“This must be Thursday,” said Arthur musing to himself, sinking low over his beer, “I never could get the hang of Thursdays.”
This is the 42nd post I have published on Inlostlands, and because I’m a dork and like discussing dorky things from my childhood, it seems only appropriate that this blog post be about Douglas Adams and his legacy, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.*
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy started out as a radio play that aired on the BBC in the late 1970s. From there, it went on to take over all the forms of media Adams could manage: books, television, computer games, and eventually a Hollywood movie, which unfortunately, Adams never got to see in theatres, since he passed away in 2001 before its release. You can tell Adams’ influence on the last project though (he is credited with co-writing the screenplay).
Personally, I will never forget going to see it in theatres with my Dad and a few friends and laughing so hard until I cried at the opening credits:
But it will always be the book series for me that is my favourite incarnation.
Arthur Dent wakes up one morning to find that his house is going to be torn down to make way for a new bypass; on that same day, the planet Earth is destroyed for pretty much the same reason. Arthur Dent manages to survive because his friend, Ford Prefect (my father had to explain to me the car-reference when I was a kid) is actually an alien hitchhiker and together they escape by hitching a ride on the spacecraft that demolishes the Earth.
The rest of the series describes the sideways adventures of Arthur as he travels around the universe with the help of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide”. Think of an ipad that contains all of Wikipedia, is narrated by Stephen Fry, and contains very helpful entries on everything:
It had some advice to offer on drunkenness.
“Go to it,” it said, “and good luck.”
It was cross-referenced to the entry concerning the size of the Universe and ways of coping with that.
“Why 42?” You might be asking if you are unfortunately unacquainted with this great, late author’s works. Because 42 is the answer to the Great Question of “What is the meaning of life, the universe and everything?” When you build a giant supercomputer to discover the meaning of life, what else could you expect to get for an answer?
As such, 42 has become sort of the ultimate geek “in-joke” for many a generation. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say I think it’s still managed to fly under the radar of mainstream American pop culture (aka in the minutes of google searches I did, I couldn’t find a 42 or Hitchhiker’s Guide reference on Big Bang Theory). However, I will give props to Stargate for making a 42 joke.
Happy 42nd Post, everyone! Now if you don’t mind me, I’m going to curl up with my towel, sip a pan galactic gargle blaster, and reread some of my favourite passages from Douglas Adam’s “trilogy in five parts”.
*I do believe this may be a subject for another post, but besides writing one of my favourite books, Douglas Adams also wrote and was the script editor for one of my favourite TV shows, Doctor Who. As such, here is a clip of John Cleese admiring the TARDIS as a piece of art in City of Death, an episode written by Douglas Adams.