Douglas Adams dead?
May 12, 2001 3:54 AM   Subscribe

Douglas Adams dead? The BBC has reported that the Author of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy has died of a heart attack age 49. I'm in shock...
posted by LMG (84 comments total)

 
So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish.
posted by pracowity at 4:10 AM on May 12, 2001


Wow.... He was the single most talented man on the planet. An that's no exaggeration. I am truly disturbed by this.

Here's another article.

If you haven't read the Hitch Hiker's series. Do it now.
posted by timbooker at 4:17 AM on May 12, 2001


Speechless. Absolutely speechless. I've just sent a text message to the friend who introduced me to his work. Seems only fitting.
posted by feelinglistless at 4:20 AM on May 12, 2001


Single most talented person on the planet?
C'mon....are you a retarded monkey? I've read the books. I loved them in 7th grade but I have since grown up. I do not deny that they were entertaining, but great? Not even close.
posted by ttrendel at 4:52 AM on May 12, 2001


I realize that that the tone of my last post was a little emotionless, but I still mourn his death. He might not have been great, but he still tried, which is much more than most of us do. I applaud him for his testicular fortitude and his lack of convention if nothing else. Thanks for bringing me and so may others so many great memories Mr. Adams. While I may critique you, you stil took the risk of being critiqued.
posted by ttrendel at 5:00 AM on May 12, 2001


As a side note, does anyone else think that he looks like cousin Larry off of "Perfect Strangers"? Hmphh........
posted by ttrendel at 5:02 AM on May 12, 2001


Talk about dancing on someone's grave.

ttrendel: Just wondering what you do consider to be great . . .
posted by feelinglistless at 5:08 AM on May 12, 2001


I don't deny that he fit an open niche, but great, no. Great is Shakespeare and Wagner. Only if being able to wipe your own ass is a consideration shoud Adams be considered.
posted by ttrendel at 5:12 AM on May 12, 2001


DNA was well loved by his fans and respected throughout the world. Some kinds of criticism seem inappropriate at this time.
posted by feelinglistless at 5:32 AM on May 12, 2001


Great link, feelinglistless. I have no doubts that he was an intelligent and independent thinker.

On the other hand, gut feeling is usually the most honest. I loved him, yet I hated him....
posted by ttrendel at 5:41 AM on May 12, 2001


his books
gave me untold
hours of enjoyment.
posted by FPN at 5:43 AM on May 12, 2001


I don't think I am dancing on his grave. You write to get a response. I gave mine. Disrepectful or warranted?


I did what he would have wanted. I responded to what he did. Is there no greater honor? There isn't in my book....
posted by ttrendel at 5:45 AM on May 12, 2001


ttrendel: Hah, his accomplishments don't warrant "great," but your poo-pooing of them do?
posted by NortonDC at 5:50 AM on May 12, 2001


you know what, ttrendel? fuck off. some of us are really actually quite touched by this. some of us think wagner sucks. just because you don't respect someone's work doesn't mean you get to call them total shit the day they die. i've gotten very angry over a lot of things on metafilter, and this might be the angriest i've gotten. i can't believe anyone would be so insensitive -- not even so much in your first couple of comments, but to keep making such awful remarks in the face of people's real sadness is really revolting.

i think douglas adams was great. his books are responsible for great proportions of my personality and sense of humor as they stand today, and though they may not be the best books i've read in a literary sense, they've probably affected me the most. i almost cried when i read this story. i don't care what you think -- this is a great loss to me, and i would be happy to tell you where to get off if you would like to keep telling people who they should consider great. you are entitled to your opinion, but for chrissake, keep it to yourself the day they die, okay?
posted by pikachulolita at 5:50 AM on May 12, 2001


ttrendel, you're a first class fuck-o.

I hate nascar with a passion possessed only by someone capable of reading...unlike the average nascar fan. But, when that redneck Dale died I bit down on my tongue for over a month. I cringed every time I heard him called a hero while reports of the deaths of firefighters were on the second to last page of the local section of the paper. I held onto my anger when people held mock funerals for him in this town to coincide with the televised funeral.

