The society has had its 25 Anniversary in 2005 and caters strangely enough for fans of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Douglas Adams, produces a newsletter four times a year, organises meetings (or will help you organise your own meetings), keeps you informed of the latest goings on in all things Hitchhikery, and also sells merchandise, T-shirts, stickers, mugs, matchbooks and... towels.
Members range from all ages, shapes and sizes, and come from all sorts of places such as Australia, America and Europe. There are also a number of local groups in England and Wales, as well as groups in Dublin, Germany and the Channel Islands.
The ZZ9 Committee
The running of ZZ9 is down to the ZZ9 committee, who do it on a voluntary basis and in their spare time. The committee are a hard working bunch and are generally under-appreciated. ZZ9 members who want to be on the committee are nominated and then, if they are lucky, are elected by members at the ZZ9 annual general meeting.
Among ZZ9's honorary members are Douglas Adams, Simon Jones, Mark Wing-Davey, Mike Cule, Neil Gaiman, Kevin Davies, and more recently, Peter Davison.
Mostly Harmless is the ZZ9 newsletter1; it relies upon written contributions from ZZ9's membership and comes out roughly four times a year.
Every issue has all the latest news of Douglas Adams and The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, and anything that relates to it or things you just might find interesting. It also has interviews, articles, artwork, fiction and the odd competition. There's a reviews page, both of conventions and meetings and of books, films, events and, well, practically anything and everything. Also there's an ad page for people wanting to get hold of out of print books, records, videos, merchandise or who want wanting pen pals etc.
The most common type of meeting is the 'slouch'. The first was held in October 1983. People were merely asked if they felt like slouching about London for a bit, which they did, and thus the trend was started. Also there are pub meetings, local groups, the AGM and the Annual Beeblebears Picnic.
A History of ZZ9
ZZ9 began life in 1980, its name ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha came about of wanting a name not boring like the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Fan Club, but of wanting something related to hitchhikers and Earth; the name ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha was chosen.
The first Newsletter came in January 1981, in an A4 format (but changed to A5 a year later), which mostly consisted of news about the TV series.
In the beginning, part of the membership fee included having to send four stamped addressed envelopes to the committee. Also there was rivalry in the guise of two other Guide fan clubs; HitchHikers Anonymous, and The Marvin Depreciation Society. The latter folded, and what happened to the former is uncertain.
By July 1981, ZZ9 reaches 100 members and 500 by December 1982.
In October 1983, ZZ9 holds its first 'slouch'.
In may 1985, ZZ9 holds its first convention, 'Lazlar Lyricon', in Birmingham. The guests included Mark Wing-Davey, Mike Cule, Alan JW Bell and Kevin Davis. It raises £285 for cancer research.
In March 1986, red credit card style membership cards are introduced replacing the card ones previously issued.
1989 sees debate raging in Mostly Harmless as to whether ZZ9 should change its name to the 'Douglas Adams Appreciation Society', however it didn't.
Mid-1989 sees the first Beeblebears Picnic, an event that would be held yearly.
October 1990, ZZ9 celebrates 10 years.
By October 1991, Mostly Harmless reaches issue 42.
In March 1993, The Making of the HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy TV Series video is released with a mention of ZZ9 on the back cover.
In October 1993, a letter from Douglas Adams printed in Mostly Harmless, said that Douglas was quite happy for ZZ9 to be called The Official HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy Appreciation Society.
In January 1995, Mostly Harmless becomes A4 sized.
In August 1995, the membership reached 1000 members.
In September 1996, ZZ9 the web site appears.
In May 1998, ZZ9 holds Lazlar Lyricon II, its second convention, a sequel to the first, and makes £460, for Save The Rhino International and The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, charities chosen by Douglas Adams.
January 1999, in a top 20 chart of the SF Fandom Webring, the ZZ9 site comes in at no 1.
In October 2000, ZZ9 celebrates 20 years with a party in November 2000.
ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha is a non-profit society; it is run by the members, for the members. Its survival depends on constant renewals of membership and on new members who are always wanted and most welcome.