Now here's a find — the 1964 Ian Fleming novel "You Only Live Twice" done as a BBC radio play. The thriller is much different than and superior to the film. For one thing, it opens with James Bond cracking up.
Even in ill health in his last years, with his powers failing, Fleming was able to cook up a properly mythic plot turning on the Japanese penchant for suicide being exploited by the sadistic "Doctor Shatterhand" in his fatal paradise.
Always reaching for a surprise for his readers, Fleming had married Bond off to a countess at the end of the previous novel, "On Her Majesty's Secret Service." He opens this novel with the indomitable Bond facing a nervous breakdown because his archenemy Ernst Stavro Blofeld had murdered Tracy Bond within hours of their wedding. Suffering fits of emptiness and deep depression, Bond sits in the park and watches ants, waiting for his inevitable notice of termination by the British Secret Service.
And his chief M does yank Bond's double-oh number, but only to replace it with the code number 7777. M has one last-ditch, impossible mission for Bond. The secret agent will either end his life in Japan, or live twice...
Creator and creation merged frequently, and here again as this penultimate Bond novel became the last published during Fleming's lifetime.