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We read the book about technology in the world by James B…

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We read the book about technology in the world by James B…

No matter how much we love, admire or hate the James Bond universe, Ian Fleming’s mythical 007 attracts us for at least two reasons.

Despite being male chauvinist, narcissistic, violent, mildly alcoholic (more in the novels than in the films, the word of those who have read one and seen the other), ultra-nationalist, etc., many men have dreamed of being Bond.

But a second and more universal feeling grips anyone who has had anything to do with books and films of the world‘s most famous secret agent. At least once we have all wondered how plausible the amazing technical-scientific inventions that punctuate the adventures of James Bond are. How much, for example, the weapons used by 007 or by his current enemy are really assembleable.

The problem of identification with Bond can perhaps be solved by a good psychologist. While when asked about the likelihood of the inventions in the events of the British secret agent he tries to answer Kathryn Harkup. She that she wrote Science, death and technology in the world of James Bondreleased in Italy by Codice Edizioni (July 2023, translation by Davide Fassio).

The author

Crucial to introduce the author, Kathryn Harkup. Which is a chemist by training, a writer and scientific communication.

His skills are fully shown along the 320 pages of the volume. In which, not without a subtle irony quite similar to that of the character examined here, Harkup analyzes a large number of situations in which – precisely – science and technology penetrate the James Bond universe.

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Watch here “Agent 007: License to Kill” with Prime Video

And she does it with the precision not only of a professional but also, we imagine, of a lover of the subject matter.

Bond, Fleming and current events

We said, jokingly but not too much, that many men have dreamed of being 007.

So it was for the author himself, Ian Fleming, who invented an irresistible character for women, of extraordinary intelligence, quickness and strength, capable of emerging unscathed from almost any situation. An impossible man who does impossible things, in short. This leads, the author explains, to “plot holes so big that the Stromberg supertanker would pass through them” (p. 10).

Even technology in James Bond often generates such bizarre inventions as to border on involuntary comedy. However there are perhaps fortuitous cases of coincidence between 007 films and current events. It’s not The man with the golden gun there is already talk of solar energy as a solution to the energy crisis, No time to die (which describes the spread of a lethal pathogen) has had distribution delays due to Covid.

Science and technology in James Bond

Beyond the exaggerations on the one hand and adherence to current events on the other, Science, death and technology in the world of James Bond investigates precisely the degree of plausibility of what happens in 007 books and films.

The author does it with almost maniacal precision. When she, for example, speaks of a lethal centipede hidden in Bond’s bed in Licence to killinforms us of the fact that “it is true that the bite of certain specimens can be quite painful, but there is only one confirmed case of death” (p. 97).

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Let’s see two other situations analyzed by Kathryn Harkup.

The poisonous gases

In Operation Thunder a character dies instantly due to an undefined poisonous gas.

E the author takes three thick pages to tell us how you can spray a gas to kill someone without risking being a victim yourself. With a lot of citation of episodes that really happened, such as that of the killing (on February 13, 2017) of Kim Jong-nam, half-brother of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The depressurization

Anyone who has seen Goldfinger mission he may have wondered if the scene in which Goldfinger shoots a window and moments later “is squeezed out of the car like toothpaste out of a tube” (p. 243) could really happen.

Well, reading Science, death and technology in the world of James Bond we discover that this is not only probable, but also already happened. It was 1988, a Honolulu-bound airliner lost a section of the first-class cabin and a flight attendant was sucked out.

In short: the idea of ​​dealing with a universe as deliberately hyper-realistic as that of James Bond, analyzing it from the point of view of technology and science, creates a very pleasant paradox for aficionados of the British secret agent’s exploits.

And show how, even if a certain taste for exaggeration has permeated the 007 saga, what happens to the characters is often closer to reality than one suspects.

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