With the Cold War an increasingly distant memory, the espionage fiction that was one of its only redeeming aspects reads more like alternate history SF than it does illustrating how uncomfortably close we were to nuclear obliteration for five decades. Rather than—as many of the leading authors of espionage fiction feared—rendering the genre obsolete, if anything, it’s all a lot more fun now. Thus, the work of John le Carré can be properly appreciated for how gorgeously written and intelligently conceived it is, without the terror of the actual Cold War hanging over the reader. Many fans champion Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy as his apex. The new movie adaptation of that book, opening December 9th in New York and Los Angeles and throughout the United States in early January, may not have any bearing on the novel’s supremacy among the le Carré canon, but one thing is certain: it’s a really good movie.