5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Daniel J. Hamlow
- Published on Amazon.com
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.