ROULETTE: TEASER #3

ROULETTE cover

“Here’s to another successful collaboration, James. Hands across the sea.”

“Hands across the sea,” echoed Bond, and drank. “My, that’s crisp. Primitive, but I suppose we are in Red Indian land.”

Leiter chuckled. “Oh, the Canadians are fast catching up to us, friend. No doubt about it. Less than a hundred years old and already an agricultural and industrial capacity on a global scale. And that’s to say nothing of their advancements in aerospace.”

“M did brief me about the Arrow.” Bond drew the file folder cross the counter toward him and flipped to a photograph of the jet itself, looming white and magnificent above a tow-trailer outside a hanger in Malton, Ontario. “What’s the temperature in Washington about the thing?”

Leiter’s face assumed an expression of wonder. “It’s an incredible achievement, James. Outflies any other aircraft in existence. Attains a speed of Mach-2. A fifty thousand foot ceiling plus a weapons system that’s state-of-the-art. Well, you can imagine how excited some of the generals are. There’s already been discussions about buying them.”

“Britain’s already signed a secret contract,” replied Bond. “We’ll be taking delivery of our first batch next year. It’s factored into our NATO deployment in the next decade. Won’t be long until we’re around the corner into the Nineteen-Sixties, I’m afraid. No doubt Moscow will keep busy.”

“There’s opposition in Congress, particularly from states with an aeronautics industry. But there’s also enthusiasm for the possibilities in terms of NATO force integration. An umbrella of Arrow fighters over Europe would give us air dominance into the next century.” Leiter swirled his martini. “So what do you think’s the play, James? You figure Koniev will send his guy in to steal plans or sabotage the works?”

“That’s the grand-prize question, isn’t it?” Bond produced his cigarette case and lit up. “If I was Moscow, I would to delay production while trying to produce a prototype of my own to rival our capabilities. My money’s on some combination of theft and sabotage. Is CIA any closer to pin-pointing Koniev’s man?”

“We’ve got teams on the production facility at Malton, near Koniev and on some of Koniev’s guys. We’ll rumble him before long.”

“Good to hear. Now how about Quebec?” Bond took in the city outside with a sweep of the hand. “What kind of opposition presence are we facing here?”

“It’s hard to say.” Leiter was circumspect as he admitted this. “Canadian society is very open, James. It’s relatively easy for people to get in and out. Much more so than the USA. There’s a port here in Montreal, a busy one. RCMP doesn’t even have the personnel to monitor it properly so neither do we. Koniev could move his people in and out by foreign ships any time he wanted to or put them on any one of the hundreds of buses and trains that cross the border here everyday.”

“Your targeted surveillance plan is best then.” Bond patted the Beretta. “And as for us, we’ll just have to take our chances.”

Leiter toasted him. “Won’t be the first time.”

“Cheers.”

They finished their drinks and proceeded outside to the embassy Lincoln Leiter was borrowing for his stay. They passed through one of the base gates and turned onto the highway, angling toward the vast cluster of light and dark massifs that was Montreal. Bond marveled at the vastness and complexity of the industrial zone they passed through. Tall factories with glass walls, busy railroad shunt yards, skylines crowded with smoke-stacks hemmed in the view. The sheer space of the outworks alone was striking compared even to London, where vast industry was crowded into comparatively narrower geography.

“This city has grown enormously,” Bond mused.

“It has,” Leiter agreed, taking an exit and steering down into a darkened sector of the downtown core. “It’s like New York used to be right before the war. Before it exploded. A big town but still small enough to feel personal. The different areas are mostly different ethnicities. All still very distinct as compared to New York.”

“Where are we going?” asked Bond.

“I figured I’d start us out with some classic Dunn’s smoked meat. It’s a Montreal delicacy, not to be missed. Afterwards, I figured we’d take in a few clubs. There’s an active jazz scene up here. Quite experimental. But there’s enough crossover with the criminal world that I’m hoping we might get a look at some of the local radical talent. If nothing else, the criminal element should be in abundance.”

“They’re never too far from each other,” murmured Bond as Leiter turned a corner and steered onto a brightly-lit avenue.

“This is Saint Catherine’s Street,” Leiter explained. “Main conduit through downtown.” Bond’s eyes were dazzled by the neon. Colors flashed and back-lit shapes flickered and blurred and crawled around the huge lit words hanging out over the packed sidewalks: CAPITOL … LOEWS … STRAND. A lit theater marquee floated past, a little closer to the ground. Bond read the title aloud.

