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 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.