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Hitchhiker: A Biography Of Douglas Adams

Hitchhiker: A Biography Of Douglas AdamsOrder this bookStory: Author (and SFX Magazine co-founder) M.J. Simpson references a wealth of interviews with “Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy” author Douglas Adams – and his friends and associates – to paint a fairly complete picture of his life as a science fiction icon, creative thinker, advocate for the popularization of science and technology, and staunch avoider of deadlines.

Review: “Hitchhiker” is a book that Adams fans probably love or loathe…depending largely upon whether this is the first biography they’ve read of their hero. Years and years ago I was extolling the virtues of Neil Gaiman’s “Don’t Panic”, which, to be fair, is only partly a biography but is also a history of the Hitchhiker’s Guide franchise. However, considering that Adams was intimately involved with Hitchhiker’s Guide up to the time of his death, it seems unlikely that anyone could really tell one story without having to tell the other. Continue reading

The Original Hitchhiker Radio Scripts

The Original Hitchhiker Radio ScriptsOrder this bookStory: The original broadcast adventures of Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, Zaphod Beeblebrox, Trillian, and quite a few characters who didn’t make it into the novels based on the series.

Review: This recent “10th anniversary” reprint of the complete radio scripts of the BBC’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio shows – which, for those who didn’t already know, predate the books, TV show and Infocom game, by the way – is much more of what I’d like from a script book. The scripts aren’t interrupted by the commentary; the commentary is instead placed at the end of each half-hour script, and includes such amazingly obscure and useful information as what music was licensed for use in each program, how casting decisions were made, and the origins of situations, characters, and so on. Continue reading

Life, The Universe, And Everything

Life, The Universe, And EverythingOrder this bookStory: Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect are rescued from years of mind-numbing isolation on prehistoric Earth by a freak time warp and a hovering, but nonetheless elegant, sofa. They wind up on Earth, at Lord’s Cricket Ground, a mere two days before the planet will be annihilated by the Vogons, but here they witness an alien incursion of another kind: killer robots from Krikkit descend upon the field to retrieve one piece of a key that could unlock their ability to destroy the entire known universe. Slartibartfast appears in his own unlikely spacecraft, the Bistromath, to whisk Ford and Arthur away on a desperate mission to stop the Krikkit robots from wiping out everything. It is a mission in which they will utterly fail.

Review: For many years, I was convinced that – aside from “Mostly Harmless” – “Life, The Universe, And Everything “was my least favorite. I reread it recently during a bit of a Douglas Adams binge, and quickly discovered that – aside from “So Long And Thanks For All The Fish” – it’s actually my second favorite. Continue reading

The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe

The Restaurant At The End Of The UniverseOrder this bookStory: Having escaped from the planet Magrathea by the skin of their teeth, Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, Zaphod Beeblebrox and Trillian – with paranoid android Marvin in tow – are once again in deep trouble, with the Vogons hot on the trail of the Heart of Gold. Normally, the ship’s extensive computer banks could come up with a tactical solution to all this, but unfortunately, they’re all occupied by a priority instruction: Arthur wants a cup of real tea, not synthesized tea. Zaphod has to rely on help from beyond the grave, which leads him on a terrifying adventure to Frogstar, the most evil planet in the galaxy. Surviving this encounter with nothing but his natural cool, Zaphod rejoins his comrades for a quick bite at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe. And that’s where the trouble really begins.

Review: So there’s good news and bad news.

And then there’s trivia. “The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe”, based loosely on material from episodes five through twelve of Douglas Adams’ phenomenally successful BBC radio series, was the novel that put Adams on the U.S. bestseller lists (though, for some unknown reason, didn’t fare quite as well in Britain). However, I think I may know why the British audience didn’t embrace it quite so wholeheartedly. And I’ll get to that point in due course. Continue reading

The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The GalaxyOrder this bookStory: A seemingly typical Thursday throws Englishman Arthur Dent for a loop as he witnesses the destruction, in rapid succession, of his house and then the entire world. That he witnesses the latter event instead of being caught up in it is solely thanks to the intervention of his quirky friend Ford Prefect, who turns out to be an alien in disguise, researching Earth for a publication known as the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. After escaping Earth’s demise, Ford and a dazed Arthur wind up aboard the stolen starship Heart Of Gold, whose captain, the two-headed Zaphod Beeblebrox, is out of both of his minds. Zaphod, traveling with Trillian (the only other surviving human), is on a quest to find the legendary planet of Magrathea, hoping to plunder its wealth. What he doesn’t anticipate, however, is that the Magratheans might not want their wealth plundered.

Review: I’ve held off on reviewing “The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy” for far too long, mainly because it’s the incarnation of the story that most fans are the most familiar with. I’d rather educate them about the radio series (which inspired the books and every other version of the story that came later), or the computer game, or some other obscure versions of the story. But two things inspired me to go back, give the book a re-read, and report my findings: the fact that a big-budget, big-screen version of “Hitchhiker’s Guide” is on the way, and the recent appearance of a Cliff Notes-style study guide to this first novel in the series.

A study guide? To the “Hitchhiker’s Guide”? Almighty Zarquon, but I’m getting old. Continue reading