Captain's bLog 252020.5 : Towel Day and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy!
Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue green planet who will be celebrating Towel Day on May 25th, as they do every year. Towel Day, as many Hoopy Froods know is a tribute to my favorite cult British comic, radio dramatist, amateur musician, tech geek, environmentalist, futurist, radical atheist, author, Douglas Adams. I describe him as such because he was so much more than just an author and with this blog, I hope to make more people aware of the legacy his life left us.
DNA, as his friends and many fans called him (Douglas Noel Adams) of course wrote the famous five book trilogy called the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy despite not really liking to write and constantly procrastinating to the point of missing deadlines. The series started as a radio show, then a book series, text adventure game, tv miniseries and then of course a movie. Along the path his writing took him down, he met and became inspiration for many future authors, including Eoin Colfer; who continued the trilogy in Adams' style by writing “And Another Thing”, and Neil Gaimain who interviewed Adams as a young journalist and went on to write the Hitchhikers official companion book “Don’t Panic” as well as a few other things I’m sure we’ve all heard of.
Douglas’ ability to see things differently and communicate them with such vivid clarity is why he was discovered early on by Graham Chapman of Monty Python fame. He wrote one and acted in a couple of the Flying Circus episodes as well as a few Doctor Who arcs, including Shada, The Pirate Planet, City of Death and The Krikketmen. Beside Hitchhikers Guide he wrote the Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency series which have been made into several mediums including comic books and a tv series; starring Elijah Wood.
Although we always remember our favorite writers work, they are after all, people as well. Some of them are utterly amazing human beings and Dougal Adams is was one of those. He was a humble man who always had time to help other writers and his friends as evidenced by the long list of people who claim to have been influenced by him. One of the things that I love is that he used everyday things to influence him. He loved music and always listened to it while writing. He even used it in several of his books.
Most famous of all is probably the band “Disaster Area”, and Hot Black Desiato, or Marvin the tragically depressed robot who hums “Shine on you crazy diamond” from Pink Floyd. Douglas himself was an amateur musician and was friends with David Gilmour and Gary Brooker; both of whom played at his memorial.
His love of science and his vision of the future are evident in his writing, but he also lived in the now and was quite an Environmentalist and Animal Rights activist. He wrote and starred in a radio series as well as wrote a book with his friend and fellow traveler Mark Carwardine called Last Chance to See which set them off to seek out animals on the brink of extinction. Douglas even climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in a Rhino suit to bring awareness to the animal’s plight.
But in my opinion one of the most endearing of his traits was his love of technology. He was always surrounded by the latest gadgets. He was one of the first to use email and other electronic methods of recording his work. He was said to have a love affair with Apple Macintosh, and became what was known as an Apple Master, promoting the use of Apple video by filming a Rock Video with his daughter using this technology. In his author biography in his books I found it funny that he included this love by writing; “Adams lives in Islington with a Lady Barrister and an Apple Macintosh”. He was one of the first writers to develop interactive fiction; writing and designing one of the longest lasting text adventure games to go along with his books as well as helping to design one of my personal favorite games Starship Titanic with which he was so engrossed with the game development he had to have his friend Terry Jones write the companion book. He wrote and starred with Tom Baker in a show called Hyperland, which envisioned the future of technology, imagining how hypertext and access to information could be shared and utilized as we do today.
Finding others who enjoy his work is my one of my favorite things. I have met several in real life but as with most science fiction fandoms, most of the true fans are found inhabiting places online. One of the Facebook groups I have been in the longest is the Galactic Hitchhikers. All these people get me and the humor and sarcasm I find there makes my day. I wish I were able to enjoy them in real life, but I think DNA would be proud to know his fans are spread far and wide through the vast technological collective known as the World Wide Web.
So, I find my fandom and in real-life friends at Millennium Fandom Bar. The bar has hosted Hitchhikers nights and Towel Days that bring Douglas Adams fans together and allowing them to embody their favorite characters from his books, shows and games. One of my favorite cosplays is doing Zaphod, the President of the Galaxy. His out of this world persona just calls to me and I love the way I feel when I put on my shimmering gold shirt, flashy aviators, and long white fur coat with matching boots. Cosplaying someone who was voted Worst Dressed Sentient Being in the Known Universe and the Best Bang since the Big One is the kind of out of body experience you can have cosplaying at MFB. Most of my friends have no idea who I am when I walk in dressed at the President of the Galaxy but that’s ok because it gives me a chance to talk about my fandom and hopefully convert others to Hoopy Froods.
I wish I could have written this in his elaborate fantastical style so you could see the comedic use of Holistic unintended consequences in his work that makes me love his books so much. But all I can do is hope that reading this will make you pick up a copy yourself so we can share and enjoy his work while finding the simple truths in life as he did. One of my favorite quotes from him tells about how he saw life as it really is and did not have to imagine a fantasy world to enjoy its beauty:
“Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?”
Sally Mustang, guest blogger for the fandombar.com Community bLog (Towel Day is on May 25th)