* Prices may differ from that shown
This is a novel written by Eoin Colfer, an Irish author most well known for the 'Artemis Fowl' series of young adult fiction. He was commissioned to write a follow-up to the late Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker books, and 'And Another Thing...' was published in 2009.
The Hitchhiker books started as a sci-fi comedy radio series, and have been turned into television series and films. They follow the adventures of a very average human, Arthur Dent, when he is swept into a crazy world of intergalactic hitch-hiking by his friend (and alien) Ford Prefect. Prefect is a researcher and writer for the 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe', an extra-terrestrial guidebook for alien travellers. Dent's search for a cup of tea against the back-drop of alien lunacy is hilarious. The books were originally intended as a trilogy, but Adams gradually added to it with a fourth & fifth title. He unfortunately died at 49, in 2001.
First, I should admit I was prejudiced against this book from the start, seeing no reason for another author to take up Adams' mantle. I was intrigued and irritated by the decision to commission this novel and when I saw it in the library I picked it up (I wouldn't have paid to read it, such was my disapproval!)
It wasn't a totally bad book. I thought Colfer achieved a similar tone to Douglas Adams and it's nice to see those characters again.
But there were some glaring mis-steps as far as I was concerned: things like Arthur Dent, our dashing (ahem) hero, being voted most likely to do, well, anything in his yearbook. To me, yearbooks don't fit with late '70s/early '80s England which is where Arthur came from. He was disconnected from his time (of still thinking 'digital watches were pretty neat') and not in what I saw as an appropriate-to-the-story sci-fi way.
Colfer put in a lot of references to what had gone before in the series, but in a very clunky manner that seemed to say "Look, I read the books!" Throwaway characters and funny asides were dragged back and, worst of all to me, *explained* (like the collapsing Hrung disaster). Ghastly.
As part of the fun of the books, the Hitchhiker's Guide itself used to have a voice in the books, as foot-notes or asides. Here the sidenotes from the Hitchhiker's Guide were very badly formatted into this book, pasted straight into the text of the story. They were intrusive, not particularly funny and, worse again, not clever.
Where this book really suffered was that there was a lack of ideas beyond the basic plot. Perhaps Colfer was afraid to stray far from the knowns of the Hitchhiker universe, but while Douglas Adams wasn't adverse to some low humour and punning, there were loads of ideas in what he wrote. His tangents were fun & inventive, while Colfer's were laboured and seemed desperate to tie up loose ends that never needed tying in the first place. He also totally rehashed some of Adams' concepts. If you remember Mr Prosser's hun ancestry manifesting itself in 'a thousand hairy horsemen shouting at him in his head', then another minor character's innerlife being depicted virtually identically seems lazy and, well, a bit of a poor show on Colfer's part.
Colfer also seemed afraid of Ford and Arthur, probably because they're so well-loved. Thus they have extremely little to do in the novel, while we spent far more time with lesser characters. The depictions of Trillian and Zaphod didn't really work for me either.
I don't think Colfer did a *horrible* job, and I liked what he did with Wowbagger, largely.
Ultimately I think trying to bring back Hitchhiker was a mistake. I should think that Douglas Adams' fans were disappointed and critical, as I am, while those new to the series wouldn't be swept away by it.
If you wish to buy it, it's available new from Amazon at £4.97 although you could certainly pick it up cheaper second-hand (or borrow it from the library as I did).
Product details (as available from Amazon):
# Paperback: 368 pages
# Publisher: Penguin (27 May 2010)
# ISBN-10: 0141042133
# ISBN-13: 978-0141042138
# Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 2.6 cm
(This review appears online at LibraryThing & elsewhere under the same user-name, but I've slightly revamped it especially for DooYoo).
Yes, yes, yes, I KNOW I've been incredibly absent over the last few months. I apologise and all that. Real life seems to have gotten in the way of Internet Life. Not all of it has been bad, practicing for Burlesque Shows (yep) and acquiring a boyfriend (double yep) are certainly more fun than they are a burden. It just means you lovely onliners don't get my full devoted and loving attention all the time now. Try not to cry, we will all get through it I promise.
So, after telling you I have had no spare time, I'm going to tell you that I managed, somehow, to fit in reading a book! (Ahh the dirty lies I spread to satiate the hoards of onliners vying for my attention) Let me start off with a little history!
---One, Three, Five, What? I've lost count---
Once upon a time there was a fantastic man. This man's name was Douglas Adams. Beginning his career in radio, Adams writings quickly moved to Television, Films, Books and eventually a Pan-Dimensional, omnipresent Guide. This guide was known as "the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy" HHGTTG for short(ish). Sadly, Adams died in 2002 leaving the world hanging over the edge of a rather futuristic cliff, laser beams at the ready.
For those of you who have not read the books, let me expand a tiny bit. Over the course of many years, Adams' character Arthur Dent, incredibly British, stupendously unlucky, travelled the length and breadth of the Galaxy on a complete random non-mission with no real point apart from staying alive. Don't let me belittle the books; they are amazing. Hell, they have a cult following (and if they don't, they should). For more detail on the first five books, go treat yourself to my other review of them all. Right bloody now. You'll not have a CLUE what I'm talking about otherwise! Alternativley, go to www.6of3.com for lots of extra info on the whole trilogy.