I waited for a while before I spewed my bile. Why would I hold back like that? Just simply respect for the dead. Now that it's been a little while, and tempers have settled down, I spew that bile whenever it's mentioned. But, I was not going to say anything on the day he died. That's just more tactless than even I can handle being.

Just shut your trap for a while and relax. You're pissing people off on purpose by arguing the point of something that's essentially unprovable (a person's greatness) and that's trolling, the last time I checked.
posted by Spanktacular at 5:59 AM on May 12, 2001


I, for one, thought Douglas Adams was great - his achievements may not have been the same as Shakespeare's or Wagner's, but that doesn't make them inferior. Just different.
posted by eoz at 6:00 AM on May 12, 2001


I don't think you get it, picachulolita.

This is a community of collected opinions. I find Wagner to be brilliant. You find Scott Adams to be brilliant.

I love Wagner because he gves me something I don't find otherwise. You like Adams because He does the same.

I actually liked Adams at one time and I am sorry that he passed away. I liked some of his books and hated others(which was probably the way he meant it).

My point is that he was useless. He was a contrived,idiotic author who tried, with all of his heart, to be C.S. Lewis, without the creativity.
posted by ttrendel at 6:06 AM on May 12, 2001


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Any postings below this line should be talking up what will be missing from the world now what DNA has gone. Let's respect the dead shall we?
posted by feelinglistless at 6:08 AM on May 12, 2001


Natch.
posted by holloway at 6:37 AM on May 12, 2001


ttrendel is putting on a poor showing for claiming that his pissing on other's acclamations of Adams is a sign of the greatness of his (ttrendel's) achievments, and feelinglistless is little better for trying to force his will upon the evolution of the discussion.
posted by NortonDC at 6:37 AM on May 12, 2001


It has to be said that series 1 and 2 of the radio series of T.H.G.T.T.G. contain some of the funniest one-line, throw away gags in the history of the universe.
posted by Slartybartfast at 6:39 AM on May 12, 2001 [1 favorite]


"...lots of the people were mean, and most of them were miserable, even the ones with digital watches. Many were increasingly of the opinion that they'd all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans."
posted by LMG at 6:43 AM on May 12, 2001


Well said LMG.
posted by feelinglistless at 6:48 AM on May 12, 2001


"This must be Thursday, I never could get the hang of Thursdays"
posted by Slartybartfast at 6:49 AM on May 12, 2001


"Tell me. Do you get on well with other robots?"
"Hate them . . ."
posted by feelinglistless at 6:56 AM on May 12, 2001


Gah, what a piece of news to wake up to. I feel numb all over. So what if he wasn't Shakespeare or Wagner, he wrote some of the funniest stuff I've ever read.
posted by darukaru at 6:59 AM on May 12, 2001


> Any postings below this line should be ...

I don't think you can hijack the conversation like that, feelinglistless.

So: Some people liked reading Adams; some people didn't. Some people think we should all be extra nicey-nicey because he died today but that we can speak the truth about his books later; some people think we can speak the truth today.

I read his first three or four books when they were new, got a few chuckles from them, quite enjoyed them as throw-away reads, and never wanted to go back to them. I am amazed that some people hold his books in such high regard. I wouldn't have noticed his passing if I hadn't seen the obituary. To me, he was a forgotten author. I'll probably forget him again by tomorrow.

I do, however, strongly support his environmental efforts. The world will always need more people who can do good and actually do it. If his books brought him fame and his fame enabled him to help save a species or two, I'm for his books.

As to whether it's fair to speak ill of the dead, I think it all depends on who has died and who you're speaking to and whether you can get to the door before the angry mob. I would laugh so hard that you'd see all my fillings if Bush and Cheney were gored to death by an angry Alaskan elk, leaving the US in the quaking hands of Strom Thurmond, but I'd try to hide my smile if I had accidentally wandered into a convention of gun dealers or oilmen.

