Prolific British writer and comedian Adams tragically passed away in 2001 at he age of 49, leaving behind five immensely popular Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books (and a variety of other works in different media) that have kept readers laughing for many years.
However, on 17 September 2008, publisher Penguin announced it would publish a new book in the series, authorised by Adams’ widow Jane Belson and written by Colfer, author of the best-selling Artemis Fowl novels. The book, entitled “And Another Thing …” is scheduled to be published in October this year. But is it funny?
“If you read Hitchhiker to have a good laugh, maybe you’re going to be disappointed,” wrote Nicolas Botti, on his Douglas Adams fan site earlier this month. “I didn’t find it very funny. There are some good funny moments (mainly at the beginning) but Colfer’s ideas being less original than Douglas’, you are less surprised. And he has not the same grip on comic timing than Douglas had.”
The fact that Colfer was writing a sequel to the famous series has always been controversial, ever since it was first announced, with many fans seeing it as trampling over Adams’ grave.
“Sure … why not. Why bother letting a CLASSIC piece of work stand on it’s own merit when there are dollars to be made for retailers … what a joke. I hope these folks are haunted by Douglas Adams,” wrote one fan on the Sci Fi Wire website of US science fiction TV channel SyFy in March this year, when the cover to And Another Thing … was first published.
“Better called Eoin Colfer’s So Long, and Thanks for All the Cash. Next up: Slaughterhouse-Six; Catch-23; George Orwell’s 1985; and The Lord of the Rings 2: Pippin Longstocking. “
But other fans, especially those who have read some of Colfer’s other works, appear to believe that the book will be a hit and true to Adams’ memory, due to the Artemis Fowl author having his own brand of humour that will fit well in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Universe.
In the original press release when the new book was announced, Colfer said being given the chance to write the book, was like suddenly being offered the superpower of your choice. “For years I have been finishing this incredible story in my head and now I have the opportunity to do it in the real world. It is a gift from the gods. So, thank you Thor and Odin,” he said.
Then there is also the fact that Adams reportedly said before his death that he himself would like to continue writing in the HHGTTG universe: “I suspect at some point in the future I will write a sixth Hitchhiker book … I would love to finish Hitchhiker on a slightly more upbeat note. Five seems to be a wrong kind of number, six is a better kind of number.”
Science fiction and fantasy writers tend to write long series that sometimes are not finished when they meet their end tragically early. The classic example is, of course, Robert Jordan, who passed away without finishing his masterpiece series The Wheel of Time.
In the modern era, there is often much demand for the book “brands” that they started to continue on, especially if there are significant plot or character elements that are left unresolved, and thus, fans left unsatisfied.
However, as I have previously noted, to continue and try and “finish” a dead author’s work is a path trod with peril. In some cases, as would so far appear to be the case with The Wheel of Time (but only a few people can say this for certain just yet), another author can be sourced who can at least flesh out and give words to the final vision of the original author, and thus give their work and their fans some closure.
However, the danger lies in trying to go past the original author’s vision, as is believed to be the case with the new Dune books as published by the original author Frank Herbert’s son, Brian Herbert, and prolific science fiction author Kevin J. Anderson. Doing so risks alienating much of the original author’s fan base, even if the new books do succeed commercially, sometimes with a wider audience.
Where will the new Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Book sit? I would bet somewhere in between. As Botti writes:
“I don’t want to give the feeling that it is a bad book. It is not. But maybe I was expecting too much. And let’s keep in mind the fact that it is just the first half of the book with all the transitional bits that were needed (this book has been written in a way that you could read it without reading the other books first — there’s a resume of the previous book at the beginning — but I really, really hope that new readers will read the other books first, or at least afterwards). I don’t feel in anyway that it’s a shame, or an insult to Douglas Adams’ memory; it’s a nice fan fiction. Take it or leave it, but if you like Hitchhiker, give it a chance.”
- Towers of Midnight: Wheel of Time book 13 (269)
- Dune twitterers ridicule Kevin J. Anderson (61)
- Asimov estate authorises I, Robot sequels (61)
- New Hitchhiker’s Guide book “not very funny” (46)
- How good are the new Dune books? (42)
- Brent Weeks’ next book: Black Prism (30)
- Iain Banks’ Transition gets mixed reviews (27)
- Are science fiction/fantasy writers insane? (19)
- Next Wheel of Time book: Read chapter one (19)
- Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings: Review (19)
Popular topicsa dance with dragons a song of ice and fire australia brandon sanderson dune fantasy forever peace frank herbert george r. r. martin grrm guy gavriel kay haruki murakami iain m. banks janny wurts joe abercrombie joe haldeman karen miller kevin j. anderson kim stanley robinson mistborn neil gaiman neuromancer patrick rothfuss review robert jordan robin hobb science fiction stephanie meyer the fionavar tapestry the forever war the gathering storm the name of the wind the prodigal mage the summer tree the wheel of time the wise man's fear tor twilight twitter uk ursula k. le guin vampire video wheel of time william gibson
- Keeping the Door shuttered
- Patrick Rothfuss’ The Wise Man’s Fear: Review
- A Dance with Dragons is *really* complete
- Review: Iain M. Banks’ The Player of Games
- Guy Gavriel Kay’s Under Heaven: Review
- George R. R. Martin hates A Dance With Dragons delay too
- Early reviews of The Wise Man’s Fear are positive
- Review: Iain M. Banks’ Consider Phlebas
- Review: Hannu Rajaniemi’s The Quantum Thief
- Towers of Midnight: Review
- Peter V. Brett’s The Painted Man: Review
- Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings: Review
- The Left Hand of God: Review
- Robin Hobb’s Dragon Haven: Review
- Gardens of the Moon: Review