Raymond Benson is an American author best known for being the official author of the adult James Bond novels from 1997 to 2003. Benson was born in Midland, Texas and graduated from Permian High School in Odessa in 1973. In primary school Benson took an interest in the piano which would later in his life develop into an interest in composing music (mostly for theatrical productions). Benson also took part in drama at school and became the vice president of his high school’s drama department, an interest that he would later pursue by directing stage productions in New York City after attending and receiving a degree in Drama Production—Directing from the University of Texas at Austin. Other hobbies include film history and criticism, writing, and designing computer games.
In 1996, John Gardner resigned from writing Bond books. Glidrose Publications promptly chose Benson to replace him. As a James Bond novelist, Raymond Benson was initially controversial for being American, and for ignoring much of the continuity established by Gardner. The author did much to placate these concerns however, and promptly embarked on regular tours to promote his novels in the UK, as well as occasional trips to mainland Europe; several signing sessions were held at the offices of his UK publisher Hodder & Stoughton, and at London booksellers Murder One and James Bond specialists Adrian Harrington Ltd.
Benson had previously written The James Bond Bedside Companion, a book dedicated to Ian Fleming, the official novels, and the films. The book was initially released in 1984 and later updated in 1988. It was nominated for an Edgar Award by Mystery Writers of America in the Best Biographical/Critical Work category. Benson also contributed to the creation of a module in the popular James Bond 007 role-playing game in the 1980s. In total, Benson wrote six James Bond novels, three novelizations, and three short stories. He was the first Bond author since Ian Fleming to write short stories (published in Playboy and TV Guide magazines and collected in anthologies published in 2008 and 2010).
Glidrose changed its name to Ian Fleming Publications commencing with Benson’s novel, High Time to Kill. Benson resigned from writing Bond books in 2003.
Benson’s novel The Man with the Red Tattoo inspired the government of Japan’s Kagawa Prefecture in 2005 to erect a permanent museum (the “007 Man with the Red Tattoo Museum”, dedicated to the book) and honor Benson with the title of Goodwill Ambassador.
In 2008 High Time to Kill, Doubleshot, Never Dream of Dying and his 1997 short story “Blast from the Past” were grouped and released as an omnibus called The Union Trilogy: Three 007 Novels. A second anthology entitled Choice of Weapons was published in 2010 and contained Zero Minus Ten, The Facts of Death, The Man with the Red Tattoo, and the short stories “Midsummer Night’s Doom” and “Live at Five”.
In April of 2014, Benson and former Bond author Jeffery Deaver collaborated–the first such collaboration between former Bond continuation authors–as co-editors of Ice Cold–Tales of Intrigue from the Cold War, an anthology sponsored by Mystery Writers of America containing short stories about the Cold War.
Raymond Benson’s 007 production:
- “Blast from the Past” (short story, 1997)
- Zero Minus Ten (1997)
- Tomorrow Never Dies (novelisation, 1997)
- The Facts of Death (1998)
- “Midsummer Night’s Doom” (short story, 1999)
- “Live at Five” (short story, 1999)
- The World Is Not Enough (novelisation, 1999)
- High Time to Kill (1999)
- DoubleShot (2000)
- Never Dream of Dying (2001)
- The Man with the Red Tattoo (2002)
- Die Another Day (novelisation, 2002)
- The James Bond Bedside Companion (1984, U.K. and updated edition published in 1988)
- A View to a Kill (1985) (Designer/Writer; Mindscape) (Computer game)
- Goldfinger (1986) (Designer/Writer; Mindscape) (Computer game)
- You Only Live Twice II: Back of Beyond (1986) (Designer/Writer; Victory Games, Inc.) (Role-playing game)
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