Hitchhiking the Galaxy With Douglas Adams


Movellas user, Prodigy, talks Douglas Adams and his love for SciFi


When you hear someone declare the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything to be “42” or state that you should never, ever, leave home without a towel, they’re not spouting nonsense. Well, they are, but at least it’s the kind of nonsense that makes sense, in a way. This is basically the essence of one of the most famous sci-fi novels to date, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

What started out as a radio program turned book turned record turned TV show turned video game turned all sorts of other things was a story which revolves around an unassuming earth man, Arthur Dent, who was ungracefully sucked into the utterly insane galaxy by his best friend Ford Prefect, an alien from somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse. What follows is a string of interesting and highly entertaining events that makes the reader question whether space (and what lies within) is really all that sinister after all.

Douglas Adams approached space and science masterfully. His ideas were incredibly advanced and even predictive for the year of 1978, yet he wrote in a way that didn’t bog the reader down with scientific terms or concepts. Adams managed to transform something so vast and intimidating like space into a much more manageable and relatable entity laced with humor.

To call Douglas Adams a scientist would be a bit of a stretch, but he was in no way a foreigner to the field. Adams had always been intrigued by science and endeavored to learn more, calling the discovery of science, “the most powerful intellectual idea, the most powerful framework for thinking and challenging the world around us that there is (The Salmon of Doubt)…” In fact, he stated that one of his alternate career choices would be Zoologist, possibly influencing his decision to write the book Last Chance to See about the various species going extinct around the globe. But then, of course, he also said that another alternate career choice would be a rock musician, so there's that.

As a writer, Adams really let his passion for science shine. Through Hitchhiker’s Guide, he managed to bring sci-fi to a wide range of audiences, and make it appealing for a mass audience. Sci-fi wasn’t daunting, he revealed, but could actually be fun, humorous, and interesting all at the same time. In addition, he still managed to include some deep, thought provoking ideas in his books - ones that make the reader consider, well, life, the universe, and everything.

Even beyond sci-fi itself, Adams was a master of writing. He set a standard for descriptions that were understandable in the oddest way possible, and still managed to throw in the occasional deep quote. Here are a few to think on:

“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has this to say on the subject of flying: There is an art, or rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.”

“If you took a couple of David Bowies and stuck one of the David Bowies on the top of the other David Bowie, then attached another David Bowie to the end of each of the arms of the upper of the first two David Bowies and wrapped the whole business up in a dirty beach robe you would then have something which didn't exactly look like John Watson, but which those who knew him would find hauntingly familiar.”

“There is a theory which states that if ever anyone 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.”

In short, Douglas Adams was a true master of words and a champion of science in his own right. For anyone attempting to write sci-fi, he’s certainly a role model to turn to for inspiration and a healthy respect for science. After all, what else could you expect from someone with the initials DNA?


Leave your favorite Douglas Adams quote in the comments below!

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