I’ve been reading a lot of Charles Stross lately — particularly the Laundry series. He’s one of my favourite contemporary science fiction authors, partly because of the ambition of some of his more conceptual stuff but also because he’s very funny.
The Jennifer Morgue is the second in the Laundry series of supernatural spy thrillers and (without giving too much away) has a strong James Bond theme. You should read it but I really liked the little author’s essay at the back about the cultural significance of Bond. It includes a fictional recent interview with Ernst Blofeld — perhaps the most infamous of the the Bond villains:
Now at age seventy-two, Blofeld is a cheerful veteran of numerous high-tech start-ups, and not a few multinationals where, as a specialist in international risk management and arbitrage, he applied his unique skills to business expansion.
Beneath the humour there’s a darker point that Stross makes — that in the end it was the men of private means rather than the Governments that triumphed. I think his tongue is at least partly in his cheek when he says:
If you turn on the TV you’re likely to see one of old Ernst’s proteges being held up for praise as an object of emulation. President of Italy, captain of industry or chief executive of Enron — SPECTRE won and it’s their world that we live in, the world of the lesser evil.