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About LICENCE EXPIRED, the unauthorized Bond anthology I’m co-editing with David Nickle

It’s true! Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels and short stories are now public domain in Canada. When I heard this, I immediately asked my Twitter followers if I should write a James Bond novel. (Response was enthusiastic.) The thing is, I’ve already sort of written one — my second novel, iD: The Second Machine Dynasty, drew a great deal of inspiration from Fleming’s work. It’s a fast, brutal, pulpy adventure story about an Hispanic self-replicating humanoid trying to find a rare diamond. There’s a casino. There’s a cruise ship. There are false identities and fight on rooftops. “You’re writing a Bond novel,” David said to me one day as I detailed some plot points. And he should know. He’s read all of them. Multiple times. And the short stories. Sometimes when we’re watching the films, I’ll comment on something and he’ll say: “Oh, the novel is way more racist.”

Which brings me to my next point. As I thought about writing a novel for myself (and looked in horror at my schedule), I also wondered if it wouldn’t be better to edit an anthology of Bond stories. After all, women aren’t the only ones derided in Fleming’s fiction. He also seemed to despise gay people, people of colour, people without money, his mother…the list goes on. Wouldn’t an anthology be a better way of collecting those voices in a chorus? Doesn’t the public domain mean that the public now has an opportunity to make this story — this overwhelmingly white, straight, English story about maintaining the strength of Her Majesty’s empire — their own? I thought about pitching Dave on the idea, but he had already left work for the day. In the subway, I couldn’t reach him.

So I Netflixed an episode of Gilmore Girls, got on the rowing machine, and started my workout instead. About halfway through, David stormed in, red-faced, clutching a picnic roast in one hand and his headphones in other. “I was thinking,” he panted, breathless with Ontario winter, “that we should co-edit an anthology of unauthorized-”

“I FUCKING HAD THIS THOUGHT!”

“I want to pitch ChiZine-”

“CALL SANDRA NOW!”

And Sandra and Brett at ChiZine agreed. I wish I could say that this was a decision we came to after a great deal of thoughtful discernment and extended conversation, but really, this is a project that both of us have been waiting for. Although we’ve been friends since 2006 and partners since 2010, we’ve never collaborated creatively beyond the realm of input into each other’s work. But 2015 is the year we’ll be married, and if all goes well it will also see the publication of our first co-edited endeavour, Licence Expired. We spent the whole evening occasionally glancing at each other and laughing maniacally. Much like members SMERSH.

So, some questions.

Are you open to submissions?

Not yet, but we will be. We’ve asked some fun people who we are beyond excited to work with, but we also want a more diverse TOC.

Who is on board so far?

Oh, just the usual suspects. Tony Burgess. Laird Barron. Nathan Ballingrud. AM Dellamonica. Natalie Zina Walschots. And more we can’t about. (Because then we would have to kill you.)

So everything Bond is public domain?

NO. It’s most emphatically not. Only Fleming’s literary works. But we’re looking for stories not just about Bond, but about villains, henchpersons, love interests, the poor schmuck who has to build the shark tanks… Fleming’s work, for all its issues, is rich territory for adventure and exploration.

Are you Kickstarting this endeavour?

We are. Watch this space.

Why James Bond?

For better or worse, the Bond universe has influenced how people all over the world think of military intelligence, national security, and even foreign policy. These issues have only become more important in recent years, as both the American and English governments extended their surveillance apparatuses while covering for the use of torture in interrogation. James Bond, and his cousins Jack Ryan and Jack Bauer, have been part of a public relations effort to help justify excessive spending, loss of life, and the erosion of civil liberties since the Cold War. It’s time we took Bond back.

Aren’t you afraid of being sued?

Of course I am. Isn’t everyone? But it’s worth the risk. After all. You only live twice.

3 ResponsesLeave one →

  1. Paul (@princejvstin)

     /  January 19, 2015

    When I saw this news, I came up with this:

    “Bond vs Cthulhu.”

  2. Jessica Jaymie

     /  January 19, 2015

    I would love to see a story that handles Fleming’s problematic relationship with the Caribbean. There should be a few writers who would love to sink their teeth in to that.

  3. phuzz

     /  January 19, 2015

    I think Charlie Stross has already cornered the Bond/Cthulhu market with his Laundry Files books.
    In fact, new idea! Invite him to do a short story!

  • Madeline Ashby…

    ...is a science fiction writer, futurist, speaker, and immigrant living in Toronto. She writes a column for the Ottawa Citizen. She is represented by Anne McDermid & Associates, and Jason Richman at UTA. You can buy her books here.

    She has worked with Intel Labs, the Institute for the Future, SciFutures, Nesta, Data & Society, The Atlantic Council, the ASU Center for Science and the Imagination, and others. Her short fiction has appeared in Nature, FLURB, Tesseracts, Imaginarium, and Escape Pod. Her other essays and criticism have appeared at BoingBoing, io9, WorldChanging, Creators Project, Arcfinity, Tor.com, MISC Magazine, FutureNow, and elsewhere.

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