from
The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
by
Douglas Adams

Douglas Adams

This page:

What Was He Like, Douglas Adams?
A Guide to the Guide
Young Zaphod Plays It Safe

Category:

science fiction

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Foreword:
What Was He Like, Douglas Adams?

by Neil Gaiman

Copyright © 2002 by Neil Gaiman

He was a genius, of course. It’s a word that gets tossed around a lot these days, and it’s used to mean pretty much anything. But Douglas was a genius, because he saw the world differently, and more importantly, he could communicate the world he saw. Also, once you’d seen it his way you could never go back.

Topic:

Genius

Douglas’s ability to miss deadlines became legendary. (“I love deadlines,” he said once. “I love the whooshing sound they make as they go by.”)

Topic:

Writing

He left behind a number of novels, as often-imitated as they are, ultimately, inimitable. [...] He left sentences that will make you laugh with delight as they rewire the back of your head.

And he made it look so easy.

text checked (see note) Jan 2007

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Introduction:
A Guide to the Guide
Some unhelpful remarks from the author

Copyright © 1986 by Douglas Adams

The History of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is now so complicated that every time I tell it I contradict myself, and whenever I do get it right I’m misquoted. So the publication of this omnibus edition seemed like a good opportunity to set the record straight—or at least firmly crooked. Anything that is put down wrong here is, as far as I’m concerned, wrong for good.

Topic:

History

When the third man I spoke to turned out to be deaf and dumb and also blind I began to feel a terrible weight settling on my shoulders; wherever I looked the trees and buildings took on dark and menacing aspects. I pulled my coat tightly around me and hurried lurching down the street, whipped by a sudden gusting wind. I bumped into someone and stammered an apology, but he was deaf and dumb and unable to understand me. The sky loured. The pavement seemed to tip and spin. If I hadn’t happened then to duck down a side street and pass a hotel where a convention for the deaf was being held, there is every chance that my mind would have cracked completely and I would have spent the rest of my life writing the sort of books for which Kafka became famous and dribbling.

I think that the BBC’s attitude toward the show while it was in production was very similar to that which Macbeth had toward murdering people—initial doubts, followed by cautious enthusiasm and then greater and greater alarm at the sheer scale of the undertaking and still no end in sight. Reports that Geoffrey and I and the sound engineers were buried in a subterranean studio for weeks on end, taking as long to produce a single sound effect as other people took to produce an entire series (and stealing everybody else’s studio time in which to do so), were all vigorously denied but absolutely true.

text checked (see note) Jan 2007

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Young Zaphod Plays It Safe

Copyright © 1986 by Douglas Adams

Aorist rods were devices used in a now happily abandoned form of energy production. When the hunt for new sources of energy had at one point got particularly frantic, one bright young chap suddenly spotted that one place which had never used up all its available energy—the past. And with the sudden rush of blood to the head that such insights tend to induce, he invented a way of mining it that very same night, and within a year huge tracts of the past were being drained of all their energy and simply wasting away. Those who claimed that the past should be left unspoiled were accused of indulging in an extremely expensive form of sentimentality. The past provided a very cheap, plentiful and clean source of energy, there could always be a few Natural Past Reserves set up if anyone wanted to pay for their upkeep, and as for the claim that draining the past impoverished the present, well, maybe it did, slightly, but the effects were immeasurable and you really had to keep a sense of proportion.

It was only when it was realized that he present really was being impoverished, and that the reason for it was that those selfish plundering wastrel bastards up in the future were doing exactly the same thing, that everyone realized that every single aorist rod, and the terrible secret of how they were made, would have to be utterly and forever destroyed. They claimed it was for the sake of their grandparents and grandchildren, but it was of course for the sake of their grandparent’s grandchildren, and their grandchildren’s grandparents.

text checked (see note) Jan 2007

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Graphics copyright © 2003, 2004 by Hal Keen