Adams is or rather was something of a folk hero

Books As originally passionately posted here. The obvious typos give away the speed with which I was tapping away:

Gosh, I'm glad I'm not the only one. I expect Penguin and Colfer assumed that fans would be pleased that the story would be carried on, that we'd be happy to simply spend the time with familiar characters no matter who the author is. What they haven't realised is that for many of us, this is personal. For some of us, particularly those of us who are Doctor Who fans too, Adams is or rather was something of a folk hero, and the story of the actual writing of the books as important a tapestry and part of the narrative as the books themselves (which I agree didn't hang together as a narrative, but that was never really the point).

Douglas found the books pure torture to write. He never kept to deadlines, often recycled ideas often from his Doctor Who and was, like Woody Allen, very self deprecating about the results. The Allen comparison is interesting, because like Woody who dumped the whole original first version of his film September, Adams substantially rewrote Life, The Universe and Everything to make it less dark and introspective. Except of course, arguably Allen is industrious to a fault whereas all of Douglas's words are precious -- even the final short chapter of the first Hitchhiker's Book.

But there's no denying that there is a kind of ramshackle structure to the series and though he toyed for ages with writing a sixth book and resolving the story, I think I read in an interview somewhere that he decided that it was best left as it was (insert the discussion from Kevin Smith's Clerks about life being a series of down endings). He began and got part way through a third Dirk Gently instead (found in The Salmon of Doubt). My favourite is 'So Long and Thanks For All The Fish' because its that most unexpected of things, a love story, and a touching and bittersweet one at that. Also it ignores Zaphod, who was never his bestest character and I assume Colfer will spread liberally through the new book like a rash, because again, he has his fans.

I've already heard the radio adaptation justification which works somewhere along the lines of 'well Dirk Maggs gave the series an ending there and introduced new material for the radio series so what's wrong with this Artemis Fowl bloke doing the same?' The difference there was that Maggs was adaopting text for a new medium, and very carefully either deployed some of Adams's ideas to fill in the narrative gaps or else produced material entirely in keeping with the original -- having known Douglas he already had a good idea of what he going to do himself with adaptations (some of which he'd already had a go at writing). In his ending for the Quandary phase (or Mostly Harmless), he was completing the radio series.

The problem with this sixth book is that it's Colfer's idea of how the story might end. As far as we can gather he's not working from Douglas's notes (presumably because there weren't any) and will be writing them in his own style rather than a faux version of Adams. Which is fine, he can do what he likes. The problem is that its being targeted and marketed as some official sequel to the series and will presumably turn up in future omnibuses and boxsets and have a paperback cover which pays homage to the originals somehow and have a title which like the other books spring from the pages of the text. And since this is basically fan fiction, there'll be all of the temptation to boxtick, explain inconsistencies, tie up loose ends, none of which Douglas himself was all that interested in doing.

I don't know, but how do Frank Herbert fans feel about all of the Kevin Anderson additions? Or the writers who've left their muddy footprints in Asimov's universes? Another point worth making is that this smells of attempting to turn the Hitchhiker's verse into a franchisable shared universe ala Doctor Who. The difference is that even though Sydney Newman is nominally listed as creator, Waris Hussein and Verity Lambert had as much to do with its development as did the original pilot writer David Whitakker and Terry Nation and every other writer whose worked on the series. Gallifrey wasn't their idea and neither was regeneration or the timelords. It's a shared universe without a single creator and is built to withstand it. I'd be horrified to thing that there'll be Young Slartibartfast novels in its future.

The point is, I don't care what happens to Arthur after Mostly Harmless, unless Douglas is writing it. And that's not likely now is it?

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