2012-02-16

This Must Be Thursday

Appendix S: And Another Thing

Like a lot of people, i reacted to the news that Eoin Colfer had been tapped to write a follow-on to Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy quintrilogy with equal amounts of “That might be cool” and “What the holy heck?” Having finally worked up the courage to approach And Another Thing with what I hoped was an open mind, my status report changes to “That was definitely cool” and  “What the holy heck?”

Colfer does a fairly amazing job of channeling the spirit and storytelling style of Adams, creating a tale that nicely balances the funny with the self-referential absurdism that raised Adams’ work above the level of mere comedy. There’s no question that And Another Thing fits well into the the ongoing series, and the open ending leaves hope that Colfer has more to say regarding Adams’ characters (and that Adams’ estate wants to let him say it). However, a part of that fit stems from the book being of a piece with Adams’ last two HHG efforts, So Long and Thanks for All the Fish and Mostly Harmless — which means that it holds up less well in comparison to the original Hitchhiker’s Guide and Restaurant at the End of the Universe, and positively pales in comparison to Life, the Universe, and Everything.

That third book in the series marked the first time that Adams delved into original storyline for the HHG saga, and it remains the best and freshest of the books for that reason. With books four and five, Adams seemed to be working from the perspective of being afraid to continue to push in the wholly new directions of LtUaE, creating amazing new ideas but then scaling them back from some apparent lack of trust of his own instincts. And Another Thing carries that feeling of uncertainty, and though the book is funny and enjoyable at every turn, it feels a little too familiar in the end.