Saturday, 25 May 2019

The answer will always be 42...

I'm not sure how I found The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy originally, probably at School, probably someone brought in the novel. I had bought, read, and re-read the novel before I had picked up on the fact that it was a radio show.That meant I was just in time for the repeats of all 12 initial episodes, and I've been listening on and off ever since.

What is the appeal of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, or H2G2 as it will be known from here on in? Douglas Adams had a particular way of writing. If you get it then it is the funniest thing in the world, if you don't you are likely to be shaking your head at the daftness of it all. The sanitised H2G2 film and the Netflix version of Dirk Gently both lose something from trying to be funny for everyone, particularly Americans.

It can be easy to tell an Adams fan, they often, unconsciously I'm sure, end up repeating lines from his work as they are simply great lines to use in many situations. His brief spell working on Dr Who scripts left an indelible impression on his writing, bits of it popped up in H2G2 and Dirk Gently, and on the rebooted Dr Who of recent years. What little humour there is in that is mostly in a style aping Adams. The unfilmed serial "Shada" which he wrote has been completed as an audio drama by Big Finish and was novelised very sympathetically by Gareth Roberts who is clearly a fan. Sadly other Dr Who adaptations are rubbish and should be avoided at all costs.

 According to Adams the answer to everything in the universe is 42, but like most things in the H2G2 no explanation is offered. In the real world Adams when asked why it was 42 just said, "because it is". That sums up most of his work, Why is it funny? Because it is!

25th May is celebrated as Towel Day by Adams fans. Learn more by reading Neil Gaiman's biography and  the great man's work, but stick to the audio versions, the pictures are better.

Update 25th May 2020: I wrote a piece on Linkedin a few years ago, using sme of the best Adams quotes to illustrate some business points. I've given it a wash and brush up and you can read it here.

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