It’s hard to believe that Douglas Adams has been gone for over 12 years now. He is, of course, most famous for his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (HG2G) series, but there was a lot more to him than that. He died at the young age of 49 and there was probably a lot more work left in him, but we will never get the opportunity to enjoy that now.
One of my friends first introduced me to HG2G in high school. I immediately liked it because it was very funny and it was so different. I didn’t hear the original radio series when it was first broadcast, but I remember watching the TV series when it was first shown on BBC2 in 1981. I don’t normally like it when different adaptations of a story are very different from the original, but I make an exception for HG2G. Although each of the versions have the same basic plot, Adams rewrote them for each different adaptation. It is the fact that he was in charge of each rewrite that makes this acceptable for me.
HG2G could be described as comic science fiction, but there’s no denying that it was very innovative. It could never be described as predictable, because you just never knew what was coming next! The five novels have been describes as ‘a trilogy in five parts’, with a sixth book added in 2009, which was authored by Eoin Colfer. The plots can sometimes seem absurd, with plenty of colourful characters in each of the books, including Arthur Dent (the main character), Ford Prefect, Trillian, Zaphod Beeblebrox, Marvin the Paranoid Android, and Slartibartfast. Many phrases and references have been introduced to every day life. I find myself giving the answer ’42’ to questions I don’t know the answer to and I try to remember to celebrate ‘towel day‘ on May 25 each year. The best way to find out how great HG2G is is to read the novels, then try to work your way through as many of the other versions as you can get your hands on.
Douglas Adams left behind quite a legacy. Other things he worked on include Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Doctor Who, as well as various other publications, radio shows, and TV. He was also known for his strong views on religion and his environmental activism. It’s hard to know where his creativity would have taken him next, but he left enough for us to enjoy anyway.
This short appreciation barely scratches the surface and there is so much more that could be written about the genius who was Douglas Adams, but I want to leave you with one of my favourite quotes of his:
I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.
P.S. Don’t panic!