---What's the point? 42??---
It's coming, I promise. Recently, a fairly well known author (Eoin Colfer, which, if like me, your brain took a seizure trying to pronounce, is pronounced Owen, (how silly do you feel now?) is the author of the rather popular Artemis Fowl children's books) took on the incredibly heavy, unstable and ever changing works of Adams' and continued where he left off. Why did he do this? Because it was the 30th anniversary of the first instalments release! Good enough reason as any I suppose!
"And Another Thing" (which takes its name from a line in one of the previous books: "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") is difficult to really tell you anything about without ruining the story, so if you don't want it ruined even in the slightest, look away NOW.
For those of stronger stomach, here goes nothing! This instalment picks up on a planet far, far away, with an android serving a certain gentleman some tea. This Gentleman is Arthur Dent. He is old, worn and a tad forgetful. Thankfully, all of that changes pretty soon and through a twist of fate, all the characters end up right back at the exact moment the previous book left off. To be more precise, the destruction of the planet earth is once again looming above them all. Through out this instalment we follow the journeys of new and old characters, all brought together with a heavy helping of complete and utter randomness. Seriously, you try and describe a HHGTTG book to ANYONE and see how much you can really tell them.
The one issue that I CAN address here is the following: Did Eoin Colfer rape and murder a series of books that was not his to rape and murder? Did he get the incredibly weird sense of humour that Adams' littered his books with down to a T? What about the characters? Has he changed them? Has he altered anything? Has he SCREWED IT UP!?!??! Well, I can safely say that the answer is No, Yes, No, Yes, No. In other words, Colfer has actually done a bloody spot on job of emulating Adams' style. His characters continued as the people / two headed aliens that they were previously with the only changes happening naturally through the course of the story. In short, he's made an enjoyable addition to the trilogy (now in 6 parts).
You could, however, argue that because Adams' changed everything so much between each instalment that it wouldn't have mattered a monkeys if Colfer got it completely wrong (assuming he had a good explanation). I would have to disagree though. Colfer got the feel of the book just right. He made the ridiculous seem plausible and the plausible seem ridiculous till it all spiralled down in a giant paradoxical loop and imploded on its self. (In the case of HHGTTG that's a very good thing)
---Life, the Universe and Hardbacks ---
So, that's all I'm hinting at in regards to the story, now let's go on about how pretty this book is. The front is adorned with a giant neon sign reading "and another thing..." attached to a Viking ship with wings floating through space. Seems perfectly normal to me. The graphics are rather pretty and will make more sense once you read the book. Right now you can only get this in Hardback which is a bit of a pain in the arse if you prefer your books to be a bit more pliable like, say, paperback perhaps?
Price wise, I will make no apologies for telling you that I nearly done a little poo in my pants when I saw the price of this book and that it wasn't the happy kind of poo. This instalment at its most expensive will set you back a whopping £18.99 for all 339 pages. I was quite lucky in that Waterstones had it on a half price promotion at the time, bringing it down to £9.49. I'd still say that was a tad on the expensive side mind you. Maybe this is why people wait for stuff to come out on paperback? Who knew hardback was this expensive?!
---So long and Thanks for all the fish! ---
And we come to the end of my pointless ramblings. To recap: The book is a very worthy expansion of the Hitch Hiker universe. Colfer, in my humble opinion, did the late Adams proud with this celebratory addition. The only downside is the price, but I can imagine that will be battled by paperback releases and special offers that kick around book shops. If your bookshelf has the first five of the trilogy living in its nooks and crannies, I suggest you be nice to it and buy it something new to show off!
And another thing... by Eoin Colfer. Part six of three of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.
I remember this book being announced on the news and thinking it seemed a bit weird, especially with another author taking over a classic sci-fi series. I also didn't really see where the characters could go and thought the ending of book 5 was pretty much it. I will also sayI've not read the first five books, just heard the radio plays (bear in mind though, the first two is what Hitchhikers started out as).
So how does it start? Well, the writer very cleverly takes us back to a few pages before the end of the fifth book before the Earth gets destoryed. At the beginning of this book they are all living separate lives now much older and with not that much longer to live. Doesn't sound like a great start does it? Well, this and how the writer side stepped the issue was the first of many clever suprises in this book as once again the friends start trekking across the universe (or galaxy really).
There are a few bits I'm not keen one, like where the author seems to indulge himself and create a whole Irish colony bit near to the end, also one of For'd favourie catch-phrases 'Dingo's Kidney's' isn't uttered once throughout the entire book. The ending after re-reading it quite a few times left me feeling very confused though, I knew kind of what had happened but was having trouble understanding it, very bizzare and confusing and not a fitting end to the novel in my opinion really.
Still if you enjoyed the other 5 installemts then you'll probably enjoy this one as well and the tone is pretty good considering the change in authors. I would say reading it that despite a few flaws it holds up well compared to the rest of the series.
It's 360 pages long and published by Penguin Books in the UK. The cheapest price online is Amazon/ Tesco both selling it at £8.54