Wednesday, September 9, 2009

First Chance To See

Zoologist Mark Carwardine came up with the original idea behind Last Chance To See in the early 1980s - essentially, invite some famous person who had nothing to do with zoology to travel around the world looking for endangered animals. One way or another, this person ended up being Douglas Adams, and the end result was a radio show broadcast in 1989 and a book published in 1990.

I realize that it's sad that people wouldn't notice a book on endangered animals without the presence of a superstar writer, but the fact remains - if Mark Carwardine had written Last Chance To See alone, I would never had heard of it, let alone read it. Truth be told, I actually found the book pretty boring. The other author I keep mentioning - Daniel Pinkwater - said more in a single commentary on traveling in Africa then Douglas Adams did in an entire book. If there was any justice in this world, Daniel Pinkwater would have gotten the job of reviving Last Chance To See, but as I've said, he is barely known in America, let alone Britain.

The job went to British writer\comedian\actor Stephen Fry, whose credits range from hosting the game show QI to reading the British Harry Potter audiobooks. I don't know if he'll be able to make reading about hunting for endangered animals fun, but the first episode of the Last Chance To See TV show (which premiered on Sunday) was, actually, pretty good. I suppose being able to see Stephen Fry and Mark Carwardine travel up the Amazon (the river, not the website) in search of a certain species of manatee made all the difference.

I know, I know. It's just a nature documentary that would be getting no attention whatsoever if it hadn't been declared the sequel to Douglas Adams' work. Still, I liked it. I've already placed my order on Amazon (the website, not the river) for the new book. We'll see if it's any good.


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