Thursday, December 3, 2009

And Another Thing

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is one of my all-time favorite books.  I adored it the first time I read it and eagerly devoured the sequels as soon as they were released.  Unfortunately, past the second or third book, I think that some of the genius of the books became diluted.  By the time I finished Mostly Harmless, I was perfectly okay with the series coming to a final end.

However, it seems these days that it's all the rage to release sequels to books whose original authors are dead.  And Another Thing, by Eoin Colfer, continues where Douglas Adams left off with the Hitchhiker's series.  I was dubious about the idea when I first heard about it, but just the same, when I saw a copy of the book at my local library, I grabbed it and took it home.

It's ... well, it's not as good as the original Hitchhiker's Guide, but it's on par with some of the later books in the series.  Colfer does a fairly good job at maintaining the tone and the style of the previous books, complete with frequent footnotes from the Guide.  (Actually, I think that Colfer sort of overdid it in regard to these footnotes; in some places there's practically one on every page.)  And the main characters from the previous books are featured strongly: Arthur, Ford, Zaphod, and Trillian, as well as several other characters from some of the later books.  Ford is a little short-changed for time in the spotlight, but we get plenty of Zaphod in all his glory, and any day that has Zaphod Beeblebrox in it is better than a day without Zaphod (as I'm sure ZB would tell us himself).

Unfortunately, while the book is basically a fun, light read, it's not much more than a jumble of elements from the prior books, tossed together in one package and shaken liberally.  What I adored about the earlier Hitchhiker's books were the grand, unexpected, ridiculous, brilliant concepts -- the Babel fish, the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, the Infinite Improbablity Drive, the whale and the bowl of petunias, and, of course, the towels.  Colfer doesn't contribute much new to this amazing universe; he seems to limit himself to riffing off the elements that Adams already established.

You're not going to be quoting bits of And Another Thing to your friends for years to come like you did with the original Hitchhiker's Guide (okay, maybe you didn't, but I did).  But it's good to see the old gang in action again, so if you're a fan of the rest of the books, I'd say that this latest book is worth a look.