And Another Thing is a brilliant title for a sequel and has the merit of being taken from Douglas Adams' own joke. I have always been a huge H2G2 fan, from the first time I tuned into it accidentally on the radio. But not a nerd, geek or obsessive I want to point out. Still I wasn't all that happy when I heard Eoin Colfer had been asked to write a sequel.
I believe Colfer is a lovely fellow (he even once said very nice things about one of my books in an Irish newspaper) but I read Artemis Fowl, didn't enjoy it, and felt no inclination to read any more.
There is a certain type of middle-aged man who has never quite got over or past the details of the alimentary system and, although this humour is supposed to be specially appealing to children, it never did to me and it doesn't now. In other words enough with the poo jokes!
So I was sceptical - along with gazillions of other fans, apparently. Colfer was even invited, randomly, by Facebook to join a group petitioning to stop him writing "Part Six of Three" as And Another Thing is so waggishly labelled. Being a sport, he joined.
But - much to my surprise - I loved this sequel! Colfer, whose book is being serialised on Radio 4's Book at Bedtime from tonight, is being trailed several times a day saying that the characters are Adams' but the book is his own. This is not quite true. What he has produced is a brilliant pastiche of Adams' Hitchhiker style, especially in the notes from the Guide.
Arthur Dent is not so prominent but Ford, Zaphod and Trillian are much in evidence. Characters that fans will miss are Marvin (the paranoid android) and perhaps Slartibartfast, though he is nicely referenced in the fjord-heavy geography of the planet Nano.
Characters there are a bit too much of are Random Dent and Trillian, who has degenerated from a clever astro-physicist into some sort of Glenda Slagg. New characters include Hillman Hunter (like Ford Prefect - geddit?) who is a joke Irishman, a personage Colfer is well able to stereotype.
I wonder whether what I enjoyed was Adams or Colfer - in other words the being back in that universe, peopled with Vogons and their dreadful poetry, Magratheans who build customised planets, the god Thor, who has an embarrassing video to live down, and the megalomaniac Zaphod with his stolen spaceship, Heart of Gold.
Whatever, I'm grateful to Colfer for bringing all this back to life. And another thing, if he'd just eliminate [sic] all the bottom stuff, I might even read another of Eoin Colfer's books.