Douglas Adams Fan Anthology You & 42 Update: Prepare for the Whooshing

Howdy Hoopy Froods!
If you are shaking your head as to the meaning of my subtitle, “Prepare for the Whooshing,” then shake no more. It is not a tribal rite of Arcturus Grefa, nor the sound of flying mattresses out of the swamps of Sqornshellous Zeta, however it is the distinct noise a deadline makes as it goes by.  Deadline? Deadline? DEADLINE?!
What Deadline?!

I am afraid yes indeed we are imposing a deadline for anyone wishing to still contribute to You and 42: A Douglas Adams Fan Anthology. Wait? What?! There’s a forthcoming anthology dedicated to Douglas Adams? How come I didn’t hear about it you ask….Well…the answer to that is….I do not know, why haven’t you heard of it?

Well the first answer is personal to a degree and it was placed on hiatus a bit.

Firstly, my wife Jessica and I are the You and 42 editors, which will be published by Watching Books and see secondly….
Secondly, for most of this year we have dealt with a family matter, which had all of our time and attention. Our family is still our priority, and we will not get into the matter here, but this unfortunate time in our lives placed all of our projects, career and various matters on hold. Therefore, this project, You and 42 was subsequently on hiatus for sometime.

But Gallifrey Falls No More…Ummmm I mean You and 42 Whooshes Once Again!

What is You and 42?

Well….
“If you hadn’t guessed it, YOU AND 42 is going to be a volume of essays about the life and work of Douglas Adams. The format, as per usual (meaning of you are familiar with the other “You and Who book series by Watching Books), will be a series of essays each focussing on a particular area or production, through which the authors can talk about their personal experiences of Adams and his work. We are not looking for reviews, rather the kind of essays we prefer are those that take a more autobiographical or anecdotal slant; this book is about the “YOU” as much as it is the “42”. Having said that, we appreciate that Adams is a popular and complex author, and this time we’ll be happy to mix it up a bit, by including essays of all kinds as long as they encompass the theme of Douglas Adams touching our lives in some way.”

If I may now direct your attention to the full set of project details over on the You and Who website, which also has a list of topics with authors having been listed alongside some. If you do not see topics that apply to how you may have read the work of Douglas Adams, or how you subjectively feel about his work, then please by all means email me a pitch to youandfortytwo@gmail.com. Please read all of the particulars on the project website and if you do not see your question answered, then by all means email me.  Lastly, if you did not know all proceeds from sales of this books will be donated to charity. If you visit the Watching Books website,  please peruse their collection of  very splendid and worthwhile titles for sale, all benefiting charity.

Now the Rub…
This project began in March of 2016–and of course for every kind of book it takes sometime to come together. It can be 6 months, a year or more before a volume is fully actualized and transmitted across the galaxy. We have a significant amount of contributions but I would really like to bulk it up a bit more. If you have contributed to You and 42, THANK YOU!  If you would like to contribute anymore, then I would be wholeheartedly grateful.
If you have promised to send in an essay I completely understand if life, the universe and everything has gotten in the way…however, I shall be emailing everyone who has inquired, regardless of a contribution or not, within 48 hours. If you receive said email then please read further details of this overall message within and reply accordingly.

Now the great whooshing….
We have never had a deadline for this project, but there comes time when we must push it forward so the reading public can enjoy your contributions, therefore  anyone who wishes to contribute the imposed deadline is Weds, September 20th 2017. This is just one day under the 2 month mark from now and I hope more than enough time for you to complete any contributiuon you wish to send in. Whether you wish your own personal memory, Douglas Adams fan organization, event, or significant occasion represented there will be no extensions beyond this deadline. If we can stick to the aforementioned deadline then You and 42 can be sent into Watching Books before the end of the year and published around the new year. So prepare for the great whooshing for if you wish for your thoughts to be heard within this volume then time will not wait for you.

“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”

― Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

Peace and Towels,

Anthony S Burdge

Editor, You and 42

Sub Etha Channel 42 needs YOU to do live reading!

