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So Long, Hitchhiker: Douglas Adams Dead At 49 473

Posted by timothy
from the transcending-earth dept.
Motor was among the first of the hundreds of readers with this sad news: "Douglas Adams, author of the Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy has died of a heart attack, aged 49." I still remember the first time someone pointed out the Hitchiker's Guide to me, and what a changing point even the first few pages were. It's easy to see he'll be missed.
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So Long, Hitchhiker: Douglas Adams Dead At 49

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Respects to his family.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Don't forget your towel.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Douglas Adams dead, yet Piers Anthony lives.

    That clinches it. There is no God.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 12, 2001 @03:58AM (#227952)
    Looks like the question was "What is SEVEN times seven?" or something.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 12, 2001 @04:06AM (#227953)
    Douglas thanks so much for the books, I am very sad to know that I won't get to see you in person. You came by my town on a book tour and I never knew until it was too late. How can I explain what your writing have meant to me and the joy it brings me to tell others about it. My mother had a very hard year at 42 and oddly enough your books eased the pain because she loved them too. You should not have had to die and everyone who has read your books will almost selfishly wished that you would live forever just so we could get more of your viewpoint on life the universe and everything. I was completely shocked to hear that you had died and I hope your life has been as full as you have made all of ours. The world is a much poorer place without you in it. I truly hope your loved ones left behind know how much your wit and humor are loved. I also feel so sad for your creations. You will be greatly missed. Goodbye.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 12, 2001 @03:45AM (#227954)
    And me with this terrible pain in all the diodes down my left side.

    Oh God, I'm so depressed...
  • Bah, you jerk. I was feeling okay until I read that.

    ----

  • I guess, I'm really getting old: my favorite writers have started dying. What a sad day. :-(
  • Scott Adams = creator of Dilbert, and guy whose bio you linked to

    Douglas Adams = creator of HHGTTG among many other things, and who just died

    you = karma whore who used google to create a post, who has obviously never even read the books, and whose post is an insult to those who are still reeling from this news
  • I can honestly point to Douglas Adams as being one of the first steps of my descent into geekdom. I was led to Adams the mere weeks before I first discovered BBSes...and I became obsessed. thus, my "Hitch" id, as well as my hitchhiker e-mail. to this day I carry a towel with me everywhere. I have one in my car, in my bag, and I use one to wrap around my "More than complete" leather edition of the guide...I spent years searching out his other novels, the deeper meaning of liff, last chance to see. I still haven't gotten all oflast chance to see (it's easier to find on mp3 with him reading it than it is to find the actual book). I'm...crushed to hear this. I think I'll go dig out my infocom emulator and play the game for a while.
    ----------------------------------------------
    All that glitters has a high refractive index.
  • I wouldn't expect the Slashdot audience to know much about quality writing, given that they read Slashdot :)

    --
  • by FFFish (7567)
    If there's one thing God must have, it's a sense of humour, elsewise he'd suicide from the mess he made when he introduced man to the planet. Biggest mistake an all-seeing, all-knowing god could make...

    --
  • by FFFish (7567) on Saturday May 12, 2001 @06:33AM (#227981) Homepage
    Given that this sad news follows not so long after the discussion about how many hour a week do you geeks all work, I'd just like to say:

    That could be you at age 49, too.

    So perhaps all you sixty-hour work-lifers should think about it. Before you get a chance to enjoy life, it could be over.

    He leaves behind a wife and a seven year-old daughter. The people that were most important to him, and who he was most important to. Poof! Their Douglas is irrevocably gone from their lives.

    I'm not saying everyone should become completely hedonistic and live only for the moment... but you gotta make sure that you do get to live.

    Out of respect for the people who care for you, take a few minutes to assess your life. Make sure that you've got a good balance between work, family, and play. Make it a life worth living.

    --
  • How could a physicist become a born-again Christian?

    When they get old and start to fear death.

    Go read about complex systems, self organization, auto catalytic sets, the genome projects underway and the relationship genetically between all living things.

    Hope does not make it true. Faith does not change fact.
  • Mine is:
    The [Vogon] captain was delighted: when a Dentrassi went along smiling like that, there was something going about the ship he would be very angry about.

    --

  • I guess someone found his sub-eather thumb signal
    --
    James Michael Keller
  • Well, the original was, "What do you get if you multibly six by nine?" So DNA explained the answer by saying it was in base 13. But 49base13=61base10>, and 61 is prime. So apparently there is no question.
  • by Requiem (12551)
    I guess he panicked.
  • by warlock (14079)
    Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis, te decet hymnus, Deus in Sion, et tibi reddetur votum in Jerusalem; exaudi orationem meam, ad te omnis caro veniet. Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.
  • Don't you see? It's a coverup! Doug Adams isn't dead - he obviously had to leave Earth because it is about to be blown up (by the Vogons, who else?) to make way for an intergalactic information superhighway. Probably the only reason we're still alive right now is that the Vogons are busy arguing on the bridge of the spaceship about whether to destroy the entire solar system at once, or one planet at a time.

    And if the coverup isn't enough proof for you, the fact that the dolphins are leaving [indiainfo.com] should clinch it.

    Leave now, while you still can!

  • I rather like the one about being drunk:

    It's unpleantly like being drunk.
    What's unpleasant about being drunk?
    Ask a glass of water.



    --
  • by fordp (16731) on Saturday May 12, 2001 @08:33AM (#228004)
    Long after his death his poems were found and wondered over. News of them spread like morning sunlight. For centuries they illuminated and watered the lives of many people whose lives might otherwise have been darker and drier.
    --Douglas Adams, Life The Universe And Everything

    My condolences to Jane, Polly and all of DNA's family, friends and fans.

