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Book Review: Don’t Panic: Douglas Adams & The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Neil Gaiman

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It’s rare to find a book that has one of your favorite authors talking about another of your favorite authors. So to find a book written by Neil Gaiman about the long, strange road of author Douglas Adams, it was as though I found an amazing, hidden two-for-one deal somewhere.

Written with admiration and humor, I found Gaiman’s prose entertaining and enlightening as I learned more about the author who has written so many of my favorite books — The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, and The Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul. And Gaiman has written two more of my favorite books — Neverwhere and American Gods.

In 1971, Adams was hitchhiking across Europe with a copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Europe when, at the end of a harrowing day, he ended up flat on his back in a field in Innsbruck, staring up at the stars. It was then he had the thought “Sombebody really ought to write a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” He then promptly forgot about it.

Then, in 1977, he remembered it when he was trying to come up with ideas for radio scripts. And that started a long journey of writing and missing deadlines that continued for the next 24 years. In 2001, Adams passed away when he suffered a fatal heart attack while exercising in his gym in Santa Barbara.

I have read all of Douglas Adams’ novels, including Last Chance to See, which documented his journeys around the world to see how certain endangered species were doing. I’m a huge fan of his unique way of seeing the world.

But I never really knew the bumpy road of the Hitchhiker’s radio program or Adams’ involvement with the Dr. Who franchise. And I didn’t realize that he was involved with the Monty Python troupe. All these little facts are eloquently detailed in Gaiman’s prose.

This version of Don’t Panic is the fifth edition. The first was written in 1988 by Gaiman and it’s seen updates as Adams’ journey and his legacy continued over the years.

To continue that legacy, a new book in the ill-labeled “Hitchhiker’s Trilogy” will be released to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the first publication of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Written by author Eoin Colfer, author of the successful children’s series Artemis Fowl, the new book is called And Another Thing…. I’m excited about the upcoming book, as I never really felt that Arthur Dent’s journey was complete. We’ll see how Colfer does.

Adams will be forever missed, but his legacy will last forever.

If you’re a Douglas Adams fan or a fan of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Don’t Panic is a must have for your collection. Be sure to look for it in your local library or favorite bookstore and keep an eye out for Eoin Colfer’s book — And Another Thing…!

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About Fitz

Fitz is a software engineer and writer who lives in Colorado Springs, CO, with his family and pets, trying to survive the chaos!
  • NancyGail

    Adams was part of Doctor Who? Had to be the earlier episodes. I doubt David Tennant or Christopher Eccleston was playing the leads then.

  • Fitz

    Adams was part of Dr. Who as a scriptwriter in the late 1970s, not as an actor. There’s a lot about his work with the Dr. Who folks in the book actually.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Looking through the thick lens of his later fame it’s often forgotten that Douglas started out as a scriptwriter and comedy sketchwriter for the BBC.

    The little theatre group I co-founded many decades ago once performed one of Adam’s skits, about a Japanese kamikaze pilot about to embark on his 20th mission…

  • Fitz

    @Dr. Dreadful – I’d never seen that sketch until I read this book (it appears in one of the chapters) – and I LMAO. He definitely had a gift for sharp, intelligent wit.

  • El Bicho

    I haven’t read any Colfer, but I will likely pass on a new book and just revisit the radio shows.

    “Adams was part of Doctor Who? Had to be the earlier episodes. I doubt David Tennant or Christopher Eccleston was playing the leads then.”

    Considering he died in 2001, that’s a safe bet, Nancy, although I guess there’s no telling with Time Lords.