Dear All,

Last year, We successfully recorded the entire Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Many of you took part and it was great fun, going on for over a day! It was a great opportunity to make new friends and connections all across the Universe. The editing and last finishing touches are still upon us but it will be available at your local planning department in Alpha Centauri in approximately 50 Earth years.

se42-1

Now, this year some of you were out and about so the turn up was a bit less than expected. I attended a special Towel Day Stand up Comedy event, while our Towel Day Ambassador, Hillary organised an amazing Towel Day Karaoke Night. Many of you probably attended the amazing Towel Day Douglas Adams Tour. You lucky, lucky humans.

RestaurantAtTheEndOfTheUniverse

Now, some of our members stayed online to record the next upcoming book, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. Thanks to Cris and Joel, the Channel has been running for 36 hours and during this time there were 20 chapters recorded for sure.

So far, the following chapters have been confirmed: Chapter 1-11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 25-29, 31-34

If you read a chapter on while the channel was running and it was not listed above, please hit us up in the comments with your chapter number and your name.

This means we still have a few chapters to go to complete the book. The following chapters are available to read:

Chapter  13, 20-24,  and 30

We are waiting to receive  chapter 18 from Max and 12 from Tim!

Thanks to Lisa, Rani, Kevin, Stefan and Heather for contributing! 😉

If you would like to read a chapter for us, please feel free to comment below to reserve it and then go ahead, record and send it to us. 😉

We are looking forward to receive your contribution to The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

So long and thanks for all the fish!

Demi

The Original Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy 1978 Radio Show

As we approach Towel Day, we are coming up with some sweet treats for our followers. One of these treats is the original Radio Show. It is full stereo and very hoopy. Most of you probably encountered with it previously, but for those of you, who didn’t: You are in for a treat. Noted for its amazing use of special sound effects, this little Show made H2G2 as popular as it is now.

Now, I can ramble on, but we both know that you just want to get on with it, so here it goes:

Friends and Fans Remember Douglas Adams in You and 42

Photo Credit:
Christina Franco (Courtesy of William Todd-Jones)
(given to Douglas Adams mum)
Many thanks to James Thrift (Douglas’s brother) and to the family of Douglas Adams.

Friends and Fans Remember Douglas Adams in You and 42
by Anthony S Burdge

On this date the first of Froods, Douglas Adams, was born.  Our Douglas Adams fan community here at Galactic Hitchhikers are noting the occasion of his 65th birthday with our own special Thumb Toast to the Frood.  Whether you are a member here, or a part of another fan community, we are all brought together by our shared love in the life and work of Douglas Adams.  I am truly humbled to be a part of the global fan community celebrating the life and work of one of my literary and intellectual heroes. In addition, my wife and I have been entrusted by Watching Books to compile and edit You and 42: A Douglas Adams Fan Anthology.  It is about this project I wish to update you with news of new authors I am incredibly happy to have aboard.

For several years now my wife and I have contributed to a few volumes in the “You and Who,” line from Watching Books.  What I have enjoyed in reading the finished work is the personal nature of each essay. The format of each volume is a series of essays each focusing on a particular area or production, through which the authors can talk about their personal experiences. In the case of previous works the topic has been Doctor Who, sci-fi, Blakes 7, Target Books or the forthcoming David Bowie collection Me and the Starman. The content are not reviews, but rather  essays that take a more autobiographical or anecdotal slant.  This is the case for You and 42, which I have been quite emotionally moved by each piece submitted.  There are a few authors who have contributed more than one essay and for that I am incredibly grateful.  There are a few who had the chance to meet Douglas Adams at an event such as a convention or book signing who relay how that experience positively affected them.  There are other authors who were so inspired by various works by Douglas Adams that it affected their career choices and creativity.