  • by Surak (18578) <(moc.skcolbliam) (ta) (karus)> on Saturday May 12, 2001 @04:46AM (#228008) Homepage Journal
    Nah...he missed yet another deadline... :)

    "The thing I love most about deadlines is the wonderful WHOOSHing sound they make as they go past." - Douglas Adams.
  • by Cujo (19106)

    I'm deeply concerned that he isn't just doing this for tax reasons. I selfishly wanted him to outlive me just long enough so I could appear to him in a dream and tell him what it's like outside the Asylum.

    I guess he'll find out first.

  • It's really sad he had to pass on already being only 49. I don't know how many hundreds references to THGTTG were putting some fun in everyones daily lives, up to a point where it'd seemed necessary to post a "No more 42 jokes, please" on the office door.

    Apart from his all-time master piece, a trilogy in five parts, I think it's worth pointing out his other works, about strange Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, the Starship Titanic picking up travellers on Earth and my favourite piece of non-fiction, Last Chance To See [douglasadams.com] . I'd really love to have seen more like this from his quill and meet him live on one of his public readings, even if he'd be talking to me in a foreign language...

    We all will surely miss you, even the most stubborned Terry Prattchet fans. Farewell.
  • by andrewb (23571) on Saturday May 12, 2001 @03:59AM (#228015) Homepage
    I'm sure this has been seen here before, but anyway:

    #define NINE 8 + 1
    #define SIX 1 + 5

    int main() {
    printf("%i times %i is %i\n", SIX, NINE, SIX * NINE);
    return 0;
    }

    --

  • It is made pretty clear in context (and from later books) that this is the WRONG question.

    There is also proof from the books that 42 stopped being the valid answer to The Question, the instant that it was presented as the answer.

    The following is a logic exercize i did on the matter a few weeks ago (actually it was about some other stuff but contained this, so heres a modified version):

    In Life, the Univers, and Everything the character Prak (who was given too much the truth drug) states this when Arthur Dent asks him about what the question is:

    "... The Question and the Answer are mutually exclusive. Knowledge of one logically precludes knowledge of the other. It is impossible that both can ever be known about the same Universe. Except, that if it happened, it seems that the Question and the Answer would jus cancel each other out, and take the Universe with them, wich woul then be replaced by something even mor bizarrely inexplicable. It is possible that this has already happended, but there is a certain amount of uncertainty about that."

    From this we get:

    1. there is a question and an answer
    2. Knowledge of both is impossible without forever altering everything.
    3. This may already have happened.

    So:

    First, the people who knew the question were long passed when the answer came out. So no person knew both the question and the answer. However, in the computer that calculated the answer, the question and the answer had to exist simultaniously for an instant.

    Now, the Earth as it turns out, is a giant computer designed to accertain(sp?) the question. When Arthur and Ford land with the Golgofrincams, they play scrabble fairly early, before the computer is completely fsked. So the primitive cave men may actually be trying a brute force attack, and happen to be trying out "what is six by nine". Eventually they would try 6x7, or already had, and were just comparing other questions for proof.

    Either way, it is entirely possible that 6x7 is in fact the real question, however when there was finally an answer to it (42) the result was that, both cancelled each other out and the universe shifted inexorably to the complicated.

    In this case one of the new inexplicable facts is that:

    42 is the new answer, to which there is no question (according the above rules, or you could just say the new question is 42, and the answer is in the form of a question, the "Jeopardy Universe theory").

    Another of the new complications is the religious fervor about the answer to the old question, making it an integral part of the new question-answer pair.

    But it also could be that one of the complications (bizarre) is that 42 is just a false trail to keep people away from the latest universe's question-answer pair, and therefore 42 is actually quite irrelevant.

    Of course this is all based on evidence that it may have happened, which must be seen with a certain amout of uncertainty.


    ANYWAY, any author that could cause my brain to do that much thought and analasys over a couple of jokes will be greatly missed. HHGG has been a major part of my life and sense of humor since i was a freshman in highschool.

    Take care Douglas Adams, and best of luck in the great unknown, ill look you up when i get there.

  • If you actually READ the bible, it claims that the dead will rise and go to heaven AT THE END of the world. Not instantly. That perk went to Jesus and Elijah, and I'm not sure God would have similar feelings about the man who wrote the babelfish proof of the non-existance of God:

    "I refuse to prove that I exists", says God. "For proof denies faith, and without faith, I am nothing."
    "But the babelfish is a dead giveaway", says man. "It could not have evolved by chance. It proves that you exist, and therefore, by your own argument, you don't. Q.E.D".
    "Oh, I hadn't thought of that," says God, and promptly vanishes in a path of logic.
  • by Sebbo (28048) <sebbo.sebbo@org> on Saturday May 12, 2001 @04:22AM (#228021) Homepage Journal
    Not if he was supposed to die at 42.

    Late, as in the late Adams Douglas Adams.

    I feel a little weird about making jokes about his death, except that I'm confident he'd approve.
  • Why miss it? [neurotoxin.net]

    a sad day indeed.
    --
  • actually, when Douglas Adams spoke at MIT last year, he answered this question... which I promply placed in my fortune file:
    I don't make jokes in base 13. Anyone who does should get help. --DouglasAdams
    Tresi
  • Paraphrased from memory...

    ound.. round... ground. Ground! I wonder if it will be my friend?
  • It sucked when Asimov died. It sucked when Jerry Garcia died, and it definitely sucks that Douglas Adams has died.

    Lee Reynolds
  • by gorilla (36491) on Monday May 14, 2001 @02:55AM (#228045)
    Actually The Hobbit computer game came out in 1982, two years before the HHGTTG computer game.
  • by gorilla (36491) on Tuesday May 15, 2001 @09:22AM (#228046)
    The Hobbit sold over 500,000 copies [blazelimited.com].
  • "...like having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped around a large gold brick."

    My e-mail .sig has for several years now been: "...a liquid which was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.", and I nearly stopped posting to /. after my karma hit 42 (I'm jeopardizing this by posting, I know...)

