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Mostly Harmless

March 11, 2013

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As you already know if you’ve used Google’s search engine this morning, it’s the late Douglas Adams’ birthday. The Guardian has the spirit of the thing right:

Today’s Google Doodle celebrating the 61st birthday of Douglas Adams is testament to the undisputed king of comic science fiction: it makes you wonder why, 12 years after his death, no one has been able to supplant him from that throne.

Let’s face it, the genre is akin to a sweetshop for comedy writers; its anthills stretch as far as the eye can see, just waiting to be poked with the funny stick. Strange alien races? Silly laser guns? Spaceships? Super-computers? Square-jawed intergalactic heroes? Check, check and check again. Or, maybe not.

Those who thought SF is an easy target are those who have likely failed, become lost forever in the immense shadow cast by Adams. As that master of comedy Ted Bovis, the host of Maplin’s holiday camp in Hi-de-Hi!, never tired of telling his protege Spike, the first rule of comedy is reality. That’s where so many fall down when trying to write comedic SF, and where Douglas Adams excelled almost to the point of perfection, especially with his masterpiece The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and its follow-ups.

Read the rest. Better yet, read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. And whatever you do, don’t panic.

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From → Humor

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