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James Bond and Moonraker is the novelisation of the film 1979 film Moonraker, written by Christopher Wood. It is notable for being one of two James Bond film novelisations that effectively shares its title with an Ian Fleming novel -- in this case, Moonraker (the other novelisation with this distinction is James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me, also by Wood). The novel was commissioned despite the film - unlike its predecessor - containing some elements of Fleming's original book, primarily the name of the villain, Hugo Drax. This would be the last novelisation of a Bond film until John Gardner adapted Licence to Kill a decade later, despite A View to a Kill containing few elements of Fleming's original writings.


A very regrettable incident has occurred. A US MOONRAKER space shuttle, on loan to the British, has disappeared -- apparently into thin air. Who has the spacecraft? The Russians? Hugo Drax, multi-millionaire supporter of the NASA space programme, thinks so. But Commander James Bond knows better.

Aided by the beautiful -- and efficient -- Dr Holly Goodhead, 007 embarks on his most dangerous mission yet. Objective: to prevent one of the most insane acts of human destruction ever contemplated. Destination: outer space. The stakes are high. Astronomical even. But only Bond could take the rough so smoothly. Even when he's out of this world...

Differences to the film

Unlike Christopher Wood's previous novelisation, James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me, which differed quite substantially from the film on which it is based — including a marked reduction in the more over-the-top elements of the story, an increase in violence, the reintroduction of SMERSH and the apparent death of JawsJames Bond and Moonraker is more of a straight adaptation of the respective film's screenplay. However, there are still several differences, particularly during the last act aboard Drax's space station.

Differences include:

