Douglas Adams: So Long,
and Thanks for All the Laughs

A rambling by Beth Derochea,
May 2001

There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another which states that this has already happened. (The Restaurant at the End of the Universe)

I'd far rather be happy than right any day. (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)

Summers during my high school years were taken up with my summer theatre group, and a more crazy, creative bunch of friends could not be found. Through them, I was introduced to Douglas Adams and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and it very quickly became the source of much in-jokes and hilarity. If someone said "forty-two" in any context, it was grounds for hysterical fits of giggling.

I loved those summers.

The four books in the Hitchhiker's trilogy (by Adams' own reckoning; he was a writer, not a mathematician) remained comfort reading throughout college. Like a security blanket, these books brought smiles and laughter to my face even during the most difficult times. The omnibus edition is still one of my favorite books.

I was lucky enough to hear Douglas Adams read one night in New York, at a bookstore that used to be Scribner's Publishing House. He read from, if I remember correctly, Last Chance to See, his non-fiction book on endangered species with zoologist Mark Carwardine, plus a scene with Marvin the Paranoid Android from The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. Adams was Marvin, completely and utterly. I was amazed. I was also mad at myself for not bringing at least one of his books or the money to buy something for him to sign!

No regrets, though. Just a sense of loss, that this bright, witty and above all creatively silly man won't be sharing his dreams and ideas with us any more.

[ by Beth Derochea ]

Editor's note: Douglas Adams died May 11, 2001, of an apparent heart attack at his home in Santa Barbara, California. He was 49.

They discovered only a small asteroid inhabited by a solitary old man who claimed repeatedly that nothing was true, though he was later discovered to be lying. (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)

For a moment, he felt good about this. A moment or two later he felt bad about feeling good about it. Then he felt good about feeling bad about feeling good about it and, satisfied, drove on into the night. (So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish)