Hasslein Blog: Don't Panic... Just Remember Douglas Adams


Hasslein Blog

Monday, March 11, 2013

Don't Panic... Just Remember Douglas Adams

by Rich Handley

We wish a happy 61st birthday to the late, great Douglas Adams, the author of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Dirk Gently novels. Mr. Adams, a true genius of sci-fi comedy, was taken from us far too soon, dying in 2001 at the young age of 49. Happy birthday, sir... I hope wherever you are, you have a towel in your luggage, a second head on your shoulders and a fish in your ear.

I first read Hitchhiker's Guide in the late 1980s, while attending college, and was immediately hooked by the insane mix of tongue-in-cheek comedy, expert punnery, classic science fiction tropes, silly naming conventions, poignant philosophizing and sheer language mastery. I read the four classic Hitchhiker's novels, along with his "Young Zaphod" story, within about two weeks, read them all again starting the next day, and then went on to track down the Dirk Gently books. And when Mostly Harmless came out a couple years later, I picked up my copy right away. Sheer brilliance (well, except for "Young Zaphod," which I found disappointing). For some reason, I still haven't read The Salmon of Doubt, but I plan to rectify that oversight as soon as I can.

To this day, I can't hear the number 42, the word "towel," the phrase "deep thought" or a reference to Yahoo's former Babel Fish translation site without being drawn right back to my college days. I can't see a mouse or a dolphin without feeling the urge to point out that they're smarter than us. And I can't hear the phrase "meet and greet" without rewording it in my head as "meet the meat."

I devoured the Hitchhiker's books so hungrily that I couldn't even stop reading them during my mile-long walk to work alongside a busy highway. "Close the book until getting to work... or risk getting hit by a car... close the book until getting to work... or risk getting hit by a car... hmmm... let's see... well, just another few pages won't put me in TOO much danger..." Thankfully, I came out just fine—and I never once panicked, as I had two working thumbs and always knew where my towel was.

Today, Google commemorated Douglas Adams' memory with a brilliant new Google Doodle. So, how did YOU honor his birthday, folks? Here's a list of some of his great works, in case you'd like to celebrate by revisiting this late talent:

Monty Python's Flying Circus episode #45
• The Private Life of Genghis Khan
Doctor Who: "The Pirate Planet," "City of Death," "Shada"
• The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
• The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
• Life, the Universe and Everything
• The Meaning of Liff
• So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
• "Young Zaphod Plays It Safe"
• Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency
• The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul
• The Deeper Meaning of Liff
• Mostly Harmless
• Douglas Adams's Starship Titanic
• The Salmon of Doubt

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