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Geek Trivia: Spy versus spy-fiction

What was author Ian Fleming's codename when he worked for British military intelligence, an inspiration for the 007 moniker that Fleming would assign to his own most famous fictional creation, James Bond?

On May 28, 1908, Ian Lancaster Fleming was born in London, and in his 56 brief years on this Earth, he would help defeat the Nazis, launch the most successful movie franchise in history, and dream up one of the world's most loveable sentient automobiles. And that's not the half of it.

Fleming is perhaps best known as the creator of fictional British super-spy James Bond, who first appeared in Fleming's 1953 novel Casino Royale. The Bond character has gone on to star in more than 20 major motion pictures, which collectively grossed over $3 billion -- a figure that dwarfs even the twin Star Wars trilogies in earnings. Bond's book series wasn't quite so popular in America when it began -- until John F. Kennedy admitted he was a fan, spiking sales. Fleming's Bond arguably launched the 1960s spy-fiction craze, combining suave super-heroics with gritty Cold War quasi-realism.

Bond was hardly the most fantastic literary creation to spring from Fleming's mind. In 1964, Fleming wrote a children's book for his son Caspar called Chitty Chitty Bang Bang about a sentient car that could transform into other impossible vehicles. Chitty was a bona fide hit, and was adapted into a 1968 film starring Dick Van Dyke, and later into a Tony-nominated stage musical. (Plus, Chitty was way cooler than the flying AMC Matador in The Man with the Golden Gun.)

Yet, perhaps the most amazing character in Fleming's life was Fleming himself. During World War II, Fleming was assigned to be the personal assistant to Britain's Director of Naval Intelligence. From this post, he learned the spy game and planned an untold number of outlandish and effective missions, including Operation Goldeneye, which prepared to defend Gibraltar from Spain should the latter have joined the Axis powers, and an unnamed scheme that involved using occultist Aleister Crowley to manipulate Rudolf Hess. (Seriously.)

Thus, many of the trappings made famous by James Bond were test driven in Fleming's own life, including Bond's famous codename, 007. Fleming had one of those too.

WHAT WAS IAN FLEMING'S CODENAME WHEN HE WORKED FOR BRITISH INTELLIGENCE?

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About

Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger -- amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

18 comments
RealGem
RealGem

I preferred Roger Moore. I tend to like the more "bad guy" Bonds and Roger looked a little more dangerous. Ahem. Although all of those earlier movies had a good dose of silly built into them.

techie
techie

"She liked imaginary men best." Yet, would have entertained Mr. Fleming for cocktails without notice. Wow - and I thought only geeky things aroused me... thanks for Bond trivia. Think I'll pop in a few DVDs this morning and continue the fantasy...

rucb_alum
rucb_alum

Even better...It appears that many of the torture scenes in the novels were acted out - by Fleming and his lover then wife - who were both apparently into S/M. Or so says the new bio coming out from the BBC to celebrate IF's 100th birthday. He kept a book of bondage photos on the bookshelf and when visitors would naturally enough take it off the shelf and give it a look he was quoted as saying "I say, is that turning you on?". Try the audiobooks with Simon Vance reading. They are great.

techie
techie

.... (gasp) Oooh, how titillating! Love bios, adore Bond. Audio books - make for curious background noise at a party. A def investment then for Simon Vance's reading. Cheers!

devGuy
devGuy

Giggle, giggle. Oh, 'titULAR', as in, related to the title. Um, nevermind.

Dr. Solar
Dr. Solar

You're missing the oh-so-subtle wordplay here... the use of "titular" is wonderfully apt, since Scaramanga, the Man With the Golden Gun, has three nipples.

cl_fart
cl_fart

I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who giggled a little and did my best Beavis and Butthead "He said titular, heh heh heh".

oeflynn
oeflynn

I want to nitpick - you say that 'Fleming?s creations outlived and outshined him' - the correct past tense of shine (and hence outshine) is shone - so 007 outshone Ian Fleming!

Dr. Solar
Dr. Solar

Hey, get it right! The correct mispelling of "grammar" is "grammer", NOT "gammar"! :)

lammwa
lammwa

Dr. Solar, Nothing to do with the forum, but just noticed you are from my home town. Were you born a "Pretzel"?

oeflynn
oeflynn

you are wrong! I know I misspelt it (I left out the 1st R - even after checking it) - but there is no word 'grammer' - check it out at www.dictionary.com or www.oed.com . For Grammar, it references a number of US & UK sources (including the American Heritage Dictionary http://www.bartleby.com/61/ for those of you who don't speack 'English') - none for 'Grammer'. Check your facts before starting a flame war!

david.bell
david.bell

Obviously you didn't get the joke Dr Solar made in that statement.

bgiroux
bgiroux

Sorry, oeflynn. Outshined is proper, at least in the US.

Snak
Snak

'Outshined' just sounds wrong to me. I know Americans are supposed to speak 'English', but it isn't really is it? 'Outshined' is a common 5-year-old's mistake here in England, quickly corrected. Of course language evolves and no matter how we may not like it, it does. Interestingly, type 'outshined' into this 'Body of reply' text area and it is automatically underlined as incorrect. The options (on a right click) do not include 'outshone' (which, for me in my obvious dotage will remain correct), but several other 'wrong' options.

Snak
Snak

Nor will I. 'English' is nearly spoken in many countries across the globe, and this is a good thing. A common language is sort of important, really. As for losing the Empire; that was a good thing too. Whilst I'll campaign for a single world government, abolishing all national boundaries, 'Empire' is not the way to do it. (Before rampant patriotism gets on its high horse, let me add that a One World government does not mean you can't keep your culture :o) )

j_eyon
j_eyon

"English" in "the English language" is not a brand of ownership. The influence of the US over the English language overwhelmed that of Britain when the US population exceeded that of Britain. And Brits have been disheartened ever since -- first they lose the language -- then the Empire...

computerblue
computerblue

oeflynn, i think you intended to write "grammar" not "gammar". at least in the US, we spell it that way.