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Welcome to book club! Get your drinks, snacks, and any notes you have, and gather around for the whole-book discussion on Doctor No! (If you're here and you're not sure where to find the book, check the resources post in the sidebar on the right!)

Book club is designed to be a place where you can go beyond the Bond movies and delve into another medium with our favorite secret agent. We have questions to help get things started, but there are no set discussions. If you have anything interesting that you want to discuss about your reading experience, comments on the text, or thoughts about how reading the book might have changed your view on the characters in the movies, then do share!

Questions to get us started:
1) We finally met Doctor No! Thoughts?
2) What did you think about Doctor No's obstacle course of pain and death?
3)
Now that you've read the whole book, how do you feel about Honey as a character, and about Fleming's treatment of her?
4)
Were you satisfied with the book's ending?
5) What were some memorable moments for you from the second half of the book?

This is a spoiler-friendly zone! Everyone is assumed to have read the book at this point, and the comments below will reflect this.

Happy discussing!

Castillon02

Date: 2016-02-28 05:39 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
1) Okay, so I was definitely taken in by the little contact lens 'tink!' and wondered if we had headed into robotsville for a hot minute; was relieved that Fleming hadn't taken a turn for the sci-fi, though a steampunk AU fic would be cool. No was SUPER CREEPY and one of the most outright sadistic villains Fleming has ever written. The most disturbing thing was his amorality and deliberateness--I mean, building an expensive torturous obstacle course is a whole new level of premeditated cruelty, and his quasi-scientific schtick was really shudder-worthy. Of course, being so distinctive, he also seems to have inspired a lot of parody--the whole Dr. Evil monologue, "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to DINE," and that sort of thing.
The whole nuclear explanation was the most trite thing about the entire book, tbh. Like of course No has to be some kind of evil Russian-employed nuclear-messer-upper, because Bond has to save the free world and not just some terrorized island and endangered birds.

2) The obstacle course: what the fuuuuuuuccck.
Also, I find it somewhat amusing on a meta level, because of course the WRITER always has to put Bond through an obstacle course of pain and death by the end of the book, and now Fleming's just like, 'Screw coming up with more ways for ME to write the obstacle course, I'm literally just going to write Doctor No coming up with it for me,' hahaha.
Also: THE GIANT EFFING SQUID. FLEMING WENT THERE. I'm kind of wtf but also kinda delighted about it at the same time? I mean, he already did killer sharks, and somehow he found a way to increase the sea creature threat level.

Does the plot of this book remind anyone else of a bizarro-world "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea"? Captain Nemo and Doctor No are both secret geniuses with a subterranean lair and supposedly impossible transportation devices that seem invulnerable to bullets, there's a hero-figure who spears a giant squid... I haven't read 20,000 Leagues in over a decade, but pretty sure Nemo was more of a tragic anti-hero or something and No is just actually evil though.

From: (Anonymous)
3) HONEY. MOTHER-EFFING HONEY "ran back to avenge Bond's death by killing Doctor No with a screwdriver" RIDER. Nothing you say will convince me that she couldn't and wouldn't have done it. Honey "lol, you know nothing about nature and your experiment is bullshit" Rider. Honey "Do as you're told" Rider. Honey "elbows Bond in the groin, twice" Rider. Honey "Don't be stupid" Rider. I love her so much.

I don't love that Fleming is apparently incapable of making a strong woman protagonist for Bond to partner up with without adding those silly moments that are like, "But of course Bond is stronger! His masculinity isn't threatened!" Like Honey being the one to ask for a rest when they were escaping together, things like that. MASCULINITY IS SO FRAGILE.

Incidentally, nothing you say will convince me that Honey isn't BUILT AS FUCK. Sailing that canoe to the island so frequently? All that paddling? Her arms must be damn impressive.

I have mixed feelings about the whole "fix the house and fine silver up for Bond" thing. On the one hand, I think it's kinda classist of Fleming--like she's Bond's lover, so of course she's going to at least be from a wealthy family and have some good silver hidden away--it's like a physical symbol of her good breeding. Eyeroll, Fleming. Eyeroll. On the other hand, Bond was all prepared to be polite and endure her animals with all the good grace that he could muster, which was pretty cute. And I think most people do the whole 'clean the house so it's a nice little love nest' when they know they're having a guest over for some quality fucking, and part of me thought it was really cute of Honey to do it--she was so excited for her awesome consensual sex! And she wasn't going to let Bond ruin it by being stupid or let her animals get in the way, hahaha. GET IT, HONEY.