Max Landis (left) and Arvind Ethan David on the set of Dirk Gently. Photo credit, Drama Quarterly

In recent weeks I received contributions by two authors who were friends with Adams and write of events, moments and memories with Douglas Adams.  It has been an incredible pleasure corresponding with these gentlemen about their essays.  The essays submitted cover periods in their life with Douglas Adams, which have been a joy and humbling read. It is my hope that you have watched and enjoyed the recent BBC America “Dirk Gently,” series and/or read the IDW Dirk Gently comic.  The Writer/Executive Producer of BBC America’s Dirk Gently and Writer of the comicbook, Arvind Ethan David, has joined our growing list of authors for You and 42.  In addition we have William Todd-Jones aboard who is a  Creature FX Consultant, British puppet designer, performer, director, movement consultant and writer for film, television and theatre in the UK and abroad.
In 1994 William Todd-Jones joined Douglas Adams and several other friends, who took up the challenge to trek from the coast at Mombassa to the top of Kilimanjaro to raise money for rhino conservation.  If this wasn’t enough of a challenge, they decided to do it in rhino costume!

Photo Courtesy of W.T. Jones, photo credit Christina Franco

“Douglas was determined to share the difficulty and spent hours taking a turn in the costume – which he suggests, had him looking like a giant prawn tempura – but it was easier than completing the manuscript he was meant to be writing, he said.”

In Walking with Douglas/How Doug helped the 1994 African Rhino Climb to save endangered species, William Todd-Jones discusses how he and Douglas Adams got involved in the now infamous Rhino Climb.  Additionally, William has contributed Waking with Douglas, which discusses the passing of Douglas Adams.
We are also quite grateful to William’s daughter Lillian who has contributed her own essay entitled “The Four Ages of Douglas.”  Lillian met Douglas a couple of times when she was quite young, his influence has coloured her life and I felt that further words for You & 42 could best be offered by the next generation. (William Todd-Jones)

Photo Courtesy of WIlliam Todd Jones, Daddy Rhino and Daughter Lillian photo credit Christina Franco

“When I was 5, my dad left. He didn’t leave with another woman, or to have a crisis with a bald patch and BMW. No, he left – temporarily- to dress up as a rhino, and walk up Africa’s highest mountain. In other words, to wear a herbivore suit and travel to a continent crawling with lions, which was impossibly far away, for an unacceptable amount of time, with a bunch of other grown-ups; including someone called Douglas Adams.
I wasn’t very happy about it.”

Around this time Arvind Ethan David was in his second term at Oxford and had adapted for stage Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency with James Goss.

Everything is Connected.

The adaptation began at their British boarding school, and was revised for their adaption as undergraduates at Oxford.   In 1995 Arvind Ethan David had dinner with Douglas Adams to discuss the play, which Adams had attended. “We talked about the show – with ridiculous generosity he decided that in changing it, we had in fact “fixed” his plot. He also said we had now got him thinking about Dirk as a TV series or movie…”  The play went on to win Best Adaptation for Dirk at the 28th LA Weekly Theater Awards (2007).  In Me and 42…Or how Douglas Adams taught me that the meaning of life can be found in the fundamental interconnectedness of all things, Arvind Ethan David discusses The Story of How Douglas Adams Changed My Life.  Arvind’s very moving essay highlights his education, the beginning of his career, and how Douglas Adams mentored him and their lives becoming intertwined.  Bringing Dirk Gently to the world has been a 20 year singular dream for Arvind Ethan David.  

“He decided to make our version the “official” version and gave us perpetual rights in it. We came to an arrangement whereby a proportion of the royalties would always go to charity – in fact to his beloved Rhinoceros (he was a founding patron of Save the Rhino International, and famously once climbed part way up Kilimanjaro in a rhino suit for the charity).”

EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED

As a big Dirk Gently fan, whether book, audio dramatization, now television and comic, I have quite enjoyed Arvind’s brilliant vision and am very humbled and grateful that Arvind has shared his story with us.

We cannot thank these two gentleman, and lady, enough for their contributions to You and 42.  It is our hope to have the content wrapped up and begin editing the manuscript before the summer.  With luck on our side You and 42 will be available for purchase before the end of the summer.  As is the case with varied titles offered at Watching Books, the proceeds from You and 42 will be donated to charity.

