Happy Birthday Douglas Adams!

Right now, there’s probably no better words of advice for me than “Don’t Panic.” Luckily, today is the perfect day to remember these words because Douglas Adams, creator of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, was born on this day in 1952.

If you aren’t familiar with Adams or his work, here’s a crash course so you too can properly celebrate the birthday of this magnificent man. His most famous series, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, actually started out as a radio show he and some friends worked on, but soon he turned it into one bestselling book, and then another. First The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy itself, then The Restaurant at the End of The Universe, Life, the Universe and Everything, So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, and finally Mostly Harmless. You can also find HG2G as a stage play, TV show, film, and 1984 text-adventure based computer game. Needless to say, this series definitely left a significant cultural mark.

Read these books, and you’ll be privy to all sorts of inside jokes and references you might have noticed before but never recognized. The cult following of “hitchhikers” Adams’s work can boast has really ingrained tons of references to HG2G into our collective cultural consciousness. You’ll find out why I encouraged everyone not to panic at the beginning of this article, why May 11 is Towel Day and, perhaps most importantly, you’ll finally get why the answer to life, the universe and everything is 42. Really, though, Adam’s gave sci-fi and pop culture far more than these precious tidbits. Sure, he also worked on Doctor Who and a number of other quintessentially British master-works, but I’m talking about more insubstantial, broader effects here. His visionary perception of the human condition, a gift any great sci-fi writer can extrapolate into something marvelous, and his bitingly British wit create a unique voice that has wormed its way into the minds of many people and sci-fi writers, forever shaping the works that came after it. While Adams unfortunately passed away in 2001, his work is definitely going to stick around for a great while longer.

Adams’ sense of humor and sci-fi preference means he is right up my alley, as far as reading preferences go. It would be pretty much impossible for me to not like him as a writer based on the description”funny British science fiction writer” alone. I still took way too much time to start reading his books, because of course almost everyone and everything that could recommend books to me has been telling me I should check him out immediately since middle school, at the very least. Who can deal with that kind of pressure? Anyhow, I finally did check his books only a few years ago out and was not disappointed at all. I can do nothing but recommend his works with the highest regard to anyone and everyone. He’s a funny man that knows exactly how to write enjoyable science fiction that really lives up to the genre’s fullest potential. Read the books. Read them all. Read them now, and whatever you do, don’t panic.

douglas adams inspired "Hitch hikers guide to the galaxy" H2G2

Douglas Adam. photo courtesy of Michael Hughes

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