And there's the door now, so I'll just say toodle-oo.
posted by pracowity at 7:06 AM on May 12, 2001


Yeah, the radio series is good. The books are better. The TV series was much too short.

"We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!"
posted by timbooker at 7:09 AM on May 12, 2001


Merely commenting on the direction the conversation was taking. Everyone's entitled to their opinion of course.
posted by feelinglistless at 7:24 AM on May 12, 2001


So long, Mr. Adams.

What cruddy news. Please feel free to blither now.
posted by binkin at 7:31 AM on May 12, 2001


Blither, blither.
posted by feelinglistless at 7:39 AM on May 12, 2001


One memorable and highly enjoyable experiences I had that involves Douglas Adams was playing Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy on my C64, and trying to get the babelfish to work the way it was supposed to.

You wake up. The room is spinning very gently round your head. Or at least it would be if you could see it which you can't.

R.I.P.
posted by crunchland at 7:56 AM on May 12, 2001


Read first two books shortly after publication, was amused, then moved on...but I understand his devoted following & fan base and respect their admiration. The earlier "angry" portion of this thread brings to mind the old "if you don't have anything nice to say, why say it at all" bromide...which is probably true, in this instance. Sheesh, we're not talking politics, energy policy, religion, or anything *important* in that sense...we are talking about the passing of a passionate man whom many people appreciated. If you're not a fan, move on to other topics and let the believers share their feelings of loss.

Thanks, Douglas Adams, and thanks for all the whimsy.
posted by davidmsc at 8:00 AM on May 12, 2001


While I think his h2g2 is a comedy classic (it's hard for comedy to be "great", but for me it rates alongside Catch-22 (although I concede Catch-22 has a better bid for "greatness" because it is so dark)), I've been disappointed with the few later books I've read.

Bummer. Still, he'll live on a lot longer than I ever will. I think I'll re-read them. :-). As the first post says: So long....
posted by andrew cooke at 8:07 AM on May 12, 2001


Very creepy. I was listening to All Things Considered last night during a cross-state drive and twice I heard a segment commentary on "Human Robots". The last part of the segment has Trillian and Zaphod directing a very depressed Marvin to pick up the two aliens who just dropped into the cargo bay of the Heart of Gold (BBC Radio version). I kept thinking to myself...."nobody would get it, nobody would know what it is" because they didn't identify the recording on the broadcast. I was ecstatic to hear it but all of the sudden very sad - now I know why.
posted by bkdelong at 8:23 AM on May 12, 2001


I love how every obituary discussion on the Web turns into a battle between fulsome praise and blunt criticism. No matter who died.

Though I didn't read any Adams after my teen-age years, I thought the Hitchhiker's "trilogy" were among the funniest books I ever read. This morning's news was a real sucker punch.
posted by rcade at 8:37 AM on May 12, 2001


"This planet has - or rather had - a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy."
posted by heather at 8:40 AM on May 12, 2001


Douglas Adams was a writer with unique insight, and a wonderful satiric edge. Thanks to pracowity for mentioning Last Chance to See - a book which has that same insight and edge, but applied to some of the most endangered species, and the mechanism by which they became endangered. Usually unthinking humans.

Rather dwelling on who's being respectful or not respectful, and who likes D.A. more or less, why not go to your local library and check out one of his books? In SF: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Life the Universe and Everything, So Long, And Thanks for All the Fish, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul. And in nonfiction/science: Last Chance to See. You might also look for the Original Radio scripts, or the CDs/Cassettes of the Radio series of HitchHikers.

I'm a fan, and have been since the man got me through 8th grade without me going crazy. It was good to know that some people saw the world in as skewed a way as me, but still found hope.

There should be a Douglas Adams FAQ out there worth a read. When I hit the net and found out about usenet FAQs it was one of the ones I ended up tracking down.

