Ten Years On, I Still Remember to Carry a Towel: Remembering Douglas Adams

Going through my Twitter feed this morning, I noticed that someone had retweeted this from Steven Moffat:

http://bit.ly/bftzr Douglas Adams: ten years gone, still ahead of us. You can’t read this without starting a score sheet for the insights.

It’s a brilliant piece that Adams wrote for his website, a testament to the brand new world that we live in and proof that Douglas Adams was a man years ahead of his own time.

But all I remember about him is how he made me laugh.

I was around ten or eleven when I read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for the first time. My dad noticed how much I was getting into science fiction and pulled his own copy off of the bookshelf before we went on vacation. “Here,” he said. “You’ll probably like this one.”

Starship TitanicI didn’t come up for air until I finished it. Afterwards, I giggled my way through the rest of the series, and then my dad bought a computer game called Starship Titanic, which looked like a whole lot of fun. If you dawdled too long on the opening screen of the game and turned on the TV, you would get a message from the man himself: “Well?” he began, so emphatic that you nearly believed he might pop out of the screen and shake you by the shoulders, “What are you waiting for? Go on!

I spent hours at the computer after that, putting questions to the robot staff of the starship in hopes of getting amusing answers from them. If you typed in Douglas Adams, the bellhop robot would stop you. “Don’t mention him,” he would say, “he’s got a lot to answer for around here.” Oh, I’m sure he did.

I rarely mention Douglas Adams when listing the authors I enjoy, and I wonder if it’s because the back of my brain thinks that should be so obvious. He’s Douglas Adams, the one and only, of course I adore him. In some ways, I still have a hard time believing that he has been gone so long, that there’s not another book coming out next year. In a world where heavy drama reigns supreme in so many mediums, I always aspired to be more like Adams, whether I was writing a school essay, playing a part in a show, or sitting with a group of friends in a sandwich shop.

Because he made me laugh. And I think that’s a greater gift than a profound cry any day.


Emily Asher-Perrin wants you to know that the plans for this post were stuck in the bottom of a locked file cabinet, inside a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying, “Beware of the Leopard.” You can bug her on Twitter and read more of her work here and elsewhere.

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