Back in the century into which I had been born, like number twenty, the art or craft--as the case may be--of espionage enjoyed a better public image than either the U.S. Marine Corps or the AMA. It was, I suppose, partly a romantic escape mechanism with respect to international tensions. It got out of hand, though, as anything must if it is to leave a mark upon its times. In the long history of popular heroes, from Renaissance princes through poor boys who live clean, work hard and marry the bosses' daughters, the man with the cyanide capsule for a tooth, the lovely traitoress for a mistress and the impossible mission where sex and violence are shorthand for love and death, this man came into his own in the seventh decade of the twentieth century and is indeed remembered with a certain measure of nostalgia-- like Christmas in Medieval England.

-- Roger Zelazny, Isle of the Dead