While Douglas Adams was writing The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – which first aired as a radio series in 1978 – he was also working as a scriptwriter for the BBC’s Doctor Who series. The precocious Adams, still in his 20s, wrote a six-part series, called Shada. It was supposed to end the 17th season of the science fiction series, at which time Tom Baker played the title part – its fourth incarnation and, according to many fans, its best. Although parts of the series were filmed, industrial action at the BBC halted filming and it was later abandoned.
The Guardian now reports that a novelisation of Shada will be published in 2012. The series has hitherto never been novelised because Douglas Adams wanted to write it himself. Always too busy, Adams died before he could undertake the project in 2001. Instead, Shada will be adapted for novel form by prolific Doctor Who scriptwriter Gareth Roberts.
Douglas Adams can claim to have popularised a new kind of science fiction writing, comic science fiction – although he didn’t invent it. That honour falls to duo Henry Kuttner and Arthur K. Barnes, writers of the Pete Manx series, first published in magazine story form in the 1930s.
Comic sci-fi, hard sci-fi, time travel sci-fi, slipstream, space opera – science fiction has splintered into many sub-genres. Here’s something approximating a thorough list – although, as ever, if you feel something is missing, please feel free to comment.
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