Peace.
posted by artlung at 8:44 AM on May 12, 2001


I dug around a bit in the alt.fan.douglas-adams FAQ and found what is obstensibly one of Adams's preferred charities, the Environmental Investigation Agency. As noted earlier Last Chance to See is a non-fiction work Adams wrote species extinction--that'd lend some credibility to the FAQ entry, but if someone could confirm it, that'd be excellent. Anyway, those who were touched by his writing and share his concern for the environment might consider donating in his honor. Merely a thought, of course... I'm certainly not trying to push it on anyone--just suggesting it to those who are already of the inclination to express their appreciation for his work and creativity but haven't found a fitting way yet.
posted by disarray at 8:54 AM on May 12, 2001


A question and answer from a chat held in March:

Question from James_Paterson: If you had your time over again, would you do what you've done?

Douglas Adams No. I'd probably have made a wholly different set of mistakes!


RIP DNA.
posted by Aaaugh! at 8:57 AM on May 12, 2001


Me and a friend are gonna go to a ren faire and have a Guiness in honor of The Great Tall One. If you haven't read his works, I highly recommend them. Maybe we'll get the Queen of England to knight him posthumously. Depends on how drunk we get.

I was once asked what five books I'd take with me if stranded on a deserted island. I answered the complete works of Shakespeare, the complete works of Mark Twain, the complete works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Holy Bible and The Compleat HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Not necessarily in that order of importance.

Back when I was working for h2g2 as a SubEditor, the people on the other side of the pond were kind enough to send me a greeting card. They asked DNA to sign it. It's one of my most treasured possessions.

Maybe you, whoever you are, don't think DNA's works are classics. Time will tell on that. I know that today is the day to honor a man who made me laugh. A lot. A man with a unique and fun look on life has left us. This isn't a time to mourn or whine or criticize. This is the time to celebrate a life. And I for one plan to get started just as soon as the pubs open. =) So should you.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:02 AM on May 12, 2001


Wonderful books. "Greatness" is an argument I don't feel like having right now; a helluva lot of folks really *loved* DNA's stories, which is more than can be said for a *lot* of media tripe that gets passed around in conversation.

Douglas was a funny, insightful man. I had a chance to see him speak once, a couple years ago, and enjoyed the experience a great deal. I've reread the Hitchhiker books every few years (my dad, an avid fan himself, introduced me to the books when I was in middle school). I think it's time for a re-read.

There are no hard-and-fast rules about showing respect for the dead. Congratulations to the heartless fuckwits who felt the need to underline that point.
posted by cortex at 9:02 AM on May 12, 2001


From the commentary in the book, 'The Original Radio Scripts':

Ending
At the end of the first series I didn't really expect with any confidence that anyone would want me to do any more, so I brought the story to a very definite close. This then caused me huge problems getting the story going again for the second series. At the end of the second series I knew that I would be asked to do more, and deliberately left the ending open so that the next series could get off the ground straight away.
Of course, we never did a third series. [DNA]

I'm off to get deliriously drunk. I'll be one for a gin and tonic again . . .
posted by feelinglistless at 9:20 AM on May 12, 2001


A paraphrase of something I once heard him say in a radio interview - he was being asked about advice for new authors ... his reply was something like:

"Don't blow up the Earth in chapter one -- you're gonna need it later."
posted by artlung at 9:38 AM on May 12, 2001


I heard the segment on All Things Considered, too, as I was driving home from work.
posted by binkin at 9:44 AM on May 12, 2001


every time the world loses a writer, it loses other worlds.
posted by will at 10:21 AM on May 12, 2001


Doe anyone know where I can track down a copy of the Hitchhiker's Radio Show?
posted by thebigpoop at 10:34 AM on May 12, 2001


Oh. Oh, *no.* <:(

:: sigh ::

I'll simply have to write some Vogon Poetry, now.

I, for one, thought his works were great. I'll miss not seeing more of them.

