On this day in 2001 Douglas Adams died and the world became a little less nonsensical.
He is best remembered for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which started life as a BBC radio series before being novelized, produced by the BBC for television, serialized in comic form, adapted for a video game, and in 2005 became a movie that grossed in excess of $100M. In other news he also wrote for Tom Baker’s Dr. Who.
Adams was inspired by, and inspired in others, the nonsensical in life and so it made sense that his works would find happy homes in so many different mediums. To quote an aging philosopher, my dad: “The radio show was different to the TV show, which was different to the book which was different to the picture book, which was different to the comic, which was different to the computer game.” As geeks, are we not drawn to those things with such fluidity, that translate to so many mediums and can be explored in so many different ways?
My first experience with online gaming was on the Commodore 64. Remember when you would hook a cassette player and keyboard up to the TV? Those were the days, so speaketh a controller masher. The game? The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Though I did not read the books until in my late twenties, it was this game and the BBC TV series that cemented my foundations as a young geekling. It was the number “42” spoken as a password, much the same way as persecuted Christians used the Icthus fish, that helped me connect with other geeks. As an example, I fell in “love” for the first time at 15 when a boy yelled out “42” to the question: What is the meaning of life?
As to the 2005 movie, there’s just something delightful about the production values in the BBC series that the film adaptation didn’t carry forward. However, for introducing a new generation to the world and words of Douglas Adams, it will forever have a place on my DVD shelf.
Thanks for all the fish.
- The official Douglas Adams website is still up and running; here you can find news, short stories and a full biography.
The Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture takes place every year in March and benefits Save the Rhino.
- The video game, in all its glory, is now available online; if you can get out of the house you’ve already done better than I ever managed!
- You can get the the original radio series, the books, the BBC series and the movie on Amazon. We got our BBC series from an independent local store – love the independents.
- You can also join the fan club.
7 thoughts on “Ten Years Later and I’m Still Thankful for All the Fish.”
I was one of the people that was first exposed to Douglas Adams through the 2005 movie (2005?! really??). I went to see it in theatres with my boyfriend at the time and they had me at “Ford, I feel like a sofa.” I read the Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy soon after followed by The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul and Dirk Gently’s Holisitic Detective Agency. For quite some time I’ve seriously considered getting a DNA quote tattooed on me. In particular: “Writing is easy. You only need to stare at a piece of blank paper until your forehead bleeds.”
Umm…needless to say, I looooooooooooove Douglas Adams.
I didn’t realize it’d been ten years. I had just quoted Hitchhiker’s to my 11 year old.
“Douglas Adams said that man’s evolution could be described in 3 questions. ‘How shall we eat?’ ‘What shall we eat?’ and ‘Where shall we do lunch?'” That spawned a conversation worth having.
I was introduced to Douglas Adams when I heard the radio version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on an NPR radio station in Houston during the late seventies. When I found out it was a book, I couldn’t wait to get my grubby little hands on it and read it, and I have happily introduced my kids to the series as well.
Ten years. I had no idea. That will just make Towel Day (May 25th) that much more special this year!
Ah Towel Day!
Grade A stuff. I’m uunqestoniably in your debt.
Somehow I missed this news in May of ’01, and when I read an end-of-the-year Roundup of People Who Died This Year that December (still reeling from George Harrison’s death the month before, myself), I became quite freaked out that I hadn’t known until then. To this day it still disturbs me that I didn’t know Douglas Adams had died until seven months after the fact. Perhaps I am disturbed by weird things.
My memory of my introduction to Adams is of my cousin going on and on about Hitchhikers at a family reunion when we were 14, and I thought it sounded awesome, but it took me about four more years to actually track it down, much to my frustration. In 10th grade we had a student teacher for English who brought in a bunch of her own book collection for us to peruse, and for some reason she had So Long And Thanks for All The Fish but none of the others, and I kept picking it up, realizing it was the 4th book and I still hadn’t read the first three, and throwing it down in annoyance.
I recently put my top 40 favorite books in order and was amused to discover that– and I SWEAR this was a complete coincidence– Hitchhikers ended up at #21, which is exactly half of 42! AND YET I’m pretty sure I loved the Dirk Gently books EVEN MORE, but I’ve only read them once, which means they’re not allowed to qualify for Favorite Book status until I reread them and still love them. Me and my dumb rules.
I played the text only version of the game when I was in High School. I always got stuck coming out of the sauna in the Heart of Gold.
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