I first came across The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in 1980 or so when a forgotten cow-orker loaned me some eroded cassette tapes with a bootleg copy of the BBC radio series. It was great. It was more than great. I still remember the laughter and awe as I listened to those fuzzy warbles tumbling out of my pitiful portable picnic player. These were the days before Dolby. Long before Mp3. Before Benny Hill. The only exposure to British humor we ever had was the invasion of Monty Python a few years before.
Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty- five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.
Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt
But Douglas Adams wasn’t merely Bristish humor. He was pure imagination spiced with droll bitter sarcasm, yet leavened with an innate sense that things will turn out all right after all. Somehow.
I guess is was very improbable that a set of tapes would wind their way to me in the vast emptyness of the Kansas plains, but they did. Very improbable, but not infinitely improbable.
After the tape, there was a BBC television series (which was great), a stage show (which I never had a chance to see), a series of books (which are great, of course), and finally a big budget Hollywood motion picture (which was…. well it had Zoey Deschanel in it).
Nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws.
Douglas Adams, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”
I am proudly in possesion of an autographed copy of So Long and Thanks For All the Fish. I remember slipping away across the Interstate to the mall where he was signing copies when it was first published. The series wasn’t at its full popularity in the states yet, so there was no line – I bought a couple copies and had him scribble. Now, I wish I had stayed a bit and had a chat, but I had to get back to work.
Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.
So I give thanks to Douglas Adams on his day for the years of enjoyment his creations have given me. Am I carrying my towel today? I’ll never tell.
There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.
Remember, Don’t Panic