Quantum of Solace: The Complete Short Stories

Penguin Classics published Quantum of Solace: The Complete Short Stories by Ian Fleming. Does the book have any connection with the movie? And how did Fleming come by this odd title? The most intriguing thing about the last James Bond 007 movie Quantum of Solace was its title. What does it really mean? The answer to that question lies within a short story Ian Fleming wrote in 1960. It is contained in the Penguin Classics Quantum of Solace: The Complete James Bond Short Stories by Ian Fleming. 

The title of the book fraudulently makes you believe that the content has anything to do with the movie. It doesn’t apart from the title, though, which raises the question of the hen and the egg; did the movie makers steal it lacking inspiration, or did the story only find publication as a marketing ploy to sell the book? The movie’s story line was brewed up during the make (like the scene with the jump on the bus, when inspiration failed and nobody could think of any other way to get Bond from one roof to the next); not even the author is the same and any link to Ian Fleming has become incidental.

As the little book has been put on the market as a limited edition for the staggering sum of £20 (about $30 or thereabouts), I would not tell anybody to buy it except maybe collectors of Ian Fleming and James Bond paraphernalia. As with most of these limited edition publications, don’t expect them to be worth the price you pay any time after you walked out of the shop, you will never get it back; they are just not collectible as an investment.

The short story of Quantum of Solace is only a James Bond story by default. Fleming used him as a prop to describe the second person in this lengthy dialogue, which is all that is happening in the story. The dialogue is about the relationship between two human beings, in this instance a married couple caught up in a situation where communication on all levels breaks down. This is the ground on which he formulates the law of Quantum of Solace, Amount of Comfort.

Meaning that if the communication between two human beings in a relationship breaks down, it can be taken up again at any point, as long as the amount of comfort is not equal to zero.

How does this impact on the movie? It doesn’t, not at all. Movie and short story share absolutely no connection. But you wanted to know where the title came from; now you do.

I don’t want to be as boring as the little story by Fleming. Let’s cut it short: The book in Penguin has nothing to do with the movie, so save the money. The story is not good enough for £20, so try to get a photocopy of it, if you really must have it. 

Further reading
James Bond: Behind the Movies
Roger Moore Biography
Heroes Lacking Definition