Don't Panic: Douglas Adams & The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

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9781848564961: Don't Panic: Douglas Adams & The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
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LETTERS TO DOUGLAS ADAMS

“I'm terribly grateful for the fans - apart from anything else, they provide my bread and butter. I'm obviously delighted there are so many people who enjoy this stuff. But I try to keep a little bit of distance because I believe the most dangerous thing a person can do is believe their own publicity. I know, from people I look up to and admire - for instance, John Cleese: it took me a long time to be able to perceive him as an ordinary human being, and I know how very very easy it is to look at somebody who is actually a perfectly normal human being, who happens to have a particular talent, an ability or facility that puts them into the limelight, to see them as being some sort of very elevated and extraordinary person, which they're not. I think you do yourself a favour if you try not to expose yourself too much to people who are going to tell you you are God's gift to the human race, which you're not. The media present you as being some kind of superhuman, and you aren't, so you just have to keep all that at arm's length.
“It's rather curious when I discover that a phrase of mine has entered the language. I mean, one never seriously thinks that what one gets up to at home has much effect on anything else, and though you see the bestseller lists, and get letters and royalty statements it doesn't impinge on me that it has that kind of effect on other people. I don't want to believe that it does.
“People like me don't make the gossip pages because they don't know our faces. I get the advantages of being famous with none of the disadvantages. It's startling when somebody does recognise me - I feel slightly vulnerable when it occurs. I can understand why writers take a pseudonym. It's strange having an existence in other people's minds which has little to do with you. It's not the same me they wrote about on my school reports.”
- Douglas Adams, on fame, 1985.

Browsing through Douglas Adams's letters file is a truly mind-expanding experience. All human life, and a fair amount of putative alien life, is there. Certain themes, however, tend to recur. Most people wanted to know where he got his ideas. (One American would-be author wanted to know if she could have any leftover ideas he didn't need.) Others asked questions, wanted advice, proposed marriage or sex, and occasionally offered solutions to matters raised in the books.
Three students from Huddersfield University, for example, claim to have discovered the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything…
The Answer to “The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything” is not in fact 42, but is stored in the reproductive cells of all life forms and this answer is found via 42. To explain better: all, or most, cells reproduce by splitting in two to form two cells.
Thus, one cell becomes two, two becomes four… and so on. It follows that the Answer must, therefore be some power of two. Deep Thought came up with the number 42, and this is indeed the power to which 2 must be raised to find this answer…
Thus, by obtaining 242 - 4398046511104 - reducing it to morse code, turning the morse code into letters, rearranging the letters into passable words, and interpreting the Answer thus obtained they were able to work out what the question was. I would not dare to give the game away by revealing it, but will simply say that any Cabbalistic scholar would have been proud of their work. You may reproduce it if you wish.
These are some of the most common questions he was asked…

Q: What was the Dire Straits song from So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish?
A: The Dire Straits song is 'Tunnel of Love' and it's on the Making Movies album.

Q: Did you steal the biscuits story from Jeffrey Archer?
A: The origin of the story about the biscuits was that it actually happened to me at Cambridge Station, England, in 1976; since when I've told the story so often on radio and TV that people have begun to pinch it. This is why I wanted to put it down in black and white myself. I didn't know Jeffrey Archer had used a similar story in A Quiver Full of Arrows (1982) having never read the book. I would point out that the date, 1982, comes somewhat after the date 1976.

Q: What was the Question of “Life, the Universe, and Everything”?
A: The actual question for which Arthur Dent has been seeking has now been revealed to me. It is this:
As soon as I've managed to decipher it - and I'm waiting for someone to send me a primer for the language in which it is written, and it may be some time - I will let you know.

To a thirteen year-old young novelist, who was having great difficulty thinking up names for characters:
A: If you are having trouble in thinking up character names you are probably using the wrong kind of coffee. Have you tried an Italian blend?
Q: How do you mix a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster?
A: I'm afraid it is impossible to mix a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster in Earth's atmospheric conditions, but as an alternative I suggest you buy up the contents of your local liquor store, pour them into a large bucket and re-distil them three times. I'm sure your friends would appreciate this.

Q: What is the point of Doctor Who?
A: The whole point of Doctor Who is that, if you take the second letter of each of the fifty-ninth words of all the episodes over the last twenty years of broadcast and run them together backwards, the original location of the lost city of Atlantis is revealed. I hope this answers your question.

To a student who wished to do a thesis on scientific and philosophical themes in Hitchhiker's:
A: Most of the ideas in Hitchhiker's come from the logic of jokes, and any relation they bear to anything in the real world is usually completely coincidental.

