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GUEST REVIEW: And Another Thing… by Eoin Colfer

[SF Signal welcomes the return of guest reviewer Jason Sanford!]

REVIEW SUMMARY: A very good continuation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, although not equal to the first four books by Douglas Adams. But hey, that would have been asking the impossible (unless you’ve already done six impossible things this morning).


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Despite previously dying as every earth across the multiverse was destroyed, Arthur Dent and the Hitchhiker crew return for more hilarious fun, this time involving the Asgardian god Thor and an insulted Zaphod Beeblebrox, who’s determined to kill an immortal jerk who can’t be killed.


PROS: Way better than the last book in the series. Too many laugh out loud moments and brilliant turns of language to count, including the new catch phrase “Appease the Cheese.”
CONS: Lags a bit at the beginning and the end, although this seems to result from cleaning up the mess of a storyline left over from Mostly Harmless.
BOTTOM LINE: Fans of the Hitchhiker’s series will enjoy this book.

Be warned! Like an ancient god of wrath and bluster, the law is being laid down, and the law it this: There’s only one Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and I am its biggest fan!

I’ve read the books dozens of times. Listened to the radio shows. Seen the horrible starship crash of a movie. Now I await only the overpriced Broadway play and related coffee table book before I can disembark this mortal plane for a connecting flight to obsession.

So yes, when it comes to Douglas Adams’ classic series, I’m a bit biased. In my view, the first three books—comprising The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, and Life, the Universe and Everything—can be counted among the literary classics of the 20th century (at least by anyone who remembers that novels should be fun to read). Their combination of wonderful satire, biting humor, great writing, and pitch-perfect characters are something rarely found in literature.

Don’t believe me? Then write my statement on a piece of paper, twine the paper around an electric drill bit, and insert revolving metal and paper into your skull until the truth penetrates your tiny brain. For especially dense individuals, repeat as necessary.

This isn’t to say all Adams’ books are equal. While the first three books in the series are great, the fourth book, So Long and Thanks for All the Fish, doesn’t quite measure up, although it’s close and can be counted as near great. And Mostly Harmless, Adams’ final Hitchhiker book? Better to call it “Mostly Painful.”

No, Mostly Harmless isn’t a good book. The laughs are few and far between as Adams destroys each and every thing readers love about his series. And for good measure, he gifts us with the most irritating character of all in Random Dent, the eternally nasty teenager who simply refuses to rise above the cliché of herself. The novel reads like Adams’ constipated frak you to the world.

But despite this, at least Douglas wrapped up his series. Or so I thought.

Then came Eoin Colfer’s And Another Thing…, the sixth book in the Hitchhiker’s trilogy.

When I first heard about this book, I was appalled. You see, I’m not a fan of new authors writing in a dead author’s universe. It feels cheap. Like someone’s only in it for the money. And not in a Zaphod Beeblebrox “I’m cheap and only in it for the money but hey, I’m Zaphod Beeblebrox!” sort of way.

To express my disgust, I wrote the deceptively silly “Don’t Panic: 42 Reasons Not to Read the New Hitchhiker’s Book.” This was my way of stating I had no intention of spending my money on this affront to common literary decency.

But lucky for me, I’m also a cheap bastard. So when Colleen Lindsay offered to send me a free copy of the book if I’d look at it, I couldn’t say no.

And imagine my surprise. I actually laughed. I laughed a great deal. I laughed at brilliant turns of language which Douglas Adams would have greedily cribbed. I was once again at home with all my favorite characters as they stumbled through the destruction—Good God, how often must our planet die?—of earth. I even learned to like the character of Random Dent, which is something the great Douglas himself couldn’t force me to do.

This doesn’t mean the book is as good as the first four Hitchhiker novels, but that would have been an impossibly tall order. But And Another Thing… is a worthy continuation of the series, and is way better than Mostly Harmless. And to the long list of classic Hitchhiker catch phrases like “Don’t Panic!” and “Mostly Harmless,” Colfer contributes one of his own: “Appease the Cheese!”

We would all do well in life if we only appeased the cheese.

