Thursday, October 16, 2014

Hanging in the air - the way bricks dont!

The Frood - The authorised and very official history od Douglas Adams & The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

The introduction of this wonderful tome is written by Doug himself and could of been an excerpt from his own irreverent last will and testament.  It's a rambling, pun-filled rant - much like Adam's books.  The HHGG was always one of my favourite bits of the Eighties - partly because it tore down the seriousness of the Miner's Strikes, the bland paleness of the Muldoon era, and the silly-ness of the New Romantics.  He was like Monty Python for our generation - with all the in-jokes and geeky quirkiness that our parents puzzled over and many of our peer (those outside this literary cliché) shunned in ignorance.  Adams was our anti hero. 

As a wise ape once said - space is big, really big.  And so was Adams - his brain was like Dr Who's Tardis - but possibly without the affinity to crash on a regular basis.  Who else could have invented the answer to life, the universe and everything!

Like many biographers Jem Roberts chose to announce his new work in the most overbloated rant on on his blog.  He wrote "

Douglas Adams would have honed this long and flabby blog entry down to about fifty words. This is why he can with relative safety be called a genius, and I can be called something else. Nonetheless…
This is to announce the forthcoming publication of my third book, THE FROOD: A COMEDIC HISTORY OF DOUGLAS ADAMS’ HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY. Or at least, this is a displacement activity when I should be writing my third book, THE FROOD: ACHODAHHGTTG. It has the full official blessing of Adams’ family, agent and estate, and will be published by Preface in the autumn of 2014, to coincide with the 35th anniversary of the release of Adams’ first novel in the trilogy of five (or six now, lest we forget, which is one of the issues this book will mull over)."

He goes on to rant that his previous book on Blackadder was written entirely in secret, not announced until it was ready for publication.  and. consequently was only purchased by a man in Sussex with three cats, called Simon.  His blog rabbits on for about an hour trying to find some kind of cohesive way of getting to the point - and that is Douglas Adams was really cool, really clever and just plain interesting.  This book will tell you more, but be warned, like Roberts and Adams, it's an irreverent read that does not take the fast track, facts are accurate way to explaining anything about Adams.  So approach with caution.  If you really want to know about Douglas Adams - consult Wikipedia - at least you know it's an official lie!

Extracts from an abandoned draft of a Hitchhiker's Guide are included after they were discovered amongst the papers in his Cambridge archive.  Unfortunately, Adams died in 2001, aged 49, leaving behind him seven much-loved novels and three co-authored works of non fiction including my favourite The Meaning of Lif. The Salmon of Doubt, published posthumously in 2002, was a collection of fragments and part of an unfinished novel culled from his hard drive, but Jem Roberts, who was given full and exclusive access by Adams' family to his papers, found a treasure trove of unsuspected work within the boxes and boxes of material housed in St John's College.

A selection is included in The Frood, from cut extracts from the first Hitchhiker's Guide novel, The Dentrassi and Arthur's Reverie (yes are we all glad that particular title didn't stick!), to extracts from the "lost" draft of Life The Universe and Everything, including one on "Inter-Species Sex".
"The Salmon of Doubt was taken from the hard drive of all Douglas's many different Apple Macs," Roberts is quoted in various interweb sources "Nobody had ever thought about a paper trail though. Douglas Adams was the king of new technology, and people probably thought he'd had a huge bonfire of all his papers. But there are boxes and boxes of notebooks, lots of typescript stuff, paper printed from the computer … it was just an enormous job."

There is "an enormous amount of material out there that has never been seen before", Roberts writes in The Frood. As well as Life, the Universe and Everything, the biography will feature an alternative original pitch for Hitchhiker, a lost rough script for the second television series, and further scraps of unused material, with names like Baggy the Runch and The Assumption of Saint Zalabad.
The Life, the Universe and Everything draft, Roberts said, has "whole chapters where the characters are doing different things – different ideas he never got round to using, [such as] chapters written from Arthur Dent's point of view".

Of course, none of this stuff is finished", he's added. "It's very important to contextualise this material properly … and I understand people thinking that this is raw material and he didn't want it to be seen. I spend part of the book asking what Douglas would have wanted …but I think it's wonderful that we finally get to read some of this stuff."

The book is authorised by the Adams estate and Douglas Adams' family.  ""It would be ridiculous to pretend that Douglas Adams' life and work has gone unexamined since his dismayingly early death at 49, but throughout the decade since the last book to tackle the subject, the universes Adams created have continued to develop, to beguile and expand minds, and will undoubtedly do so for generations to come," said the publisher

As Adams put it: "any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is clearly a man to be reckoned with."

And if you were wondering just who this Jem person is...then here's a wee note or two on him.  He was born in Ludlow, studied in English, Film & Television at Aberystwyth University.  A lifetime in magazines led to the honour of writing his first book, the acclaimed Clue Bible: The Fully Authorised History of the Sorry I Haven't a Clue.  It was followed up by a book on Blackadder.  This is his third book.

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