Let me state this first: I am a massive Hitchhiker fan and I have since read everything Douglas Adams has written. Several times.
So when I first heard that a new Hitchhiker book was being written I was initially excited. Then I thought about it and started to worry. How would someone go about this? Try
and mimic Adams exactly? Surely that wouldn’t work, as he had such a unique voice. Try their own style? Too distinct and it would hardly be book six, more an adventure ‘in the world of Hitchhikers’. I was concerned.
Fortunately, in my humble opinion, Eoin Colfer somehow managed to get it pretty spot on. It feels like a continuation of the series but is clearly not written by Adams.
The characters are well done and are the people (and aliens) we all know and love. Arthur Dent, with his quintessential English-ness and obsession with tea and baths, was pretty much modeled on Adams himself. Colfer wisely moves him from the centre of attention. Most of the main protagonists seem to share the limelight fairly equally with perhaps Zaphod Beeblebrox edging slightly ahead. Which is never a bad thing. The original
trilogy didn’t really flesh out the characters much and it never really felt all
that necessary. The latter two had a bit more characterization but not as much
The original books were more about character types progressing
through a series of adventures and ideas. This is more about the characters.
Fortunately they are all familiar and enjoyable characters. In addition to the
usual cast of Arthur, Ford, Trillian, we have Random Dent (who first appeared in
Mostly Harmless), Thor (yes the god who appeared in The Long Dark Teatime of the
Soul and Norse mythology), Wowbagger the infinitely prolonged (that guy who
accidentally became immortal and is now trying to insult the universe in
alphabetical order), and a load more. They are all good.
It is here that I noticed the biggest difference. Colfer spends a lot more time on the
characters and description of places than Adams ever did. Consequently the pace
feels slower. Mr Colfer is a great writer so this never feels too detrimental to
the book but you get the feeling that if Douglas Adams had written the same
sequence of events it would have comprised about half the number of pages with
Another difference is that the original felt a lot more
philosophical. It had a lot more epic ideas dealing with, for example, life the
universe and everything. The scope felt bigger somehow. And Another Thing…
follows a lot more of a linear narrative without so many of the huge ideas
tackled in the originals. Taken as an episode, this doesn’t matter all that
much, it just felt different.
The book is thankfully, very funny. There
are some genuinely laugh out loud moments. As I stated above, Mr Colfer is a
great writer and fortunately, he is also a funny one. The little asides as the
‘Guide’ interrupts the narratives are there although at times they veer
dangerously close to being slightly formulaic and this was never the case with
the original. They never quite cross that line though, and are generally amusing
and add to the novel.
So was I disappointed? No. Not at all. This is a
superb book. Not as good as the originals, but I guess I was always going to say
that. As an episode of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy it works well. It is just
a bit different. The difference is that between an awesomely funny
philosopher/sci-fi writer (Adams) and a more modern but almost as funny sci-fi
writer. It is not quite as good or far reaching as the originals but it is
certainly a welcome addition to the series. The title is apt. Highly