Friday, March 11, 2016

Book of the Day: Douglas Adams' Ultimate Hitchhikers Guide, 1st ed, leatherbound


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Douglas Adams, The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide: Five Complete Novels and One Short Story (Gramercy Books, 1st ed. 1st printing, 2005). ISBN 0-517-22695-2. Leather bound with gilt titling, the last word in the misadventures of Arthur Dent. Very good condition. Inquire re pricing and offers.

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Today’s the birthday of Douglas Noel Adams, who ambled through forty-nine years on this planet. Mostly he wrote about other planets, and the bits in between them, but he also did some Very Useful Things for aspects of life on this one.

Adams was very tall. He was six feet high at the age of twelve. His schoolmates never said, “Meet me under the clock tower”, or the like. They agreed, “Meet me under Adams.” When he stopped growing he was six feet, five inches tall.

He went to St. John’s College, Cambridge, which was a good thing. Cambridge produces scientists, homosexual writers, and people who are very funny (Oxford, in contrast, produces politicians, homosexual writers, and, latterly, school heads who commission people to design hideous buildings). Adams pottered about Cambridge, doing no work to speak of (he could only remember doing one completed essay a year for his three, out of the usual 72). Still, he got a degree in English, and went to London, hoping to break into television work. Between his off-kilter sensibilities and a certain indiscipline (“I love deadlines,” he remarked. “I love the whooshing sound they make as they rush past”), it was hard going. Lying, drunk, in a field outside Innsbruck, gazing at the stars one night, he had a thought. Someone should write a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

So he did. It debuted as a five-part radio play on BBC Radio 4 in the spring of 1978, to rave reviews. It made its way to National Public Radio in America in quick time, and a second BBC series followed in early 1980. Fueled by Simon Jones’ bewildered, slightly, passive-aggressive characterization of Arthur Dent- the only man to survive the demolition of Earth for the construction of a hyperspace bypass- the series went viral, even though at that time, the phrase was only attached to getting the flu.

Adams kept tinkering with the idea for years. It morphed into a TV series, a movie, several stage plays, a computer game (Adams bought the first Apple Mac in Europe and was a bleeding edge techie), comics, and several sequels. On the strength of the series he got a job as a BBC radio producer and then as a script editor for Doctor Who.

He wrote six other books of equally inspired silliness and used his fame and fortune to champion wildlife conservation and environmental issues. He loved fast cars, cameras, Apple computers, and a few women along the way, and died of a heart attack in California, where he’d gone to give a college commencement address.

Douglas Adams is survived by the annual Douglas Adams Lecture in wildlife conservation, and two asteroids- one named for him and one called 18610 Arthurdent. Adams’ life is celebrated every May 25 as Towel Day, and if you don’t know why, that’s one more reason to buy the book.


Henry Bemis Books is one man’s attempt to bring more diversity and quality to a Charlotte-Mecklenburg market of devoted readers starved for choices. Our website is at www.henrybemisbookseller.blogspot.com.  Henry Bemis Books is also happy to entertain reasonable offers on items in inventory; for pricing on this or others items, kindly private message us. Shipping is always free; local buyers are welcome to drop by and pick up their purchases at our location off Peachtree Road in Northwest Charlotte if they like. #DouglasAdams #HitchhikersGuide #LiteraryBirthdays #Book of the Day #RareBooks #HenryBemisBooks #Charlotte

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