“Vertigo.” He chuckled. “Hitchcock again. Felix, we went into the wrong line of work. Imagine if we’d been movie stars.”

“James, we’re not the type.”

ROULETTE, a James Bond adventure by Jamie Mason. Coming November 2018.

Advertisements

ROULETTE: TEASER #2

ROULETTE coverStepping out of the Lockheed and down to the runway, Bond was enveloped in the vast, cold, pine-scented wilderness of Canada. It was, he reflected, walking toward the man standing in the light of an open hangar, a land in which to lose oneself. To disappear entirely, dwarfed by geography and distance. He marveled that such a peaceful dominion should be an arena for such bloodshed.

“Commander Bond?” The craggy-faced man with the salt-and-pepper hair and warm green eyes extended a hand. “Ian Chandler. I believe we met in ’47.”

“Inspector.” Bond shook. He remembered Chandler, representing the voice of a fledgling service to the professionals from London, Paris and Washington. “Thank you for meeting me.”

“We’re glad you’re here Commander Bond. We’ll be catching an Army DC-3 to Montreal. I’ve got some coffee and a room set aside for us to talk in while we wait.”

Bond followed Chandler into the vast, echoing hangar. Their DC-3 was undergoing its final checks. A group of weary Canadian soldiers clustered on benches against one wall, rucksacks at their feet. Chandler walked past them to a door set in a wooden wall of makeshift offices and knocked twice. An RCMP constable in shirt-sleeves opened and stepped aside.

“Joe, this is Commander Bond. Go head and let his station contact at the embassy know he’s arrived safely. And bring that coffee in here when you come back.”

“Yes, sir.” The Mountie let himself out. Bond and Chandler settled at a scuffed conference table. Bond glanced around. It was the sort of room for staff meetings, presentations and the like. Chalked on a portable black-board at the room’s end, the words: Distant Early Warning. Bond produced his cigarette case and gestured at the phrase.

“Seems you lot have already got a jump on Arctic air preparedness. We were briefed in London about the chain of radar stations you’ve built in the Arctic. Should give you a good way to keep an eye on Redland.”

“Oh, we’re very much of the same mind on that, Commander Bond.” Chandler gestured at the doorway. “Those boys sitting on benches out there just came back from an experimental deployment on the DEW line. Part of a preparedness exercise for Arctic response. They’re Vandoos, from Valcartier. They’ll be riding the plane back with us to Quebec.”

Bond nodded. “Glad to have them along. I’m sure the DC-3, even crowded, will be more comfortable than that Lockheed.”

“That’s not hard.” Chandler pulled out his own battered packet of Players and lit up. “Mr. Leiter will be waiting for us in Montreal. He has more detail on the war with SMERSH. The RCMP has pulled back and is letting CIA take point. You’ll take over now that you’re here. My job is to provide you some of the relevant background on the Quebec liberation movement and some of our contacts with Roulette in the past year … I had my own meeting with Felix Leiter this morning at the American embassy. CIA has been very generous with its information, Mr. Bond. Please understand, this is all at ‘C’ clearance level. When I disclose you, you will be one of three people in Canada, including the Prime Minister, who know …”

ROULETTE, a James Bond adventure by Jamie Mason. Coming November 2018.

ROULETTE: TEASER #1

ROULETTE cover

Bill Tanner, M’s Chief of Staff, stood sentinel outside the portico. As M alighted, Tanner rushed forward, an umbrella braced against the unforgiving November rains.

“PM just got here, sir,” muttered Tanner. “He’s in a frightful state.”

“That’s his usual mode, I’m afraid.” M sighed, straightened his cravat and followed Tanner into the vestibule. He left his hat and coat at the cloakroom and went upstairs. On the second landing stood the PM.

“Good evening, M.” The Prime Minister, back and bleached mustache equally straight, eyed M fiercely. “I appreciate your and Mr. Tanner’s coming.”

“Of course, Prime Minister.” M bit back a sarcastic rejoinder. He didn’t much care for this new boy in Downing Street, considering him peremptory and impertinent. M, who far preferred the old wartime PM, took solace knowing that the peculiarities of elected office meant the new boy’s time would end before his own.

They were conducted down the hall by a footman to the tall doors. Rapping smartly twice, he opened one, stepped through and announced:

“The Prime Minister and head of Secret Service, Your Majesty.”

