Thursday, September 18, 2008

And Another Thing...

“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” has played an important role in my life. As a child I first saw the television series on PBS alongside other childhood favourites like “Doctor Who” and “Good Neighbours”, and this helped to set me onto a lifelong love of comedic science fiction, and British comedy in general.

It was not actually until high school, when I saw the series once again being played alongside other favourites like “Red Dwarf” and “Fawlty Towers” on that very same PBS station during a fundraising night (which was the only time they ever really played those shows by that point) that I decided I actually needed to read the books.

I, of course, fell in love with them. The “Trilogy” as a whole is probably my favourite book of all time, it’s certainly the stories I hav re-read and listened to the most times. I got the audiobooks (good to listen to while playing marathon sessions of “SimCity 2000” and “Doom”), the radio play, the script to the radio play, the series on VHS, the graphic novel, and the classic text adventure game. I am not being flip when I say this is my favourite story, as I would rate it even higher than other much-loved series like “The Dark Tower”.

As the years went by, the series never left me. I’ve listened to the audiobooks over and over again, and still to this day react to seeing the number “42”. When the movie came and went, I accumulated some of the toys, the movie itself on DVD, and even though I was not 100% happy with the film as Adams’ lack of presence was strongly felt, I still enjoyed it for what it was. I think it would have been better if Adams had still been around to work on it, but it also seemed different enough from every other version of the story (just as every version is at least a little different from every other version) that he still would have overall approved.

Suffice to say that I really like HHGttG, and it has played a role in shaping my tastes, sense of humour, and even the way I think. Knowing this, you can imagine the mixed emotions when I see this in my Twitterfeed this morning “Oh, christ.” from someone who I won’t name, since I do not know that they would want to be named here (I doubt they would care, but in any case….). The link led to a BBC News story about a sixth HHGttG book being written.

“How can that be?” you ask, “Didn’t Douglas Adams die like seven years ago?”

Yes, yes he did, and no, this is not some lost manuscript found in the back of his desk drawer. This is going to be a new novel supposedly titled “And Another Thing…”, and will be penned by author Eoin Colfer, author of the Artemis Fowl series of books. I’ve never read any Artemis Fowl books, so I have no idea of the skill of this author to reproduce something I’ve been in love with my whole life.

According to the article, Mr. Colfer was “terrified” about doing a new HHG book, and well he should be. This is like tampering with Star Wars, and even George Lucas himself couldn’t pick up Star Wars twenty years later without pissing off just about every fanboy out there. How can someone other than Adams himself expect to pull this off?

I am not going to attack Mr. Colfer though. While I may not have read any of his work, I know that it is popular which means there must be something to it. I will reserve judgment until there is something to judge.

Continuing the series will be no easy trick for Colfer, as Adams ended “Mostly Harmless” by neatly wrapping up all of the main characters save for Marvin and Zaphod, and Marvin was sorted at the end of “So Long, and Thanks For All The Fish”. It will be interesting to see how he writes his way out of the corner Adams painted him into.

“And Another Thing…” is due out next October, and I shall be waiting with both hope that Colfer is up to the job, and fear that he is not. I really want it to be good, as Arthur, Ford, Trillian, and Zaphod are like good friends, and it will nice to see them again.

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