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11:54 pm: I have a copy of the Titan printing of "Don't Panic: Douglas Adams & The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Neil Gaiman (2nd revised edition, 4th impression).

Unusually for a book in English, it starts with 32 pages worth of a random German piece of prose, before then saying "DON'T PANIC" on the title page. I always assumed this was a joke. I mean, you would, wouldn't you?

Except that today I presented it to Mr Gaiman to be signed, and he remarked that it was an extremely unusual edition of it, was unaware of any printing joke, and has annotated it a "unique copy".

So I wonder, what has happened here? That it's the first 32 pages points to a binding error. That it's pages 33-64 of a German novel, more so. I present the text of the first page here, along with Google Translate's version of it.



den Platz, und schon standen wir in der engen Diele des kleinen, weißgetünchten Pfarrhauses.

Die in der Küchentür erscheinende weißhaarige Haushälterin wurde angewiesen, noch ein Gedeck mehr zum Mittagessen aufzulegen. Sie beachtete mich kaum, tuschelte aber dafür hinter meinem Rücken mit dem Pfarrer, als ich bereits am Eßtisch saß. Von hier hatte main tatsächlich den gasamten Kirchplatz im Visier.

"Wann genau wollten deine Großeltern denn kommen", hörte ich den Pfarrer fragen, als er sich ebenfalls an den Tisch setzte und eine gestärkte, leuchtend weiße Stoffserviette auf seinen Schoß lefte. Weil ich wußte, daß meine Lüge über kurz oder lang auffliegen mußte, dachte ich mir, daß die halve Wahrheit immer noch besser sei als gar keine.

"Also eigentlich wollten meine Großeltern um 13.00 Uhr hier sein. Es ist aber auch oglich, daß sie verhindert sind. Für den Fall soll ich mich allein zu ihnen aufmachen."

Men Herz klopfte, aber ich war so damit beschäftig, mich herauszureden, daß ich weder rot wurde noch ins Stottern Bratkartoffeln und eine Platte mit Spiegeleiern auf den Tisch stellte, war mir ganz egal, ob man mir Glauben scheknte oder nicht. Hauptsache, ich konnte meinen Hunger stillen. Leichte Gewissenbisse wegen meiner Lügengeschiste kamen allenfalls noch beim Tischgebet auf.

Während des Essens fragte mich der Pfarrer as, und ich antwortete, wie es mir gerade einfiel. Meine Geschichte von der kranken Mutter, die mich nicht begleiten konnte, und der Geldbörse, die ich verloren hatte, muß den Pfarrer dann wohl vollends überzeugt haben, daß ich getürmt war. Ahnungslos löffelte ich meine zweite Portion Vanillepudding, als er mir direkt auf den Kopf zusagte, daß ich aus dem Kinderheim weggelaufen sei. "Als ich dich da auf der Bank hab' sitzen sehen, wußte ich gleich, daß etwas mit dir nicht stimmt."

the place, and already we were in the narrow hallway of the small, whitewashed presbytery.

Which appears in the kitchen door, white-haired housekeeper was instructed to hang up yet one more place setting for lunch. They barely noticed me, whispering behind my back but for the parish priest when I was already sitting at the dinner table. From here the gas had actually deserted main church square in their sights.

"When exactly are your grandparents did because," I heard the pastor ask, as he also sat at the table and a starched, bright white cloth napkin on his lap lefte. Because I knew that my lie had to fly up over short or long, I thought to myself that halve the truth is still better than none.

"Well actually my grandparents wanted to be here at 13.00 clock. It is also possible that they are prevented. In the event I should open myself to them."

Men's heart beat, but I was so so employs to talk ourselves out to me that I was neither red nor turned into stuttering fried potatoes and a plate of fried eggs on the table, I did not care whether you believe me or not scheknte. The main thing I was my hunger. Slight remorse for my Lügengeschiste were possibly still on the table prayer.