  • In the film, the hijackers aboard the Moonraker are simply stowed away in the crew berths. In the novel, they are hidden inside storage lockers and have to cut their way out using a small cutting torch. They also wear breathing apparatus, implying the shuttle is not pressurised during the flight.
  • The novel reveals the crew aboard the plane that Bond is thrown out of are posing as MI6 personnel. Jaws is also absent — the man who pushed Bond out is never identified.
  • During their first briefing, Bond and M briefly discuss the events of the previous novelisation. Q also reveals that the shuttle was being loaned to the UK so that Q Branch could install a top-secret anti-missile system. After this, the briefing moves to the Operations Room, and it is here that they view the photographs of the crash site and Bond receives the wrist dart gun.
  • The character of Corinne Dufour is replaced in the novel by an American named Trudi Parker. She meets Bond at the airport and guides him around customs — explaining that "when you're a guest of Mr. Drax", such formalities are not necessary. In the film, Corinne flies Bond to Drax's estate in a regular helicopter, but in the book the aircraft is described as an advanced prototype gyrodyne built by his company.
  • The Moonraker astronaut trainees outside Drax's mansion wear black, not white as in the film.
  • Upon arriving at the mansion, Bond is shown to his bedroom. A quick search reveals a hidden microphone in the headboard of his bed.
  • Much like Stromberg in the previous novelisation, Hugo Drax looks nothing like his movie portrayal and instead bears the appearance of the literary character as described by Fleming — red hair and a bushy red moustache, with half of his face badly scarred. In a further nod to Fleming's character, Bond wonders if the extensive scaring is the result of wounds suffered during World War II.
  • During their first meeting, Drax emphatically suggests the Russians may have stolen the Moonraker.
  • Much like Drax, Chang looks nothing like the character in the film. In fact, his description is remarkably similar to Fleming's description of Oddjob in the novel Goldfinger; most obviously, Wood states "the man's upper arms [are] the size of an ordinary man's thighs", which is almost verbatim how Fleming described Oddjob.
  • During his tour of the Moonraker facilities, Bond also sees a flight simulator and a gymnasium, and notices that he is being watched by Chang. Dr. Goodhead then takes Bond to a lab where she gives him an eye test; he mocks her by reading the tiny print at the bottom of the eye chart that states where it was printed.
  • When Bond is pressing Trudi for information, she reveals that there was a secret project at the Moonraker facility that was recently moved elsewhere, and that after the move, the lab was mysteriously burnt down.
  • The entire sequence where Bond shoots game with Drax and then Drax sets his dogs on his traitorous assistant is removed from the novel. Instead, the story cuts directly from Bond investigating Drax's safe to Venice. Trudi's death is not revealed until Holly tells Bond about it later, although the circumstances she describes match the events of Corinne's demise in the film.
  • The assassin in the coffin kills Bond's gondolier with a sub-machine gun, not a knife as in the film.
  • The boat chase around Venice is substantially different and much shorter — Bond gets cornered in a dead end almost immediately after activating the engine in his gondola and kills the driver of the pursuing funeral barge with his PPK (notably, Bond never once draws his PPK in the film). He then leaps from his gondola onto land before the out-of-control barge crashes into the dead end and explodes. Thus the entire sequence where the gondola transforms into a hovercraft and enters St. Mark's Square is missing.
  • Bond's confrontation with Chang in the clock tower contains several differences from the film — to begin with, Bond attempts to shoot Chang with his wrist dart, but misses. Towards the end of the fight, Chang's hand becomes caught in some of the clock's cogs and is crushed between them, maiming him or the remainder of the confrontation. Finally, after Bond throws him through the clock face, Chang lands on a restaurant table in the square below, not a piano (this is possibly to differentiate the scene from Wood's previous novelisation, in which Sandor falls onto a piano when Bond drops him from Felicca's apartment).
  • As well as the gadgets seen in the film, Holly additionally has a pair of dart-firing spectacles, a compact containing a concealed blade, explosives and a detonator hidden within a tube of lipstick and a Zippo lighter filled with mace.
  • After discovering Holly is CIA, Bond briefly mentions Felix Leiter.
  • When Bond returns to the lab in Venice with M and Fredrick Gray, even the door has been changed; the electronic keypad no longer works and the door now has a regular handle to open it. The subsequent conversation with Drax within the room is also longer, with M asking Drax about the laboratory and Bond inquiring about Trudi's death. Drax in turn obliquely mentions Bond's killing of Chang.
  • Manuela pursues Bond around Rio in a Ferrari. In the film, she simply pulls over after taking her photographs, but in the novel the chase continues until Bond discretely bails out of his chauffeur-driven car and boards a passing tram.
  • When he later encounters Manuela again in his hotel room, she is swimming half-naked in his private pool.
  • As with most of the action scenes, the cable car fight differs from the film — when the gondola stops, Bond sees Jaws in the lower station through a pair of binoculars Holly is carrying. When Jaws severs the cable, it drastically destabilises the gondola, causing it to tilt dangerously as it hangs from the remaining cable. As he approaches, Jaws fires a gas grenade into Bond's gondola, and as a result Bond fumbles and drops his PPK over the side. Finally, as Jaws fights Bond, Holly sprays him with her flame-throwing atomizer, and it is the blast of flame that causers him to tumble back through the hatch into the gondola.
  • Jaws' girlfriend Dolly is absent from the novel; the entire scene where he meets her after crashing through the cable car station is missing.
  • In the film, Holly distracts the goon in the back of the ambulance by flirting with him so that Bond can slip his bindings. The book's take on this scene is far darker, with the man instead attempting to rape the restrained Holly, despite her protestations.
  • The allusions to The Magnificent Seven are driven home when Miss Moneypenny greets Bond with, "If it isn't the Magnificent 007."
  • The laser weapons in the book are simple, tubular devices similar in appearance to regular flashlights, as opposed to their more elaborate albeit conventional laser gun look in the film.
  • Bond spends several days travelling up river into the Amazon, sleeping on his speedboat overnight.
