Lost ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ Drafts to be Published!
Douglas Adams may have died more than a decade ago, but that doesn’t mean that we cannot be delighted with some of his never-before-read works, as already shown to us with The Salmon of Doubt. And now, an alternate version to Life, the Universe and Everything has come to light – almost a whole new novel!
Just in case you didn’t know, Douglas Adams was the genius behind The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, a tale about travelling around the universe after planet Earth is destroyed. The story first became popular on the radio in the late 1970s, with the first novel being published in 1979.
The franchise has become somewhat of a cult, and there was much sadness in the community when Adams died of a heart attack at the age of only 49 in 2001. In a tribute to the author, fans celebrate ‘Towel Day’ every year on 25 May by carrying a towel with them everywhere they go (the importance of towels is highlighted in the third chapter of the first book in the series, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy).
The Salmon of Doubt was published after he died, and consisted of a collection of his works that had been gathered from the hard drives of his many computers. But it wasn’t until very recently that some more of his work surfaced, amongst paper archives that had been loaned by the author’s family to St John’s College, a constituent of the University of Cambridge. Because of Adams’ love for technology, it had never been considered that there would be hard copies of his work, or that he would have filed away the drafts that everyone else assumed had been thrown away.
Jem Roberts made the find after obtaining permission from Adams’ family to go through the papers for the first Douglas Adam biography authorised by both his family and estate, called The Frood.
What Jem discovered, among passages that had been cut from the first novel, was a whole different beginning to Life, the Universe and Everything, the third book in the series; 16 whole chapters that Adams scrapped and started again.
“The original version was going brilliantly; he had loads of really funny chapters and scenes,” said Jem, “and then he decided to abandon the whole lot and start from scratch.” He added that the book that we know now has exactly the same plotline as that original version.
About why the author would start over with the novel when he was two-thirds of the way through, Jem speculated that it might have something to do with it being written around the same time as a break up with his girlfriend. “[Adams] was extremely unhappy at the time,” he explained. “I think he just wanted a whole fresh start.”
The Frood will be published in September and will contain extracts from the unfinished work, as well as the cut passages from the first book. “None of this stuff is finished,” Jem explained, “but there are so many great Douglas Adams jokes which have been completely air-sealed for the last 20 years.
“I think it is wonderful that we finally get to read some of this stuff.”