Douglas Adams, RIP -- I hope you know where your towel is.
posted by metrocake at 10:39 AM on May 12, 2001


The Primary Phase
The Secondary Phase
posted by feelinglistless at 10:48 AM on May 12, 2001


I'm absolutely speechless myself. Douglas Adams was an icon from my childhood. When I was growing up in a particularly ugly family environment, Adams was one of the pivotal figues who showed me the path to zaniness when I was around seven or eight. I read all of his books religiously and I always thought his sketch work with Graham Chapman on the fourth season of Python was underrated (the bloody patient filling in forms while trying to see a doctor was hysterical).

He was one of the few writers unafraid to embrace the computer game before it was fashionable (the Infocom adaptation of HHG). And who can forget his nutty work ("City of Death," "Shada") on Doctor Who?
posted by ed at 10:56 AM on May 12, 2001


Damn. That sucks.

The first non-school mandated "adult" novel I read was Hitchhiker's Guide. The whole "trilogy" was awesome, and while the Dirk Gently stuff was iffy - he's one of the best authors I've ever read.

Damn.
posted by owillis at 11:00 AM on May 12, 2001


I actually liked the second Dirk Gently novel better than any of the Hitchhiker's novels, except maybe the fourth. (Yeah, I liked that one; I seem to be the only one.)
posted by kindall at 11:10 AM on May 12, 2001


If anyone's interested, you can play the online adventure game at http://www.douglasadams.com/creations/infocomjava.html.

Oh, and ttrendel -- you ignorant slut.
posted by jragon at 11:13 AM on May 12, 2001


kindall, I also liked "Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul". I always hoped he would get more Dirk Gently novels out, since he had obviously tapped Hitchhiker's dry. I am hoping he spent his time enjoying life with his loved ones even if we were deprived of more of his works. He often complained about how lonely and frustrating it was sitting in a room trying to think of funny things to write. I met him once and I was so tongue-tied that all I can remember from our exchange is thinking "Wow. He's tall." But I've got plenty to remember from his work, and that will certainly suffice.
posted by girlhacker at 12:01 PM on May 12, 2001


I would encourage everyone, Hitchhiker's fans and non-fans alike, to seek out Last Chance to See. This book was Adams's finest hour -- as hilarious and pointed as any of his fiction, but also unexpectedly moving. You may even still be able to get your hands on the CD-ROM, which contains the whole book as well as audio from the accompanying radio series and tons of photographs from the expeditions.
posted by jjg at 12:23 PM on May 12, 2001


Lame, lame, lame.
posted by Brilliantcrank at 1:44 PM on May 12, 2001


Wow, what a sad irony. I'm currently playing his Starship Titanic game these days (no link, sorry, the domain www.starshiptitanic.com seems to be recently inactive).
posted by Sal Amander at 1:58 PM on May 12, 2001


Sal Amander: I have been looking for that game [Starship Titanic]...! Where can I purchase it?
posted by crog at 2:12 PM on May 12, 2001


Douglas Adams ruled my world when I was a kid. I owned everything. I even sold my sister's cassette tapes to some kid on the block just to raise enough money to buy the leather-bound Complete Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, which is by no small coincidence sitting on my bed-side table. The very tattered bookmark is somewhere in the Restaurant At the End Of The Universe section.

Whenever I feel like I need a boost, it's one of the books I still pick up. Without a doubt, I'd say as a writer he had the most influence on my life. The dry, English humour (what the hell) that I've loved in Monty Python and other random BBC shows my local PBS station provided, started with one book: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. (Actually, it started with the game on the Commodore 64 but it's more romantic to say the book, so I'll pretend it was the book.)

Oh, and ttrendel? I agree, he wasn't the "MOST TALENTED PERSON ON THE EARTH." And your 'retarded monkey' comment was rather funny. I always laugh at the insane hyperbole that gets batted around when someone dies. Had we asked him last week who the most talented person on earth was, I doubt he would have said Douglas Adams. Probably Thom Yorke from the looks of his site.

Yes, it's sad that he died. One of the few people on this Earth I would have cared to meet. But proclaiming him the "most talented person on earth" not only makes you look like an idiot (or retarded monkey, your choice), but in my opinion, cheapens what he actually did.

