I’m a huge fan of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy (which, at last count, totaled five books) and I was very disappointed with the big budget movie version because it lacked what made the books so good and that was Adams’ wonderful dialog. I was saddened when he passed away a few years back which is unusual for me as there aren’t that many celebrities I get all that attached to, but I’ve always enjoyed his work and I was bummed to think we wouldn’t see any more from him.
Now word comes that his wife has tapped children’s book author Eoin Colfer to write a new Hitchhiker’s book:
Douglas Adams’s increasingly inaccurately named Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy is to be extended to six titles, after Adams’s widow Jane Belson sanctioned a project which will see children’s author Eoin Colfer taking up the story.
And Another Thing… by Colfer, whose involvement with the project was personally requested by Belson, will be published next October by Penguin. No information has yet emerged about the plot of the novel but Hitchhiker fans will be hoping for a resurrection of much-loved characters Arthur Dent, Trillian and Ford Prefect, who were all apparently blown to smithereens at the end of the fifth novel, Mostly Harmless.
I’m a picky fiction reader as it is, the number of authors who I’ll buy a book outright from can be counted on one hand, and while my heart sped up a bit at the thought of a new Hitchhiker’s book it settled right back down again at the thought that it wouldn’t be coming from Adams’ pen. I have no idea who Eoin Colfer is, he may very well be a perfectly wonderful author, he might actually produce something that’s a commercial success, but it’s still a derivative of books I have very fond memories of.
Which isn’t to say that it shouldn’t happen or that I feel they are cheapening what has come before. I’m not that kind of book snob. Just that I’m not as excited about it as I would be had it turned out to be a previously unpublished work by Adams’ himself. For his part Colfer is a big fan of the original series as well and is delighted to have a chance to finish the story, though he won’t be trying to write like Adams’ did:
Colfer, who has been a fan of Hitchhiker since his schooldays, said being given the opportunity to continue the series 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,” he added. “It is a gift from the gods. So, thank you Thor and Odin.”
The book will “make no claims for Eoin being Douglas”, according to Prior. “It’s not Eoin Colfer writing as Douglas Adams, as was the case with Sebastian Faulks,” she said, pointing to Penguin’s successful publication of Faulks’s new James Bond novel Devil May Care earlier this year. “It’s absolutely about him being himself – Eoin the author, but with the cast of Hitchhiker.”
Which is probably how it should be, though it makes me even less likely to pick up the new book. Perhaps I’ll try one of his original novels first to see how I like it before making any final conclusions. I’m buoyed by the fact that Colfer appears to be aware of people who are thinking along the same lines I am:
Colfer himself is currently grappling with nerves over the quality of his addition to Adams’ oeuvre. “I feel more pressure to perform now than I ever have with my own books, and that is why I am bloody determined that this will be the best thing I have ever written,” he said. “For the first time in decades I feel the uncertainty that I last felt in my teenage years. There are people out there that really want to like this book.”
I’m one of those people, but I know how finicky I am about the fiction I read. For now I guess I’ll be cautiously optimistic and hope for the best. It would be fun to visit with Aurthur, Ford, and Zaphod once more.