Colfer’s Hitchhikers Makeover Turns Out To Be Mostly Harmless…

Monday, November 30th, 2009

When I first heard that Eoin Colfer, an author whose work I started following when I was a pre-teen, was commissioned to carry on the work of the late, great, Douglas Adams, I was intrigued to see what the finished result would be like. Then I forgot about it until a few days before release. My dad picked it up from the library, so I decided to give it a go in the name of research. I haven’t read the new James Bond book Devil May Care, but the idea behind its publication is very similar. This was written in the style of Douglas Adams, just as Devil May Care was written in the style of Ian Fleming. It captures a lot of Adams’ witty, random style, while making good use of new elements and ideas.

One thing I don’t like is Wowbagger The Infinitely Prolonged’s elevation from random joke to main character. He went from a funny, little-seen immortal character that goes around insulting people to your average immortal with a death wish. He’s been Flinted, a phrase which here means that he got a bit too much like the immortal Flint from Star Trek for my liking. This was pretty much inevitable with any character development that could’ve been done with his character, and it is pretty fun when you learn that his immortality pretty much has no limits. But that’s the thing; he didn’t really need any character development. Immortals in fiction (because there aren’t any known ones in real life) have gained a reputation for being whiny bitches for some reason. I know I’d be grateful for it if I had that power.

The Vogons make another appearance here as the bureaucratic villains of the series, although the bureaucratic side is played down in favour of the ‘absolute bastard’ side. I mean yes, they’re only doing a job, but they could do it in a nicer way. In an attempt to make a sympathetic character out of a Vogon, the reader follows one who is leaning towards a human way of thinking. This provides the way of saving the Earthling colony.

The writer handles his pre-existing characters well, developing a romance between Trillian and Wowbagger. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn, with the level of obvious love for the original books, that Hitchhikers influenced him in his youth. The new ideas that he brings to the books are using Cthulhu and making reference to the Lovecraft mythos, as well as giving Thor a personality as a Rock God. He also has an intentionally stereotypical (as in, the character is trying to be stereotypical) Irish character. Whether this is because Colfer is from Ireland himself (it serves as the setting for his Artemis Fowl books) remains to be seen.

This book works as a successor to Adams’ legacy and in its own right. I found it to be involving, humorous (the cheese and God jokes were pretty funny) and it provides a suitable ending for the series if they decide to end it there. It is a damn good read while it lasts and I think that anyone who likes Adams’ original trilogy of five books should get this.

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