Homage or Heresy?

My favourite author of all time is Douglas Adams. Among other things he wrote a trilogy (in 5 parts) which started with the publication of The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy in October 1979. Adams died suddenly in 2001 without leaving a single note or idea for future books in the series. Although he was quoted as predicting that he might, one day, write a sixth book we, his fans, were left wondering what might have been.

Apparently not for much longer. And Another Thing, the sixth book in the series, is to be released next Monday which just happens to be the 30th anniversary of the original volume’s publication.

Adams hasn’t risen from the dead or communicated from the other side. The book has been written by children’s author Eoin Colfer.

He has the blessing of Adams’ widow and daughter (everywhere you see the book mentioned in print it is preceded by the word authorised) but I don’t care. I won’t be buying it. Or borrowing it. Or reading it. I might not be able to stop myself from ripping it from the shelves and jumping up and down on it until it is pulp.

My gripe?

When did the world become so starved of creative talent that stealing borrowing someone else’s characters, settings and writing style is seen as acceptable?

tn_Adams GraveWhen did we stop accepting that things cease to be? That people die? That series end? That sometimes this doesn’t happen to suit publisher’s bank balances?

Have we become pathologically and collectively thanatophobic or is just that anything fair game in the never-ending chase for money?

I’m just about prepared to believe that Colfer is an Adams fan with nothing but good intentions (and a sizable chunk of hubris) although I take issue with the statement he made in December

“I think it’s going to be a good book, not a Douglas Adams book, but one that will stand on its own”.

No, Mr Colfer however much of a fan you are and whatever the book will do it cannot possibly stand on its own. To stand on its own it would need to be something other than the sixth book in some else’s series.

I wish with all my heart that a good (great) thing had been left alone.

What about you? Do you want to join me in armed combat against this kind of blatant cash grab? Or have I got it all wrong? Have you enjoyed other similar works? Perhaps you liked Devil May Care (a James Bond novel written by Sebastian Faulks in homage to Ian Flemming) or Scarlett (the ‘sequel’ to Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind penned by Alexandra Ripley some 54 years after the original and, presumably, after Mitchell’s heirs had squandered her estate)?

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7 Responses to Homage or Heresy?

  1. Maxine says:

    And I hope we don’t see the same with Stieg Larsson.


  2. Maxine’s right – I truly hope that Stieg Larsson’s work is respected and left alone. You’ve got a very good point! I, too, am a big fan of Douglas Adams, and it upsets me that, with or without the approval of Adams’ family, somebody is trying to use his work to get more money. Thanks for the post. Count me out of any queue to buy that book!


  3. Kerrie says:

    I wrote a post last year about what R.N.Morris had done Bernadette – http://paradise-mysteries.blogspot.com/2008/08/riding-on-coat-tails-or-plagiarism.html – I have the same feeling about those who try to piggyback on Conan Doyle, and there is a female writer (crime fiction) where somebody has “continued” her series too. I think you are right, it is not motivated by homage. The cynic in me wonders how long Colfer searched to find something to boost his own flagging fortunes.


  4. bernadetteinoz says:

    Wow Kerrie I didn’t know the R N Morris book (which I just consigned to the DNF pile by the way) was a sequel to Crime & Punishment (but as I never finished that one either I guess it’s not surprising I didn’t pick up the hints).

    And yes Maxine and Margot I too was thinking of Larsson – occasionally we see hints in the blogosphere that his partner is working on the notes he left behind but I really, really, really hope nothing is published from that. If it is I won’t be buying it.


  5. Kerrie says:

    Perhaps it was all that snow and ice in St. Petersburgh but I never warmed to the pompous Porfiry Petrovich and have never wanted to read the sequel. My brain appreciates what he has tried to do, but I was really aggravated (eventually) by the fact that the pre-quel to this was not his.


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  7. Reg Keeland says:

    Maxine & Bernadette,
    Stieg’s partner Eva Gabrielsson has no plans to “finish” Stieg’s 4th book. Instead, she is writing an account of what happened after he died, working title “The Year After Stieg.” She is vehemently against exploitation of the characters in any further tales, films, or comic books (yes, those have been mentioned). Unfortunately she is not in control of Stieg’s literary legacy, so these decisions are up to his father and brother. Blut ist alles.


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