2022-09-24

Neil Gaiman on Douglas Adams

From an introduction to a biography:

After he died, I was interviewed a lot, asked about Douglas. I said that I didn’t think that he had ever been a novelist, not really, despite having been an internationally best-selling novelist who had written several books which are, a quarter of a century later, becoming seen as classics. Writing novels was a profession he had backed into, or stumbled over, or sat down on very suddenly and broken.

I think that perhaps what Douglas was was probably something we don’t even have a word for yet. A Futurologist, or an Explainer, or something. That one day they’ll realise that the most important job out there is for someone who can explain the world to itself in ways that the world won’t forget. Who can dramatise the plight of endangered species as easily (or at least, as astonishingly well, for nothing Douglas did was ever exactly easy) as he can explain to an analog race what it means to find yourself going digital. Someone whose dreams and ideas, practical or impractical, are always the size of a planet, and who is going to keep going forward, and taking the rest of us with him.

2 thoughts on “Neil Gaiman on Douglas Adams

  1. A good appreciation. My best guess (although who really knows) is that Adams’s reputation will continue to grow as a strange but genuine minor genius.

    I think it’s misleading to call the Hitchhiker series “novels”, though. They’re really more from a different tradition — philosophical satire. Arthur Dent as a sci fi Candide, anyone?

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