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March 2, 2013 4:28 PM   Subscribe

Bomber, by Len Deighton - the first novel ever written on a word processor.
posted by Artw (18 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
<crabby pedantry>Really, Slate? A Heinkel III?</crabby pedantry>
posted by McCoy Pauley at 4:34 PM on March 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


That is quite cool.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:39 PM on March 2, 2013


I can heartily recommend not only The Ipcress File but also Len Deighton's other spy novel trilogy, Berlin Game, Mexico Set, and London Match. Haven't read Bomber yet, but I suppose remedying that will be the subject of my next trip to the bookstore.
posted by AdamCSnider at 4:47 PM on March 2, 2013


Bomber was a great book. The stuff from the POV of the German was particularly good.
posted by marxchivist at 4:58 PM on March 2, 2013


Really, Slate? A Heinkel III?

Maybe for authenticity they wrote the article on a period typewriter that didn't have a 1 key, and they didn't know that you were supposed to use a lowercase L and used a capital I instead.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:13 PM on March 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


It certainly inspired one of Motorhead's best songs
posted by Renoroc at 5:25 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Interesting stuff. Len Deighton writes some gripping novels. I always though SS-GB was a great (and stark) vision of what the UK would be like in the aftermath of a German invasion and victory.
posted by arcticseal at 5:32 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


IBM commissioned a short promotional film to sell the MTST. among others. It was commissioned in 1967 from Jim Henson. With a score by Raymond Scott. How good could that be? This good.
posted by Devonian at 5:39 PM on March 2, 2013 [11 favorites]


I mean't POV of the German civilians. My kingdom for a 60 minute edit window!
posted by marxchivist at 6:10 PM on March 2, 2013


the first 2 Samson series (Game, Set, Match; Hook, Line, Sinker) are some of the best insight into post-war that I've ever seen. City of Gold is pure entertainment and also more than a little insight. Winter is absolutely poignant. amazing author.

but I'd no idea about the connection to early IBM, fascinating, thank you.
posted by dorian at 6:15 PM on March 2, 2013


Devonian, that was fantastic. (And, the old guy was the most realistic muppet I've ever seen)
posted by bashos_frog at 6:46 PM on March 2, 2013


My dad's non-profit ended up, ca. 1980, with a sloughed-off-from-a-bank Selectric with a mag card reader attached. I think each mag sheet, about the size of a #10 envelope, held about ten pages of text.

At the time I thought it was about the coolest thing I'd ever seen.
posted by dhartung at 11:04 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was introduced to Deighton via a comment by Charles Stross in one of his Laundry books. I figured if Stross likes him...

He was right. I've read the entire Samson/Winter series and I'm collecting the others.

http://www.wordnik.com/words/Deighton
posted by andreap at 7:12 AM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I absolutely love Len Deighton's books. Not just the clever plots but the great characters and subplots in the Samson series, not to mention the humor. Among the funniest things in those books are his descriptions of Bernard Samson's immediate boss, Dicky Cruyer, who is one of the most narcissistic, entitled, lazy characters I've ever encountered in a novel, and Bernie's interactions with him. I heard Tarantino was going to bring "Game, Set, Match" to the big screen and I have mixed feelings about that. It would be interesting to see it as a film and yet Tarantino tends to be so bombastic that I fear he may not do those subtle characters justice.

Incidentally, I was shocked the first time I heard Deighton's heavy Cockney accent. I always sort of pictured him as Bernie Samson (since he writes those books in the first person). You know, not upper crust but not from a working class, Cockney background either.
posted by Devils Slide at 12:58 PM on March 3, 2013


The Harry Palmer novels are fantastic, and Funeral in Berlin is one of the best movies ever made about cold-war espionage. That is all.
posted by Hogshead at 2:37 PM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


This post made me search for some Len Deighton interviews, and I found one where he addresses some of the difficulties of bringing the trilogy to the screen.

