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Posted on Monday, March 11th, 2013

Dave!Today would have been the 61st birthday of one of my all-time favorite authors, Douglas Adams.

Sadly, he died twelve years ago, leaving a void in the universe where his wit, humor, and astounding talent once resided. Best known as the author of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, he was also a big supporter of the environment and tireless advocate for wildlife conservation... in particular those animals which are most threatened. One of his lesser-known works, Last Chance to See, is among my most favorite books, and documented Adams' attempts to see some of the world's most endangered animals... perhaps for the very last time.

Today Google came up with a Google Doodle in his honor...

Douglas Adams Google Doodle

It features his most famous phrase "Don't Panic" from his most famous work and it has been words I've tried to live by for decades.

I've met the man at book readings three times. Each time I was allowed to get an item autographed, and these pieces are among my most treasured possessions...

  • The deluxe leather-bound edition of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
  • A copy of Last Chance to See.
  • The credit card application prop from the Infocom game Bureaucracy.

The credit card form was chosen very carefully, as I wanted something unique that he probably hadn't autographed very many times. As I handed it to him, he said "Well this is a first!" as he signed it, and then told me that if I got the credit card approved with his name on it, to please restrain myself when using it.

My favorite memory of Mr. Adams was at a reading for one of his books... I'm thinking perhaps Mostly Harmless, but it could have been The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul. Anyway, at this particular reading he had a sign language interpreter that he decided to torture for his audience's amusement. All of a sudden he'd read a paragraph impossibly fast, then put the book down and stare at the interpreter while looking at his watch and tapping his foot as he waited for her to catch up. Later in the reading he got to a passage where the character had an impossibly long and complex name (akin to Hitchhiker's "Slartibartfast"). After saying it, he immediately glanced wryly at the poor girl so he could watch her struggle to spell out the name. It was all in good fun, and the interpreter got a hug at the end, which was just the sort of wonderful thing you expect from Douglas Adams.

I cherish everything he wrote, and have read his books many times over. But oh how I wish he had lived to tell more stories. Just as it always goes, you can never get enough of the good things in life.

Happiest of birthdays to you, Mr. Adams.

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Comments

  1. Sarah says:

    I love the Hitchhiker books. They are the only books by him I’ve read (or own at the moment). I actually picked them up on a whim when I was 20. I hadn’t heard of him before and I am so glad I did. They remain one of my favorites to read.

  2. claire says:

    Google has a clever bunch creating those Doodles. If you click the “Don’t Panic” a succession of times, you get a condensed graphic version of the first book. Very cool!

    • Dave2 says:

      Yeah, I saw that… very cute. But Google doesn’t preserve that stuff when they archive the Doodle, so I didn’t mention it. Most people will probably read this long after it was live on their site. :-)

  3. Mr. Adams is probably my favorite author. And as much as I love the H2G2 works, I’m more in love with his Dirk Gently books. I wish he would have written more of them.

    And bonus, he directed some great Doctor Who episodes with Tom Baker in them!

  4. Matt says:

    I never knew you could laugh out loud at a book until I read his “trilogy”.

    Deepest respect for Mr. Adams (a proud atheist, I might add).

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