    I've always enjoyed his writings ever since I first discovered them about 8 years ago. I feel sad that he won't be around to write more of them. I will drink some very expensive alcohol later and mourn the loss. May he rest in peace.

  • by M-2 (41459) on Saturday May 12, 2001 @07:23AM (#228048) Homepage
    He was a man, take him for all in all,

    I shall not look upon his like again.
    --William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616), "Hamlet", Act 1 scene 2
    I think, friends, this is a sad day for humanity. One of us hairless apes who could really see the absurdity of our entire condition has passed on, and left us without someone to gently point it out.
    "Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so."

    -- Douglas Adams

    ----
  • by Hobbex (41473) on Saturday May 12, 2001 @04:00AM (#228049)
    They rounded the foot of Quentulus Quazgar Mountains, and there was the message written in blazing letters along the crest of the Mountain. There was a little observation vantage point with a rail built along the top of a large rock facing it, from which you could get a good view. It had a little pay-telescope for looking at the letters in detail, but no one would ever use it because the letters burned with the divine brilliance of the heavens and would, if seen through a telescope, have severely damaged the retina and the optic nerve.

    They gazed at God's Final Message in wonderment, and were slowly and ineffably filled with a great sense of peace, and of final and complete understanding.

    Fenchruch sighed. 'Yes,' she said, 'that was it.'

    They had been staring at ut for fully ten minutes before they became aware that Marvin, hanging between their shoulders, was in difficulties. The robot could no longer lift his head, had not read the message. They lifted his head, but he complained that his vision circuits had almost gone.

    They found a coin and helped him to the telescope. He complained and insulted them, but they helped him look at each individual letter in turn. The first letter was a 'w', the second an 'e'. Then there was a gap. An 'a' follow, then a 'p', an 'o' and an 'l'.

    Marvin paused for a rest. After a few moments they resumed and let him see the 'o', the 'g', the 'i', the 's', and the 'e'.

    The next two words were 'for' and 'the'. The last one was a long on, and Marvin needed another rest before he could tackle it.

    It started with 'i', then 'n' then a 'c'. Next came an 'o' and an 'n', followed by a 'v', an 'e', another 'n', and an 'i'.

    After a final pause, Marvin gathered his strength for the last stretch.

    He read the 'e', the 'n', the 'c' and at last the final 'e', and staggered back into their arms.

    'I think', he muttered at last, from deep within his corroding rattling thorax, 'I feel good about it.'

    The lights went out in his eyes for absolutely the very last time ever.

    Luckily, there was a stall nearby where you could rent scooters from guys with green wings.

  • This feels like losing Phil Hartman all over again.

    Aaargh!

    You expect your idols to live to a ripe old age. Who's next, Tatsuya Ishida? Linus? Stallman? Vincent D'Onofrio? Grr. Cruel and uncertain world!

    I don't even want to to think about if this had happened to Heinlein. Of course, he died when I was seven, and I didn't read anything of his until senior year of high school, but... sigh.

    It's a black day for all of us.

    -grendel drago
  • by brianvan (42539) on Saturday May 12, 2001 @05:10AM (#228051)
    That pretty much describes the events of today.

    Douglas Adams had an uncanny sense of wit... one that most authors would give a lung and a kidney just to have for one novel. Although the "Dirk Gently" books never quite caught on with me, I do own all 5 Hitchhiker's Trilogy books (yes, an increasingly inappropriately named trilogy... and yes, the leather bound version) and they rank among the top 10 books/authors I have ever read. There is something quite upsetting about someone dying this young, someone with so much creative force left in him, but his contributions to our souls and to all of pop culture will exist forever and ever. We will never lose them.

    The feeling is not entirely unlike Arthur Dent's feeling after losing Fenchurch in a hyperspace jump, though. This is beyond unexpected, and there's a feeling of helplessness as well. Plus, we all want to see that movie made the RIGHT way, and eventually I want to be carrying around my "Don't Panic" PDA. Palm might generate great business by selling one of its' wireless access models with those words on the cover, as a tribute.

    I might add that I have two favorite authors, and I expected one of them to be dead any time soon now... except the other died extremely unexpectedly, and the other isn't getting any younger. So, someone, please, call and find out how Kurt Vonnegut Jr. is feeling today...
  • When all the dolphins left earth via their own means they transmitted a message "so long and thanks for all the fish", which was the name of one of the books in the series.
  • Babelfish translator [altavista.com] has lost his creator and maintainer.
    Who will feed the fish, now ?
    Maybe we should give the babelfish to Theo de Raadt, so that OpenBSD [openbsd.org] will run all hardware (past, present and future) over the universe ? And we will give back the ex-OpenBSD blowfish to the Altavista dudes, they won't see any change, anyway.
  • Not if the joke has anything to do with 42...trust me.

    --GnrcMan--
  • You dick, he died while working out at a gym.

    --GnrcMan--
  • by Tackhead (54550) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @03:39PM (#228063)
    > [God's Final Message to All Creation snipped]

    I suppose I ought to accept God's apology for the inconvenience of losing Mr. Adams at 49. Very well, God. Apology accepted, though I'm sure it was more than an inconvenience for Mr. Adams himself.

    Speaking of whom, suffice it to say that he has nothing to fear from the Total Perspective Vortex.

    I've retrieved my autographed recipe (signed at a book-signing of his some ~13 years ago) for the Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster, put it up on the wall, and am about to smash my brains out with a slice of lemon wrapped 'round a large gold brick.

    Multiple times, if I last long enough after the first one.

    So long, Mr. Adams, and thanks for all the radio plays, books, works of interactive fiction, more books, more interactive fiction, and yes, fish.