Question: "Game, Set & Match was transmitted as a TV mini-series by ITV in 1988 [available on YouTube] and directed by Ken Grieve and Patrick Lau and starring Ian Holm as Bernard Samson. What, looking back, were your reasons for withholding broadcast repeat rights for the series and your perspective on the production and casting."

Len Deighton: "Putting together thirteen hours of television with a large number of characters in various locations at home and abroad is a titanic task. Thirteen hours! There was a generous budget, experienced technicians and no shortage of talent. The actors and actresses were, without exception, top-notch professionals. But while the very good script was being written, someone somewhere was inflicting a brutal wound upon the whole project. The casting was bizarre; the tall became short, the short became tall, the angry became weary, the brunettes became blond, the fat became thin, the Americans became English, the clean-shaven wore beards and those with spectacles shed them.

Most of the plot changes were well-considered, and smoothly incorporated but I was sorry to see Bernard’s caustic commentary on the failings of everyone around him had been minimized. Sustaining narrative energy over thirteen hours of screen time inevitably brought difficulties. The Mexican sequences - animated and colorful – brought from the actors their brilliant best. Some of the Berlin locations were very impressive and the logistics needed for the big scenes with lots of German extras, police vehicles and whole streets of traffic were awesome. But maybe the production team didn’t love the gritty, ugly and brooding Berlin that had drawn me back time and time again. On the other hand, maybe that was my infatuation. ‘The sky was blue and Berlin was heaven,’ I say to end the final book, and for me it was.

The Granada TV series was a massive undertaking. It was successful in Britain and America and many other territories. But it was a different interpretation of Bernard Samson’s Game Set and Match. With the greater part of Bernard’s story still to be written, I could not reconcile and rewrite the characters to fall into line with this alternative Bernard, and his associates. It was a world of images which contradicted much of the work I had done, the people I had described and the story I planned."

Question: "Thinking beyond this, have you ever been approached about other adaptions of the series? Quentin Tarantino has publicly expressed an interesting in re-filming the first three novels, for instance. Or do you think - given its complex narrative structure, reliance on the narrator's inner thoughts to progress the story and number of key characters - a story on such a scale is perhaps un-filmable?"

Deighton: "I always advise writers to choose a publisher who is enthusiastic and the same goes for movie producers. It is drive and confidence in the material that brings satisfactory results. Written stories are different to filmed ones, very, very different, and we have to accept that. You part with the rights and you trust the production people to do a good job. Harry Saltzman and all concerned departed from the books but did a good job.

Writing books is a wonderful occupation because the author takes the reader by the hand and confides secret thoughts, hopes and fears to that reader. Film can’t do that; there isn’t enough time. Film is a very slow way to tell a story. ‘Voice over’ can help sometimes but I know from writing screenplays, and producing films, that you can’t hope to get more than one quarter of the average length book onto the screen and some choice elements go. So the most demanding task of the screenplay writer is dumping three quarters of a book into the trash can. A TV series is different and using a slower pace and more time a writer can squeeze more from a story. But it is a difficult task and even with 13 long episodes there was not room for everything described in three books."

posted by Devils Slide at 4:07 PM on March 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Paraphrase from memory of the paperback jacket blurb: "A War Story usually ends with the victor and the vanquished. In this story, there are merely the dead, and those who remain alive..."

Len Deighton is a pretty good writer, but 'Bomber' is a masterpiece. It's intense, and a classic of 20th century literature, in my view. If the word-processor history brings more attention to it, then it's deserved.
posted by ovvl at 4:28 PM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Haven't read any Deighton since Ipcress File and Funeral in Berlin.
Good stuff. Must check him out at the library again.

Looked him up on Wikipedia:

Deighton also published a series of cookery books and wrote and drew a weekly strip cartoon-style illustrated cooking guide in London's The Observer newspaper – Len Deighton's Cookstrip.

How strange!

Deighton is forever linked in my mind with Trevanian--Eiger Sanction, Loo Sanction. Two of my favorite authors 'back in the day'.
posted by BlueHorse at 9:24 PM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


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