All posts by joshua.ryall12

Josh studies Creative Writing and Publishing at Bath Spa University and writes for Also has an uncanny ability for identifying flags of the world.

Mapping James Bond: Commentary

In his account of James Bond’s cultural impact, Jeremy black writes, “Like his wife’s friend Evelyn Waugh, the author of three travel books, and his own older brother Robert, [Ian] Fleming could have been a successful travel writer.”[1] Fleming drew on his background as a naval intelligence officer, then Foreign Manager for a newspaper group, to feature settings from across the world in his novels. Though Diamonds Are Forever received mixed reviews upon publication in 1956, chiefly for a “…loose-jointed and weakly resolved”[2] narrative, Fleming was praised for his “…fine eye for places”.[3]

Geography plays a key role in Diamonds­ Are Forever. A plot revolving around a diamond smuggling pipeline was the primary justification for a map-based adaptation of the text, though the fact that the text was the first of several of Fleming’s to be adapted as an internationally syndicated comic strip[4] and later a film starring Sean Connery in the lead role[5] initially drew my attention to the idea.

It was my intention when creating to explore the contemporary geopolitics in Diamonds Are Forever through the physical geography Bond traverses. As Franco Moretti notes, ‘quantitative data are useful because they are independent of interpretation; then, that they are interesting because they demand an interpretation’.[6] Plotting the raw data from Bond’s travels – a rendezvous point ‘[in] French Guinea but only about ten miles north of the northernmost tip of Liberia and five miles east of the frontier of Sierra Leone’[7], for instance – on a map, consequently bringing raw data to life in a visual and interactive format, is designed to provide a companion to the text which enables readers to appreciate the context of declining British Imperial power by seeing the locations Bond travels to.

Fleming was born at a time when the British Empire was at the height of its powers, but, according to William Cook, ‘Bond was born just as its power began to wane’.[8] As readers jump from place to place –either by hyperlinks on a mapbox visualisation, or through a chapter-by-chapter analysis in the form of separate WordPress posts – I hope that my approach to adapting Diamonds Are Forever will create a mode of exploring the text which ‘entails changes both in the story and even in the importance of story itself’[9], empowering readers with a new frame of reference which will allow them to read Diamonds Are Forever not only as an entertaining thriller but also an important cultural artefact of Imperial Britain.



[1] Black, Jeremy The Politics of James Bond: From Fleming’s Novels to the Big Screen. Nebraska: Bison, 2005, p. 25.
[2] Boucher, Anthony ‘Report on Criminals at Large’. The New York Times Book Review, 28 October 1956, p. 263.
[3] Symons, Julian ‘Contemporary Pictures’. The Times Literary Supplement, 27 April 1956, p. 251.
[4] Gammidge, Henry and McLusky, John ‘Diamonds Are Forever’. Daily Express, 12 April 1956.
[5] Diamonds Are Forever. Film. Directed by Guy Hamilton. London: Eon Productions, 1971.
[6] Moretti, Franco Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History. New York: Verso, 2007, p.91.
[7] Fleming, Ian Diamonds Are Forever. London: Jonathan Cape, 1956, p.3.
[8] Cook, William ‘Novel Man’. New Statesman, June 2004. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 07/05/2015]
[9] Hutcheon, Linda A Theory of Adaptation [Online]. London: Routledge, 2006. Available from: [Accessed 08/05/2015]