If you would like to contribute to You and 42, there is still time before we hear any whooshing sounds, please visit the following page for all the details.

Click here for the You and 42 Project Page

Click here to send me an inquiry via email

 

The 1st Annual Thumb Toast to The Frood: No fire or bread heater required.

hqdefaultOn Saturday, March 11th in honor of the birthday of Douglas Adams Thumb Toast to The Frood will be the annual Douglas Adams Birthday Tribute event hosted by Galactic Hitchhikers. A pre-cursor to the Towel Day festivities if you will.

STORY SO FAR…
A few of our inter-dimensional members thought it would be a pretty neat idea, something in league with digital watches, to honor the first of Froods, Douglas Adams, on his birthday.  There are a number of authors who have their birthday honored by fans via a Toast or visit to a location associated with said author. For example J.R.R Tolkien has had an annual birthday toast for decades hosted by The Tolkien Society and fans around the globe.  In addition H.P. Lovecraft fans visit his grave and read from his work. Therefore, Galactic Hitchhikers would like to honor Douglas Adams in a similar fashion, but on a more Galactic scale.

imagesTHE TOAST 
We encourage everyone to gather at their home, favorite pub, restaurant or venue of their choice to raise a thumb, and glass to Douglas Adams.
When everyone is gathered, at 8 PM local time stand, raise your thumb in salute and state together: “TO THE FROOD!” and afterward take a glass of your choice of beverage (not necessarily alcoholic), take a swig, sit and enjoy the rest of your drink.
GH2016 RD join us“TO THE FROOD!”

We highly encourage everyone to gather for local events, bring your towel and copies of your favorite Douglas Adams book, read selections from them and have fun. Please take pictures and post them here in the comments section or submit them to the Galactic Hitchhikers page.

LASTLY,
Please check out our official Galactic Hitchhiker’s Page to add your toasting location and libation of choice. This is a global event, more galactic actually, and we would like to add everyone to the page who have participated. Additionally you can click here to visit our facebook event page.

Hyper-Hysterical & Glorious: The Illustrated Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

20161031_162314For a number of years now I have read about, had in my hands, albeit briefly flipped through, yet never owned, the mammoth sized Illustrated Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that was published 22 years ago this month (10/1994) Well, that changed today when a 1st edition copy was delivered after finding it relatively cheap on eBay from a reliable seller.
I arrived home after dropping my wife off at work and saw the oversized package at my doorstep, smiles, smiles,smiles as I knew what it was. The packaging was carefully removed and in my hands, the shiny dust jacket glistening in the sun was The Illustrated Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
The inside dust jacket flap describes The Illustrated Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy thusly:

 

61qjevzmvfl-_sx258_bo1204203200_“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is at last published in panoramic, earth-shattering, hyper-hysterical format, illustrated in glorious Technicolor, bringing alive horridly quivering Vogon monster flesh and vividly throbbing space craft by means of revolutionary digital graphic “paintbox” technology. All this, and other examples of humanoid wizardry, ensure no insane earthling will resist this new incarnation of a cult classic.”

It is that last bit that I love, no insane earthling will resist this new incarnation of a cult classic. No I could not resist a new incarnation, especially one so colorful, bright, brilliantly illustrated edition. As we know each incarnation of Hg2G is slightly different in its respective version, and media it is presented in. I have yet to read this version, as it only just arrived, but I do not believe the actual text has changed, but the way it is illustrated was entirely new at the time, and still is.

20161031_155445

Kevin Davies as the bulldozer driver in the book

So who is responsible for this new incarnation? The Concept Art Director is Kevin Davies who has had a long fan and professional career associated with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Davies worked on graphics for the television series, interviewed Douglas Adams on numerous occasions, is a highly regarded documentarian, for example “The Making of ‘The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ which used archive footage and new specially shot material. In a forthcoming interview with Kevin, I speak with him about his career, which was conducted with Galactic Hitchhiker Founder Zaxley Nash and our Sub-Etha 42 Engineer Jared McLaughlin.  Click here to read more of Kevin’s career from his bio on the website for Lazlar Lyricon 3

20161031_145111I am super excited to re-read Hg2g with the abundant “live-action,” shots of new faces in the roles of our heroes, Arthur, Ford, Zaphod, and Trillian.  In addition I love how the new version of Marvin captures his “spirit,” very effectively in his facial expressions and body language.

