The Abridged Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

I suppose this story needs some of of explanation, rather than a mere teaser of what is to come.

As with many geeky types of my age, I was a huge fan of Douglas Adams and the The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in all three incarnations I was familiar with. I have recordings of the television series and the radio series stashed away on most likely entirely disintegrated compact disc by now. I have (almost) all the books in multiple editions. More on that “almost” later.

I read the trilogy religously every year during Winter break. I swooned when a fourth book came out and read it greedily as soon as I could get my hands on it.

Then a fifth book. Sheer ecstasy as I rushed to acquire it.

And then I read it.

I can’t say I was disappointed, though I was. That isn’t a strong enough word. I was angry. That is a much better word. Or perhaps betrayed. That works too. To me, the book seemed to shout “For fucks sake, I don’t want to write another book in the series right now but my publishers just sent me a huge advance and fuck, fuck, fuck.”

I sensed that tone everywhere. The tone was there in the everyone dying in the end, happy now? The tone was there in Arthur’s relief in finally and unequivocally realizing he was about to be blown to bits and it would all be over. It was there in Random’s entirely one-dimensional attitude toward the entire thing. To my by then young adult brain it all seemed to say, “Ponce off, they’re all dead, even Ford, and not one but two Trillians, just for good measure. Story over.”

Not a polite message to send your fans.

Now, I could be reading too much into it, he might just have been having a bad hair day, or perhaps had acquired too much tea of a variety he did not particularly like, but having spent too much on it, felt compelled to make it through the lot while working on that one more book. Or maybe his publishers did indeed badger him so much for one more book that he just got really annoyed. An annoyance quickly stifled by a proposed advance and shoved in a dark corner where it most obviously couldn’t cause any trouble whatsoever.

So, what did I do?

I did the proper rabid fan thing and channeled my anger—some might say sublimated it. I started to write a sequel. It wasn’t hard to find plenty of loose threads to pick it up from. Douglas Adams clearly lived for loose threads. I sincerely doubt he could write a single word unless there was a loose thread dangling from it somewhere. It's part of what made his writing so engaging.

But then I gave up. After all, it was not something I could ever publish, at least not without far more connections than I would ever have. I had no rights to the franchise. And this was before the World Wide Web was really a thing. Tossing it out on Usenet or the local BBS just wasn’t the same thing.

The sequel by Eoin Colfer over a decade later gave me hope for redemption, that this poor farewell could be amicably resolved, but in many ways it just felt like an apology for the previous poor ending and left me sad. Sadness didn’t channel well into retaliatory sublimation, so nothing came of it. As such, it is the only book in the series that I now own exactly zero copies of.

Then, recently, I refound the first few chapters and my notes for the rest of my rebuttal. Since the World Wide Web is now indeed a thing and has been for some time, I figured the least I could do is declare it to be an exemplar of this ever popular thing called fanfic, with all the definitively suspect interpretations of fair use that the term implies, and put it up on my site at least until the Adams’ estate, or perhaps their publisher, yells at me to take it down again before they send some claims agents around that would make Vogons seem personable to discuss the matter in more detail.

So here it is, the Abridged Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Well, as much of it as exists until I turn the rest of my notes into words.

If you haven’t already read The Hitckhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, you most definitely should. Without it, this work won’t make much sense. So before starting this, I would recommend rushing out and buying a copy. It will help you finally understand many memes that infect our modern culture. Then buy multiple copies for your friends so they can be enlightened too. Then, once you have read it all cover to cover multiple times, rented the movies and tracked down copies of the original televison and radio series, read this.

Hope you enjoy it before someone makes it go away again. Not unlike that inconvenient planet called “Earth” really.

More to come…