Sep 21st, 2010, 02:03 AM
This was the review I wrote of it shortly after reading it:
The storm had now definitely abated, and what thunder there was now grumbled over more distant hills,
like a man saying "and another thing" twenty minutes after admitting he's lost the argument.
- Douglas Adams
This is, as can be discerned from the cover, the sixth part of the three part Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, which stand as my favorite series of books of all time. Now, I didn't even know of the existence of this book until a few weeks ago. I was in line at Borders and I glanced at their "coming soon" section of their wall and under the one for books, was the cover of And Another Thing, which immediately drew my attention. Then I saw the little bit on the top that said Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, which I originally thought was just one of those " for the fans of..." adverts you'd see on a book cover. But then the words under that, which I was having a hard time understanding, finally hit me. PART SIX OF THREE. THE SIXTH HITCHHIKER'S BOOK. SOMEONE HAS WRITTEN THE SIXTH BOOK THAT DOUGLAS HIMSELF NEVER GOT AROUND TO WRITING (cause of his notorious laziness).
Post-humous books are nothing new. One of my favorite books of the last few years was Variable Star, a posthumous work originally outlined by Robert A. Heinlein and written by the still-humous Spider Robinson. (If you're a Heinlein fan, you must read Variable Star).
And Another Thing is different though. It would appear that this is a completely new work by a different author who was asked to write it by Douglas' widow, Jane Belson. But after reading some things about this new author, Eoin Colfer, whose writing is by all accounts heavily influenced by Douglas Adams, I warmed up to the idea of the sixth novel and eagerly awaited its release. I bought it on Tuesday and finished it at around 3am last night. My quick review is:
I love it.
As a fan who has read every previous Hitchhiker's novel numerous times, I never accepted that Mostly Harmless's bleak depressing ending was the end for these characters. Colfer basically pretends that the last few pages of Mostly Harmless never happened (or was just a hallucination created by noxious fumes) and finds an ingenious (or should I say, improbable) way to get Arthur, Ford, Trillian and Random off of the planet, just before the Vogons destroy it again. Of course Zaphod is involved and an minor character from the previous books becomes a major character here (won't say who it is, though I expect him to land any second now to insult me). Then there are Norse Gods, a planet bought by some humans, Cthulhu being verbally bitchslapped, a Cheese god, a Vogon who has evolved and Arthur finally finds what he's been searching many parallel universes for (and then gets taken away from him again).
Colfer's writing style is very reminiscent of Douglas Adams (obviously), but there are subtle differences that keeps this from feeling like a blasphemous parody. If there's one thing that I think he should had done better with were the footnotes. Unlike in the other books, they aren't on the bottom of a given page (which allowed you to read them when you felt like it), instead they come right after whatever thing they are detailing, right in the middle of the text. Colfer tried too hard with this, coming up with zany and wacky stories that just feel like they are just distracting from the subject at hand.
Despite that sometimes annoying thing regarding the footnotes, as a Hitchhiker's fan I really came away with this with a sense of satisfaction. Douglas Adams' beloved characters were treated with great care and respect, and it was a joy to be given the chance to re-visit the Hitchhiker's universe.
I definitely hope that Colfer doesn't stop here (Arthur deserves a happy ending dammit).