(…) â€œNothing can really prepare the reader for the experience of reading [The Hitchhikerâ€™s Guide to the Galaxy]. Imagine trying to describe to a five year-old how it feels to be struck by lightning, using words of one syllable or less. You can give it a go, but you know before you start that, no matter how hard you try, when that five year-old finally does get hit by lightning he is going to be totally flabbergasted, and will probably use a few one-syllable words of his own.â€
Colfer has not tried to ape Adamsâ€™s style, though, so while And Another Thingâ€¦ takes up the quirky characters â€“ reassembles them, in fact, after the Vogons left them in tiny bits at the end of Mostly Harmless â€“ and sends them on a journey that takes full advantage of the Infinite Improbability Drive, the twisting sentences that are quintessentially Adamsian are missing.
From Colfer’s blog on the challenge of extending Douglas Adams:
I first read the Hitchhikerâ€™s Guide in my late teens when Ted Roche, a libertine friend of mine, pressed it into my sweaty palms and hissed at me with fanatical intensity that I must read it or be ridiculed forever by the school literati. Relax, dude, I remember saying with eightiesâ€™ insouciance. Ridicule is nothing to be scared of.
But I was scared. Petrified in fact. If one was not a sportsman, the only other circle to belong to was the readersâ€™ circle. Places were limited and expulsions were swift and ruthless. If one had not read the livre du jour then one would not be offered book swapsies on Friday. If this happened, then a person might be forced to turn to his own siblings for conversation.
So, in this spirit of quasi-persecution I scuttled home after double chemistry and found a quiet bathroom where I could settle down and read what I was certain would be a thinly veiled version of Star Wars. Vogons destroy the Earth and a single hero survives. Please. I could almost write the rest myself.
Never have I been so happy to be proven wrong.
The Hitchhikerâ€™s Guide to the Galaxy was like nothing I had read before, or since for that matter. If you have read it then you know exactly what I am talking about. If you havenâ€™t then read it now, moron. The problem is the hyperbole puts people off. If itâ€™s so popular then it must be middle of the road, brimming with clichÃ©s and easily digested on the sands of Ibiza.
All false assumptions. The Guide is a slice of satirical genius. A marvel of quantum tomfoolery. A dissection of the absurdities of our human condition. A space odyssey that forces us to face ourselves and collapse in hysterics. Imagine if Messrs. Hawking and Fry were locked in a room with the entire cast of Monty Python and forced to write a book which would subsequently be edited by Pink Floyd, then the result would need a lot of work before it could be cut from Douglas Adamsâ€™ first draft.
For the next couple of decades I followed the exploits of Arthur Dent and his intergalactic troupe as they stumbled through space and time befuddled and bereft, drinking tea in the face of impossible odds and generally failing to find enlightenment at every turn. Itâ€™s like a quest for the holy grail where the grail is neither holy nor grail-shaped. I travelled with Arthur Dent as he lost his planet, learned to fly, found love, made sandwiches, got to know his daughter, found his planet again briefly and finally got blown to atoms.
Blown to atoms! Surely not, but no need to panic, Douglas Adams would surely reassemble Arthur somehow in the next book.
Please continue reading…
BTW, BBC has released a full cast dramatization of Mostly Harmless on iTunes, and on Audible.com (half price for members)
Colfer: I know Douglas said he was going to do a sixth book, so he had planned to bring it back. And thatâ€™s what Jane, Douglasâ€™s widow, wants. Itâ€™s already working! Sales apparently have gone back up already, and they released the radio show out to iTunes now. So Hitchhikerâ€™s has already been brought back a little bit by this, and Iâ€™m really hoping that when my book comes out people go back and check them all out. And theyâ€™re re-releasing the first one, I think, in a young adult edition. So weâ€™re hoping that my book will bring Artemis Fowl readers into Hitchhikerâ€™s, and that would be great.