Douglas Adams was my best friend, an inimitable genius—and an emotional vampire whose last book had to be drawn out of him under duressby Michael Bywater / September 23, 2009 / Leave a comment
Above: all six foot five of Douglas Adams, flanked by the number he made famous
Thirty years. Gosh but the time’s flown by. Thirty years this October since the first of Douglas Adams’s five-book Hitchhiker’s Guide “trilogy” first appeared. Now, to mark the anniversary, there’s another one coming out, even though he has been dead for more than eight years. But publishing is a business, and books are product, and so this one has been written by Eoin Colfer—best known as the creator of the Artemis Fowl series—under the title And Another Thing (Michael Joseph).
It will do well. Some will buy it because they like Eoin Colfer’s other stuff. Some people will buy it because they are Hitchhiker fans and will yearn to love it and possibly succeed. Others will buy it because they are Hitchhiker fans and will yearn to really hate it and will almost certainly succeed. Some will think the idea is pure commercial genius. Some will think it venal and grotesque. Some will think it perpetuates the memory of Douglas Adams, others that it is an insult. Nobody’s opinions will make the slightest bit of difference. And nobody, in these hard times, will think a jot the less of Colfer for taking on the project. Any of us would have done the same.
Actually, some of us, to a certain extent, have done the same already. Some of us, as well as writing one of Adams’s computer games, trying but failing to write another, half-writing a third, and acting as emergency obstetrician on one of the novels, also possess a parallel manuscript of Mostly Harmless, the fifth and until now the last volume of the Hitchhiker trilogy. Probably the University of Somewhere In America would pay $$$ for the typescript, so I ought to dig it out.
Some of us sat downstairs in Islington with Douglas Adams’s editor, the saintly and incomparable Sue Freestone, typing out chapter after chapter of Mostly Harmless and sending it upstairs via email to where Douglas sat. There would be a from his computer, followed by cries of rage and alarm and “But that’s not what bloody happens,” followed by furious adversarial typing until Douglas had dismantled and reassembled it into something he liked—or, to be accurate, hated marginally less—at which point a glum silence would fall until some of us started typing again at our end to get ready…