Don’t Panic – Neil Gaiman

October 25, 2009

So I got another book review request, this time by an actual well known author!  Go me!  And on top of that, it is a book about another really great author.

Don’t Panic is the story of how The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams came about.  It is very funny, filled with personal anecdotes from the man himself as well as many others who were involved with the series in some way – whether the radio version, TV, movie, books, records, merchandise, computer game, or just by virtue of being near Adams at some point during the process.  It is also written in a style that borrows from the tone of Hitchhiker and apparently from Adams - always slightly bemused, as if it can’t believe this ever actually happened. 

As a poor, uneducated American, I had no idea how many versions and spinoffs there were of the original radio series.  I mean, there’s a Hitchhiker’s computer game?  Who knew?!  I also had no idea how many popular British actors, comedians, TV and radio people were associated with Adams or Hitchhiker’s.  Some of the people mentioned I had not even heard of, though apparently they are quite famous across the pond. 

I am normally not a fan of ‘the making of” type books, but Don’t Panic is done in such a way that, rather than destroying the mystery of Hitchhiker’s, it adds to it, giving the impression that Adams’ life (lived entirely on Earth as far as I know) followed the same haphazard pattern of the series.  If you are an Adams fan, this book is a great addition to your collection.  My next task in the sci fi world will be to reread the entire series with a new eye for detail and an increased appreciation for the randomness that went into its making.  Maybe the Dirk Gently books too, just for the heck of it.


A New Link in the Evolution Chain

October 1, 2009

Once again it has been too long since I last posted.  This real life stuff just takes so much time!  But I saw this articleon MSN.com (so probably everyone who looks at real news outlets has already seen it) about the fossil of the human ancestor believed to be 1 million years older than Lucy – she was previously the oldest human-linked fossil ever found.  The new guy is nicknamed Ardi, short for Ardipithecus ramidus, and is dated at 4.4 million years old.  He is not a human fossil of course, but he is believed to be another link in the chain back to a common ancestor of humans and apes.  He has some human type characteristics, some ape/chimp type characteristics, and some that are neither but could be from a common starting point before both human and ape/chimp characteristics evolved fully.  This explanation makes sense to me, since I never got how apes could have essentially stopped evolving when humans branched off – it seems much more logical to think that there was a common starting point but that both branches have continued growing and changing since then, than it does to think humans evolved from apes and apes haven’t changed since then.  Maybe that’s how evolutionary scientists have seen it for years, but it isn’t how it was taught in schools as recently as 15 years ago (yes, I’m dating myself here).


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.