It was only a few weeks ago that I learned there was going to be a sixth book in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. Before he died unexpectedly in 2001 at 49, Douglas Adams had talked about doing a sixth book. The 30th anniversary of Hitchhikers is this month, and in August of 2008, Adams' estate contacted Eoin Colfer, author of the Artemis Fowl series about a teenage criminal mastermind. It's Die Hard with fairies, according to the author. People are always asking Colfer (whose first name is pronounced "Owen," by the way) why he was chosen to write the book. He says it's because Douglas Adams' widow and daughter thought he was funny.
I'd decided I'd get the book, And Another Thing... in the near future, then I learned he would be appearing this evening at Powell's Books over in Beaverton where I'd seen Sarah Vowell a couple of weeks ago. I didn't feel like paying full price for the book, so I made a trip to the nearest Barnes and Noble, where it was 20% off and started reading. Then I drove over to Powell's, leaving early enough so if traffic was heavy I'd still be there in plenty of time. That left me plenty of time to continue reading, and by the time the event started I was up to page 99.
All the regulars are back: Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, Trillian and Zaphod Beeblebrox. Marvin the Paranoid Android may not be in this book; so far I haven't seen him. It's a bit into the future and while everyone's still going, they've had some help, since it's mentioned at one point that Trillian, who has had a successful career as a galactic reporter, is 105 years old. Even so, she has a child, Random Frequent Flyer Dent who is a teenager in this book. She was introduced in Mostly Harmless. Trillian had gone to a galactic sperm bank and since Arthur was the only donor of the same species, he's the father. From what I've read so far, And Another Thing... is worthy of being the sixth book in the series. There are frequent references to characters, species and events from the previous books, and the humor is just as offbeat and crazy as anything Douglas Adams ever wrote. If you liked the first five books of the series, you'll like this one.
Colfer didn't do a reading, choosing instead to talk about how he came to be the one to write it, which including talking about how he and a group of friends read the original Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy back around 1979 and loved it. When And Another Thing... was launched earlier this month all of the group of friends and their families were at the launch event. He also took questions, but I couldn't think of anything intelligent to ask, so I didn't.
This event was a bit different. You needed a free ticket for the signing and people were called up in groups of ten according to the ticket number. They also had a raffle. There was a $10 gift certificate, a large poster on foam board that stood in front of the podium, 20 small black towels with the book title and "Don't Panic!" on them, and about the same number of small books containing reviews of each of the six books in the series. People filled out slips of paper with their names and emails which then went into a box. I almost never win anything in these raffles, and tonight was no exception.
Normally I'd have a picture, but I managed to leave the apartment and get almost to where I get on I-84 before I realized I'd never even thought about the camera and by then I didn't want to turn around.