Tracey's Reviews > Don't Panic: Douglas Adams & The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Don't Panic by Neil Gaiman
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's review
Sep 14, 07

Recommended for: any Douglas Adams fan who knows where his/her towel is
Read in January, 2003

I received Don't Panic: Douglas Adams & the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as a birthday present & eagerly devoured it this week. Equally a biography and an examination of Adams' body of work, the original version of Don't Panic was written in 1987 by Neil Gaiman, with additional chapters added by David K. Dickson in 1993 and an overhaul with final chapter in 2003 by MJ Simpson. It is a credit to all three of these writers that the voice of the work is consistent throughout - and sounds suspiciously (to me) like Douglas himself.

The work is roughly chronological, tracing the development of the Hitchhiker's Guide material through the original radio show, play performances, audio recording & television show, to the increasingly-inaccurately-named trilogy, computer game and still-to-be-hoped-for movie. Adams' early ventures into the media (including two walk-on parts in the last season of Monty Python's Flying Circus) are also discussed, as well as other projects like Last Chance to See and The Meaning of Liff. Dirk Gently rates a chapter or two, as does Adams' forays into computer gaming and the World Wide Web. The final chapter is appropriately called "A Sort of Apres-Vie". :^(

The appendices are a wonderful addition - the original synopsis of Hitchhikers', an analysis of the variant texts, a Who's Who of the major characters from the series, "How to Leave the Planet" and an excerpt of the film treatment of "Doctor Who and the Krikketmen" (Oh yes - Adams was involved in the Doctor Who series, as well...)

This book made me smile, albeit through the occasional tears - I was fortunate enough to attend a talk and book signing with Douglas Adams back in 1995 - and Gaiman's characterization of DA as "serious and funny and faintly baffled" was spot on. I would recommend Don't Panic to any Douglas Adams fan who knows where his/her towel is.
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