Sixth of three


Douglas Adams The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy first charmed readers in 1997, when its quirky humour and approach to science fiction — then divided between hard science and space opera — postulated that the genre could be fun. The story followed an earthling named Arthur Dent and his alcoholic, hedonistic friend Ford Prefect (actually an alien researcher) as they travelled the galaxy after the Earths destruction. In Hitchhikers and the books that followed, Arthur and friends found the ultimate answer to life, the universe, and everything, saved the galaxy from an ultimate evil, experienced fine dining amidst the apocalypse, read the last message of God to his creation, and in general had a pretty froody time (froody, for those that dont know, is defined by the Hitchhikers Guide as being like a frood). This froodiness ended when Arthur and Ford found themselves back on an alternate reality of Earth, which was in the midst of being detonated again.

Needless to say, the fifth book ended on a rather bleak note.

Douglas Adams attributed the gloominess of his fifth novel Mostly Harmless (released in 1992) to his own personal life, which had gone through a rough patch at the time. As he began to feel better, he planned to eventually write a sixth, jauntier book, ending on a slightly sweeter, less apocalyptic note. Unfortunately, a happy ending for Arthur Dent became unlikely as a happy ending for Adams. In 2001, Adams suffered a heart attack and died.

The Hitchhikers series lay adored by fans but forgotten by publishers for over a decade.

Eoin Colfer, an author most famous for his Artemis Fowl series, with the permission of Adams estate, has completed a sixth book of the trilogy And Another Thing. Colfer shares some superficial similarities with Adams: theyre both British and work with humour and the fantastic as a medium for their work.  And although diehard fans may doubt Colfers ability to carry on Adams writing, Colfer produces an incredibly accurate simulation.

And Another Thing takes off where Mostly Harmless ended: with the Earths second destruction. Colfer faces a difficult task of extricating the characters from what Adams originally intended to be certain doom, but he carries it off using the usual Hitchhikers technique of a deus ex machina, in this case, one in the form of an immortal alien who has made a mission of insulting all sentient life in Galaxy. While the earth may be gone — again — some hope remains for the small colony of humans dwelling on the planetoid Nano. Arthur, his friends, and their saviour spend the rest of the book trying to save this planet from the same demolition crew that destroyed the Earth.

Ironically, Colfers fidelity to Adams style causes one of the main faults of the book. And Another Thing represents the best and worst of Adams technique.  The humour is there, but so is the tenuous chain of cause and effect; the characters are there, but so are the flat descriptions of emotion.

That being said, the book combines accessibility for fans and new readers, some genuinely funny moments, and a conclusion that ends like a symphony — tying in every loose end, wrapping every theme, and finishing with
beautiful logic.