Monday, May 18, 2015

Musical Monday - Goldfinger by Shirley Bassey

Are the James Bond movies science fiction? I can already hear people scoffing. "Of course not," they'll say, "They are just Cold War spy fiction that has outlasted the Cold War." And I will readily concede they are that. But that doesn't mean they aren't also science fiction.

Sure, some of the movies really don't fit into the science fiction category very well, hanging around on the outskirts of the genre, giving nods here and there to it with the high tech gadgets with which Q always equips the titular hero. But there's more to the science fiction nature of Bond than just neat super-spy gizmos. The Bond movies (and I am primarily talking about the movies - Ian Fleming's books were, in general, much tamer than the movies) have used science fiction themes as their backbone on multiple occasions. The very first Bond movie - Dr. No - features a villain in an underground lair using the then cutting-edge technology of nuclear power to try to threaten the United States. That may not be science fiction to some people, but it is pretty close to the line.

But when one considers some of the movies that have come out since then, it seems to me pretty clear that even if the Bond franchise isn't always on the "it is science fiction" side of the line, it jumps over there fairly often. In You Only Live Twice the villain's plot involves capturing American and Russian spacecraft in orbit to try to spark a nuclear exchange. In Diamonds Are Forever, Blofeld's villainous plot involves building an orbiting laser platform to try to blackmail the world. In The Spy Who Loved Me the villain wants to create an undersea paradise and destroy all of the life on the surface. In The Man with the Golden Gun, the entire plot revolves around a struggle to control a super-science piece of a solar energy generator. And then there's Moonraker, which is explicitly a science fiction film (and is believed by some to have been made, at least in part, to capitalize on the success of Star Wars).

Granted, in most cases the science fiction elements are mostly just window dressing or MacGuffins for the hero to retrieve, but they are present. I would suggest that James Bond sits in the shadowy netherworld of fiction that surrounds the science fiction genre, dependent upon science fictional tropes and ideas without which they simply will not work as stories. Bond is, for want of a better word, quasi-science fiction. It has just enough science fiction to make one think about the genre, but not enough to really sit comfortably within it.

Previous Musical Monday: Tiny Paper Elephant by The Doubleclicks
Previous Musical Monday: We Are Growing by Margaret Singana

Shirley Bassey     Musical Monday     Home

No comments:

Post a Comment