NYTimes.com Article: Douglas Adams, Author of 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy,' Dies at 49

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From: khare@w3.org
Date: Sun May 13 2001 - 10:20:57 PDT

This article from NYTimes.com
has been sent to you by khare@w3.org.

wow. I wish I'd seen him at a2k europe... what a shocker! More proof exercise is harmful to your health!, I think he'd say... --RK

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Douglas Adams, Author of 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy,' Dies at 49



LOS ANGELES -- Douglas Adams, whose cult science fiction comedy
``The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy'' drew millions of fans and
spawned a mini-industry, has died at age 49.

The British-born Adams died Friday of an apparent heart attack in
Santa Barbara, Calif., a family friend, Elizabeth Gibson, said
Saturday. She said Adams collapsed while working out at a gym.

``He was not ill,'' Gibson said. ``This was completely

The ``Hitchhiker's Guide,'' which began as a British Broadcasting
Corp. radio series in 1978, is a satirical adventure about a group
of interplanetary travelers; it opens with the Earth being
destroyed to make way for an intergalactic highway.

It was turned into a book, which sold 14 million copies around the
world, and later into a television series.

The book was followed by several sequels, including ``The
Restaurant at the End of the Universe,'' ``Life, the Universe and
Everything'' and ``So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish.''

The books blended satire, memorably named characters such as Zaphod
Beeblebrox and Marvin the Paranoid Android, and witty philosophy,
at one point supplying the answer to ``the ultimate question of
life, the universe and everything.'' The answer was 42.

Adams later recalled how he first thought of the book during a
teen-age trip around Europe.

``I was hitchhiking around Europe in 1971, when I was 18, with this
copy of 'A Hitchhiker's Guide to Europe,''' he said.

``At one point I found myself lying in the middle of a field, a
little bit drunk, when it occurred to me that somebody should write
a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It didn't occur to me that it
might actually be me years later.''

Geoffrey Perkins, the BBC's head of comedy, called Adams
``absolutely one of the most creative geniuses to ever work in
radio comedy.''

``He probably wrote one of the greatest radio comedy series ever,
certainly the most imaginative,'' he added.

Born in Cambridge, England, in 1952 and educated at Cambridge
University, Adams began his career as a writer and script editor at
the BBC.

He followed the ``Hitchhiker's Guide'' with several books about
``holistic detective'' Dirk Gently; ``Last Chance to See,'' a book
about endangered species; and, with John Lloyd, the hilarious
alternative dictionary ``The Meaning of Liff.''

He also founded a multimedia company, Digital Village, which
produced the ``Starship Titanic'' computer game and an online
travel guide inspired by the ``Hitchhiker's Guide.''

A frequent radio broadcaster on science and technology, Adams had
been working for several years on a screenplay for an oft-delayed
``Hitchhiker's Guide'' movie.

In August 1996, he told a technology conference in New Orleans that
the main problem in adapting the series for film was not special

``It's the nature of the story, which is picaresque, which
translates to one damn thing after another, and another, and

``It's very hard to translate that to a 100-minute feature film,''
he said. ``Every script has a beginning and a middle and an end.''

Adams married Jane Belson, a lawyer, in 1991. The couple, who had
lived in Santa Barbara since 1999, had a 6-year-old daughter,
Polly. Adams is also survived by his mother, Jan Thrift of England.


Associated Press Writer Jill Lawless, in London, contributed to
this report.


On the Net:

Douglas Adams site: http://www.douglasadams.com

Guide: http://www.h2g2.com



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