8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars
A book for the true fan, 14 Sept. 2004
This book does an admirable job at uncovering the truth behind many Adams legends. I find it odd that so many reviewers perceive this as a negative, as if it ought to be a biographer's job to perpetuate myths instead of to investigate them. I think they fear that Adams or his legacy will be somehow diminished by the revelations. They are wrong. After reading Simpson's "Hitchhiker" I was struck with a renewed admiration for Adams. Here was a human being, saddled, we now realise, with exactly the same vanities and foibles as the rest of us, and yet who, despite this, gave us a new and funny way of looking at the world. It's said that fans of Paul McCartney hear the same anecdotes so many times that they number them and play bingo every time Macca is interviewed. The same could be true of fans of Douglas Adams. It is therefore refreshing to find some serious analysis of the facts behind DNA's life.
Compared to Nick Webb's "Wish You Were Here", Simpson's book comes across as being more for the true fan than the general reader. Webb, having access to Adams's private files, is better on the details of his subject's lovelife, but, despite being a friend of Adams, shows a worrying ignorance about the works that made his name. For instance, Webb thinks the middle-management people repopulating prehistoric Earth are themselves from a future Earth and that this is some wacky Adams paradox. He's got this badly wrong. They're from an entirely different planet (Golgafrincham as anyone who's read the books can tell you) and the fact that Webb doesn't seem to know or care seems at best bizarre and at worst sloppy, and where it is accurate it often retreads ground from the excellent book "Don't Panic" by Gaiman et al. As the Hitchhiker fanclub's archivist, and stickler for accuracy to boot, you know Simpson's facts are going to be checked, and that what he tells you is not going to be some "definitively innacurate" fairytale, but as close to the truth as he can get.