This is a very good novel. The only times Colfer falls flat are in the beginning—when he’s trying to clean up the mess Douglas left in Mostly Harmless —and in the dénouement starring Arthur Dent, where Colfer seems to be setting up the next sequel. But overall, anyone who enjoyed the original series will enjoy this book too.

So where does this leave us with regards to my Hitchhiker’s law? Well, in my view there is still only one Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. And I guess I’m still its biggest fan. But more importantly for anyone reading this review, And Another Thing… isn’t such a bad thing to exist alongside the original series. When I need a laugh I’ll occasionally open the book and reread my favorite parts, just like I do with the first four books in the series.

Millennia from now, when our culture has sputtered into the great eternal night like only cultures eating a ton of beans can sputter, our literature will remain. Scholars will likely study our novels and books to understand the absurdities of our primitive ways of life. It is my hope that when this happens, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy will be used to club said pretentious eggheads over and over until they are dead.

And if they turn out to be merely stunned, I’d recommend someone grabbing a copy of And Another Thing… to continue the beating.

There’s truly no higher praise one can give a novel.

About Jason Sanford (19 Articles)
Jason Sanford has published a number of stories in the British SF magazine Interzone, which devoted a special issue to his fiction in December 2010. In addition, his fiction has been published in Year's Best SF 14, Asimov's, Analog, Intergalactic Medicine Show, Tales of the Unanticipated, The Mississippi Review, Diagram, Pindeldyboz, and other places (along with being translated into Chinese, French, Russian, and Czech). He is a three-time winner of the Interzone Readers' Poll and was a finalist for the 2009 Nebula Award for Best Novella. He also co-founded the literary journal storySouth, through which he runs the annual Million Writers Award for best online fiction, and writes a monthly column for the Czech SF magazine XB-1. SF Signal published the English version of this column. His website is <a href="//”"></a>.
Contact: Website

4 Comments on GUEST REVIEW: And Another Thing… by Eoin Colfer

  1. *coughcough* toldyaso! *coughcough* =)

    Thanks for accepting my challange, sir! And I’m really glad you liked the book. (Also? Gotta respect someone willing to publicly admit he may have been wrong.)



  2. Peter Damien // February 15, 2010 at 8:11 am //

    I’m thrilled to hear you liked it. I haven’t finished it yet, but loved what I’ve read (I love that it starts with the clever, and Douglas-like idea of “what if you searched for the Guide, IN the Guide?”)

    I figured that any new book would be written faster and with more plot and coherency than an ACTUAL book by Adams. He wasn’t a novelist (he WAS a genius).

    Also, that was one HELL of a gleeful, fun review. 😀

  3. Just finished the book myself.  It lacked the satire that made me love the first three books, and I agree that the ending was a bit disappointing… When it seemed like Arthur had finally settled down, I felt like there was an important part of me that could finally relax. 

    Anyway, that aside, I agree with the review:  Well worth reading for any Guide fan.  Although I disagree with the beginning:  I though Colfer did a superb job of rescuing things.  It would have been nice if Colfer brought some more original characters and ideas to the universe, but it’s easy to understand why he didn’t.  I mean, you don’t’ want to stomp all over everything. 

    Anyway, for what it’s worth, I wasn’t going to read this until you said it was worth while.  Thanks for changing my mind.  And I thought Zaphod was, if possible, better than perfect 🙂

  4. David Pirtle // February 27, 2011 at 2:57 pm //

    Just getting around to reading this.  The beginning is frenetic.  Its almost like Colfer feels the need to justify his fandom by squeezing in references to past books.  It gets better as it settles down.  I seriously object to the innane love story between Wowbagger and Trillian.  However, it seems every book needs a love story these days.  I also think Ford and Arthur are just about wasted.  Zaphod, who didn’t even appear in the last two books, is the main character here, and his story is enjoyable enough. I must admit I don’t know why you detest ‘Mostly Harmless’ so very much.  I thought it was the best of the last 3 books, the ones not based on the radio series.  I know lots of people seemed to be bummed by the ending, but I thought it was perfect.  I guess thats why it never seemed to me that another book was necessary.  However, now that I’ve read it, I have to say I enjoyed it for what it was, if nothing more.  

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