Eoin Colfer will give ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide’ a new ride

Sept. 20, 2008 | 8:36 p.m.

EoinfotoThe late Douglas Adams created a brilliantly daft universe in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and now it looks as though his literary baton will be picked up by Irish writer Eoin Colfer, author of the “Artemis Fowl” series.

Adams used to say that he hatched the idea for “Hitchhiker’s Guide” while staring up at the stars as he lay drunk in a field in Austria after a day of wandering countryside and feeling like a clumsy alien for reasons of language and booze. There’s been debate whether that’s an authentic account, but, really, how much unvarnished reality should be expected from the man who cooked up the Vogons and Zaphod Beeblebrox? Adams died in beautiful Montecito in 2001, the victim of a fatal heart attack at age 49.

“Hitchhiker’s Guide” began as a radio series, became a massively successful run of novels and has also been adapted (with mixed results) for television, film and gaming. Now, according to Colfer and an essay he posted on his website a few days ago, the series will resume with a sixth installment. It’s clear that Colfer is excited and a bit intimidated by the notion of adding to the Adams canon.

“The Hitchhiker’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 haven’t then read it now, moron. The problem is the hyperbole puts people off. If it’s so popular then it must be middle of the road, brimming with clichés and easily digested on the sands of Ibiza.

Hitch 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 Adams’ 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. It’s like a quest for the Holy Grail where the Grail is neither holy nor grail-shaped. I traveled 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.

But as we all know, the next book never came and the legions of Hitchhiker fans were left with their hearts beating a little too quickly for all eternity.

It became a whimsy of mine to finish the story, just for my own peace of mind. I often wondered how Douglas Adams would have resurrected his beloved characters. And now, almost a quarter of a century after first reading Hitchhiker, I have been given the incredible opportunity of writing the next chapter in the saga myself. In an actual book rather than in my head.

Douglas_adams My first reaction was semi-outrage that anyone should be allowed to tamper with this incredible series. But on reflection I realised that this is a wonderful opportunity to work with characters I have loved since childhood and give them something of my own voice while holding onto the spirit of Douglas Adams and not laying a single finger on his five books.

Once again I am terrified by a Hitchhiker book and this time it is my own. I feel more pressure to perform now than I ever have with my own books, and that is why I am bloody determined that this will be the best thing I have ever written. And if it isn’t then I will make sure that the cover is extremely pretty.

This is an interesting but volatile endeavor. Adams told interviewers that he hoped to add a sixth book to the series, and one that ended the epic with a more upbeat tone. How will fans feel about a new author’s name on the cover, though? We’ll find out. Jane Belson, Adams’ widow, has given her blessing to the project, which will be entitled “And Another Thing…” and will be published by Penguin. The book is scheduled to hit shelves in October 2009.

There’s more information on this at our sister blog, Jacket Copy, which tracks authors on this planet and beyond.

— Geoff Boucher

Eoin Colfer portrait courtesy of the author’s website.

Cover image from a vintage paperback copy of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”

Photo of the late Douglas Adams courtesy of his website.

More in: Uncategorized, Douglas Adams


14 Responses to Eoin Colfer will give ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide’ a new ride

  1. Shane Harris says:

    Once, I had a Hero Complex. I am feeling much better now.

  2. Shane Harris says:

    This might be the best sentence in the entire canon of literary criticism:
    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 Adams’ first draft.

  3. Geoff Boucher says:

    Shane, once I had a hero sandwich. I'm feeling much hungrier now.

  4. Eoin Colfer says:

    Eoin Colfer writes books for Disney and Disney went down in flames when they ripped the Hitchhiker's Guide to pieces by turning it into a horrible movie. Both entities have the mind of a retarded child, this author will undoubtedly try to please Disney and make a book for retarded kids. Doulgas Adams family inherited the legacy but not the brains of DNA and now they are just trying to make money, I find their actions greedy and disgusting. Gimme a Garggleblaster.

    • Mortichi Amhearst says:

      Eoin Colfer does not write for Disney. Eoin Colfer writes for hyperion, who were bought out by Disney after most of his novels had already been published. Also, Disney had nothing to do with the Hitchhiker's movie. That was Touchstone Pictures. And that horrible movie? The screenplay was written by Douglas Adams shortly before his death. The only retarded child in this situation is the one with a bias against a company and an author he's probably never read–and at the moment that appears to be you. If there's anyone to blame for you not liking the movie, it's Douglas Adams. He wrote it. Or the problem could just be you. Know what you're talking about before you go off on a rant about something you know nothing about. Please. It would spare the world much trouble if all you stupid people stopped complaining about things like this.

  5. chuckles says:

    I will be boycotting "And Another Thing…" and will pretend it doesn't exist.
    Is nothing sacred?

  6. Seth says:

    Since when is Colfer writing for Disney? While I have enjoyed many of his books, but I agree that he is nowhere near Adams's level. I also agree that the Disney film was bad. Really bad. You won't believe how horrendiously bad it is. And so on…
    In any case, it's not like he's tampering with the originals. I'll read it, and if it's good then I'll accept it; if not, it's just glorified fanfiction. Don't disown it until you try it.

  7. Haruspex says:

    This will just be officially approved fan-fiction. I will not purchase it along with my litany of friends whom are also fans of Douglas Adams.

  8. shel says:

    I am so annoyed by this that I have undertaken to not buy this book . . . in fact, I'll go further . . . I'll not buy it twice!!
    This really is sad.

  9. Kerry Hagan says:

    Super-affluent geriatric tyromancers aducting a pastry chef for his heretical use of cheese in a salmon and caper quiche seems the sort of surreal thing Mr Adams would have cooked up when he was on form.
    Thanks Eoin.
    Doug I believe didn't do sacred. Go Thor!

  10. Frank McCarthy says:

    Re: "In any case, it's not like [as if] he's tampering with the originals."
    That's like saying, "It's not as if he's raping Adams's widow and daughter." What he's doing is bad enough. Thank you very much.
    Re: "Don't disown it until you try it."
    What a lot of Internet characters don't seem to grasp is that our objection is to the PRINCIPLE (can you say "principle"?), not to the execution. As far as the execution goes, frankly, we don't give a damn.

    • Mortichi Amhearst says:

      Because writing a novel and raping two women are so similar… And if one disagrees with the principle (idea of) something taking place, he, ergo, objects to the execution of the event. In other words: "If you object to the idea of a new book, you also object to the book."

  11. Mortichi Amhearst says:

    1.) Eoin Colfer does not write for Disney. He wrote at least seven or eight novels for a British publishing company that sold rights to Hyperion in the States. Hyperion had a bad fiscal year and was bought by Disney.
    2.) Disney had nothing to do with the Hitchhiker's movie. Touchstone made it. Not Disney.
    3.) Douglas Adams wrote the screenplay for the movie shortly before his death. If the movie was bad, it's his fault. He wrote it.
    4.) You're arguing over a book. A comedy nonetheless. Not a literary masterpiece, but something meant to make people laugh.
    5.) None of you personally knew Douglas Adams and can't state what his actual opinion on the matter would have been with any substantial certainty. Adams's wife knew him very well and seems to like the idea. She will be making no money from the proceeds of the novel.
    6.) Is this really an argument about the ethics of having someone write a sequel to a scifi comedy that most of the American public has never heard of? If so, then good luck getting married, or conversing with the opposite gender, or getting a life.

  12. Pat Berry says:

    Touchstone IS Disney. It is a label used by the Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group for its films that are aimed at adults. The Touchstone label was established in 1984 so that Disney could market these more mature films without upsetting audiences (who would assume that anything bearing the Disney name was suitable for children).

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