Slapping that golden seal of "GREATEST HUMAN EVER"-- the one they slapped on Dale Earnhardt, and Joey Ramone, and countless others-- is such a disservice. There's no sense of scale. You die, you get to go to the front of the line... well, until the next famous person dies.

I doubt you read this to the end once I agreed with ttrendel.
posted by perplexed at 2:17 PM on May 12, 2001


I've actually long felt that his greatest talent wasn't as a writer of books or computer games (although both were very enjoyable), but in the production of the original radio series -- where he really broke new ground and was constantly fighting the limits of the day's technology. What they could have done with digital editing!

In case you don't know, his original inspiration was Sgt. Pepper, with all the intricate sonic soundscapes that the Beatles created using (for then) new technology and techniques. He decided he wanted to do the same for radio, and succeeded admirably. The only thing that ever came close, for me, was the Star Wars radio series -- although All Things Considered achieves it in smaller chunks for the documentary form on a regular basis.
posted by dhartung at 2:59 PM on May 12, 2001


Heard an interview on Radio 4 with the chap not long ago. He was describing how he wrote - one step at a time. So with his main character (s - can't remember!) thrown out of an airlock he didn't know what to do next. Stumped, he started trying to think of a solution. Nothing seemed believable. Nothing seemed even slightly probable... :-)
posted by andrew cooke at 2:59 PM on May 12, 2001


And then, Andrew, he saw a TV program about Judo, and to make a long story short, he realized that the best way to solve a problem was to use the problem to your advantage.

The real tragedy here is that DNA had so much more creating to do, that we shall now never get to experience. This just depresses me to no end.

My condolences to his family and friends as well.
posted by toddshot at 3:45 PM on May 12, 2001


I think you ought to know I'm feeling very depressed.

Life, don't talk to me about life....
posted by geneablogy at 4:56 PM on May 12, 2001


you can get the whole hitchhikers guide radio series through audiogalaxy (and probably, maybe, napster?).

try either searching for "douglas adams", and you'll get a whole heap of other recordings too, or just follow this link to get there :)

i've got all the episodes in mp3, and use them for inspiration in radio plays i'm involved with. truely great stuff.

a sad day.
posted by titboy at 9:11 PM on May 12, 2001


I doubt you read this to the end once I agreed with ttrendel

Not at all. This always comes up when someone famous dies. Sure Adams is gone and the world would have been a poorer place without him, but the real hurt is on those who actually knew him and will miss him because he is literally not around. Like not walking into the door and saying hello or calling you up. People like his friends and family.

Now compare that to your average netizen's "mourning" of someone they only knew through his works. Kind of puts things into perspective.
posted by skallas at 9:26 PM on May 12, 2001


The first fan letter I ever wrote was to Douglas Adams. He sent back a very nice, signed letter in response. I wrote him to ask if he was inspired by the Talking Heads song about a woman floating ... the details are fuzzy now, but he was very nice. I was 10 years old.

(The only other fan letter I have ever written was to Captain & Teneille, but we'll just leave that story untold)

I am so sad to hear of his death. RIP.
posted by acridrabbit at 10:08 PM on May 12, 2001


dhartung, have you ever heard the Firesign Theater's albums? They have that aesthetic too.
posted by argybarg at 11:02 PM on May 12, 2001


perplexed: Okay, to clarify: Douglas Adams was far from a great writer. But his books were there for me at a time I needed them. Which is more than you can say for the likes of today's crapola of popular literature.

Adams popularized a form of lowbrow wit (applied to science fiction) that had long been practiced but that had been underappreciated outside of the cognoscenti. To put it simply, he hit upon the right idea at the right time.

Should he be condemned for that? Should he be laid to rest as a hack whose work couldn't hold a candle to Evelyn Waugh or Kingsley Amis? In my opinion, no. Because, clearly by the outpouring of sentiments here, his work touched upon something that we were all affected by.

And that is why we should remember his legacy.

I don't think that Adams' work will be remembered or highly regarded hundreds of years from now. But I do know this: he had an eye for zaniness that was needed at a particular time and for a particular genre. And that is his great contribution.

