Monday, November 19, 2001
While on vacation overseas earlier this year, I met a fellow American at a dinner party and had a wonderful conversation with her about our mutual admiration for Douglas Adams and his Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series.
The next morning, as I was checking out of my hotel, news of the author's death at the far-too-young age of 49 reached me. It seemed the world had seen the last of his distinctively sharp humor.
Now it looks like there will be one last hurrah for Arthur Dent and company. Pieced together from various drafts found on his computer, a sixth and final Hitchhiker's story, A Salmon of a Doubt, will be published next year on the anniversary of Adams' passing.
I'm cautiously hopeful over the prospect of this new story. The first three books in the series are about as perfect an expression of one man's comic voice as can be found. The fourth book, So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish, set a richer, more mature tone for the series and gave the characters more depth without losing any of their humorous appeal.
It's the fifth book, Mostly Harmless, that gives me pause about Salmon. The tone and voice of that book reverted to the style of the original trilogy. That step back bothered me immensely while reading it.
Worse than that, Mostly Harmless ended on definitively cynical note, the end result coming off like a violent doorslam on the possibility of any more Hitchhiker's stories. It was as if Adams was saying to the readers that he'd had enough of his most famous creation and wanted to leave it behind. Fair enough, I thought. It's his story, and he could and should be able to let it go if he so chose. But the book itself seemed like a lousy way to deliver that message, and left a bitter taste in my mouth.
With this sixth installment on the way, I may have to reassess my interpretation of Adams' intentions with Mostly Harmless. It's possible that he was simply responding to the pressures of the fan base and churning out one more Hitchhiker's tale.
From what I know about the guy, I don't think that's the case. If he was still writing these stories half a decade after he seemed to put that fictional universe to bed forever, I'm convinced that he actually had more he wanted to tell.
I hope my new assumption is right. If it is, it'll be great to have one more chance to grab my towel and romp through Douglas Adams' hilarious corner of the universe.
Posted @ 1:47 AM
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