  • by gotan (60103) on Saturday May 12, 2001 @07:20AM (#228073) Homepage
    A coworker of mine managed to cite Douglas Adams.
    It goes like (translated from german):
    "... converges at 10x10x6 k-points, which can be reduced to 42 Points [Ada89] by applying symmetries."

    where [Ada89] is the first entry in the Bibliography (alphabetical sorting):

    [Ada98] D.Adams. The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy. Harmony Books, ISBN 0517542099, 1989.

    You can still get some mileage out of that joke, when you use it in unexpected places. Well, i laughed.
  • The Earth program was irrevocably screwed up when the Golg. colonized Earth, more or less wiping out the cavemen.
    Just because Arthur in particular didn't have the right answer does not mean the program was trash. The Golgofrinchams weren't a contaminant--they were a patch to a buggy application! Don't you remember how frustrated the "caveman" was? He had reached a computational bottleneck and was unable to proceed any further. He passed a parameter off to Arthur (a component of the new routine) and stalked off into the woods, probably to become extinct.

    Just because Arthur had the wrong question doesn't mean that a Golgofrincham couldn't produce the correct question once they were fully integrated into the Earth application. Arthur had the wrong question because (a) he was part of a routine that was evaluating a computational dead end; (b)the correct question is unhavable, and (c) he's a schnook. If he weren't a shnook, the Trilogy would not have been nearly as enjoyable.

    Besides, I'm sure you read the fourth book in the trilogy, and all that business with Fenchurch? About her having the solution and all of a sudden it getting wiped out by the universe? The stuff from the preface to the first book? How a girl in a cafe got it right, and this time nobody would have to get nailed to anything?

    --

  • I know how you feel, man. Just yesterday afternoon I was browsing the sci-fi section at a neighborhood, independent bookstore, and I glanced hopefully among the "A"s to see if Adams had published anything new. He hadn't, so I grabbed A Canticle for Leibowitz [amazon.com] instead. Oh--and a random Spider Robinson novel, because I haven't read anything by him yet.

    Imagine coming home disappointed because there wasn't a new Adams book and finding out there wasn't going to be one at all, ever. I'm so bummed.

    --

  • You can get them online, if you're willing to order them overseas, at http://www.bbcshop.com/bbc_shop/dept.asp?dept%5Fid =101&shop=bbc

    However you obtain it, listening to the radio series is the best way you can pay your respect to Douglas Adams. The radio series is the brilliant humor that made Douglas Adams famous in the first place. So please, listen to these episodes, and laugh your ass off in memory of him.
    --
  • Damn it.... Douglas adams might have been a nice guy, but now the h2g2 stuff will be under the thumb of his estate... For the next 75 years.

    Why will I be dead 20 years by the time that h2g2 joins its place in our culture with Santa Clause in the public domain?

    Eh... Maybe my great grand kids will be able to enjoy Aurthur Dent with santa clause.... Here's hoping that the estate isn't a dominating **** that'll try to milk h2g2 for all the money they can.

    It is a sad day.

  • In entirely, um, unrelated news, a sofa was finally removed from the stairwell of Douglas Adams' apartment building.

    I will miss Douglas Adams.

  • by UnknownSoldier (67820) on Saturday May 12, 2001 @08:50AM (#228086)
    ... death to put life in perspective. Life is kind of funny that way I guess.

    You know, I'm actually glad /. has these non-technical columns. Reminds us that life isn't all about neat gadgets. As much as I miss the old days of staying up late and hacking game assembly code on the old Apple ][, I'm glad we can be reminded that people are what makes life special.

    I just finished reading "The Prydian Chronicles" by Lylod Alexander again (hadn't read them since elementary school.) I got to the last book, and had a tear in my eye. Why? Because a good thing had ended.

    And I feel the same way about Douglas Adams. He sure brought a lot of joy in my life with his writings. I can't think of a nicer gift for a person to give.

    Have you lately told your parents, friends, loved ones that you value their love and friendship?

    Stop and smell the roses along the path of life.

    Monday morning will come soon enough.
  • Nope, he's still alive and kicking

    ----
  • by taniwha (70410) on Saturday May 12, 2001 @12:50PM (#228089) Homepage Journal
    He did a series of essays on disapearing animals ....

    Just after that I had the pleasure of listening to him speak at an Apple WWDC (developer's conference) - he gleefully skewered the Apple people who had brought him :-) .... He also spoke about some of the animals he'd been studying ... one has stuck in my memory - it goes something like this:

    There are only about 1000 Komodo Dragons left .... but as far as anyone can tell there have always been only about 1000 .... they have an interesting way of feeding .... basicly they don't brush their teeth ... they eat rotting meat and it sticks in their teeth where all sorts of nasty bacteria breed .... when anything comes near a KD they bite it .... and let it wander away .... where the wound festers and eventually the aanumal dies .... days later the KD (or another) comes along and finds some dead meat to eat. This is all very wonderfull but it has come to my attention that european visitors are upsetting the balance of nature .... basicly they are getting bitten .... and then going off the island to die.

    Thanks Douglas - I still snicker whenever I recall that passage

  • Go to www.shoutcast.com [shoutcast.com] and do a search for "Hitch hiker". Someone there is running a HHGTTG server that continuously plays the first 12 episodes of the radio show.

    Thanks Douglas for giving me more laughs than anyone else I know for the last 8 years (since I discovered the books). In my household (and may others I am sure), you will be sorely missed.

  • Now, even if the new movie is done, I'm not sure it will be the same without DNA's direct influence.

    I hope they respect him and leave it alone.

    Douglas Adams - You will be truely missed.

    "Everything you know is wrong. (And stupid.)"
  • by pete-classic (75983) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Saturday May 12, 2001 @04:30AM (#228096) Homepage Journal
    I guess this means no resolution to the loose ends from "Young Zaphod Plays It Safe" and no movie.

    Unfortunately, it probably means that the movie will finally be made, badly.

