Wednesday, 30 March 2022

The late, great... Douglas Adams.

 Even as I start typing this, I am quietly chuckling to myself. How can I not? This was the creative genius who gave us The Bugblatter Beast of Traal, Pan-galactic Gargle Blasters and Marvin The Paranoid Android. Oh, and don't forget, without Adams we would never have realised that the meaning of life was 42!

When most of the planet was going sci-fi crazy after watching Luke Skywalker thwart the evil machinations of the not-yet-paternal Darth Vader whilst mooning over his gorgeous secret twin sister, Leia, Douglas Adams was working on a piece of fiction that would turn around and say, “Actually, you know all those aliens out there? Well, they're rather like us, just a bit dafter.” I am, of course, referring to The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy.

The thing which I enjoy most about the books is the way that Adams could take totally mundane items and bend them to his surreal imagination. A fish became an intergalactic translation device. A pint of beer became a relaxant for a teleportation device. A bureaucratic demolition official could torture you with his god-awful poetry. I think this approach to writing is something that inspired me as an author so, in The Casebook of Sam Spallucci, I ended up fashioning actors from a suburban sitcom who were in fact inept Satanic cultists, a vampire who liked dressing up as Spock from Star Trek and a keeper of a children's zoo who (when the moon was full) transformed a crazed werewolf. In short, if it wasn't for Adams, I would not be writing today.

Hitchhiker's was a work that went through several transformations. It started out as a radio play, then became the ever-growing trilogy of books. For a while, it was a computer adventure game. (I slaved over that for days on my old Atari 800xl. Never got anywhere.) Then, finally, the film was released in 2005, a few years after Adams's died in 2001. It's because of this huge legacy that he left behind that many people forget that he worked on a number of other projects. There was Dirk Gently, and The Meaning of Liff to name but two books. We must also remember that he worked on Doctor Who. Shada, which was eventually turned into a radio play for the eighth Doctor by Big Finish then, years later, was finally reconstructed for home release using animation alongside live-action, was originally penned by Adams. He also wrote The Pirate Planet and City of Death for the fourth Doctor.

As well as his writing, he was also committed to his personal beliefs. He described himself as a “radical atheist” and was a good friend of Richard Dawkins. He also had strong feelings regarding environmentalism as was shown in his radio series Last Chance To See and various other activities he undertook promoting awareness of our environment, such as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro dressed in a rhino suit!

The world definitely became a tad drearier when Adams died, I just hope that whenever people read, watch or listen to his works, his legacy will uplift their spirits and empower them to stand up against (or lie down in front of`) the impending bulldozer.

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