Quote of the Day : Douglas Adams and Fantastic Fiction

“The story so far: in the beginning, the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Douglas Adams

Origins of the Quote

Douglas Adams’s books are literally the right of passage for teenagers who love Sci-Fi. (Actually who said, teenagers?)  When Adam broke the literary world of Sci-Fi with Hitchhikers Guide, it was a given that there was plenty more from where that came.

In the book, Zaphod, a character, tells the computer they want to go to the nearest place to eat. The group, minus Zarniwoop, disappears from the ship and ends up at Milliways, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe. Milliways is built on a ruined planet and depicts the instant the Universe ends.

The novel’s central idea is that no matter how contradictory life may seem, it will always become more contrary than one can imagine It was published by Pan Books in 1980 and has sold millions of copies worldwide.

The Person Behind the Words

Douglas Adams was born in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire in 1952. Before he was ten, his parents had divorced and went on to re-marry. Adams had a flair for imagination and was skillful at writing. A 10 out of 10 for one of his texts, was awarded by a teacher notorious for low marking changed the course of his life. Douglas publishes his first short stories aged only 12 in the school magazine. He has already started to own his personal comical style for his writing.

A Master in English literature from the University of Cambridge(1974) perambulated his writing further. At college, he continued to write comedy sketches for the performing arts society. Later he was a writer and script editor for the television series Doctor Who and wrote scripts for the British Broadcasting Corporation from 1978 to 1980.

But regular jobs were limiting for this talented thinker, writer, dreamer.

An ensuing flare for drama meant that he loved acting as well. Over 6ft 5” he outgrew the world of school plays.

After college, he left England to hitchhike around Europe. He toured Austria, Italy, Yugoslavia, and Turkey. It is during this trip, in Austria, lying in a field in Innsbruck, that Douglas says he had, for the first time, the idea for a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

The 24-years-old Douglas Adams continues to write on the side for the radio, still waiting for the big break. In 1976 he starts on the iconic manuscript and the Hitchhiker’s Guide and by 1978 it acquired its cult status.

Meanwhile, the “Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the galaxy” novel is edited by Pan Books in October 1979. The day following its release, it takes the top spot of bestseller lists. In three months 250.000 copies are sold.

Some Final Thoughts

What is it about Douglas’s work? How did his books achieve the fandom that it did? How did he come up with the themes that he did? Hard to tell – but here is a man whose thoughts definitely ran deep. He had the ability to take the seemingly non-descript and turn into a cult. He does this with everything he touches.

Before there was JK Rowling there was Adams. His plots are a tad more involved, He steers clear of politics but is always edgy, to say the least. 

Check out our Quote of the Day archive where we bring you quotes hand picked by me, Divvya Nirula. Sharing the stories, people, moments behind the inspiration and thought provoking words.