ANNNNNDDDDD! It has Douglas Adams appearing as the cop who writes!!

20161031_145350

The guide held by Arthur is entirely new to me and very effective. In reading passages alongside the illustrations I suspend my own minds-eye visual of the story and find the work done by Davies quite engaging, which keeps me absorbed in the material. Perhaps it is my own love for the story and fun new incarnations that engages me, but I do believe it will be just as effective for others.

20161031_145444

Without Dust Jacket

The Illustrated Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy can be found online in a variety of booksellers, I got mine on eBay, and at a reasonably affordable cost.
Lastly, it is this version that Kevin Jon  Davies will be writing about for the forthcoming Douglas Adams Fan Anthology: You and 42, which I cannot wait to read and add to the book, which my wife and I are editing for Watching Books.
If you have not done so already please check out Kevin’s Youtube Channel, where you will find plenty of Douglas Adams and Hg2g gems, such as this earlier review of the same book found below.

You and 42: A Douglas Adams Fan Anthology

Greetings from the outer reaches of the Western Spiral Arm,

youn42imgHowdy Hoopy Froods! Anthony here, with a few thoughts on You and 42: A Douglas Adams Fan Anthology.  It was prior to the summer, and a previous incarnation of this website that I announced You and 42, which will be published by Watching Books and proceeds donated to charity.  Since that time I have received a great number of contributions and have added those authors to the project website found by clicking here. There are a few authors that are members of the Galactic Hitchhikers community who have contributed essays, three that come to mind are Demetria Blacksmith and Jared McLaughlin. In addition our own GH Founder and President of the Galaxy Zaxley Nash will be contributing an essay concerning our Galactic Hitchhiker community and of the HG2G Television series.  I am extraordinarily grateful for their brilliant contributions and to the others who have done so as well.

However, in recent weeks and months I had to focus on a few others projects, one of them being my health, and that of my wife as we have had a few ailments to deal with. Due to this You and 42 was on a bit of a break, but we continued to receive wonderful emails and contributions for the project. As of today the project page is up to date for accepted essays thus far.
Additionally in the time I have noticed that our Galactic Hitchhikers community has grown considerably so there may be a few of you who are not aware of this book project.

What is YOU and 42 about? Here is a bit of details from the project webpage:

Do you know where your towel is? Do you often ask if there is tea aboard a spaceship? Do you find difficulty with your lifestyle or can’t get the hang of Thursdays? Or, rather than consulting a map, do you find someone who looks like they know where they’re going and follow them? It very rarely gets you where you wanted to go but always where you needed to be.

hqdefaultIf you hadn’t guessed it, YOU AND 42 is going to be a volume of essays about the life and work of Douglas Adams. The format, as per usual, will be a series of essays each focusing on a particular area or production, through which the authors can talk about their personal experiences of Adams and his work. We are not looking for reviews, rather the kind of essays we prefer are those that take a more autobiographical or anecdotal slant; this book is about the “YOU” as much as it is the “42”. Having said that, we appreciate that Adams is a popular and complex author, and this time we’ll be happy to mix it up a bit, by including essays of all kinds as long as they encompass the theme of Douglas Adams touching our lives in some way.

For the full list of details on how to contribute please click to visit the project page

There is no deadline at the moment, and you do not have to be a professional writer to contribute. This is a fan anthology where fans can tell their stories of how Douglas Adams has touched their life in some way. Please refer to the above page link to see a list of topics, and if you would like to pitch an idea you can send all queries to Anthony at Youandfortytwo@gmail.com

Happy Birthday to the Best-Selling Book in the Universe!

hitchhikers-guide

37 years ago a very excellent book got published. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It has been available for a very long time, however If you don’t have it, you should really consider grabbing one! It is, after all, the best guide for anyone who is planning on travelling across the Universe. And the Universe is big. Bigger than anything you have ever seen before. So you want to make sure you have something that will help you find your way across the stars.

