HITCHHIKER: A Biography of Douglas Adams

M. J. Simpson, Author , foreword by Neil Gaiman. Justin, Charles & Co. $27.95 (382p) ISBN 978-1-932112-17-7

Longtime Douglas Adams devotee Simpson has penned his second book on the subject (he also wrote The Pocket Essential Hitchhikers Guide , released in the U.K. in 2001). An engaging yet straightforward portrait of the phenomenally successful writer of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (and its series of spinoff books and radio plays), the book is informed by interviews with many of Adams's close friends and associates (Adams died in 2001 at age 49). Simpson weaves a tale that meanders from Adams's school days and university nights to his work as a scriptwriter for the BBC, through his years as a frustrated novelist and, later, to what Gaiman, in his foreword, calls his career as "a Futurologist, or an Explainer, or something." Simpson, a cofounder of the British sci-fi magazine SFX , does an able job of pulling out revelatory bits, sketching a portrait of Adams as a genius procrastinator, an inventive guardian of his creative efforts and a restless experimenter, always easily distracted from completing a current project by the promise of projects not yet explored. Among the book's more compelling aspects is Simpson's discovery of a large volume of unexplained exaggerations in Adams's recollection of the events in his life, evidence of both the unreliability of memory and Adams's inability to refrain from spinning good yarns, even when they were about himself. It's both a must-have for serious Adams fans and a neat companion volume to Gaiman's more playful 1987 guide to The Hitchhiker's Guide , Don't Panic . Agent, Andrew Lownie. (Nov.)

FYI: Titan Books is publishing an updated edition of Neil Gaiman's Don't Panic: Douglas Adams & the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy this month ($21.95 ISBN 1-84023-742-2).

Reviewed on: 10/13/2003
Release date: 10/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 432 pages - 978-1-932112-35-1
Show other formats
Discover what to read next