Upon publication, Don’t Panic quickly established itself as the definitive companion to Adams and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. This edition comes up to date, covering the movie, And Another Thing by Eoin Colfer and the build up to the 30th anniversary of the first novel.

Acclaimed author Neil Gaiman celebrates the life and work of Douglas Adams who, in a field in Innsbruck in 1971, had an idea that became The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The radio series that started it all, the five — soon to be six — book ‘trilogy’, the TV series, almost-film and actual film, and everything in between.


Mainly through interviews with a number of the participants, Gaiman charts Adams’ life and his writing career. Adams followed in the footsteps of British comedians like John Cleese by attending Cambridge and joining its theatrical club Footlights. This time would prove to be fruitful because even though he clashed with many in the group, he was befriended by Simon Jones (Arthur Dent in the radio and television series) and John Lloyd, who co-wrote the last two episodes of the first radio series, was an associate producer on the television series, and went on to produce of popular British comedy series Not the Nine O’Clock News and Black Adder. It was also through Footlights that Adams met and got a job writing with alum Graham Chapman for about 18 months.

Adams had a little success creating sketches for radio programs and then became busier than he could imagine as the first Hitchhiker’s radio series was commissioned, quickly followed by a four-part Doctor Who episode and soon after an offer to be a script editor, which he accepted.


I have read all of Douglas Adams’ novels, including Last Chance to See, which documented his journeys around the world to see how certain endangered species were doing. I’m a huge fan of his unique way of seeing the world.

But I never really knew the bumpy road of the Hitchhiker’s radio program or Adams’ involvement with the Dr. Who franchise. And I didn’t realize that he was involved with the Monty Python troupe. All these little facts are eloquently detailed in Gaiman’s prose. This version of Don’t Panic is the fifth edition. The first was written in 1988 by Gaiman and it’s seen updates as Adams’ journey and his legacy continued over the years.

Gaiman tells the writing life of Adams succinctly. Gaiman writes with a journalistic style, making each chapter read like a different article on some aspect of Adam’s life, though also keeping them interconnected. The short chapters are peppered with quotes from Adams as well as many of the people who worked with him. This makes this writing biography unique as Gaiman had access that no later biographer had, and although there are a couple of other good biographies out there by those who worked with Adams in various capacities, Gaiman’s style is more approachable and more accessible to the average reader who wants more background but does not want to go into the nitty-gritty detail.

The biography also has unique quotes from Adams notes, such as deleted scenes, the original synopsis, and a who’s who of the galaxy with Adams quotes. This is a great biography for younger students interested in learning more about Adams for reports or for the casual reader who’d like to know more about why no Hitchhiker’s version is like another.



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