Say one thing about Adams: he never lied about the nature of his craft.
posted by ed at 1:41 AM on May 13, 2001


ed: I agree completely. My argument was that he was not the most talented man on earth.

I loved his writing. The man made me want to become British at the age of 13. I use the word "Er..." way too often. He was a hero of mine for many years.

My point was that we throw around "greatest" and "the most" and no, he wasn't the "greatest," or "the most," but he was good. Rather good.
posted by perplexed at 2:09 AM on May 13, 2001


One man's treasure is another man's junk.

There are no absolutes. No one on either side of the issue can definitively state that he was the greatest, the worst, or somewhere in between. It's entirely a matter of personal preference.

Furthermore, is it really necessary to say negative things in a forum where admirers are mourning? Seems insensitive to me, regardless of your opionions about the man's work...

For me, this is almost as sad, but not quite, as one-year vacation isn't...
posted by fooljay at 2:50 AM on May 13, 2001


has anyone got any nuts? might cushion the blow

DNA himself admitted that some of his writing didn't work. He had to write 'Life, The Universe and Everything' over because the first draft was so depressing, and he still wasn't happy with it because it wa based on old material, all be it from an unproduced Doctor Who film (an approach he repeated for the first Dirk Gentley, which shares many elements with the half done Who story 'Shada'.)

but I think as with all good artists, he was writing himself short. i think i was in shock because of his age, and all the things he was still to acomplish.
posted by feelinglistless at 3:45 AM on May 13, 2001


Yes, peanuts.

I met him the once, at the launch party (a party on a launch, in fact) for Starship Titanic. Some of my friends worked for TDV. They're all in shock this weekend.

I'm just glad that he took the fame (and the money) and directed it towards the things that interested him. He wasn't a one-trick pony.

My thoughts, most of all, are with his wife and daughter.
posted by holgate at 5:33 AM on May 13, 2001


42.
posted by metrocake at 10:43 AM on May 13, 2001


neil gaiman has said his bit in his blog about this, and mentions that launch party, or rather a signing for starship titanic.

neil knew him fairly well, and wrote a hitchhikers guide companion book.
posted by titboy at 3:22 PM on May 13, 2001


I went back and listened to the radio series yesterday and today, and I was astonished at how many little bits and pieces of it found their way into my brain over the years without me remembering where they came from. Just the other day, I was sarcastically answering a dumb question with the line "no, a [fill in the blank here]; they come in six-packs", completely unaware that the line originated with Zaphod Beebelbrox. The HHGttG shaped my personality in ways I'm often unaware of.

As someone who spent a huge chunk of my college years in audio studios preparing for a career in radio drama and documentary (while being dimly aware that such jobs were not exactly widespread in the US), I really appreciate the sound of the radio productions. The Sgt. Pepper connection is an apt one. I find it heartening that something that originated in radio as late as 1979 could have grown into something so huge. And he really took advantage of the medium; it's very easy to give Zaphod two heads on radio, for example; not so easy to pull off on television. Some of the scenes in the series make me think of the classic Stan Freberg bit about rolling a mountain of whipped cream into Lake Michigan, which has been drained and filled with hot chocolate for the occasion.

Douglas Adams spoke to a web developers conference that I attended at work about three or four years ago. The session was in the evening, at an hour when most of the local attendees would normally have been home, but I noticed quite a few of us had stuck around for this particular session. He didn't disappoint. He was hysterically funny while making some excellent points about cherishing your limitations while you still have them and making the best of your mistakes, points that I've never forgotten. He was a real gentleman, taking questions from the audience about all topics, including no doubt some that he had every right to be awfully tired of, and answered them all graciously.

