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

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  • Edition: 5th
  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2009-09-15
  • Publisher: Titan Books
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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.

Author Biography

Neil Gaiman is a New York Times best-selling author and one of the most critically acclaimed living comics writers. There have been two recent movie adaptations of his work, Stardust and Coraline.



“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 to

Excerpted from Don't Panic: Douglas Adams and the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy 2009 by Neil Gaiman
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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