Tuesday, March 08, 2011

The Meaning of Life? 42!

The wonderful Writer’s Almanac tells us that it was on this day in 1978 that the first episode of Douglas Adams’ seminal A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was broadcast on BBC radio. Says The Almanac:
It was science fiction comedy, from a writer named Douglas Adams, who was also a writer for the show Dr. Who. The Hitchhiker radio series became popular right away, and so it was turned into a British television series, a movie, and five books: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (1980); Life, The Universe and Everything (1982); So Long and Thanks for all the Fish (1984); and Mostly Harmless (1992).

The idea for the series came to Adams while he was lying in a field in Austria, drunk and considering the vastness of the cosmos. He imagined a roving reporter who was an alien assigned to write about an 'insignificant planet at the unfashionable end of the universe' -- Earth -- which is destroyed to make way for a hyperspace bypass. The story goes from there.
Sadly, Douglas Adams died of a heart attack much too young in 2001 (he was 49), but not before recreating that radio series as a “trilogy” of five books that sold over 15 million copies during his life.

Today is also International Women’s Day, and the birthday of author Jeffrey Eugenides (The Virgin Suicides, Middlesex).


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