To someone enquiring where Arthur got the copy of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, and in which pub in Taunton Fenchurch and Arthur met:
A: Although copies of the actual Guide have never been published on Earth, copies of it are freely (or rather, expensively) available throughout the Galaxy. Arthur acquired another one for himself on his journey back to Earth - in other words, between the end of Life, the Universe and Everything and So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish. Although I set the pub scene in Taunton, the pub I had in mind was in fact one in Gillingham in Dorset, the name of which (wisely) I forget.

Q: Will you ever novelise the Doctor Who episodes you wrote?
A: As far as The Pirate Planet or City of Death are concerned, although I wouldn't mind adapting them into books at some time in the future, there are far too many other things that I want to do in the meantime. Certainly I don't want anyone else doing them though! As for Shada - no, I don't particularly want to see that done. I think that it's not such a great story, and has only gained the notoriety it has got because no one's seen it. If it had been finished and broadcast, it would have never have aroused so much interest.

Often he received numbered questions, which often got numbered answers:

Q:
1) Why did you decide to start writing?
2) What aspects of science fiction are you 'ripping off'?
3) What experiences do you feel affected your attitudes and values?
4) Can your feelings be linked with those of any of the characters in your books?
5) What is your background?
6) Why do you write science fiction rather than normal fiction?
7) Do you enjoy writing?
8) What do you think is your 'style' of writing?
A:
1) Because I couldn't think of anything else to do.
2) Are you sure you mean the same by 'ripping off' as I do?
3) All of them.
4) Some of them.
5) Varied.
6) I'm not sure.
7) No.
8) Both.

Q:
1) How long did it take you to write Life, the Universe and Everything?
2) Are any of the characters designed from your own personality?
3) Have you ever considered doing a comic book?
4) Who is your favourite character in the trilogy?
5) Where did you get the inspiration to do your books?
A:
1) Several months.
2) No.
3) No.
4) Don't have one.
5) From a mail order company in Iowa.

Q:
1) Why did you start to write?
2) Why do you write science fiction?
3) Where do you get your ideas from?
A:
1) Because I was broke.
2) I didn't mean to. I just exaggerate a lot.
3) A small mail order firm in Cleveland.

Q:
1) How do you come up with those names?
2) What gave you the idea to write the books?
3) Why this subject?
4) When did you decide to become an author and why?
5) Did you like the results of the books?
6) Why did you put Ford and Arthur on Ancient Earth?
7) How long did it take to write the books?
A:
1) Yes.
2) 37.5.
3) No.
4) Somerset.
5) Last Thursday morning.
6) French.
7) No.

And finally, a letter that Douglas scrawled answers on, but which was never posted, since the correspondent had omitted his name and address…

1) Do you parallel yourself on any of the main characters? How?
No.
2) How did working with the Monty Python Troupe affect your work?
I didn't. I knew them but did not work with them.
3) How often have you been railroaded or forced into doing something you just didn't want to do (as Arthur Dent in Life, the Universe and Everything)?
37 times.
4) Do you believe in fate, and do you try to put this idea across in your work?
No.
5) Could you include a short autobiography, including anything that you consider contributing to your work?
Born 1952. Haven't died yet.
6) What is your favourite planet?
Earth. It's the only one I know.
7) Did you do much research before doing the writing?
None.
8) Have you studied history in depth?
Semi-depth.
9) What is your main message in Life, the Universe and Everything?
No message. If I'd wanted to write a message I'd have written a message. I wrote a book.
10) Have you ever had experiences similar to that your chara...

Présentation de l'éditeur :

“It’s all devastatingly true — except the bits that are lies” — Douglas Adams

Upon publication, Don’t Panic quickly established itself as the definitive companion to Adams and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. This edition comes up to date, covering the movie, And Another Thing by Eoin Colfer and the build up to the 30th anniversary of the first novel.

Acclaimed author Neil Gaiman celebrates the life and work of Douglas Adams who, in a field in Innsbruck in 1971, had an idea that became The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The radio series that started it all, the five — soon to be six — book ‘trilogy’, the TV series, almost-film and actual film, and everything in between.

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Description du livre Titan Books Ltd, United Kingdom, 2009. Paperback. État : New. New, Updated ed.. 196 x 127 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. Upon publication, Don t Panic quickly established itself as the definitive companion to Adams and The Hitchhiker s Guide to the Galaxy . This edition comes up-to-date, covering the movie, And Another Thing by Eoin Colfer and the build up to the 30th anniversary of the first novel. Acclaimed author Neil Gaiman celebrates the life and work of Douglas Adams who, in a field in Innsbruck in 1971, had an idea that became The Hitchhiker s Guide to the Galaxy . The radio series that started it all, the five - soon to be six - book trilogy , the TV series, almost-film and actual film, and everything in between. N° de réf. du libraire AA29781848564961

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