Don't Panic: Douglas Adams & The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Hardcover – May 1 2005
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SFX Magazine Review 2004: "Don't Panic works as a lean and focused Adam's biography as well as a complete fanboy's trawl through the history of the franchise."
About the Author
Neil Gaiman is a New York Times best-selling author and one of the most critically acclaimed living comics writers. There have been two recent movie adaptations of his work, Stardust and Coraline. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
Some time later, I spotted a new hardback on the shelves at the same book shop. I knew the name Pratchett and had to think for a while as where I knew the name Gaiman from and then recalled that he had written that little book called Don't Panic, so I picked it up. Haven't looked back since.
Don't Panic is written in the same style as the Hitchhiker novels, and is at times quite amusing. There are no less than 31 short chapters (the first one is chapter 0) in the book, dealing with various distinct subjects. This is followed by five appendixes. There are a lot of direct quotations from various people surrounding Adams, and from Adams himself, but there is never any information given about when or where these people said these things, which is a major drawback.
There is a lot of trivia here, but a lack of depth, and the book does seem to repeat certain myths (for example, the well-known one that Adams first got the idea for Hitchhiker while lying drunk in a field in Innsbruck). Still, if you're a fan of Adams, this is essential reading.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I think the book should be essential not only for Hitchhiker's buffs but also for wannabes in any creative profession.
Basically, think of this as the book equivalent to a "Bonus Features" DVD. It's jam packed with odd little stories and insights into the making of the Hitchhiker's universe (all media: radio, records, books, & TV). Die-Hard Adams fans will enjoy this.
And the fact that this happens to be compiled by Neil Gaiman, one of my other favorite writers, is just an added bonus.
If you have come looking for this book and have read this far my assumption is you are a Douglas Adams fan. H2 G2, Dirk Gently or possibly Dr. Who fans constitute the target readership for this book. Granted Douglas Adams had a very slight association with the Monty Python's crew; more of common friendships than creative participation but none of this qualifies Don't Panic for a general audience.
That portion of the book that is about Douglas Adams is clearly intended as a friends and family type biography. That is, one that is more affectionate than analytical or critical. A very large portion of the discussion of Adams the writer centers around his inability to meet any deadlines which is nothing new for people who know about Adams's history. Daiman does do a decent job of explaining Adamns and missed deadlines by providing the additional context of Adams; too often self-inflicted complex life.
Gaiman succeeds as an apologist for Douglas Adams and is someone who can speak in a voice very much like Douglas Adams. I have read as much of Adams published works as are available in America. I own and enjoy the original radio series and the original television series of H2 G2. So I was interested to get to read about the intimate background on most of what occurred in the making of -- to include electronic games and live performances.
My conclusion is that this is a fan's book. There may be some other audiences such as those who collect biographies of writers or who wish to know more about the creative / production process in any of several media. The ironic /humorous tone makes for easy reading but one can get somewhat bogged down in details.
Neil Gaiman has taken time off writing his own fantastic adventures to share with us his research into the life and times of Douglas Adams. I for one am very glad that he did as the story he so masterfully unfolds is both sympathetic and enlightening. Gaiman manages to shed not a little light on Adams' creative process and life, from the rigors and panics of his early days of script writing for Doctor Who then the Hitchhiker's radio series all the way through to the very end of his career. Gaiman does a marvelous job of not only telling the tale but also revealing something of the man who said, 'I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.'
Adams was a unique writer and a comic creator of genius. He died all too young, but this book is a great tribute to a life fully-lived and to a very human humanoid.