I Miss Douglas Adams


douglas adams inspired "Hitch hikers guide to the galaxy" H2G2

I miss Douglas Noel Adams. I miss him like I would miss a friend and mentor who will no longer be able to share his words of wisdom and bizarre philosophies. I miss him like a hero who embodied everything I want to be and how I want to think. Most of all, I miss his books, knowing there will never be another, the final deadline having whooshed past his head.

Adams was not a prolific writer, and, by many accounts, his works were uneven. Some point to the The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy “trilogy,” noting a steady decline in their quality, although I insist the fifth book was much better than the fourth. Yet I found in everything he wrote an unmatched joy. I would rather read one of his “lesser” works any day rather than something by someone like, say, Piers Anthony.

I only met Douglas Adams twice, both times briefly as I got his autograph after seeing him speak in London. While I knew he had his game face on for the punters (British slang roughly meaning “the paying customers”), a feeling of deep compassion and passion for what he did was apparent. When he read, he had a way of talking to you making you feel that you were in on every joke he told.

It is remarkable, though, when a writer, or anyone whom you only know through their works, can come to feel like such a familiar force in your life. I’m sure this is how many stalkers get started — over-personalizing a public figure to the point of mania — but there it is. From the age of 14 into my early 20s, I actually listened to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio series almost every night as I fell asleep. In my 20s, I also started listening in The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul, read by Adams himself. As a result, his voice has become as familiar to me as anyone I know personally.

It has been 13 years since he died at the tragically early age of 49. I don’t use the word “tragically” lightly, either. Douglas obviously had so much left to say. His last posthumous book, The Salmon of Doubt — a collection of essays that also included a few chapters of what was possibly a new Dirk Gently novel that he was turning into a Hitchhiker’s novel — was painful to read. It is difficult to see so many fantastic ideas spread out, waiting for him to mold them together, and knowing this will never happen.

Today Douglas Adams would have been 62 years old.

[The basis for this post originally ran in March, 2012.]

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5 thoughts on “I Miss Douglas Adams

  1. I’m glad I’m not alone. I’m reading The Trilogy in Five Parts for one of my comprehensive exams, in pursuit of my Master’s degree. I tried to go back and read my primary text today and have not been able to for the tears streaming down my face. My advisor thinks I’m nuts, but very sweet. Thank you for writing what I have not been able to, yet. (And if I can’t after 13 years, there is little hope I will ever be able to. Thank you)

  2. I was thinking of him recently and couldn’t help but wonder what he would be doing today with all the media outlets available…blog, podcast, youtube, self publishing, etc, etc.

  3. I too listened to the Hitchhiker’s radio series on a set of tapes that my aunt gave me over and over and over and… Every night as I drifted to sleep, there were Arthur, Ford, Zaphod, Trillian, and Marvin to see me off. I used to re-read the books on a loop as well, but haven’t done that in a long time. I have a copy of the complete “trilogy” in my office for whenever a conversation regarding them gets struck up, and someone mentions that they’ve never read them.

  4. His writings brought me hilariously through hard times in my life. I miss him too. Fenchurch alone shakes my bones in its simple ouch of real life. Think I need a slice of lemon and a brick of gold!

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