The Times – Intergalactic fallacy<br/> There are more than 42 reasons not to add to the hitchhiker’s guide

Great Zarquon’s ghost! It is news to greet with a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster; the cocktail equivalent of having one’s brain smashed by a slice of lemon wrapped around a large gold brick. Eoin Colfer, creator of Artemis Fowl, is to write a sequel to the late Douglas Adams’s trilogy in five parts, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Why the cocktail? To console, not celebrate. Though Colfer is good and the Guide great, the collision of the two is even more troubling than the time that Zaphod got stuck on the frictionless black stunt ship heading for a sun. For the beauty of the Guide, as with so much science fiction, is that although it is a sprawling paean to the space age, it is also utterly and charmingly of its time.

The story takes the perspective of a put-upon Englishman in a dressing gown being whisked away from an exploding Earth on a spaceship, and desperately missing tea. The infinite improbabilities of space are seen strictly in the context of early 1980s England. The bombastic, two-headed Zaphod Beeblebrox is pure glam rock. Dire Straits are referenced as the Universe’s most powerful aphrodisiac and Arthur is bamboozled by the Guide itself – an electronic book with millions of pages, something not very astonishing in 2008.

Sci-fi aspires to otherworldliness, but the best of it is shot through with contemporary anxieties. From the McCarthyism in Invasion of the Body Snatchers to fear of European invasion in The War of the Worlds, creators of parallel universes give us a glimpse of their own. Adams set adrift in hyperspace a world now past; Colfer’s talents would be wasted in trying to recreate it.

That and the fact that it’s a really bad idea.