    I think that the reason we haven't seen it yet is that he never got the movie deal that he wanted in terms of control. (I can just see studio execs now "This Marvin is all wrong, too depressing for a comedy, we think he should be more of a 'surfer dude.'" or "Slartibartfast is not going to work for marketing tie-ins. We are thinking more of a furry E.T. named 'Giget.'") Ugh.

    -Peter

  • I was *extremely* lucky to have had a chance to attend a talk by Douglas when he visited MIT at the end of last year.

    He was as funny, witty, and charming in person as he was in his books (and then some!). What a blast that was....he did a reading from 'Last Chance to See' and, of course, ad-libbed well beyond that.

    What I'm most disappointed about was that he won't have the chance to see the HHGTTG movie finished. He talked about the trials and tribulations of getting a 'cult' movie produced in mainstream Hollywood -- so many of us would appreciate the film, yet so many would leave the theater with a resounding "huh?" (I say, screw those people! ;)

    I think, if I recall correctly, that he said a script was done (thank goodness ... I wouldn't trust anyone else to do it), so maybe we'll yet have an opporunity to see what will certainly be a wonderful movie experience

    I'm a sadder guy today....Douglas was my hands-down favorite author and I'll miss him...

    nlh
  • by Floyd Turbo (84609) on Saturday May 12, 2001 @04:36AM (#228103) Journal
    So the characters become stranded on earth in prehistoric times, by having a caveman pull scrabble letters from a bag they determine that the question is "What is Five by Nine?"

    Pardon a quibble here, but according to my copy of the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, the Ultimate Question is actually "What do you get if you multiply six by nine".


    When I was in high school, a friend of mine who was very smart (and had much too much time on his hands) figured out that six times nine does equal 42 -- provided you do it in base 13.
    --

  • People as creative as Douglas Adams don't have "unfortunate obsesions with Macs", they understand that the Mac is the computing tool of choice for creative people. Just like you understand what made him great, he understood what make Macs great.
    --
    Lord Nimon
  • Have you seen the Dr. Who Epoisodes he wrote? IIRC there were three, one of which was The Pirate Planet. Tom Baker and the bad guys had a robotic Parrot. Hillareous. I mean more hillareous than the other Dr. Who episodes Tom Baker starred in. Those two seeemed to be made for each toher.
  • by d2ksla (89385) <kristerNO@SPAMkmlager.com> on Saturday May 12, 2001 @03:39AM (#228110) Homepage
    So is the answer 49 then?
  • I can't believe what I'm reading. Heart attack at 49? Shouldn't we be able to prevent this kind of thing by now?

    Douglas Adams was a real hacker - he hacked the English language and made it do things no-one had ever thought of before. His characters were engaging and his stories were brilliantly original. I'm amazed by how much his writing has affected my own thought process; like Monty Python, whole chapters hang verbatim in my addled memory.

    I particularly loved the bit about how most of the actual work on the Guide got done by any hitchhiker that wandered into the offices and "saw something worth doing." That, for me, sums up the hacker spirit better than anything I've ever read. I feel like we've all lost a brother.

    Rest in peace.

    TomatoMan
  • In I'm sure what will always be remembered as a sad day for happiness, Scott Adams, the author of "The Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy," died suddenly early Friday of a heart attack, at the age of 49.

    Scott Adams was by all accounts one of the greatest comic geniuses of all times, and his 5 part trilogy forming the Ultimate HitchHiker's Guide is not only roaringly funny, but deeply philosophical as well. Sum-Total, it sold over 50 million copies, and was translated into more than 147 languages (including Klingon, Ant and Dog). (no, seriously!)

    Not only was Adams unique in his suberb writing ability and narrative style, but also featured prominently in radio, effectively bringing back to life the BBC's radio comedy.

    In recent years, he had been working hard on a film version of his off-the-mark and sublimely nonsequitur series, with actors Hugh Laurie, Rowan Atkinson, Jim Carrey, Ben Affleck and even Bruce Willis in the running for the lead part.

    Adams leaves behind a wife and seven year old daughter.

    As he goes to join Graham Chapman, the comedic genius behind many of the best Monty Python sketches (and with whom he worked extensively and whose semi-autobiography "A Liar's Autobiography, Volume VI" he co-authored with Eric Idle), I'm sure his presence, his genius, his personality and his work will sorely be missed.

    In his own words,

    "Dreadfully sorry for all the inconvenience"
    "'Poof!' Vanished in a puff of logic"
    "So long, and thanks for all the fish!"

    And of course, the answer is 42.

    Cheers,

    jacobb

    PS. to get the original Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy radio series in mp3 format, surf on over to UFIE'S FTP [ufies.org]
    They are well, well worth it.

    42.
    fnord.


  • I just made a font of DNA's handwriting,

    http://fonts.tom7.com/fonts98.html

    I will miss this man.
  • by mat catastrophe (105256) on Saturday May 12, 2001 @03:52AM (#228133) Homepage
    I think there is no HHG6. Adams wrote Mostly Harmless with a pretty solid ending. Everyone dies back on Earth. I remember (although my memory is prone to odd lapses) that he said that he finished MH that way because he was quite sick of people wanting him to continue the storyline.

    At any rate, this is a rotten way to start the day. I suppose I'll have to dig out that leather bound edition of the first four novels and thumb through it for awhile....

  • by ralmeida (106461) on Saturday May 12, 2001 @04:05AM (#228136) Homepage






    (I've just finished reading "So long, and thanks for all the fish" yesterday. I feel really sad.)

    --

  • > The author became a household name when the cult
    > science fiction novel was turned into a BBC TV series.

    This is from the BBC's website. How many things can you spot that are wrong with this statement? I count four. This is a record even for the BBC.
    --

  • by sleeplesseye (113792) on Saturday May 12, 2001 @04:00AM (#228146) Homepage Journal
    Although generally known for creating humorous books about satire, science fiction, and the ludicrous nature of the human condition, there was a lot more to Adams that is worth mentioning... He was a skilled social satirist and a very forward-thinking writer, advancing the concepts of what writers could do.

