Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

The Frood The Frood:
The Authorised and Very Official History of Douglas Adams & The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
by Jem Roberts
Preface Publishing

Supplied for review by Random HouseNew Zealand

Reviewed By: Steven Litten

Jem Roberts is a British writer, noted by Stephen Fry as "Jem manages to write about popular cultural institutions with knowledge and affection, while avoiding the dismal traps of nerdy fanboyism on the one hand or grandiose cultural pseudo-intellectualism on the other. His research is flawless and the results are readable, illuminating and delightful." Judging by his results with The Frood, this is true. Douglas Adams is famous for writing The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and not a great deal else. He also coined the term Frood, which DNA, as Roberts refers to him, would like to have applied to himself. Roberts takes us through the development of DNA as a writer, humourist, computer/technology geek, environmentalist and several other aspects besides. Adams, although giving the advice which Terry Pratchett quotes, of a writer should start another project the moment one finishes, was incapable of following his own advice. DNA was continually trying to polish to perfection something that was only in rough draft, which accounts for his rather meagre output over a working career of more than twenty years.

Apart from attending Cambridge and writing for and occasionally performing in Footlights, Adams had the good luck of meeting and working with several of his idols: John Cleese and Graham Chapman of Monty Python, Gary Brooker of Procul Harum and David Gilmour of Pink Floyd. The former were to explain the humour inherent in the number 42 (which is the answer to the question concerning life, the universe and everything).

Roberts also examines the development of The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy from its initial brief genesis in a field in Austria, with the retention of some of the more memorable lines – Adams had the habit of reworking good lines into more of his material than is apparent at first look. (But John Cleese, in his autobiography comments on the tendency to reuse material.) For those who remember the TV version of HHGTTG, this was its fourth format. The book was third…

We are introduced to the heir to DNA’s documents, his daughter Polly Jane Rocket Adams. And while she and her late mother had to worry occasionally what Douglas what have wanted (and Roberts uses an acronym for this) she tries not to trade on her father’s fame, except when it directly impinges on his material.

I found this a great read, highly entertaining, and am wondering when I’m going to get it back from the guy I lent it to.

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