100 Alasdair Gray, JG Ballard
102 Acme Novelty Date Book
103 Belle 8 Sebastian, Travis
Wish You Were Here : ' . NEIL GAIMAN
Don't Panic "r: " H 0000
The world was robbed of an extraordinary talent when Douglas Adams died in May 2001. Most famous, of course, for his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, Adams was a writer of incredible invention, subtlety and with a real feel for comedy. Often his novels were disregarded or sneered at by the literary world for being in some way inferior ‘genre' works that lacked the depth of more worthy writers. Nothing could‘ve been further from the truth. With searing insight and a direct route to readers’ funny bones, Adams tackled the biggest topics of all: the existence of God, the point of love, evolution, quantum mechanics, and how to make a really good cup of tea. And he did so in a way that was both touching and hilarious, in a style that owed much to the surreal thinking of the Monty Python team and the brilliant comic wordplay of PG Wodehouse.
To pull such things off, and to sell umpteen million books in the process, took amazing skill; all the more so when you discover that Adams found writing excruciating. He once famously claimed that writing was easy: you just had to sit in front of a blank piece of paper until your forehead bled. His failure to meet deadlines was, and still is, legendary in the publishing world.
These two biographies approach Adams and his work from different angles, but both do so with style, no small amount of wit and a certain irreverence that their subject would no doubt have liked. Neil Gaiman‘s Don ’t Panic is a new, third edition of a book first published in the late 805 as a companion piece to the various strands of the Hitchhiker’s brand, and as such it somewhat skirts over Adams‘ early and later life. It is the more energetically written of the two books, however, very much in the absurdist style of its subject matter. and the detailed dissection of the work will probably make it appeal more to die-hard fans than general punters.
In contrast, Wish You Were Here is a more considered read from the man who commissioned the first Hitchhiker’s book. and delves as much into Adams' extraordinary life outside of his work as it does his writings. And what a life it was. Adams had a gift for living it large, and was unashamed of the millions of pounds he made and squandered over his lifetime (Apple computers. sports cars and extravagant dining being
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105 Star Wars, Colin McRae Rally
106 Red Beard, lntacto
1 07 Hitler, Magick
108 f.apothecary, Ar angel
1 10 Outer Hebrides
1 12 Nigel Slater, Wagamama
Wish gee were here
THE OFFlClAL BlooRADw or
DOUGLAS ADM/i” THE HITCHHIKER‘S GUIDE TO THE GA
ADAMS TACKLED THE BIGGEST TOPICS OF ALL: GOD, LOVE, EVOLUTION, QUANTUM MECHANICS AND HOW TO MAKE A REALLY GOOD CUP OF TEA
his favourite money-burners). He also had a habit of picking up famous friends, with everyone from Stephen Fry, Terry Jones, Salman Rushdie and esteemed scientist Richard Dawkins present at his infamous lslington parties.
While all that might sound a tad wanky, Adams appears not to have had a nasty or pretentious bone in his body, and was one of those irritating people who seems to have been loved by everyone he met, despite acting like a wee kid a lot of the time.
And of course, he didn't just write novels. He wrote radio series, television scripts, screenplays. wildlife books. computer programs and loads more besides. He was an autodidact and a polymath, straddling the science and art worlds seemingly effortlessly, while all the time realising the absurdity of the universe. And that the answer, of course, is 42. (Doug Johnstone)
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