Reviews Comments: OH GOD NO!

If you ever feel like reading this book, take all the previous Hitchhiker's books, cut the memorable parts out of them with scissors, put the cut-out parts in a blender, and then glue the pieces back together. The main problem this book has is that everything in it is either reused from the original books or not as good as the original books. The reason why I liked Douglas Adams' series was because everything was new. If anything from a previous book came back, Douglas Adams had something new to do with it. Eoin Colfer brings back bits of the original books over and over again, but doesn't do anything new with them. The series tries to imitate Douglas Adams' voice, but it feels forced and wrong. If I read this book without having read any of the other books, I would have quit reading it after a few pages. Now I wish I had quit reading it, because it ruined the entire series for me. Well, it ruined the entire series for me for a few days, until I reread all of Douglas Adams' books and tried to forget And Another Thing. I wish I could forget it.

Eoin Colfer seems to think that Ford Prefect is Zaphod. This really got on my nerves after a while, because I can't stand people acting out of character. Ford Prefect is my favorite character. He is NOT Zaphod. Oh, and Zaphod is written to be much more of an idiot than he was in the original books. The other characters are butchered too, but I will stop now so that I can hit my head against a brick wall until I forget that this book was ever written.


*looks at the other two reviews*

Folks, I think we have officially run the gamut.
comment #12509 troacctid 26th Jan 12
In the Adams books, Ford becomes redundant the moment Zaphod enters the scene. Ford is essentially a watered-down, less interesting version of Zaphod with only a handful of isolated quirks to set him apart. Colfer recognized this and drew a schism between the two by emphasizing Zaphod's narcissistic side and Ford's hedonistic side. Though Adams is certainly the smarter, quicker writer, Colfer does characterization better. He played Ford better than Adams did.
comment #12590 EddieValiantJr 31st Jan 12
Characterizing Ford as a hedonist is stupid. He's a bit selfish, sure, but he voluntarily spends his days hitchhiking, an activity that doesn't really suggest much in the way of wealth and relaxation and whatnot. And he deliberately put himself in extreme danger to avenge the Guide, which was the entire reason he spent his days hitchhiking, when he was offered a cushy position reviewing high-class restaurants.

And what makes it dumber is that Ford does display a lot of contrasting characteristics for Zaphod. He's more of a skeptic. He's more knowledgeable, if only barely. He's got more of a conscious, if only slightly (he's a tad more hesitant to steal the ship in book 2.) And he's more motivated than Zaphod—note that in book 3 he's obsessed with finding a party where Zaphod can't be bothered to do jack shit until the final chapters. Sure, these are small things, and probably largely unintentional, but there's much more of a basis for them than Ford's sudden hedonism.

I prefer consistent characterization to characterization, period. Colfer had stuff to work with and he ignored it in favor of projecting a brand new personality onto the character.
comment #12596 Wackd 31st Jan 12 (edited by: Wackd)
If you think it's stupid now, I can't imagine why you didn't think it was stupid before. Ford was very devoted to the Guide, true; he believed in and admired the spread of practical information. But there's no denying that at least as early as Restaurant, he was primarily concerned with getting drunk and / or laid half the time. As Douglas described him, he was like the Doctor, except he'd much rather go to a party than save the universe. Colfer accentuated his hedonistic side, likely to differentiate him and Zaphod, but he certainly didn't butcher his character like you claim.
comment #12737 EddieValiant,Jr. 8th Feb 12
I guess it's more the type of hedonism. Ford was primarily into drinking and partying, this much is true, but that's a very low-class sort of hedonism that's available damn near everywhere. In fact, the very activities that his interests were contrasted with—namely, saving the universe—make him come off as more lazy or uncaring than hedonistic. Colfer writes of Ford as someone who aspires to wealth and is happiest in a resort, which doesn't line up with that well. It's not a butchering, to be sure, but I still feel it's a fairly large and unprovoked change.
comment #12738 Wackd 8th Feb 12 (edited by: Wackd)
Ford's fantasy in chapter one of AAT consists of having unlimited means of doing his favorite things—i.e. getting hammered out of his mind on a nightly basis without the hangover, enjoying various sensual pleasures, etc. The gambling does seem a bit out of place, but if you think about it you realize that he's more than likely had a very low income all his life and the lotus eater machine is probably making him feel like the one thing he never felt he could genuinely be: a big shot (consider his conversation with the prostitute in Han Dold City and the fact that his given name, Ix, actually means something like "boy who cannot properly explain the disappearance of his father" or something; he's been penniless and put upon, so it stands to reason that on some level he wished for wealth).

The key to appreciating AAT is to understand that Colfer's deepest impressions of Douglas's work may not necessarily be the same as your own, but that doesn't make his interpretation of the characters or their universe any less legit (I'm sure we agree that the actual quality of his writing is good). I have a feeling that at least many of the fans who regard AAT so poorly secretly wish they'd written the sixth book themselves.