Although I will note that Bond's "talk love" scene included very little talking. Instead Bond just bit Honey's hand until she screamed. Which...okay, that's kind of a nontraditional opening move, there, Bond, but it seemed to work for you. Kind of like Craig!Bond mouthing Vesper's fingers in the shower to comfort her: seems like it shouldn't work, inexplicably does.

ANYWAY: as a fan of sub!Bond, "Do as you're told" is a last line I am so here for.

Last thing I want to note: the scene with Honey washing Bond's wounds with antiseptic in the tub? The exact same thing but opposite happens with Bond and Solitaire in Live and Let Die. Love the LALD parallels in this book and seeing how Bond has changed since the last time he had his first mission after a tragic love affair. Jamaica is apparently rebound island for him.

Castillon02

Date: 2016-02-28 05:56 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
4) Covered a lot of this above, but basically yes? I enjoyed the "rarse" humor/collegiality and getting to see a bit of the bureaucratic shuffling around after Bond exposes No's terribleness. And I was looking forward to a climactic guano scene, and Fleming did his best to give it to me, though after a giant squid everything is a little bit anti-climactic, haha.

Honey has Bond well in hand, and I'm certain she's got the smarts and the grit to adapt to her new job and tell everyone who doesn't like her there to fuck off if they don't like her or her expert knowledge; pretty much the best ending you can hope for when you're Bond's love interest, I think.

5) Memorable moments... Bond getting all depressed when the people watching him go through the obstacle course don't even praise him for getting as far as he has. (SUB!BOND. SAY IT LOUDER FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK.) Honey sailing them both to safety in the canoe, continuing Bond's track record of getting hauled to safety by an awesome lady while he himself is largely insensate and useless. Bond's moment of introspection about the deaths of his friends and where HE might end up once he's shuffled off... lots of good stuff!

Re: Castillon02

Date: 2016-03-01 05:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] isthisrubble.livejournal.com
this book is the most sub!bond bond has ever been I think omg

Re: Castillon02

Date: 2016-03-02 06:10 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
This book has been A GIFT for sub!Bondness. Honestly the last time Bond was this subby was probably in Moonraker when M toured him around his personal club and all Bond wanted to do was be useful for M and make M proud of him. (Moonraker, aka the book that inspired the platonic SUB!BOND and DOM!M MANIFESTO.)

(Also, I freakin' loved that moment of regret that Bond had after his sassy report about his gun at the end. Like '...I shouldn't have done that. Should NOT have done that. Oh well, can't be helped that I'm snarky motherfucker. I'll apologize later.')

Re: Castillon02

Date: 2016-03-02 06:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] isthisrubble.livejournal.com
serves Boothroyd right for being mean about Bond's gun. I'm now imagining M reading that and ringing for Tanner to take over because he's so done, he should have known better than to send 007 on a holiday job, because Bond ALWAYS makes it more complicated than it has to be. And Tanner's like damn, I want that flamethrower.
From: [identity profile] isthisrubble.livejournal.com
honey didn't leave a massive impression on me, and then you come along with this big list of reasons she is awesome and I'm like damn how did I forget all this!
From: (Anonymous)
tbh, this book was one of the more meandering ones--it felt like it took forever for anything to happen. I mean, the book has a dragon tractor and a giant squid and a fantastic evil lair, but there's a lot of like...Doctor No monologuing and Bond ordering a manicure and a drug-laced meal and stuff like that in between the good stuff. Honey, on the other hand, is made of awesomeness pretty much all the time, and when she's not I get to glare at Fleming for being an idiot about her, so that's fun too. Pretty much every moment with Honey in it livened up the book 500 percent for me haha.
-Castillon

timetospy

Date: 2016-02-29 02:17 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Right, well, I had a lot of feelings about the second half of the book, a lot of which is likely incoherent screaming, but I'll start here:

So I kinda wanted to revisit the ‘25 caliber beretta vs the 38 caliber walther’ debate because it really stuck in my craw about the beretta being a ‘ladies gun’ because I never really understood, but seeing them side by side,
Here is the beretta
Image
And here is the walther
Image
I can sort of maybe perhaps, given Boothroyd’s terrible misogyny, see what he's talking about. The beretta does have a more delicate appearance. It's also smaller, so is likely easier to conceal. And either one, drawn and pointed at a target in the hand of a skilled assassin would be enough to make most people stop in their tracks. So, chalk one up to Boothroyd just being an asshole about it, I think. Maybe the larger caliber makes a difference, but a bullet aimed correctly is gonna kill you no matter how big it is.

So, my curiosity has been piqued about the other merits of the weapons. I will need to do more research. (And I will. Cause now I've gotta know for sure, and I'm a sucker for stuff like this)

Re: timetospy

Date: 2016-02-29 02:20 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Right. On to the second half of the book.

