Review: Don't Panic: The Official Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Companion

Don't Panic: The Official Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Companion Don't Panic: The Official Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Companion by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm a bit surprised that it took me this long to pick up this book.  Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was the book that turned me into an audiobook listener and I have read almost all of his work (ok, Last Chance to See, still doesn't grab me).  He was the first author death that I really felt and was sad about--and all that was before I even started enjoying Neil Gaiman.  A biography of Douglas Adams by Neil Gaiman should have been a book I read a long time ago and well, since "time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so," I finally got around to listening to this and I am overall, happy with what I heard. It's not a particularly deep biography but Gaiman does bring a share of insights and connections about Adams' work that I enjoyed.  Starting with his early life in school and then into his high school and college experiences, Gaiman relies on the standards of documentation, interviews with Douglas, and people in his life to draw out his challenges to find his niche as a radio and textual writer (among eventually other media) whose creative, observations, and humor were translated into two particular series that are still loved by readers decades later. Although the original biography was published in the 1980s, this updated version covers up to 2009--which is interesting to consider since so much of Douglas's work continued to be made between original publication and 2009.  In fact, the book ends just as talk of the final book to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series was a book--authored by Eoin Colfer, Salmon of a Doubt--to be published soon. But what makes that fun and interesting is that because there have been several editions and reworkings of Don't Panic, it actually mimics the evolution of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy almost perfectly (A theme throughout Don't Panic is how The Hitchhiker's Guide is intentionally changed or augmented in different media to work within the media--ideally--and that Douglas constantly said he was done with it, only to keep coming back to it time and again. In general, this is a book for the fandom--to get to feel closer to the author whom they love and squeeze just a bit more knowledge and experience out of their engagement with Adams' work; in many ways, we're all Ford Prefects trying to expand our entry--even if it's just adding one more word to our understanding of the series.  Still, those looking for some deeper and more meaningful exploration of Adams' life and work may feel this misses the mark.  

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