The Library at the Edge of the University
Sometime between the twentieth and thirtieth anniversaries of his death I'll reach a point where I've lived longer in a world without a living Douglas Adams than with one, and also hopefully pass the age he was when he died. If only he were still about, to wonder at the possibilities of and decry some of the uses of technology, to make us think and laugh, and to tell us how the stories continued. Might he have helped keep people who admired him like Richard Dawkins and people he admired like John Cleese from turning into arseholes? Would he have prevented the Abomination which was the film adaptation of his most famous work, or at least kept it tolerable? Would he have gone full-time into animal conservation, had he lived to see the success of the kakapo recovery programme?
Having looked at them only occasionally over the past few years, mostly due to them being stored in dusty boxes in the loft, shed and a storage unit we couldn't get to during lockdown, I think at the moment that I slightly prefer the Dirk Gently novels over HHGTTG, perhaps as they've only really been books for me, or at least that I first encountered them as their books. Some bits of HHGTTG worked really well on the radio, particularly in the characters' voices. The original TV series was woefully budgetless but the animations are fantastic, and the books fill in some of the detail and work best compared to the other formats when there's little dialogue, but it's then hard to declare the books my favourite when it's only one facet of what HHGTTG really was.
I came close to dropping a surprisingly large sum on the complete radio series on CD any time I saw it in a shop or online, but still have the tapes of the original broadcast when they were repeated in the 1990s and at some point will get round to finding a way to listen to the quaternary and quintessential phases. I'll possibly give the hexagonal a miss as it would seem to be based on the book written by the interloper, who seems OK at writing books my ten-year-old is happy to read but whose HHGTTG contribution was neither required nor welcome.
Further Authors have died since the ten-year Adams loss - first Iain and Iain M Banks, then Terry Pratchett. We were promised/threatened a potential adaptation of Consider Phlebas for a few years but that seems to have passed. Initial excitement at the adaptation of the Watch eventually disintegrated when it turned out it wasn't going to be the stories and characters deserved. There will doubtless be further attempts to further or re-tell Adams' stories, and perhaps the time elapsed or the distance will help their acceptance, but at the moment he's still dead, so what he did is what we have.