Quantum of Solace: The Source

When the James Bond movie Quantum of Solace was coming to the cinema, Penguin Classics published Quantum of Solace: The Complete Short Stories by Ian Fleming. What is the book's connection with the movie? What do its short stories tell us about the film? And how did Ian Fleming come by this odd book title?




The most intriguing thing about the last James Bond movie Quantum of Solace was its title. Where did the title come from? What does it mean and what should it tell the viewer? The answer to the first 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 its content has something to do with the movie. It doesn't. Apart from the title, none of the short stories contained in the book bears any connection to the story line of the movie. This raises the question of the hen and the egg: Did the movie makers steal its title lacking inspiration, or did the story only find publication after the movie's title was getting known? It is as good as any marketing ploy to sell a book, one has to admit. 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. Any link of James Bond and Ian Fleming has become merely incidental decades ago.


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 die-hard 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 given is not equal to zero.


How does this impact on the movie? It doesn't. Movie and short story have absolutely nothing in common. But you probably wanted to know where the movie title came from; now you know.