It was an instant classic, getting the fans attention way before it was published due to the popularity of the Original BBC Radio Series. Due to this, it was expected to have at least a small fan base, but poor Douglas could not even dream of the fame it brought to him.

At ‘Seacon 79’ He gave a talk on ‘Across the Galaxy with TARDIS and Thumb’ and He was pleasantly surprised by the turn-up. He was also listed for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation but lost out to Superman. As Christopher Reeve accepted the award, he couldn’t help but point out that the whole thing was obviously fixed. His comment received cheers and loud shouts from the crowd. These were the first fans of the book, making themselves heard.

A few weeks later came the famous incident of the very famous signing He was put up to in London. His publisher, Pan Books arranged him a signing at the one-year-old store, Forbidden Planet, located on Denmark Street in Central London. As his cab was making its way to the venue however, they got into a terrible traffic jam. A jam, miles long, congesting the heart of London due to a bunch of freaks, clogging up the streets. Young people, punks and your everyday folks, some of them dressed in odd frocks. For the outsider, it seemed like they were up to some sort of a protest. However, as it turned out, this was just the turn-up for his signing event nearby. Needless to say the signing event had to go on for hours after the expected finishing time and He managed to be late from his dinner with Terry Jones too. That Terry Jones from Monty Python who was really keen to provide a splendid review of the book, that went like:

“Every Word is a gem… it’s only the order they’re put in that worries me.”

The book was sold in 250,000 by the end of the first three months and it continued to be popular up to these times.

Needless to say then the book is worthy for anyone’s attention who have not read it yet. But Who am I talking to? You read the book for surely. Probably heard the radio series and audio books, saw the TV Series and even the movie adaptation. We both know what happens in it so I will not go on to explain to you why this is such a fantastic book. We both know the reason why. And it never cease to amaze us, despite the multiple ways it is being transmitted into Outer Space.

However I shall urge you tonight to go and recommend it to a friend of yours. Try and get all those friends interested who did not read, heard or saw ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ yet. The birthday of this fantastic book should give you the perfect opportunity. Share along the post too so it would get the them hoopy froods thinking.

 

And Again, HAPPY BIRTHDAY You Magnificent Book, You! 

 

Underrated SF/F: Shrouded by Frances Pauli

And here we are again. Another science-fiction book that deserves a little bit more love. Now, with the past few, I covered books that, while definitely underrated in their own ways, were still books that have some level of familiarity in the wider world. But today, I want to bring something up that’s a little more modern, and from an author with a lot less name recognition than she deserves. While I basically love all of her work, I do have a very big soft-spot for this one in particular. And with the re-release of the series, there’s no better time to shine some light on it.

shroud

This is Shrouded by Frances Pauli.

Now, this book has a little bit of a story along with it. It was originally published a few years back by a small press out of Washington State. A small press with lots of big ideas and attractive contracts. But because publishing is a brutal business, that press eventually went the way of too many others. So the first three books in the series were recovered, reformatted, and rereleased.

And I love them. Taking inspiration from the works of Ursula K. Le Guin (Here’s looking at you, Left Hand of Darkness.) and combining that high-minded, social science fiction with the sort of imagery and word-craft I’ve come to expect from high-fantasy authors like Catherynne Valente and Scott Lynch, Pauli manages something unique with this work. It walks clearly on the science fiction side of the fence, but every now and then, it climbs that fence to take a peek at how the fantasy side lives.

Spoilers Start Here

We open with Vassia fleeing, trying to get off planet and away from her father. That leads her to the excursion of a lifetime, to the mysterious planet of Shroud. Mysterious and… strange. The Shrouded are all men, which is why they bring in brides. Brides like Vassia and the other women she traveled there with. And they are ruled by the power of the Heartstone, which finds perfect matches. Heartmates, as they’re called. Two people destined to be together.