I was… Really irritated about Quarrel, even tho I was warned, and the life insurance had to mean something. He was basically burned at the stake for helping Bond, and all I could think of was *angry face emoji.*
He deserved better than becoming alligator barbecue.

The squid, omg the squid. So, putting aside that the squid likely wouldn't survive because it didn't have the water pressure necessary to maintain its equilibrium, it was super effective as a final ‘animal crisis’ Bond had to overcome.
Speaking of animals, my favorite thing is that Bond really really hates bugs. Loathes them. Is like… Squicked by them to the nth degree, and he has not one but two encounters with creepy crawlies in this book! His dislike (bordering on fear) of bugs and spiders is one of the best things to come out of this text, character wise, ranks up there with his sentimentality about his gun for me.

The ‘obstacle course of death’ sounds like it happens in every book, which makes sense. I could comment more fully if I had more context. It worked for me on a lot of ‘evil genius with too much money’ levels.

I gotta admit, I was really hoping for the “Dr. No is a remote-controlled automaton driven by a little old chinese lady,” alas I left disappointed.
On the subject of Dr. No - perhaps it’s because I’ve seen too many action movies, perhaps it’s because the ‘Soviet Era Nuclear Threat’ plotline was just SO trite (but, yeah, for the time the novel was written, terrifying) It would have been nice, just… Just take out the bad guy ‘cause he’s a rotten dude? He doesn’t have to be trying to take over the world? ‘Cause even if he would have never wanted more than to just exploit his slave-labor workforce, that’s still pretty terrible and his complete lack of empathy/sympathy coupled with his frankly sinister interest in the effects of pain (mirrored by the conversation M had with that doctor in the beginning of the book, btw) make him an all-around evil dude WITHOUT the Russian Nuke threat.
I liked him being buried in his own guano, tho. Rather poetic.

I second everything castillon02 has said about Honey. I love her. I choose to ignore any and all instances where Fleming decided that she was weak, ‘cause dude… she was definitely in better shape than Bond. (Although at this point, I’m pretty sure Fleming had her be naive in the ‘ways of love’ just so he could push the proverbial envelope as far as ‘explicit’ material went. ah well. She more than makes up for it with ‘Do as you’re told.’)

Also, with all the description of breasts and buttocks and everything else, you’d think Bond could at least say ‘damn’ a couple times? But no. *giggles*

OK- ALSO
I don’t know how prevalent this is, but I LOVE that Bond ruminates on the afterlife, and where various people of his acquaintance have ended up, and who will be keeping him company when he finally kicks the proverbial bucket. At least one other time, apparently (thanks, castillon02 again!) thinking about what Vesper might think of all of his other women, should they meet again in the afterlife. It’s an interesting little tidbit, and I hope there are more like it in the future.

Re: timetospy

Date: 2016-03-01 01:53 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I have been speaking to a pistol enthusiast that I know, and he agrees that Boothroyd is full of shit.
The stopping power difference between a Beretta and a Walther is minimal at best, as both are small caliber weapons.
Accuracy and reliability is in the individual weapon, not in the overall make, so in theory the Walther is just as likely to jam/misfire/be shit as the Beretta.
And if Bond is used to the grip on a Beretta, then the spur on the Walther is more likely to interfere with his grip rather than enhance it.

In summation, Boothroyd is simply a self-important asshole.

Re: timetospy

Date: 2016-03-01 05:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] isthisrubble.livejournal.com
see, this is what I get for not reading ahead before commenting! that's really weird, because Boothroyd, the real one who advised Fleming, was supposed to be an expert? so what gives? hmmm

Re: timetospy

Date: 2016-03-01 10:58 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I know, right? I was totally looking forward to getting an in-depth explanation as to why the Walther is, in fact, the superior weapon, but no. Seems the whole reason he was told to change weapons was that the Beretta was for the ladies.
Which makes zero sense to me?
1. The Beretta is visibly smaller and likely easier to conceal even if he didn't have his shoulder holster.
2. A bullet, regardless of caliber, aimed correctly is always deadly.
3. This probably ties in to M being a passive-aggressive, possessive bastard and extremely irritated about nearly losing his best agent.
4. Maybe the real Boothroyd was a self-important asshole? And personal preferences play a HUGE role in choice of weapon, particularly if the real Boothroyd had a personal reason to prefer the Walther himself (as in, he had a very good, very reliable one that saved his life or something) Which makes fictional Boothroyd insisting that Bond change weapons even more irritating, as he should KNOW as an EXPERT that personal preference plays such a large role in one's relationship with a weapon.

