The internet now gives us unbelievable access to celebrities. Not paparazzi stuff, but real access through their official sites, blogs and podcasting. Jenna Fischer, Allison Mack, John Mayer, Felicia Day, Nathan Fillion, and Michael Stackpole are just a few. But an often overlooked pioneer in fan interaction was the late great Douglas Adams.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy was my gateway back into reading. In 1986, I had stopped reading for pleasure at the tender age of 15. Prior to that, I was an avid reader. But then, I got stuck trying to start the brownian motion machine on my Atari 800XL playing Hitchhikers Guide. If to only “cheat” at the game, I proceeded to read the novel. I never went back to the game.
I was fairly new to the internet in 1993. My first ‘net access was MERIT dialup through school. A command-line interface, gopher, ftp, ELM, no DNS. But there were these things called newsgroups that allowed you to talk to other people. Some of the most ‘net savvy people today have never used the USENET. But in the early 90s, that was where you wanted to be (those who weren’t already sucked into AOL). Recalling my fondness for The Guide, I stumbled across a group: alt.fans.douglas-adams. To my surprise and amazement, Douglas himself was a participant. He would answer questions, discuss dialog, and even respond to occasional emails. I had discovered that not only was Adams’ work amazing, but the man was amazing as well. I myself received an email reply from Douglas. To my disappointment, backups on 15 year old floppies, doesn’t work.
His death greatly affected me. I felt that I had gotten to know the man behind the Universe, and he was gone. He is rarely spoken of in the same breath as Tolkien, Asimov, and Bradbury, but deserves to be. Were Douglas still with us, he would most definitely have a podcast, and interact with his fans daily. So, if you don’t know that you ‘need your towel’, and to you “42” is just 2×21, then please do yourself a favor and experience the Universe of Douglas Adams.