During the meal, the pastor asked me as, and I replied, just as I remembered. My story of the ill mother who could not accompany me, and the wallet that I had lost, must have fully convinced the pastor then probably that I had piled up. Unknowingly I ate my second helping of vanilla pudding, as he promised me directly on my head that I had run away from the orphanage. "When I got there you sit on the bench 'look, I knew immediately that something is wrong with you."


Characters:
*Schwester Jutta
*Silvia
*Frau Kreuzer (the Heimleiterin - director of the home)
*Siggi and Manfred, a young couple about 20
*page 42 mentions October 1976
*Manuela, Katja, Alice (roommates)
*Tina

Chapters
*Chapter 2 is in progress on p33
*"Kapitel 3: Auf Irrwegen" starts on p46
*"Kapitel 4: Hoffnung" starts on p63




Any ideas what this is? Google finds nothing. How could I find out?

This entry was originally posted at http://morwen.dreamwidth.org/372438.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

This entry was originally posted at http://morwen.dreamwidth.org/372438.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Comments

[User Picture]
From:psyfira
Date:September 4th, 2011 10:37 pm (UTC)
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Interesting. Are there any character names you can pick out of the other pages? Or possibly a place name? (/secretlyLovesGoogleHunts)
[User Picture]
From:nwhyte
Date:September 5th, 2011 02:30 am (UTC)
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That and chapter headings, if there are any. But characetr names should be the most useful.
[User Picture]
From:abigailb
Date:September 5th, 2011 03:57 am (UTC)
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I've extracted the character names and chapter headings I could find and put them on the post.
[User Picture]
From:abigailb
Date:September 5th, 2011 04:02 am (UTC)
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Have done character names. I suspect the viewpoint character is "Silvia" because that name only seems to appear in dialog, but I might be wrong. There's mention of Krefeld, but I think as a place where the protagonist wants to go rather being the place the children's home (or whatever it is) is.
[User Picture]
From:psyfira
Date:September 6th, 2011 03:35 pm (UTC)
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Awww I admit defeat; gave it a good try but I didn't get far either. I tried getting a list of books published by Titan in 1993 but there's only a handful on Amazon / Amazon.de and unless it's the weirdest Star Trek novel ever I doubt it was one of those. :S
From:thatmakesmemad
Date:September 5th, 2011 09:22 am (UTC)
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According to his FAQ
"Someone once e-mailed me (and showed up at a signing to show me) a copy of DON'T PANIC! which turned into a german porn novel at the end."
Can't find anything about the text in yours mind
[User Picture]
From:abigailb
Date:September 5th, 2011 09:24 am (UTC)
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This really does not appear to be porn. It seems to be a first-person narrative of growing up in 1970s Germany as an orphan or runaway.
From:thatmakesmemad
Date:September 5th, 2011 12:36 pm (UTC)
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You only have the early chapters, it might not have got to her descent into the Reeperbahn. It's probably the same printers hence binding cock ups and German publications
[User Picture]
From:abigailb
Date:September 6th, 2011 03:16 am (UTC)
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This is true.

Maybe there are several unique copies of Don't Panic, each with a different signature bound in from the same German book.
[User Picture]
From:jisha78
Date:September 5th, 2011 06:23 pm (UTC)
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just read this comment of your randomly...so funny
[User Picture]
From:jisha78
Date:September 5th, 2011 06:22 pm (UTC)
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That's brilliant. And where did you see Neil Gaiman?
[User Picture]
From:abigailb
Date:September 6th, 2011 03:13 am (UTC)
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It was after this, which was a very enjoyable panel.
From:thatmakesmemad
Date:September 6th, 2011 07:08 am (UTC)
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I was eyeing up another of that series with Iain M Banks amongst others though had already seen him at Phoenix Arts in Leicester. Currently have a ticket for Robert Rankin at Phoenix for the launch of his latest book.
If Amanda Palmer is playing a gig Neil can usually be found there wandering around.
[User Picture]
From:abigailb
Date:September 6th, 2011 07:22 am (UTC)
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Rankin was at Picocon in 2009, he was very entertaining.
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