ROULETTE, a James Bond adventure by Jamie Mason. Coming November 2018.

The Man Who Would Write Bond

ROULETTE coverI wanted to answer some of the questions I have been getting about Roulette, the James Bond novel I will be releasing in November.

In 2014 I placed a short story with David Nickle, who was then editing Licence Expired, an anthology project from ChiZine publishing. As it turned out, 2014 was the fiftieth anniversary of Ian Fleming‘s death. Under the current structure of Canadian copyright law, that places Fleming’s work in the public domain. ChiZine, seeing the need, catered to it ably. David and Madeline Ashby edited a very fine anthology of short fiction and Brett Savory and Sandra Kasturi published a handsome paperback, which is available in most major Canadian book retailers. The rest of the world may do things differently, but here in Canada one can use Fleming’s creation insofar as the book incarnation of 007 is concerned. But only the book version. Film, merchandising and comic book adaptations are handled under a different set of laws. But the clipped, cruel, sardonic, black-and-white Bond of pulp-fic fame is fair game. Which turned out to be very good news for me.

You see, I grew up reading the Bond novels. My father had a complete set of the Pan paperback originals and I started young. The movies were the international blockbusters of their day so of course I saw them. But I was surprised whenever I returned to the paperbacks to find that I actually preferred the literary Bond to his flashier onscreen persona. He has more in common with the hard-boiled protagonists of Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett. His world is drearier yet strangely more horrifying and dangerous. And Bond himself is more calculating and brutal. We get something of the sense of the man behind the Double-oh. And something about that always made the stakes higher for me.

Roulette is a novel-length Bond adventure in the Fleming mold. As I explained to David when I presented him with the manuscript of “Daedalus,” my offering in Licence Expired, I was deliberately trying to mimic Fleming’s style – the clunky “typewriter prose” of pre-internet journalism. The same is true of Roulette. In tone, style and theme it is intentionally similar to the early Bond novels, which I re-read closely before sitting down to write. My intention is to offer a work in homage to a past master for the enjoyment of all those who miss him. It is a caper, an entertainment, a light-hearted enjoyment. Above all, it is a labor of pure love.

A word regarding publication. I maintain a small micro-publishing enterprise called Storm Rhino Press which produces men’s adventure fiction in Kindle format. Those titles are subjected to a thorough publishing process in miniature, which employs professional editors, artists and IT personnel. Sadly, due to lack of funds, Storm Rhino must remain on the back burner for now (although it will return). All this to say that Roulette is not a Storm Rhino book. It is published by a shadowy entity that does business in cash only, prefers to hold meetings in back alleyways and punishes under-performing employees with death. I’m still not quite sure who’s behind SMERSH Books, but they assure me Roulette will be available only in Canada via Amazon this November.

This is an opportune time to mention that I am far from the only Canadian author to have availed himself of this unusual copyright windfall. In addition to the many fine writers who appear in Licence Expired, two others that I know of have produced Bond tales. Bond on the Rocks by Curtis Cook is a satirical take on a washed-up Bond forced to work in the private sector. Angel’s End by Ed Kurtz is a novelette set in Kennedy-era Texas. Both are now available through Amazon Canada.

The action in Roulette occurs in the original Bond timeline some time between Moonraker and Diamonds Are Forever. It is a Cold War spy thriller set in 1950s Canada. Further details will be forthcoming as we approach publication.

CERTAIN FURY & the Birth of the Storm Rhino

5113jbvzJpL[1]Like most crazy ideas, this one started over a conversation that involved alcohol. Sean Smith and I were bemoaning the state of the union, as one does these days, but when two post-apocalyptic writers have that conversation it gets dark really  fast (remember: we do research). Scenarios ranging from foreign invasion to civil insurgency to nuclear Armageddon were tossed back and forth. Then I mentioned an exchange I had with my old mentor Dr. Tom Lincoln of RAND Corporation.

To say Tom was eccentric would be an understatement. Before medical school, Tom earned a degree in cryptozoology. He was one of Carl Jung’s graduate students. He drank expensive scotch and wore tennis shoes everywhere, even to Congressional briefings. And he had this penchant for collecting weird things, which he sometimes showed me: a photograph album of the human body viewed as a series of 300 cross sections, medical files of Ebola patients, notes from meetings with Norman Schwarzkopf in which they war-gamed Desert Storm and a draft contingency plan to remove the President from office by force should the need arise.

