TODAY, IN A MOVE that makes a certain cosmic sense, Google salutes the man — and mind — behind the Googleplex Star Thinker.
On its home page, the tech titan pays tribute to novelist Douglas Adams — to mark what would have been the late sci-fi satirist’s 61st birthday — with one stellar animation of an interactive Doodle. (And, we hope, satisfying the fans who have petitioned Google over the years to honor the author.)
“Douglas Adams was a genius. He was a profound and brilliant British humorist who was also a very reluctant novelist,” friend and fellow British storyteller Neil Gaiman tells Comic Riffs.
Adams is best known for the five-novel “trilogy” “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” which began as a 1978 comedy series on the BBC (where the young Adams worked as a producer) and, as a result of its popularity, was adapted into book form — soon topping the charts and selling in the millions.
“Most writers become novelists because they like writing novels,” says Gaiman, who authored the companion book “Don’t Panic: Douglas Adams & the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” “Douglas wrote a radio series that then became a huge and enormously successful novel, so he found himself stuck as an incredibly reluctant novelist who would have to be locked in a room by his publisher to finish a book.” (“I love deadlines,” Adams famously said. “I love the whooshing sound they make as they go by.”)
Adams — who wrote with Monty Python’s Graham Chapman early in his career — also authored such books as “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe” (1980), “Life, the Universe and Everything” (1982), “So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish” (1984) and “Mostly Harmless” (1992).
(Today’s animated Doodle references many of Adams’s creations, including Marvin the Paranoid Android [behind that door]; the Dirk Gently detective novel “The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul”, if not also Arthur Dent’s tea in “Guide’; the requisite space-travel towel, which he wrote ”is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”; the language-translating [stick it in your ear] Babel fish; and of course “42” — aka computer Deep Thought’s answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything.)
“He was unique and absolutely irreplaceable and incredibly kind. ... “ says Gaiman, who, like Adams, has written episodes of “Doctor Who.” “It was an honor and a privilege and a highlight to have been his friend, to have written a book with, and for — and around — him, and to even ghost-write the blurb [in his style].”
Gaiman also emphasizes Adams’s work as a friend (if not “frood”) to environmental causes.
“He was also raising awareness to the fragile ecology of the Earth, with [such efforts as] Save the Rhino,” Gaiman notes. “It should never be overlooked. I love that fundamental [message] of ‘Don’t Panic.’ We shouldn’t.”
And Gaiman — acclaimed for such works as “American Gods,” “Coraline,” “The Graveyard Book” and “Sandman” — cherishes the friendship he had for more than a decade.
“I don’t know how much of my career I owe to Douglas, but I do know that he was astoundingly kind to a 22-year-old journalist when he didn’t have to be,” Gaiman, now 52, says of their meeting in the ‘80s.
The Cambridge-born Douglas Noel Adams died May 11, 2001, when he suffered a myocardial infarction and cardiac arrhythmia in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Happy birthday, Douglas Adams — and thanks, Google, for all the animated fish.
— 42 —
TOP 10 GOOGLE DOODLES THAT HONOR ARTISTS:
1. WINSOR McCAY: THE OTHERWORDLY DOODLE
2. LES PAUL: THE PLAYABLE GUITAR
3. MARTHA GRAHAM: THE DANCING DOODLE
4. JOHN LENNON: IMAGINE THIS DOODLE
5. FREDDIE MERCURY: THE MUSIC VIDEO
6. JIM HENSON: THE CLICKABLE MUPPETS
7. CHARLES ADDAMS: THE SPOOKY DOODLE
8. ART CLOKEY: THE “GUMBY DOODLE”
9. MARY BLAIR: THE DISNEY DOODLE
10. DIEGO RIVERA: THE LARGER-THAN-LIFE MURAL
[STANISLAW LEM: THE DAZZLING VIDEO DOODLE]
[MARK TWAIN: THE PANORAMIC DOODLE]