May 25 is nerd nirvana: it’s the day both Star Wars and Return of the Jedi premiered in theaters. It is also Towel Day, when froods all over the Earth (and beyond) celebrate the life of author Douglas Adams, who gave us The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy in five parts.
Like most things, I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I became aware of Adams’ works. It would have been neat to give this sweeping epic on how I overheard the radio drama and was gobsmacked by what was being transmitted over the airwaves, or how the book cover enticed me to pick up a copy. But, no, I don’t have any recollection like that. More than likely, I probably heard people in middle or high school (late 1980s, early 1990s) waxing poetic about H2G2 and me thinking, “Hey, that’d be a cool book to read.” But then something else would snatch my attention.
As with most stories, Neil Gaiman plays a role in this. I had become a voracious reader of all things Neil, including the comic book series Sandman. In reading articles about Neil, I learned he was friends with Douglas Adams, and that he even wrote a book about Adams and H2G2. Well, now I really have to get a hold of this book.
It wasn’t until the mid-2000s that my sister gave me the most awesome gift for Christmas: The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide. The massive tome contained ALL FIVE NOVELS and a short story! At last! I would finally enter this amazing world!
But then other books or life things got in the way.
Funnily enough, my first exposure to H2G2 came when the movie premiered in 2005. At the time, part of my duties as a mild-mannered reporter was to see the newest movies on opening day and get people’s reactions to them. One of those was H2G2. I thought the movie was great, especially Stephen Fry as the book.
BUT! I finally dove into the first novel, and I enjoyed the heck out of the adventures of Arthur Dent and company. I’ve always been a fan of British humour (the usual suspects like Monty Python and Red Dwarf), so this was right up my alley. It was also science fiction, which has been a big part of my life. Check. So far, I’ve read Hitchhiker’s Guide and The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. One of these days I will get to the others. It is my destiny. I’ve added the movie, the TV show, the radio drama, AND Neil’s book to my wish list so I can complete the collection.
Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, I’ve been able to catch episodes of the radio drama through the BBC Radio’s iPlayer (technically, this was the first incarnation of the H2G2 universe). I love radio dramas (like Star Wars, for instance), and these are brilliant soundscapes. Unfortunately, my brain can’t remember to catch each week’s episode before it’s taken down. D’oh! That same site has put up the original computer game, which is maddeningly fun. I can’t even get off Earth without getting killed by a flying rock.
Through more jumping down the rabbit hole of Internet research, I discovered Douglas had a hand as a writer on Doctor Who, another British sci-fi series I’ve become a fan of (yup, those episodes on DVD are on my wish list). A series that, recently, welcomed Neil Gaiman as a writer on two of its episodes. See how it all comes together? Or maybe it’s the Infinite Improbability Drive at work…
So I better go get my towel. You never know when the Vogons are going to wipe out the Earth to make way for a new space route. Safe travels, Douglas.