Douglas Adams

It is every year around now that I start to feel a little sad.  May 11th 2001, one of my favorite authors died.  I still get a little blue when I think of it.

I first discovered Adams about the time science fiction in particular and reading in general had begun to lose my attention.  When I first picked up The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I had no interest in reading.  I was just starting to hit the teens and the discovery of girls had ruined all those nasty habits like reading and thinking.  It didn’t take long to make me want more.  Over the next decade and a half as the full 5 books of the trilogy (do i really need to explain it to anyone at this point?) and the Dirk Gently novels came out, I never lost interest in Adams.  In fact, since that time and even now, Adams influence has kept me reading.  Thanks to him, I read Woodhouse, Rendell, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Cerf and he even helped me make the jump from Neil Gaiman’s comics to his other works.  Anyone that enjoys Adams but has not read Gaiman’s Don’t Panic is only getting half the story.  My interest in science and technology was fed by his non-fiction writings.  Last Chance to See is a masterpiece that cannot be ignored, particularly by anyone claiming to be environmentally friendly.  It is one of the finest first person accounts of endangered wildlife ever written and his passion for the subject comes through clearly.

I have been lucky enough to meet almost all of my favorite writers, as most have lived during my lifetime.  I have met Neil Gaiman a couple of times, and Christopher Moore is a treat like no other.  If you get a chance to hear him speak at a bookshop or whatever, jump!  He is a hoot.  But every time I pick up one of the Guide books, Dirk Gently novels or even the not-terrible …And Another Thing, written by Eoin Colfer, I feel a little pang of the sads.  It only lasts a moment though, as Adams would no doubt prefer, once I am in the world of the books all is forgotten.

The spirit of Douglas carries on though.  In the friends and colleagues that are public figures today.  Stephen Fry and Richard Dawkins come quickly to mind.  In the annual world-wide celebrations of Towel Day, celebrated annually May 25th.  At the H2G2 website he help create.  In the silly video game Starship Titanic sitting on the shelf across from me right now.

I wanted to let everyone know that they should go search out all of these thing.  If they are a fan, to refresh and celebrate.  If they are new to the absurdity and wonder that is a Douglas Adams prose selection, to invite them to try it for themself.  I dare you not to like it.  Or if you prefer non fiction, try Last Chance to See or go to the website H2G2 and learn something new.

I miss him terribly despite never having met him, but that is the way greatness in an artist works.  They never know how far their reach will extend.


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