    He helped create the first "hit" computer game based on a novel [douglasadams.com], helped ignite the whole "books on tape" trend, brought his stories to radio and television, helped create the rich, computerized environment of "Starship Titanic" and the concept of a "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"--a massive collection of obscure hyperlinked information (before the www existed) displayed on a small handheld computer (before PDAs existed). He also created the idea of the babel fish [altavista.com]--a universal translator, essentially. Just by writing a good yarn, he helped spur change in the world around him that has benefited all of us. We all owe a lot to the guy and to the kind of changes that one "good read" can bring. Thanks, Doug.

  • "Don't Panic" is what was written on the cover of the actual Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (in large, friendly letters).

    It is unrelated to the ultimate answer to life, the universe, and everything, which was determined thousands of years ago by the largest computer ever built at that time to be "42". Since that didn't make any sense, a much bigger computer had to be built to determine what the *question* really was. The bigger computer was The Earth.

    So the characters become stranded on earth in prehistoric times, by having a caveman pull scrabble letters from a bag they determine that the question is "What is Five by Nine?"

    Yes.

    And that is why the Earth is such a fundamentally messed-up place. That and the fact that we are all descended not from cavemen, but from a group of telephone sanitizers who were banished from their planet and colonized Earth.


    You really, really ought to read the books. It's definitely been highly influencial to many famous computer science people. Plus, they're funny.

  • Adams JUST spoke at the Embedded Systems Conference here in San Francisco a month ago! And to think, I almost didn't go because it was right in the middle of the day on a workday.

    Goddamn, well I don't know what to say... It's too bad we'll never be able to read that book he said he was working on in his speech. He had some great insights on intellectual property (he IS an author, after all), and I would have loved to see what he'd do with those insights in the next twenty years.

    Fuck.

    The only "intuitive" interface is the nipple. After that, it's all learned.

  • At ESC in San Francisco a month ago they mentioned that he was working on part 6. Really, how could the trilogy ever be over? That's why they called it a trilogy originally, because people thought the third book was it.

    The only "intuitive" interface is the nipple. After that, it's all learned.
  • But wait!!! No I think reports of his death have been greatly exagerated!!! Look:

    somehost:~> ping www.douglasadams.com

    www.douglasadams.com is alive

    Not to be disrespectful, but I think he might have found this funny. I owe much to DA. I was a complete outcast in high-school, but when I went to college I met a bunch of like-minded geeks who introduced me to HHGTTG. His works cheered me up on many a gray day.

  • At a talk at Carnegie Mellon in '99, he said part of the reason for the ending was that he hated having to spend 100 pages collecting all the characters into the same place so he decided that if he made them all dead, they'd at least be in the same place.
  • Douglas Adams is dead. But Jack Valenti goes on and on and on...
  • Thank you, Mr. Adams. Your books always brightened up my day. In fact, I was at Barnes & Noble's earlier this week, and saw a copy of The Complete Hitchhiker's Guide on sale, and despite the fact that I already had all the paperbacks, the leather bound 5 book edition, the coffee table book, and more, I still picked it up.

    I found myself enjoying it as much as I had the first time I read it.

    Your writings helped me realize that there was room for eccentric nerds in this world, and I'm proud that your novels have contributed to the person I am today.

    Thanks for Life, The Universe, and Everything.

    John
  • It's really odd. A couple of weeks ago I purchased an omnibus leatherbound edition containing the five Hitchiker's Guide books (plus _Young Zaphod Plays It Safe_) and finished reading it earlier this week.

    So Long, Mr. Adams, and thanks for all the memories.

    --

  • I think there is no HHG6. Adams wrote Mostly Harmless with a pretty solid ending. Everyone dies back on Earth

    Well, yes, but... Many many years ago, everyone dies on a Hagunennon Battle Cruiser (tweaked into Disaster Area's sundive ship forthe books). There was no way any of them could possibly have survived the end ofthe first series. And yet, somehow, Arthur and Ford managed to survive to get stranded on the prehistoric Earth, millions of years beforew any possible rescue method, and, yet...

    If DNA had wanted to have another go with the characters, he undoubtedly had the creativity to come up with a get-out from the apocalypse itsef (bill arrives, pay for the meal, deal with the queueueue for the parking lot and head on home to put a penny in a savings account).

    Thanks Douglas.

    TomV

  • "Don't try to outweird me, baby, I get weirder things than you with my breakfast cereal"

    "Oh yeah, and just who do you think you are, honey, Zaphod Beeblebrox or something?"

    "Count the heads"

    TomV

  • Dirk is just the funniest guy in fiction... I wonder if DNA based it on anyone he knows

    It's a horribly long and complicated story... The whole Professor Trefusis with his chameleon time machine idea started out as a script for a Doctor Who episode called Shada, which was part-made but abandoned due to union activity in late 1979. But being a great idea, it survived, evolved and became the Dirk Gently material. This morphing of material was definitely one of DNA's strengths - just look at the evolution of the HHGTTG from Radio through the LP versions of the first two series, the stage play, the books, the game, the TV series.

    Time to take that pocket-fluff covered aspirin from my dressing-gown pocket, I reckon.

    Thanks DNA

    TomV

  • by ruin (141833)
    Well, that sucks.

    I was at a thrift store earlier today, stocking up on t-shirts for the summer weather. There was a shelf of books, and I browsed through them, on the off chance that there was something to glean. Coincidentally, I ended up getting Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency in hardback for just a couple bucks. Man, what an eerie coincidence. I guess I'm glad I didn't grab "Timequake" as well. :(

    Anyway, I have to say that Dirk Gently and Long Dark Tea Time are total masterpieces. I could be reborn a million times and I still would never be able to write anything as ferociously witty or clever as Adams' books. He was one of the few who could look at life and manufacture his own absurd, funny, yet uniquely true vision of it.