Back in the bland days of Bill Clinton, the very idea was ridiculous – far-fetched X-files stuff. But the US military being what it is, they have plans for everything, including occupation of Canada by extraterrestrials. I have no idea how Tom got his hands on it. But a draft contingency designed by some low-level military wonk back in the Seventies (probably in response to Watergate), now long declassified and replaced, made for interesting reading at the time. Sean thought it might make for interesting writing in the here and now.

“Goddamn!” he cried with the unabashed exuberance that makes me love the guy. “Let’s write that story! Let’s write it now!”

So we did.

With the same momentum that I imagine must have carried Crosby, Stills, Nash and 6561757-M[1]Young through recording and releasing of Ohio  within three weeks of Kent State, Sean and I produced Certain Fury  in a fever. E-mailing pages back and forth between Vancouver Island and Florida, we built a fast-paced, character-driven thriller novella in (what I hope is) the vein of Fletcher Knebel or Richard Rohmer, and had a blast doing it. Our easy friendship made the collaboration a joy and along the way I rekindled my romance with writing straight-ahead thrillers. My friendship with writers like Alex Shaw, Steve Konkoly, Jamie Mason (no, the other Jamie Mason) and Ali Karim often pulls me into that very distinct orbit of publishing, and I have written two novellas for Steve’s Perseid Collapse series that remain some of my most well-received work to date. It was good to be back in familiar terrain.

Because we wanted to respond to shifting circumstances, engaging any of the traditional publishers with whom Sean and I have worked in the past simply wasn’t practical. We wanted to respond to the ongoing crisis in the American situation and put something out now, like a rock single. Fortunately, a variety of alternative, self-publishing platforms exist so we chose KDP and I took over the helm. Producing Certain Fury  forced me to polish off project management and production skills I haven’t used in a long time and I was surprised to find myself enjoying that side of the experience more than I expected. The project might be self-published, but I was determined to involve the same pro-level artists, editors and formatters Sean and I had both used for our house projects so I contacted them. To my great delight, they were willing to come onboard as sub-contractors. Felicia Sullivan performed her editorial magic under extreme time crunch, Christian Bentulan crafted a beautiful cover and the mighty  Kody Boye provided a timely, tasty e-book mark-up. Wrangling all this in the tight time-span we had required chops I’d left dormant since the old days. It sure felt like a professional endeavor, but of course …

We’re self-publishing, I thought – something I told myself I’d never do. But it’s for a good 51bs537ve6L.SX316[1]cause. We were responding to events – something artists often feel compelled to do.

Even the guys cranking out thrillers in the basement .

Right around this time, I found myself recalling the men’s adventure novels of the 1970s, the books that first inspired me to write: Don Pendleton’s Executioner books, Donovan’s Devils and the Malko series from France. I wondered whatever became of that whole strata of publishing. Men’s pulp adventure fiction with a strong military focus seems like an anachronism in our enlightened era of safe spaces, political correctness and ascendant feminism. And there’s nothing wrong with any of those things, as far as I’m concerned …

But there isn’t anything wrong with men’s pulp adventure novels, either.

61+un+dEWZL._SY346_[1]Meanwhile, I learned that The Executioner enjoys a robust afterlife in e-book. And it occurred to me, staring at an early edition of Certain Fury, that it might be worthwhile to make more of these things.

I’m not proposing opening my own publishing house. But I’d sure like to do more books like this and involve other writers, and use such projects to generate paying work for them as well as the artists, editors and formatters who will help us bring quality men’s adventure fiction to market. The totality of the enterprise is at a fuzzy stage just now. Call Certain Fury  a trial run. All my contacts are in place: the artists, copy-editors and other pros needed to see the work done right. I know at least one other writer (possibly two) willing to write a book. Perhaps others will read this and consider contacting me. I hope they do, but I’ll confess right now that I probably have more questions than answers. Will this beast be a micro-press? A publishing co-op? A small start-up? How will we sustain and extend our present funding? How will the novels be received? How will we grow our audience? How will our peers and mentors in the publishing world view our efforts?

Beats me. But I’m having fun and plan to continue. We will produce e-books and a few print editions of what I call “7-11 lunch” fiction: a sammich, an apple and a cookie. Nothing gourmet, but easy to swallow and just plain damn fun. Because isn’t that what this whole fiction thing is supposed to be?Rudy the Rhino

For now I am calling it Storm Rhino Press.

Fear the Rhino.