond's life becomes impossible. So while I'll include the non-Fleming books in the project, I'm not going to pretend that they're about the same character. That'll free me to just take them in publishing order and transition to thinking about James Bond as a phenomenon instead of a character.

There are a couple of major chronologies that put Fleming's stories in order of when they took place in Bond's life. The one I like best is John Griswold's from Ian Fleming's James Bond: Annotations and Chronologies for Ian Fleming's James Bond Stories. Griswold uses the publication order of the novels and then fits the short stories into that. It's nice and simple as opposed to the other major chronology which rearranges some of the novels.

Both chronologies agree though that "Risico," the fourth out of the five stories collected in For Your Eyes Only, takes place earliest; soon after Goldfinger. That's because M mentions the Mexican assignment that Bond was musing about at the beginning of Goldfinger as happening "earlier this year."

It comes up again in "Risico" (named after the way a character mispronounces the word "risk") because the short story has Bond on another drug case. This time he's tasked with shutting down the flow of heroin into England from Italy. I don't want to say too much about the plot, because it's a twist-ending kind of short story, but if you've seen the movie For Your Eyes Only, you're familiar with the characters of Kristatos, Colombo, and Lisl Baum (renamed Lisl von Schlaf in the film) and their relationships with Bond and each other.

Fleming developed the story for a Bond TV show that never made it to the air. CBS had been happy with the results of the "Casino Royale" episode of Climax! and wanted more, so Fleming wrote some plot outlines. After CBS dropped the idea, he worked the outlines into four of the short stories collected in For Your Eyes Only. The fifth is the one we'll talk about tomorrow, but "Risico" was the last of them published, debuting in the Daily Express newspaper simultaneously with the publication of the whole For Your Eyes Only collection.


Erik Johnson Illustrator said...

I had wonder what was the deal with "Risico"'s title and why it hadn't been used for a movie yet. I guess it not being a real word makes it an unlikely candidate.

Michael May said...

It does sound cool though, don't it?

I'm guessing the bigger reason is that they already used the plot in For Your Eyes Only though.

Michael May said...

On the other hand, that didn't keep them from taking just the title and none of the story of View to a Kill and Quantum of Solace, so you're probably right.

Erik Johnson Illustrator said...

I've just noticed that studios love one word titles because its easy to remember when you go to the ticket counter and short and sweet to hashtag them on twitter. Plus the audience gets to add things like Inception and Transcendence to their vocabulary for the next eight months.

Considering all the backlash against Quantum of Solace because they never explained what that meant in-story, so a nonsense word is most likely a no-go.

Michael May said...

Do people really not understand the meaning of Quantum of Solace? I thought it was pretty obvious in relation to the theme of the film.


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