The books may not be the best-written ones; I'm sure that Douglas would have agreed with that, especially given his propensity to listen to the whooshing sound deadlines make as they go past. He often took the cheap way out, wrote outlandish resolutions to situations, failed to tie up loose ends, and so on. And yet, the books are enormously entertaining, and an insightful satire on human nature. They actually remind me in a way of another book, Jaroslav Hasek's "The Good Soldier Svejk", a satirical masterpiece about the futility of war. Svejk suffers from many of the same faults that Adams' books do; it's sometimes sloppily plotted and so on. Most tragically, the book is unfinished, as the author died before it was done. And yet, the book is recognized as a classic. I think it's probably too soon to give such status (or not give such status) to Adams' books, but as far as having an impact on people, they were a huge success.
posted by geneablogy at 9:18 PM on May 13, 2001


CROG:
Sal Amander: I have been looking for that game [Starship Titanic]...! Where can I purchase it?


I purchased my copy on ebay. It's an old game, but still holds up. Additionally, it came with a strategy guide, but better yet, it came with a 'in-flight' magazine (full of odd and funny stuff) and 3-D glasses, which I assume I will need at one point in the game.
posted by Sal Amander at 12:28 AM on May 14, 2001


Skallas and Perplexed: well-said indeed. I agree. Hyperbole is rife in these cases, and while I'm not into pissing on anyone's grave, it's worth remembering that we only know artists (most of us) through what they produce, not in the same way that people who worked with them, lived with them or were related to them did. It's those people who should have our thoughts now, I guess. It's a shame, but everyone dies; it's always untimely and distressing, but there's undoubtedly people more distressed and destroyed than fans - what fans've always loved about Adams will live on.

I read the Hitchhiker's series (well, the first three) when I was about ten or twelve, when they'd pretty much just come out. And I thought that they were great, though by the time I got to the end of the third (and a little into the fourth), I wanted to let it rest. I felt there the law of diminishing returns was kicking in. And I haven't read Adams' work lately. I stopped, pretty much, after I read some Dirk Gently; it didn't grab me the way the earlier work did. (Though I lie a little here: The Meaning Of Liff was rather diverting.) And to be honest, I'd rather not corrupt the memories of having the TV show and the radio show and the book in my mind, thinking of enjoying it immensely because it pointed out things that, being a kid, I wasn't too clued in to. I like that memory of happiness, and that's probably the best way for me to remember Adams; too many years of lit study would make me pick holes in the texts, and I don't want to do that. He's not Shakespeare, no, but who is? Adams was diverting, funny, and sometimes educational - and that's good enough.
posted by captainfez at 2:27 AM on May 14, 2001


if one more person refers to the death of Mr. Adams by saying, or paraphrasing, the phrase "so long and thanks for all the fish," I'm think I'm going to throttle them.

I'm sure he would have wanted it that way.

posted by crunchland at 4:48 AM on May 14, 2001


Thank you, Mr. Adams. your books were bursts of light on a dark, often humorous world.

so long, and thanks for all the fish!

*titter*
posted by carsonb at 5:01 AM on May 14, 2001


Let's hope he's just spending a year dead for tax purposes...
posted by rushmc at 6:52 AM on May 14, 2001


"Long after his death his poems were found and wondered over. News of them spread like morning sunlight. For centuries they illuminated and watered the lives of many people whose lives might otherwise have been darker and drier." From: Life, the Universe, and Everything - Douglas Adams.
posted by samsara at 7:07 AM on May 14, 2001


Continued
posted by feelinglistless at 12:55 PM on May 14, 2001


"He was surrounded.

The big guy with the rocket launcher was moving it up
into position for another shot.

Ford was completely at a loss for what to do next.
`Look,' he said in a stern voice. But he wasn't certain how far saying things like `Look' in a stern voice was necessarily going to get him, and time was not on his side.

What the hell, he thought, you're only young once, and threw himself out of the window. That would at least keep the element of surprise on his side."

--mostly harmless--
posted by a11an at 2:10 PM on May 14, 2001


In retrospect, this was a pretty good thread/tribute, wasn't it? Compare it to this ...
posted by andrew cooke at 6:13 AM on May 16, 2001


« Older This IS the scientific definition of the whammy......  |  Everyone has a hobby.. mine is... Newer »


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