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March 11, 2013

Douglas Adams’ 61st birthday: A hitchhiker’s puzzle filled with clues

Posted in: Books,Fans,Games,Movies,Stage,TV,Video

Douglas Adams’ 61st birthday is being marked with a Google Doodle that would make the author of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” proud.

But “Don’t Panic” if you looked at the Google Doodle and wondered … “what is that supposed to be?”

The late Douglas Adams, author of "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" series.

The late Douglas Adams, author of “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” series.

The interactive doodle draws on several allusions to the late English humorist’s writing, down to the rumpled towel said to be an important part of any trip. There’s a cup of tea, a packed back, a manuscript, the galaxy whizzing by outside the window. You can also see Marvin the robot by clicking on the sliding doors to the left, and you can tap the e-reader’s keyboard for several inside references.

Most of it, though, will likely be lost on those unfamiliar with the author, who died at the age of 49 from a heart attack. He would have been 61 today.

You can also enjoy today’s Google Doodle as a video.

Adams began “Hitchhiker’s Guide” as a BBC radio comedy, but it was quickly turned into a “trilogy” made up of five wildly popular novels. Some say the guide to interstellar travel that Adams also used to raise awareness about endangered species is the funniest sci-fi series ever written. “THHGTTG,” as it is referred to by fans, has also been adapted for other mediums, including TV, film, games and the stage.

Our sister blog Jacket Copy explains that Adams’ final book blew up several key characters. There were plans for a sixth book, but Adams died before it could be finished. Author Eoin Colfer, author of the Artemis Fowl fantasy series, stepped forward to complete the sixth book with the blessing of Adams’ widow. That book was called “And Another Thing…”

Describing “THHGTTG” is… difficult. Fans will tell you to “just read it!”

A 2008 Hero Complex post on Colfer’s plans for a sixth novel had this to say by way of description:

“The Guide” is a slice of satirical genius. A marvel of quantum tomfoolery. A dissection of the absurdities of our human condition. A space odyssey that forces us to face ourselves and collapse in hysterics. Imagine if Messrs. Hawking and Fry were locked in a room with the entire cast of Monty Python and forced to write a book which would subsequently be edited by Pink Floyd, then the result would need a lot of work before it could be cut from Douglas Adams’ first draft.

Are you a fan of “THHGTTG”? Do you think Adams would like this Google Doodle?

–Rene Lynch
@renelynch

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