By the way, I'm really enjoying this discussion. Thanks for being my non-caustic debate partner, and on one of my favorite subjects to boot.
comment #12739 EddieValiantJr 8th Feb 12
No problem. Ford's nickname is Ix, incidentally, because he didn't get the chance to learn how to pronounce his real one before his dad and entire planet was destroyed in the The Great Collapsing Hrung Disaster of Galactic Sidereal Year 03758. It means "one who is unable to adequately explain what a Hrung is, nor why it should chose to collapse on Betelgeuse 7." Outside of that, we don't know a great deal about his backstory; we're told he's spent a great period of time working for the Guide and attended school with Zaphod, and that both were tight with some political figure or another who was part of the reason Zaphod eventually did what he did to his brain. We don't know if he was penniless and put-upon. Hell, Arthur gets more backstory than he does, and he's the freaking everyman.

And I'll give you that it's open for interpretation, as I concede Adams didn't do a great job of character building, but it rubs me the wrong way that the greatest fantasy of someone who travels for a living would involve staying in one place for any great period of time, even if that place allowed him unlimited and consequenceless sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. Keep in mind, again, that if he really wanted to indulge himself he would've taken that cushy resteraunt-reviewer job, but instead threw himself into harms way. It worked out, of course, but only because the Guide 2.0 was fixing things for him.

Given that Zaphod's modus operandi is much more aggressively "hang out and do nothing", it would've made a lot more sense to characterize him as a hedonist. Instead we got stupid movie Zaphod, but I digress.

I'll concede that a lot of my problems with AAT can be chalked up to not liking the characterization choices, but there's other stuff as well. I certainly don't envy Colfer, though, writing this book must've been a daunting task especially with such high standards set for it. I think it'd be more accurate to say that most wish the idea of a sixth book never came up at all, or at the very least that Adams was around to write it.
comment #12742 Wackd 8th Feb 12 (edited by: Wackd)
Fair enough. I think what this boils down to is that given the lax characterization in the original books, my mind "filled in the blanks" for Ford, and Colfer's mind must have filled them in more or less the same way. I didn't think of Ford as breaking character at any point in the book, but if I had thought of him differently all along, then perhaps his characterization here would have bothered me.

As for Zaphod, I actually think he's one of the relatively few things the (extremely disappointing) movie got dead right. Remember that halfway through, Zaphod has his second head removed and that's why he acts so dumb and spaced out through the end of the film. Before that, he was no different from the character as written in the books, even berating Trillian for her lack of foresight when he thinks she deliberately let hitchhikers board the ship. In AAT, half of his brain actually became its own entity (Left Brain), taking the logic with him and leaving the "original" Zaphod to run mainly on emotion. It may have been an excuse for Colfer to write the version of Zaphod he's most comfortable with, but he pulled it off artfully in my opinion, and I found Left Brain charming, to the point where I hardly missed Marvin and Eddie.

And, not to attack you personally, but I think the fans' anger at the very notion of a sixth novel not written by Douglas is the saddest thing about the whole endeavor. To me, it's beautiful and a badge of honor when a work outlives its creator; it tells you they have cultural staying power, that they've been deemed worthy of exploring from new and different perspectives, to introduce to new audiences. It's true, the book could always be bad, and you don't seem to have liked it much at all (I did), but I think it's better to be brave and hope for the best than to never take the shot at all.
comment #12748 EddieValiant,Jr. 9th Feb 12 (edited by: EddieValiant,Jr.)
I liked the Guide entries. I feel Colfer got the tone of those right. And I liked the depiction of Thor and the whole Hillman Huntern fiasco. In fact, had this not been a Hitchhiker's book at all I probably would've been more comfortable with it, but as it stands my conception of the characters wouldn't allow me to accept what my mind interpreted as a radical reinterpretation.

As for Zaphod, he's admittedly an entirely different issue. My issue with movie!Zaphod was more to do with bombast than intelligence; but you can read all about that in the comments for my TVT review of the movie. I thought the "splitting the heads" thing was a rather shoddy excuse for turning the character into a dumbass, though I wasn't any more disappointed by the lack of Marvin or Eddie than I was in previous installments without them.

I agree it's nice when a work outlives its creator, but there's something about Hitchhikers where the style is so tied to the content that handing it off to another author seems sort of odd. Because what happens is now the new author has to write it in the same style, which can feel sort of awkward and clumsy. I do feel Colfer pulled it off, though. As I mentioned the characterization was my main issue.

I'm glad we had this little talk.
comment #12749 Wackd 9th Feb 12
This review pretty much sums up my thoughts on the book; Colfer tries to ape Adams' style without understanding how and why Adams' stories worked in the first place. I'm planning on writing my own review when I can gird by loins enough to at least re-skim through the book again to make a good enough criticism, but that's taking a while because my GOD I hated this book!
comment #29525 ArcaneAzmadi 11th Jul 15

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