    Sigh.

    (yikes, I didn't even remember until I hit the preview button that my .sig was yet another Adams quote. spooky.)
    --

  • Hitchhiker enthusiasts may be interested to know that Pocket Essentials [pocketessentials.com] have just published a new book [pocketessentials.com] about the Hitchhiker's Guide phenomenon.

    This is only the second book about HHGG (the first is out of print), and is a slim scholarly work providing full details and commentary of every manifestation of the genre from the original BBC [bbc.co.uk] radio series to bizarre stage versions in foreign languages.

    Disclaimer: I am related to the author. Before making this post I gave considerable thought to the potential insensitivity of appearing to use this very sad news to promote my brother's book. I can only say that I was very sorry to hear this sad news on the radio today and hope that my brother's book will encourage others to enjoy some of Douglas Adams' wonderful non-HHGG work (which it also covers).

  • by ArsSineArtificio (150115) on Saturday May 12, 2001 @04:44AM (#228200) Homepage
    Pardon a quibble here, but according to my copy of the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, the Ultimate Question is actually "What do you get if you multiply six by nine".

    It is made pretty clear in context (and from later books) that this is the WRONG question. Arthur is descended from the Golgofrinchams, not from the original caveman inhabitants of Earth (who were the ones actually determining the Question), so he doesn't have the correct Question. The Earth program was irrevocably screwed up when the Golg. colonized Earth, more or less wiping out the cavemen.

    When I was in high school, a friend of mine who was very smart (and had much too much time on his hands) figured out that six times nine does equal 42 -- provided you do it in base 13.

    Douglas Adams himself once actually said in relation to this matter: "Nobody writes jokes in base 13."

    ASA


    ------------------------------------------------ -- -----------------

  • Losing Douglas Adams is like losing Jim Henson. Too soon, too great a person to keep around.

    See you at Milliways...

    /Brian
  • by electricmonk (169355) on Saturday May 12, 2001 @04:00AM (#228218) Homepage
    I don't care what everyone else says, he died young at the age of 49. I remember first reading the HGTTG as a school assignment over the summer. After that, I quickly went out and bought all the rest of the books in the series, enjoying them intensely. After I finished those up, I went out and bought his two other books, Dirk Gently's Holistic Dectective Agency, from which I get my Slashdot UID, and The Long, Dark Teatime of the Soul. I suppose this is Mr. Adams' long, dark teatime of the soul.

    He will be sorely missed.


    --

  • Please, if you've only read the books, or haven't read them at all, find the radio shows. Maybe it's because I started with the radio shows, but the books just aren't the same. Yes, the jokes are still funny, but the voices really brought them to life.

    I tried searching Amazon, but unforunately they don't seem to be available on CD. I actually have MP3s of all the radio shows, which I would really like to make available, but don't have the bandwidth to handle the onslaught.

    Seems a little tasteless to offer up bootlet recordings of the man's material considering the circumstances, and especially when he was very anti-Napster, but I think these deserve a wide a dissemination as possible. Don't let them die! If someone else has the recordings and the bandwidth, offer them up!


    --

  • by stup (180061) on Saturday May 12, 2001 @03:56AM (#228229) Homepage
    Knowing Adam's inability to meet deadlines (if you'll pardon the word), it seems such an irony that he finally did something early. For those attending his funeral, be prepared for a long wait, as he is expected to be late.

    So long, and Thanks.
    StuP
    "The thing I love most about deadlines is the wonderful WHOOSHing sound they make as they go past" - DNA
  • by davejhiggins (188370) on Saturday May 12, 2001 @03:40AM (#228242) Homepage
    ...and thanks for all the books.

    Dave

  • by RatFink100 (189508) on Saturday May 12, 2001 @05:27AM (#228247)
    ...that we'll find out he's just spending a year dead for tax reasons.
  • by RatFink100 (189508) on Saturday May 12, 2001 @04:21AM (#228248)
    To this day I still use this one -

    Me: It's at times like this I wish I'd listened to what my mother told me when I was young.

    Unsuspecting victim: Why what did she say?

    Me: I don't know I wasn't listening!

    Maybe I'm just an old geek but it still make me laugh every time.

    Thanks Douglas for my favourite joke.

  • by ChaoticCoyote (195677) on Saturday May 12, 2001 @04:56AM (#228253) Homepage

    ...usually, I'm not much bothered by "celebrity" deaths.

    This one, though. is different. Waking up this morning the Adams' passing was a shocker. No tears -- just sincere regret, and a selfish sense of "I'll miss him."

    My wife and I listened to the Hitchhiker radio play back we were first married; it's been a part of our lives (as a central bit of humor) for so long. It's one of those comedic routines that provides stock lines for conversation; the number 42 shows up an awful lot. His style has been a strong influence on my own writing career...

    Damn!

    The only bright spot: Perhaps Douglas Adams can now hitchhike the galaxy on his own, giving the gods and angels a chuckle or two...


    --
    Scott Robert Ladd
    Master of Complexity
    Destroyer of Order and Chaos

  • by A_Mythago (204246) on Saturday May 12, 2001 @04:23AM (#228262) Journal

    As a tribute, we should all fly our towels at half mast today...

    On a more serious note, I will never forget the day I walked into the school library to see the new paperbacks that arrived and the strange book that was sitting near the front of the stack.

    At first, I was not sure what to make of it, the title seemed to imply Science Fiction, but the cover, with a strange impish green face sticking its tongue out and cartoonish artwork seemed to imply humor. Still, something about it appealed to me, so I went to a secluded corner to check it out.

