(This is what I wrote the week after Douglas Adams died. I feel some need to document how I felt when this happened; it seems appropriate and right that he should be honored this way)
In a more perfect world, today would be a day of mourning. Traffic would stop, stores would close, and the whole world would be crying into their towels, mourning the loss of the hoopiest frood ever to walk this Earth.
Douglas Adams died Saturday morning. He was 49. He died of a heart attack, a singularly common way to die. I suppose there's something ironic about that. Douglas Adams should have died when his cryopod failed, perhaps. Or maybe an extremely disreputable cocktail party would fall on his head. Vogon poetry. Pan-galactic gargle blasters. Getting turned into a whale at a height of 50 feet. All fitting ways for his life to end.
I suppose it doesn"t matter, really. The world has lost one of its geniuses, one of its greatest cult figures, one of its best eccentric Brit writers. He left behind some of the funniest books ever written, at least according to many. His 'Hitchhiker"s Guide to the Galaxy' trilogy (5 books, actually) made him a cult figure and spawned a zillion obscure references (see first two paragraphs).
To those who care, Saturday, May 12th, 2001 is a sad day. There may not be tons of tributes or Barbara Walters or a cover on Life magazine or any of that other crap we got with Princess Di and the last two dead Kennedys. It's a shame, really- somehow writing seven of the funniest books ever seems a bigger achievement than starting George magazine and playing football on skis. It actually seems better this way, though. Despite their popularity, the Hitchhiker"s series has always felt like a secret pleasure. It"s about rereading the books and scattering references everyone and writing 42 everywhere and laughing at the word 'towel.' It"s about not taking life seriously and appreciating randomness and not reading long-winded stuff like this.
I have a feeling that the only reason the mainstream press reported Adam's death was because every newspaper and TV station has at least one diehard fan, and that"s the way it should be. The only people who will probably make sense of this are those who wanted to kill me for my anime and RPG articles, and for them I have one message: this is a week of mourning. Bring a towel to school. Write 42 on your arm somewhere.
Or don't. It doesn"t matter. Remember him by not reading this crap. Remember him by writing on your own. Or remember him by doing what you"ll do anyway: rereading the Hitchhiker's Trilogy. Check out "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency" and "The Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul", too. Great stuff. And for all the rest who"ve never read the books and never intend to, use Babel Fish to cheat on your foreign language homework. Even if you don"t get the reference, it's something.
Other Douglas Adams tributes:
This is not an obituary; there'll be time enough for them. It is not a tribute, not a considered assessment of a brilliant life, not a eulogy. It is a keening lament, written too soon to be balanced, too soon to be carefully thought through. Douglas, you cannot be dead.
Arthur Dent's Eulogy for Douglas Adams