  • Jaws is not present during the boat chase, and the third boat full of henchmen capsizes before it reaches the waterfall, pitching its occupants into the water.
  • After Bond goes over the falls in the hang glider, there is a new action sequence in which he is forced to fly through the canyon beyond, unable to get enough lift to climb above the cliffs on either side. Eventually he runs out of height and pitches into the water, but manages to climb onto a small beach. The water then starts rising, and he has to scale some cliffs nearby to escape being swept away. It is here that he sees the beautiful woman, and follows her through a cave that eventually leads back to the jungle.
  • The chamber in which Bond is attacked by the snake is made largely of glass, with the jungle outside visible through the translucent walls.
  • Bond's back is badly burnt by the heat as he flees the shuttle launch through the exhaust vent.
  • On their way to the jamming system aboard Drax's space station, Bond and Holly pass a zero-gravity gymnasium, as well as a room where an astronaut couple are making love in zero-gravity.
  • After this, a series of new scenes are added as Bond and Holly's attempts to reach the jamming system are repeatedly blocked. First, they encounter Jaws in a corridor; although he does not see them, he blocks their path, forcing them to enter the station's galley and hide amongst the crowd. In order to blend in, they order food using the buttons in front of them, and watch as it is prepared by automated systems, including lasers that carve meat and a conveyor that delivers it to their seats. After their meal, they leave, only to again find themselves cornered by Jaws in the corridors. This time they take refuge in a bunk room; as they wait, a couple enters the bunk next to them and, behind a privacy screen, begin to make love. Jaws enters, apparently watching their lovemaking through the screen. When they have finished he leaves, and Bond and Holly are finally able to sneak out and make it to the jamming system.
  • Instead of dismantling it, Holly destroys the jamming system with a laser.
  • Another new scene features a man named Gregor Sverdlov, a Soviet radar operator at a listening station in Siberia, who notices the now-revealed station on his screens and notifies his superiors.
  • In the film, Colonel Scott is the leader of the American Space Marines. In the novel, Scott is a General, and never actually leaves Earth.
  • Whereas the Russians leave the investigation of the unidentified station to the Americans in the film, the novel has them divert a satellite to investigate. Drax has it destroyed with the station's defensive laser.
  • While extolling the virtues of his plan to a captive Bond and Holly, Drax rants about his motives, explaining that he cares little for the billions who will die, but cannot stand by and allow the wealth of art and history on Earth to be destroyed by the inevitable wars he fears will be brought about by overpopulation and resource depletion.
  • Jaws' rampage when he turns on Drax's men is more violent in the book; for instance, he slams the heads of two men together with enough force to crush their skulls, and later picks up a computer console and uses it to press three men to death against a bulkhead.
  • Some of the Drax astronauts who engage in the laser battle outside the station drive small, one-man space vehicles armed with lasers.
  • As the final battle begins, Bond manages to sabotage the launching system for the nerve gas globes (it is mentioned to be put out of action in the film, but this is never actually shown happening). He then realises the station's defensive laser is still operational and able to destroy the American shuttle; rather than try to reach it by fighting his way through the station, Bond dons a spacesuit and heads outside. While manoeuvring towards the laser, the station's rotation is restarted and Bond is forced to dodge the spinning structure. Eventually, he manages to climb up to the laser and opens its exterior hatch, venting the crew inside to space. Finally, he renters the station through the turret.
  • Jaws never speaks in the novel, and remains true to Wood's description of him in the previous novelisation as being mute.
  • While trying to release Moonraker 5, Bond goes to try and free the docking mechanism himself. He is joined by Jaws, who uses his teeth to try and prise apart the twisted metal. When the shuttle still refuses to disconnect, Jaws takes control of one of the gun carts. A desperate female astronaut climbs in with him (perhaps the only reference in the book to Holly) before he uses the small vehicle to push the space shuttle free. With the shuttle away, Jaws the girl escape in the small vehicle, although whether they are likely to survive the return to Earth is left more ambiguous than in the movie.
  • The station breaks up in Earth's atmosphere, as opposed to exploding in the film.
  • Bond has to manually aim the laser to destroy all three globes in the book; in the film, the shuttle's laser automatically targets the first two globes, and it's only when this system breaks due to the heat of reentry that Bond has to take over manually. He also aims the weapon using two rotating knobs on the shuttle's console, rather than the joystick in the film.
  • The final scene at Houston is slightly expanded, and Gray's motivation for being there is revealed to be because he considers it a great opportunity for his career, having designs on replacing the ailing Prime Minister; thus his embarrassment at finding Bond and Holly making love on the shuttle carries additional meaning. Unlike the film, M and Q are not present.


The screenplay of Moonraker differed enough from Ian Fleming's original novel that EON Productions and Glidrose Publications authorized the film's screenwriter, Christopher Wood to write his second novelisation based upon the film. (Wood's first, James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me, was based upon a script written by himself and Richard Maibaum for the previous film The Spy Who Loved Me and was released in 1977.)

With James Bond, the Spy Who Loved Me there were many differences with the film including the villain's name, the re-emergence of the Soviet spy agency SMERSH and the possible death of Stromberg's henchman, Jaws; however, in James Bond and Moonraker Wood writes a straight novelisation of the screenplay most likely due to the fact that he wrote the script completely, while The Spy Who Loved Me went through multiple drafts even before Wood was brought in. One noticeable difference between the novelisation and the screenplay for Moonraker, is that Jaws does not gain a girlfriend and stays true to Wood's description as being a mute.

Glidrose Productions chose not to commission novelisations of the next few Bond films; the next film to be novelised would be Licence to Kill 10 years later.