Re: timetospy

Date: 2016-03-02 06:29 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Wow, good to know!

100 percent agreed that Boothroyd was just an ass. -_-

-Castillon

Re: timetospy

Date: 2016-03-01 05:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] isthisrubble.livejournal.com
it's probably the calibre thing, I mean, they were talking about stopping power, or something? maybe it carries more rounds? who knows. but hey, weird misogyny!

Re: timetospy

Date: 2016-03-02 06:19 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I love getting to see the two guns side by side! Thanks for doing that research! Poor Bond, having to give up his gun because Boothroyd had to be an interfering jerk.

Date: 2016-03-01 05:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] isthisrubble.livejournal.com
1) We finally met Doctor No! Thoughts?
Dr No is, as Bond says, a maniac, but he's... not a very interesting one? I mean, the backstory is interesting but I don't find him very compelling, and he wasn't in the story in person for long enough for him to be really scary. also... HE MONOLOGUED SO BAD. CAN U NOT, MR EVIL MASTERMIND.

2) What did you think about Doctor No's obstacle course of pain and death?
I want one of those in one of the movies! I know it was in the Dr No movie but that was ages ago, damnit, and when you read it in the book it's much more scary. it did feel a bit like a plot device, though, I mean like Fleming wanted to show us how tough Bond is and was like I know! obstacle course of death! wait, how am I going to fit that into the story... oh I'll give the villain some random reason to have it.

3) Now that you've read the whole book, how do you feel about Honey as a character, and about Fleming's treatment of her?
Honey: A+ lady
Fleming: total dick.
I mean, the way Bond seemed to think of her as almost a child and yet wanted to sleep with her... not nice. At least she helped Bond escape, sort of. And it was nice that Bond wanted to help her get a job in an area she would love. But, well, she didn't do much and the infantising was just weird. idk.
the thing with the crabs though. I loved that, omg.

4) Were you satisfied with the book's ending?
nope. Dr No dies in his second scene (or third. does the weird bedroom thing count?), and there's no "final battle" as such. Bond fights his own body, then kills the villain with minimum fuss and runs away in a tractor. not very satisfying.

5) What were some memorable moments for you from the second half of the book?
DO AS YOU'RE TOLD. I'm just. Honey telling Bond what to do is a joy. and the crab thing, again. idk what else.
Edited Date: 2016-03-02 12:06 am (UTC)

Castillon02

Date: 2016-03-02 07:47 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
"Bond fights his own body, then kills the villain with minimum fuss and runs away in a tractor."--lololol, accurate summary is accurate

And yeah, the infantilizing is pretty creepy? but I think not uncommon for the era...which might be even creepier.

complete agreement about No not being the most compelling villain. I mean, all the ingredients are there for compellingness? like you said, he's got an interesting backstory, he's really evil, etc, but he doesn't really get enough build-up for me to care about him.
EXCELLENT fodder for Austin Powers, though!

Re: Castillon02

Date: 2016-03-02 09:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] isthisrubble.livejournal.com
oh yeah, he fights the local sea life, too, I forgot about that

the whole "girl was raped but bond makes her better" thing happens... at least three times in the books I've read, and that's just, well, ew. and they're all young when it happens? what did Fleming have against 16 y/o girls, seriously. and the infantizing just makes it worse

Dr No just... doesn't do anything. his guards were more scary, tbh. and I haven't watched austin powers, maybe we should stream them after we finish all the movies...

Re: Castillon02 (timetospy)

Date: 2016-03-02 11:22 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
YOU HAVEN'T SEEN AUSTIN POWERS?!?! (says the girl who used to have a life-size cardboard cutout of him in her room)

Yes, we need to do a watchalong for that. I don't care if I have to host it via Rabbit. It's required.

...I might love that movie a bit too much...
the other two are watchable, but the first is INSPIRED.

Re: Castillon02 (timetospy)

Date: 2016-03-02 11:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] isthisrubble.livejournal.com
I HAVE A BIG SECOND HAND EMBARRESSMENT PROBLEM, OK???? the only comedy movies I like are Monty Python movies atm. action movies with funny bits are good too, I guess
Edited Date: 2016-03-02 11:37 pm (UTC)

Re: Castillon02 (timetospy)

Date: 2016-03-03 03:47 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I normally do too? Like, I can't STAND comedies like "The Office" where all the humor comes from embarrassing the bejesus out of everyone. But somehow, and I have no idea how, Austin Powers makes it work for me. Perhaps because he is so over the top, or perhaps because he himself is not embarrassed, or because it's so unreal as to be distanced from the viewer enough to be palatable for me. Or maybe it just hit me at the right time in my life that I fell in love with it. Who knows?

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