A World In Shock and Mourning
Here are a few postings gleaned from the 'Welcome to h2g2 Thread.' I have left them all unedited as they express the raw shock and emotion we all felt on first hearing the news.
I surfed a lot in the web in the last hours and it's totally overwhelming that every corner is crowded with people who can't believe what happened to our Mr. Adams. Seeing that the whole community weeps, helps to survive the grief.
We're all with you
The entire Russia is in love with Mr. Adam Douglas's books and humor. The entire Russia morns on this day... I speak for my country only knowing for a fact that all those that come from Russia - particularly hungry for exceptionally clever books - have put HGTG on the most favourite list, have researched and read many of Mr. Adam's other works. I have seen HGTG in passing as birthday presents, as a graduation gift, in restaurants, and metro. I have seen people laugh as they read along.
Russia is in tears. I am in tears. What a great guy just parted our world!
My deepest sympathies and condowlences to Adams family. Thank you for being his inspiration.
Thoughts, by Robert Marks
I am feeling the death, at 49, of Douglas Adams, quite hard. Is it
because he died as suddenly, exercising in a gym after a warning of
high blood pressure (for which I take medication)? Is it because he
was six years younger than I am? Is it because I see his HHGG as in a direct line from Beyond the Fringe and Monty Python's Flying Circus, with the three phenomena appearing about ten years apart from 1959 to 1979? (Jonathan Miller and Alan Bennett are still alive; John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, and Eric Idle are still alive; Douglas Adams is dead.) Is it because the kids and I (who have listened to the HHGG many times in the car) still wanted more of the radio/CD version of it, which was likely a forlorn hope, even when DNA
was alive? Or is it because Hazel died far too young, and DNA died even younger?
I met DNA twice. The first time was at the Santa Fe Institute in early 1992, when Hazel, the kids, and I were visiting for a fortnight, and he visited for a day, to talk to Stu Kaufmann and Chris Langton. We chatted around a table after DNA gave a small presentation on biological extinction -- he had recently written Last Chance to See, a first-hand account of the acceleratiing rate of plant and animal extinctions around the globe.
At the table he posed a real-world problem for us academics: in Madagascar there had been widespread land clearance. (Madagascar, a Gondwanic remnant, contains much unique plant and animal life, but it is a desparately poor, increasingly over-crowded country.) A lone tree survived next to busy road crossing the fields. A botanist, driving past one day, stopped, realised that the tree was the last of its kind, and so needed protection. But once a fence was erected, the tree became a source of interest for the local population: why the fence? the tree must be special -- perhaps it has magical or sexual powers. They began to take leaves, berries, bark.
The authorities responded with a higher fence, to prevent the tree's death
and so the extinction of yet another species. The greater protection only
confirmed the importance of the tree in the locals' minds. Thus a vicious
circle was initiated.
What DNA wanted to know was: how to save the species, by saving the tree, the
last of its line. (My solution, FWIW, was to tear down the fence, to announce
that the tree was nothing special -- there was a hillside of such trees over
the river -- and to hope that the mindset would be broken.)
I first heard the HHGG in 1979 from a portable tape deck, played around a
campfire, near the confluence of the Jacobs and the Snowy Rivers, among the
native cypresses in the mountains south of Jindabyne. A group of people
from the AGSM -- Ian Johnstone, Andrew Hume, Kev Hill, June Olson, and I,
inter alia, had gone white-water tubing on the Jacobs, and Ian brought along
tapes of a strange, comic sci-fi series recently broadcast by 2JJJ. We
gathered around every evening to hear another episode of The Book, intoned by
Peter Jones, fondly remembered from the BBC-TV series, The Rag Trade. Since
then, I have listened many times to copies of those first tapes, and latterly
to HHGG on CDs bought in Cheltenham after the death of my cousin in the
Cotswolds. It's the kids' favourite series.
In Santa Fe conversation turned to the Internet, this new phenomenon that DNA
was eager to learn more about: what is email, he asked. How does one log in?
read one's messages? get an account? I suggested that the SFI could give him
an account, and so was directly responsible for DNA's first email account.
Three years ago DNA was in Sydney, and Bob Wood and I went and heard him at a
sell-out session in the Sydney Town Hall, when he extemporised on the topics
he had made famous: life, the universe and everything, his computer game, the
h2g2.com site, and the possibility of a HHGG movie, finally. More recently,
while driving from Palo Alto to Yosemite, the kids and I listened to The
Making of the HHGG, and learnt that the answer, 42, was inspired by a training
film DNA had made with John Cleese -- so there was a direct line, not just
the Cambridge connection, between Monty Python and the HHGG.