    What I had not counted on was the addictive nature of this book. It seemed silly and pointless, but I could not put it down. After I read that last line "Okay, baby, hold tight," said Zaphod. "We'll take in a quick bite at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe", I could only think of two things. First, where (or when) would the next book be available, and how could I explain having missed the last three periods of school!

    That book, was of course the Hitchhicker's Guide to the Galaxy, and that paperback was later bought by me at a school library sale. It has been with me for over a decade, traveled to 24 countries on 4 continents, and although dog-eared and tattered, remains a treasured part of my collection.

    Thank you Mr Douglas, for making fun of our flaws and obsessions, and helping us to laugh at ourselves. From Arthur to Zaphod, and everyone in-between, you have made, at least for me, life a richer experience. You will be missed.

    I think I shall honor Mr Douglas in the fashion he would have liked best, by sitting back, curling up with the Guide, and letting his magic touch me again.

  • by cboscari (220346) on Saturday May 12, 2001 @03:50AM (#228280)
    "Hovered in the air the way bricks don't".
  • by Verteiron (224042) on Saturday May 12, 2001 @05:31AM (#228281) Homepage
    Maybe he's just spending a year dead for tax reasons.
  • by MaxQuordlepleen (236397) <el_duggio@hotmail.com> on Saturday May 12, 2001 @03:47AM (#228304) Homepage

    If you measure a person's value by the happiness they bring to others then we are an immensely poorer world today.

    I remember reading the Hitchiker's Guide as a teenager, after watching the BBC series. I was absolutely blown away. What's more amazing is that no matter how many times I re-read those books or how old I get, I am still as amazed with them.

    To me, HHGTTG represents the best of satire; it pokes fun at human foibles and failings without ever losing an underlying feeling of good humour. A difficult balancing act.

    Oh, yeah. So Long, and thanks for the nick and the .sig, Mr. Adams...

  • by H310iSe (249662) on Saturday May 12, 2001 @03:57AM (#228318)
    I feel so ... old and fragile. Jesus, I mean, I'm kind of speechless. I remember finding his books again, in a used book store, an anthology of the first 4, just a few years ago. During rough times, you know, the usual, hopeless, alone, stuck to the bed like a sheet of plexiglass is pressed on top of me, I've reached over and found that big green book. I can't say he saved my life, but he certainly made my life better. I put him in with Pynchon and Faulkner, Duras and Nietzsche - people who have deeply influenced me, again and again. *sigh*

    My phone says Don't Panic when I open it. I guess I feel like Ford...

    "When you're cruising down the road in the fast lane and you lazily sail past a few hard-driving cars and are feeling pretty pleased with yourself and then accidentally change down from fourth to first instead of third thus making your engine leap out of your hood in a rather ugly mess, it tends to throw you off your stride in much the same way this remark threw Ford Prefect off his."

  • by imipak (254310) on Saturday May 12, 2001 @04:46AM (#228322) Journal
    ...and thanks for all the books.

    The BBC already used that one... [bbc.co.uk] prepare for the writ ;)

    Seriously... I'm finding it hard to express how upset I am about this. I got into Hithc-hiker's Guide more than twenty years ago (my father made me listen to it on the radio because they went to the same school)... devoured the books, taped as much as I could manage when the radio series were repeated in 1985-6, then listened to those obsessively ever since.

    Douglas Adams, his unfortunate obsesion with Macs aside, was always interested in computers, ever since the original InfoGames adaption of HHG as a text adventure. I saw a piece on that on the BBC's 'Microcoputers' show & taped the audio for that, too - I remember him saying that he offered to do the actual programming, to which the developers "politely told me that they'd like it to come out this century, and if I could stick to writing the jokes,..."

    If you haven't heard the original radio shows, do yourself a big favour and get them now *NOT* the audio book - IMHO they're better than the books, as well as following a different (and more coherent) plot as well. And there's lots of stuff that didn't make it to the books: Zaphod and Ford falling from a mysterious cold white cave, fifteen miles up in the air...


    Ford: I can't stand heights!
    ZB: Don't worry, we're on our way down... listen, we may be alright, we might land in the water you know? Can you swim?
    Ford: I don't know.
    ZB: You don't *know*?
    Ford: Well, I never liked to go into water in any great detail...
    ZB: What kind of traveller are you, man? Don't like heights, don't like water...
    Ford: Simply natural. I just get a kick out of being on the ground.
    ZB: Well any minute now you'll have the biggest kick of your life...

    I feel as if I've lost a member of my family. It's only 90 minutes since I heard this, and it still hasn't sunk in.

    I really hope the HHG site doesn't get any more messed up by the BBC (see this week's NTK [ntk.net]... and I hope the film still happens, as he was sounding really upbeat about it last I heard (his Ask Slashdot interview I think.)

    :(
    --

  • by mikethegeek (257172) <blair&NOwcmifm,comSPAM> on Saturday May 12, 2001 @06:04AM (#228325) Homepage
    "Douglas Adams is dead. But Jack Valenti goes on and on and on..."

    I know... Oolon Coluphid could write a new book on that subject "How God is an Unfair Bastard"
  • by Soft (266615) on Saturday May 12, 2001 @04:37AM (#228333)
    the NYTimes has a nice piece on him here (free reg blah blah)

    No problem, just replace "www" by "channel", the actual story is at http://channel.nytimes.com/aponline/obituaries/AP- Obit-Adams.html [nytimes.com]

    BTW, anybody compared it to the same obituary by CNN [cnn.com]?

  • by antek9 (305362) on Saturday May 12, 2001 @03:50AM (#228344)
    Why mod this down as OT, moderator, show some respect yourself! This is a sad loss, not because of further books that remain unwritten now (and I think he buried the trilogy with part five already, can anyone confirm?), but because he was a great entertainer, plus he well deserved to enjoy the global appreciation of his work a little longer...

    But somehow dying of a heart attack seems an appropriate finale to me, just don't ask me why.

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