On top of this, Shroud is also a valuable economic planet. It’s loaded with gem deposits, and anyone who can work their way into that will be working their way into a lot of money. That, along with his daughter, inevitably draws Vassia’s very powerful father to the planet of Shroud.

And at a bad time. They’re in need of a new heir, and the Heartstone, which should be selecting from one of the viable princes, is instead being… difficult. Every prince is feeling drawn to the same woman: Vassia. That definitely shouldn’t be happening. One heartmate, and that’s all. Something is very much amiss, and there are a lot of cooks in this particular kitchen.

Spoilers End Here

Shrouded—and in fact, all of the Heartstone books—are beautiful works of science fiction, and in the general glut of available books out there these days, they absolutely deserve more attention than they’ve been able to get. There are a small handful of authors I read religiously, and Frances Pauli is right in there with all of my other favorites. I would absolutely recommend Shrouded to anyone… just anyone. Period.

Underrated SF/F: Hopscotch by Kevin J. Anderson

Once more unto the breach we go.

When people hear the name Kevin J. Anderson, about the last thing they think of is an underappreciated or underrated author. And for good reason. He’s been wildly successful in his career. But he also has a black sheep of sorts floating around, and I think it’s one worth a much closer look.

hopscotch-cover

This is Hopscotch.

Originally published in 2002, and republished by Kevin J. Anderson’s own publishing house (Wordfire Press) in 2013. And it is the very first Anderson book I ever read. In fact, I would say that reading this book had an impact on me (I originally read this in sixth grade.) and my writing that goes pretty deep. Sure, it’s science fiction, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be time for drug use, drinking, tortured artists, and lots of sex.

In fact, in reality, those are probably where a lot of our scientific advancements will go instead of, I don’t know, faster than light travel. Kind of just the way of the world.

Spoilers Start Here

Now, this is the story of four people, in a world where body swapping is not only possible, but exceedingly common. People swap consciousness back and forth more often than I change clothes. Three of our four main characters have this ability: Garth, who’s a talented artist, Teresa, who’s looking for the answers to life’s great mysteries, and Eduard, who has turned body-swapping into a business. Don’t want the flu? Live in my body for a couple weeks. Going through surgery? Take my body to the Bahamas.

Needless to say, Eduard is the one who ends up in a problematic situation, needing the Bureau of Tracing and Locations to step in when someone refuses to give his body back (The BTL is a necessary part of this kind of world. They can track who’s actually in which body.). And this is where we see character four, Daragon. These four were orphans in a monastery together. But while the other three were normal and could hop minds around willy-nilly, Daragon was the freak who couldn’t. Instead, he was able to tell who’s mind he was dealing with, no matter which body it moved into. Hopscotching didn’t trick him at all… which of course meant he was immediately sniped up to work in the BTL.

The plot of Hopscotch is… well… which one? There are four plots, and rather than focusing on one main one, Anderson allows them all room to breathe, and one of them will almost certainly speak to any given reader. Which is risky… but kind of brilliant. It’s a move that led critics to sort of pan the book, and they are certainly allowed their opinions. Everyone is. My opinion is that, by leaving room around the plots like that, I not only got the story that grabbed me hardest of all—Garth, the artist who swaps bodies so his can rest while his mind continues to work on the collection—but I got three other very interesting plot lines that gave me room to take a break.

Spoilers End Here

Kevin J. Anderson is a true fixture in the science fiction community. And clearly not just because he shows up at conferences all the time (Seriously, though. All. The. Time. Even in little old middle of nowhere Eastern Washington where I live. There he is.). He’s written over 120 books, including Star Wars EU (Excuse me, Star Wars Legends, thank you so much Disney…), X-Files companions, Dune prequels, and dozens of his own books. Yet somehow, when Hopscotch is brought up… crickets.

And hopefully, I can be a little part of the movement to change that. Because, really and truly, the book is brilliant.