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Don't Panic: Douglas Adams and the "Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy" [Paperback]

Neil Gaiman


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Book Description

Aug. 26 1993
An account of the life and work of Douglas Adams, the creator of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", which began as a cult radio series and went on to spawn a series of books and a TV programme. This book brings the story up to the Autumn 1992 publication of the new book in the series.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Titan Books Ltd; 2nd Revised edition edition (Aug. 26 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852864117
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852864118
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 10.9 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 136 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,028,663 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Definitely a devotee's book, Don't Panic operates on several levels at once. The book pokes hilarious fun at the tell-all books by cult heroes as well as at the industry that inevitably grows up around phenomenal successes like Douglas Adams's bizarre, witty radio series and ensuing novels. This work is also a spoof of the Hitchhiker books and particularly of the idiosyncratic, teasing style that has made Adams's novels bestsellers in England and the U.S. A London-based freelance journalist and avid Adams fan, Gaiman interviews his hero, revealing the full story of how Hitchhiker came to be, grew and flourished. Readers learn of the misunderstanding between Adams and John Lloyd, the radio producer who almost became Adams's collaborator on the novelization of Hitchhiker. But far more engrossing than the gossip are the sheer mechanics of moving the odd characters populating the world of Hitchhiker from radio drama to the printed page to television. For those who have followed Adams's work with relish, this will be a source of much delightful trivia; non-initiates, however, are quite likely to panic if they enter this book unprepared.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warts-and-everything story of the creation of the Guide June 4 2001
By Gavin Wilson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
For anyone interested in how the Hitchhiker's Guide came into being, this is essential reading. For anyone interested in the evolution of a great idea into a radio series, album, TV series, computer game, five books, and more than one attempt at a film script, this is equally vital.
I found it particularly helpful in providing explanations of why:
1. episodes five and six of the first radio series have a different style to the wonderful episodes 1 to 4.
2. the second radio series was so sloppy in comparison to the first.
It's fascinating to read Douglas Adams' original summary of the Hitchhiker concept. (Goodness knows why Arther Dent was originally going to be called Alaric!) It was depressing to read how Adams and John Lloyd (co-writer of episodes 5 and 6) fell out when Adams changed his mind about co-writing the first book, but encouraging that they put their differences behind them and went on to collaborate on works like 'The Meaning of Liff'.
There are plenty of bits of unused dialogue spread across the pages of this book. It is partly a biography of Adams and partly a biography of the Hitchhikers Guide itself. There is a BBC-produced double cassette tape which also tells the story of the Hitchhiker but tends to gloss over most of the disagreements that Adams had with various BBC colleagues and publishers.
I would strongly recommend Hitchhiker fans to get this book.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Making of HHGTTG Oct. 13 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This really isn't a guide, listing characters and what-not, as much as it is a book about the making of the original radio series, then the book, tv series, theatrical production, "musical", and computer game, mainly written from the point of view of Douglas Adams. It's an entertaining read, with many quotes by Mr. Adams and the people he worked with. Neil Gaiman (of Sandman fan) does a fine job with it.
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it! June 22 2011
By sumnerb - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book is an insight to Douglas Adams that the reader has never had before. The man truly lived an amazing life. It explains bits of the book, radio series, television series, and computer game(s) came from-as well as the stage productions. A definite must read for Douglas Adams fans.
5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A guide to the Hitchhiker's Guide March 31 2004
By Daniel J. Hamlow - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
OK, after two Pangalactic Gargleblasters, I think I can get something about sci-fi writer Neil Gaiman's nonfiction work, Don't Panic, which chronicles the evolution of Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy through its incarnations as radio series, novel, computer game, towel, and TV series. Due to a totally original idea, well, kind of, as he got the idea lying on the grass thinking that there should be something like The Hitchhiker's Guide To Galaxy, HGTTG and its sequels became another dollop of Britannia that was rabidly slurped up by USA-ers that they did the Beatles and Monty Python. But it also explains the success of HH, as it came out in the wake of Star Wars and Close Encounters making sci-fi acceptable entertainment for mass consumption.
It reveals that Adams was quite a talent at an early age, from his short story submission for The Eagle at age 12, to a hilarious very Pythonseque Kamikaze Briefing sketch included here that I really enjoyed that he did pre-HH. His secret? "Writing comes easy. All you have to do is stare at a blank piece of paper until your forehead bleeds." Thank goodness I had those paper towels to clean up my computer screen.
Part of this is a biography of Adams, from his days at Cambridge, to his wilderness years doing odd jobs, including being a bodyguard for some Arabs, and doing collaborations with other writers, many of which fell through. Despite initially being mistaken for being the sixth Python member, he did work with Graham Chapman, but that didn't work out, as Chapman was struggling with alcoholism at the time. His time as Doctor Who's script editor from 1978-1979, and the three stories he personally wrote for the series, is explained, and the reason why he hated being script editor. But there is also a synopsis of the stillborn Dr. Who and the Krikkitmen at the back of the book, parts of which later became Life, The Universe, And Everything, the knotty but still well-written third book.
Adams reveals to have some sensitive yet artistic side of him. He doesn't seem to like remembering about writing his books because of some bad memories and hardships he had to go through. And time-oriented is NOT the word to describe him. For writing my and his personal favourite in the series, The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe, he had to be locked up in an apartment in an ascetic-like existence for four weeks, with Paul Simon's One Trick Pony as his only companion.
Neither is deadline a word found in Adams' dictionary. Apart from only doing three essays during his time at Cambridge, there was even a time during the second series of the radio programme that "they were recording the show in one part of the studio, while I was in another part of the studio actually writing the next scene."(!!!)
Mixed inbetween are script excerpts from dialogue never used in the radio series. There's also a list of the most asked questions to Adams, of which most of them are either brief and to the point or totally deranged, but he did answer one I wondered, which was the Dire Straits song he referred to in So Long..., which was "Tunnel of Love" from Making Movies.
This goes up to the first Dirk Gently novel, done in 1987, and it's a good read for those into HH or wanting to learn about the story and history about HH after reading the series. Whoops, time for another Pangalactic Gargleblaster and a slice of Arcturan Megadonkey.
2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars True Hitchhikers can't go without this book! April 12 1998
By Thijs - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Read everything you always wanted to know about THHGTTG! (and some things you rather not know as well)

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