FOR decades he has swaggered through life, seducing women, chain smoking and saving the world, untroubled by the sensitivities of the modern era.
In a new novel, however, James Bond gets a dose of political correctness, author Anthony Horowitz has explained, as he revealed the tricks he used to drag the spy, reluctantly, into the 21st century.
In the book, Trigger Mortis, Horowitz said he had worked carefully to preserve Ian Fleming's original character and to ensure his Fifties attitudes remained intact.
But he has introduced a cast of new characters and "twists" to point out the error of 007's ways. These include references to the cancer risk of his smoking habit, female characters who give him a run for his money, and an "outspoken" gay friend who chides Bond for his homophobic attitudes.
Horowitz, who has been given access to Fleming's own notes to research the latest instalment, said he had inserted "little twists" to make the story work for modern readers.
"The book is true to the character and keeps him as fans would want him, which is as the original hard-bitten guy," he said. "But then it always challenges and nudges and says 'well wait a minute'."
The surprises for fans include the
return of Pussy Galore, who has moved in with Bond in London and spends the mornings squabbling with him over domestic issues.
It is the first time a Bond storyline has followed the fate of a "Bond Girl", beyond the spy's romantic conquest and inevitable desertion.
Trigger Mortis, released yesterday, finds the couple cohabiting in 1957 Chelsea and irritating one another over their boiled eggs, with "an uneasy silence full of dark thoughts and words unsaid".
On the challenges of making Bond work for modern readers, Horowitz said he had realised there was an issue with the original plot, in which Pussy Galore is a lesbian who is overcome with lust for Bond.
"One of the challenges of writing the book was that attitude that a heterosexual man can change a woman's life and make her go weak at the knees," he told radio station RTE. "That's something that would be challenged, I think, in the 21st century.
"So it's, 'how do you square that circle? How do you remain true to the original creation and concept and yet at the same time not offend people in the 21st century?' If you read Trigger Mortis, you'll see actually there is a little twist to the tale in that particular story which I think sort of pays him off for his slightly patronising attitude."
Horowitz said readers must remember that Fleming's novels were "of their time", and added: "I think the answer is that in the book I remain true to every one of Bond's things.
"He does smoke cigarettes, he smokes many, many cigarettes. But then what I do is I nudge him with a little reference to a newspaper article he happens to glance at, which just reminds him that these things will give him cancer.
"With women, he has this sort of patronising carnal attitude with them which is absolutely accurate to the Bond of the books. But then by creating very strong women he is given quite a run for his money and his attitudes are challenged.
"I also gave him a very outspoken gay friend, who chides him and says, 'Come on Bond, you're living in the 20th century now not the Middle Ages'."
Horowitz, the creator of The House of Silk, Moriarty and the Alex Rider children's series, was awarded four stars for Trigger Mortis by Daily Telegraph reviewer Jake Kerridge, who said he "captured the spirit of Fleming more successfully" than any other author.