A couple of years ago I cited the book version of the HHGG in a paper I wrote
about the rising cost of legal services. In particular, I noted that DNA's
refugees who crash-landed on prehistorical Earth were predominantly
service-sector employees -- marketing types, management consultants,
telephone sanitisers -- a judgement, echoing Marx, that the service sector is
not really productive.
And yet DNA, an author and producer, was a direct refutation of this thesis.
He said that the completely unexpected wealth and fame that accompanied
publication of the HHGG books was like 'an orgasm without the foreplay,' but
it was also a measure of the value that people around the world placed on the
entertainment and insights he generated in us all.
In summary, Douglas Adams was a big man who had much to give and was always
and everywhere generous with himself.
May he rest in peace.
Weirdly enough, at around the time that Douglas was leaving us we were discussing him at work. Someone brought up the Zen concept of time being an illusion, to which I replied "Time is an illusion; lunchtime doubly so." That led us off on a discussion of Douglas' books, our favorite parts in them, when we discovered them and so forth. Such a shock later to find that he had died.
My deepest condolences to Jane, Polly and Douglas' mom. I wish I could say something comforting and profound, but I know from first-hand experience that mere words don't touch what you're feeling right now. I would like for you to know though, that as a young widow struggling to raise two small children, Douglas' books brought light and laughter into some otherwise bleak times in my life. My heart goes out to you.
To Douglas, I really hope that in some dimension out there you're able to read all these tributes to you and know how valued and appreciated you were. I met you at the booksigning you did at the Tattered Cover in Denver to promote the Starship Titanic game, and you were amazingly gracious about the huge stack of books I'd brought for you to sign, as well as about my then 8 y-o daughter who was bored and kept doing splits during your talk. You'd be pleased to know she's since become a major fan of yours and even dressed as Arthur Dent for her school's literary festival. Someday, I hope to chug Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters with you at Milliways. But until then, thank you for everything. You're a hoopy frood who really knew where his towel was.
Dearest Friends of Douglas Adams,
Today, we say goodbye to a leader of men. A man who's writing and humor commented on the beauty of man even within the great scale of existence.
I was first exposed to The Hitchhikers Guide as a radio program on NPR shortly after the audio adaptation of Star Wars.
I remember seeing the title of the book on the library shelf and thinking that I needed to look at that later.
I read the first book on a family vacation and remember begging my dad to 'loan' me the money to purchase the (at the time) other book.
I remember the release of every book since then.
Mr. Adams greatest character is Arthur Dent. His great quest started out as simply a reaction to events completely out of his control... Along his path he finds bits of happiness, his love of Fenchurch, the joy of making sandwiches.
As a man of 33, my life has been better because of his work. I understand that the universe is much, much more complicated than I can model. I've learned that modeling the complexity can and should be fun.
I know that even among the worst disasters, it is good sense to stop and have a nice cup of tea.
Every word that Douglas Adams wrote was a challenge. He once said that writing was easy, just stare at a blank piece of paper till your eyes bleed.
However, his writing and style has touched me in a way no other author has come close.
So friends, fill your glasses with beer, tea, milk, or perhaps of that old janx spirits, and raise them in proud salute.
To our friend, Douglas Adams. Wherever you are in the Galaxy, please remember 2 simple words. Don't Panic.
I was in Frankfurt in 1986.
A Scot, a couple of Canadians, two New Zealanders and I (Australian) were on our way to a pizza shop in Frankfurt, and we were quoting HHGTTG. Particularly the scene with Arthur and Ford in the airlock.
Vale, Douglas. The phrase "fifth book in the trilogy" will never be the same again.
Not being one to gush, i would simply like to say that the works of Douglas Adams brougt a great deal of genuine laughter and enjoyment to my life from my first viewing of the tv series, through my later many readings of his books, and of course Titanic.
All that i will add are the great words of The Vogon Captain
Thy micturations are to me.
As plurdled gabbleblotchits
On a lurgid Bee.
There is little more I imagine I can say except add my own story of how Douglas Adams has effected my life.
I often quote him where ever I can. My home computer's are named "babelfish" and "beeblebrox" etc... Ever since first reading the original book in the five part Trilogy many years ago I see life from a different point of view. BUT...
...it isn't just that which makes the Guide so special. It's that it gives a topic of conversation between people who otherwise would be speechless. It brightens one's day when a over the PA you hear someone paging Arthur Dent - knowing fully the call is for you... Until you find out that it is some other person make making a prank call to your work collegue. It is when you answer "42" to every question asked in court, and the jury laugh in response, that you realise how much effect Douglas Adams has had to us all.
So long, and thank you for everything.