ADAMS, Douglas (1952–2001), British novelist
Adams began his career as a radio joke-writer, and also worked for the TV science fiction series Doctor Who. He made his name with a series of genial science fiction spoofs, beginning with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979). In this, Earthman Arthur Dent, informed that his planet is about to be vapourized to make room for a hyperspace bypass, escapes by stowing away on an alien spacecraft. This is the beginning of a wild journey through time and space, in the course of which he meets the super-cool President of the Galaxy, Zaphod Beeblebrox, discusses the coastline of Norway with Slartibartfast (who won prizes for designing it), watches the apocalyptic floor-show in the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, and discovers the answer to the ‘ultimate question about life, the universe and everything’. The other Hitchhiker books (self-contained sequels) are The Restaurant at the End of the Universe; Life, the Universe and Everything; So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish and Mostly Harmless.
In 1987 Adams began a second series, this time starring Dirk Gently, an intergalactic private eye who has to cope not only with the usual quota of blondes and hoodlums, but with electronic monks, thinking horses, the space–time continuum and an uneasy feeling that he is no more than a bystander in his own bad dreams. The Gently books are Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul. In his later years Adams largely turned away from the printed page to concentrate on projects in other media but the Hitchhiker books remain as the most inspired of all science fiction spoofs.
science fiction spoofs in similarly lunatic vein: >> Harry Harrison, The Stainless Steel Rat; Robert Asprin, Phules Company.
fantasy spoofs: >> Terry Pratchett, The Colour of Magic; Robert Asprin, Another Fine Myth; Robert Rankin, The Anti-Pope (and others in the Brentford series); Jasper Fforde, The Eyre Affair
Source Credits: Nick Rennison, Good Reading Guide: Discover Your Next Great Read, Bloomsbury Publishing, Seventh Edition