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Dont Panic: Douglas Adams & The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Paperback – 25 Sep 2009
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'If you're a fan and even if you bought the original, the updated Don't Panic: Douglas Adams and the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a must buy' --- SFF Media
'From the Introduction to the Acknowledgements it was difficult to put down. 5/5' --- Sci-Fi Mafia
'If you're a Douglas Adams fan or a fan of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Don't Panic is a must have for your collection' --- Blog Critics
About the Author
Neil Gaiman is a New York Times best-selling author and one of the most critically acclaimed living comics writers. There have been two recent movie adaptations of his work, Stardust and Coraline.
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Some of the manuscript inclusions may be a little long but overall it still manages to be very informative and interesting.
If you are a fan of the late, great Douglas Adams and HHGTG ... and/or a fan of the great Neilhimself ... you need this book!
It is INDISPENSABLE!
I am a relatively recent convert to Hitchhiker’s. I knew it had been a radio series before it became anything else, but I’d never heard it. I knew it had been a TV series at one point, but I’d never seen that. And I knew it had more parts than any other trilogy ever published, and that was how I came to be a fan of the phenomenon that was “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”.
What I didn’t know much about was how everything had come together, which was why “Don’t Panic” appealed. It was a chance not just to know more about the man behind the phenomenon, but promised more on the phenomenon itself.
And so it is. Starting with Adams’ birth and his trail from Cambridge where his writing career was to begin, through his early career and his first jobs in the entertainment industry, as first a writer, then in radio and finally in TV, through to Hitchhiker’s, and the incredible success story it became, onto his other works, there is far more here on Hitchhiker’s in its various forms than there is about Douglas Adams himself.
Depending on your reasons for wanting to read “Don’t Panic”, this can either be a blessing or a curse. In no way should this be taken for a biography of Douglas Adams himself. Certainly, there is a lot of information about him and his work in here, but the main focus is on his work and there’s a lot less about him as a person. Indeed, there’s also mentions of various Hitchhiker’s adaptations that Adams himself had virtually nothing to do with and even some of his later work is glossed over a little, perhaps to fit more about Hitchhiker’s in. The order of priority with this book is definitely Hitchhiker’s first, Adams’ other work second, and the man himself last. This is OK if you like that kind of thing, but not ideal if you’re searching for a biography of Douglas Adams.
It’s not a terribly well written book either. Most of the words themselves are pretty good, but the way they are all put together seems a little clunky in parts. Neil Gaiman uses quite a few of the kind of asterisked footnotes that were prevalent in “Good Omens”, but generally a lot of the writing isn’t actually his. By and large the book seems, especially where it’s talking about the radio and TV versions of Hitchhiker’s, to be a collection of quotes from, and about Douglas Adams and Hitchhiker’s, rather than a biographer writing about them. Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it is a little uneven. There are frequently huge portions of text that are separated from the rest of the book and are quotes about casts and characters and how the shows were put together, which are interesting but which means the book has very little flow to it. In parts, it reads like a written version of one of those “I love 1985” style TV programs, consisting mostly of quotes from various people, with a little bit of narrative voiceover here and there.
Maybe I’m largely disappointed because it’s just not funny enough. Hitchhiker’s is funny and some of Neil Gaiman’s work, especially the aforementioned “Good Omens” is funny, but somehow “Don’t Panic” manages not to be. There are some very funny lines in it, but many of the best are lines from one of the versions of Hitchhiker’s itself, or from quotes from other people.
What this book does do well, however, is give information. If you have anything more than a vague interest in Hitchhiker’s, it’s fascinating, mostly for the parts that didn’t end up in the various adaptations that for anything else. There’s so much more to the whole phenomena that I ever expected and the information all seems to be here, even if it isn’t presented as effectively as it could be.
If you’re a fan of Hitchhiker’s in any or all of its various forms, this is a must read. If you’re a fan of Douglas Adams generally, this is not quite as essential, but still worth a look and even a casual fan of Douglas Adams in general and Hitchhiker’s in particular can’t go too far wrong.
This review may also appear under my name at any or all of www.ciao.co.uk, www.thebookbag.co.uk, www.goodreads.com, www.amazon.co.uk and www.dooyoo.co.uk
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