Monday, March 11, 2013

Schools : Reading science-fiction : Douglas Adams : resources

Douglas Adams, Santa Barbara, California, 2000 
credits: Dan Callister/Getty Images

"One of the great wits of our age, his sophisticated humour was founded in a deep, amalgamated knowledge of literature and science."

Richard Dawkins, professor at University of Oxford

Douglas Noël Adams was a British comic writer whose works satirize contemporary life through a luckless protagonist who deals ineptly with societal forces beyond his control. Adams is best known for the mock science-fiction series known collectively as "The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy". He was born on 11 March 1952. 

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Douglas Adams

Adams was author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which originated in 1978 as a BBC radio comedy before developing into a "trilogy" of five books that sold more than 15 million copies in his lifetime and generated a television series, several stage plays, comics, a video game, and in 2005 a feature film. 

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy 
Douglas Adams

Adams' contribution to UK radio is commemorated in The Radio Academy's Hall of Fame.

Douglas Adams was an advocate for environmentalism and conservation, as well, a lover of fast cars, technological innovation and the Apple Macintosh, and a self-proclaimed "radical atheist".

Google doodle Douglas Adams' 61st Birthday

  • Google Doodle:

Google celebrates Douglas Noel Adams and his famous science-fiction series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy with an amazing Doodle

Douglas Noel Adams was an incredible British writer, humorist and dramatist, as we know. 

The interactive Google Doodle dives deep into Adams lore. The cup of tea calls back Adams's series of Dirk Gently detective novels. 

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency 
Douglas Adams

Opening the door on the left reveals Marvin, the paranoid android from the Hitchhiker's series. 

And the digital pad plays short animations that crack wise about everything from the fictitious "babel fish" to the classic Adams quote: 

"The knack (to flying) lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss."

Google doodle Douglas Adams's 61st Birthday

So, Google created a visual interactive Hitch Hikers Doodle logo, with a live Guide reprising visual versions of famous entries, from the Earth being Mostly Harmless, the origin of the universe in a sneeze, what Deep Thought was all about, how to fly by aiming yourself at the ground and missing and what to do with a towel.

Mostly Harmless
Douglas Adams, 1992

This is the front cover art for the book Mostly Harmless written by Douglas Adams. The book cover art copyright is believed to belong to the publisher, Pan Books, UK; Harmony Books, U.S., or the cover artist, Peter Cross, U.S. hardcover.

Google doodle Douglas Adams' 61st Birthday

It includes 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.

This month marks another important Adams milestone. Last Friday was the 35th anniversary of his radio drama The Hitchhiker's Guide to the GalaxyFew remember that the BBC radio show predates the books and TV show.  

A performance which captures the magic of the original radio broadcast. In fact, many of the iconic sound effects used in the Doodle were kindly provided by the creative folks behind this show

Adams wrote with Monty Python’s Graham Chapman early in his career but is the author of 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). 

Starship Titanic/ computer game

  • Computer game:

Adams wrote "The Internet: The Last Battleground of the 20th century" (radio series) in 2000.  And a computer game Starship Titanic in 1996.

Starship Titanic is an adventure game developed by The Digital Village and published by Simon & Schuster Interactive. It was released in April 1998 for Microsoft Windows and in March 1999 for Apple Macintosh

Starship Titanic
Douglas Adams pc games

The game takes place on the eponymous starship, which the player is tasked with repairing by locating the missing parts of its control system. The game play involves solving puzzles and speaking with the bots inside the ship. 

The game features a text parser similar to those of text adventure games with which the player/student  can talk with characters.

  • Film:

In 2005, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was adapted to a British-American comic science fiction film released in 2005. It is dedicated "to Douglas" the sci-fi satirist.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Gard Jennings, 2005

“Douglas Adams was a genius. He was a profound and brilliant British humorist who was also a very reluctant novelist,”  

Neil Gaiman, English writer

  • Douglas Adams & Neil Gaiman:

I wrote about Neil Gaiman and his Coraline in 2012 to celebrate the 10th anniversary Coraline's first edition.

"Celebrating ten years of Neil Gaiman’s first modern classic for young readers, this must-have anniversary edition is enriched with a brand-new foreword from the author, a reader’s guide, and more."

Don't Panic
Douglas Adams & The Hitchhicker's Guide to the Galaxy
Neil Gaiman

Gaiman, aclaimed for such works as “American Gods,” or Coraline, “The Graveyard Book” and “Sandman" cherishes the friendship they had for more than a decade.

“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 became well know for his atheist views, conservation and love of technology. As well as his works of fiction. 

He also wrote about some of the most endangered species in the world for his book Last Chance to See.

Last Chance to See
Douglas Adams & Mark Carwardine
Pan Books, 1998

Last Chance to See is a 1989 BBC radio documentary series and its accompanying book, written and presented by Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine

Last Chance to See
Adams and Carwardine
credits: BBC

In the series, Adams and Carwardine travel to various locations in the hope of encountering species on the brink of extinction. The book was published in 1990.


"Only a child sees things with perfect clarity, because it hasn't developed all those filters which prevent us from seeing things that we don't expect to see."

Douglas Adams

Love Google doodles! They can be include into school curriculum as I already wrote. They are an amazing motivation to a class.

I write a lot of Google doodles, my usual readers know it. Doodles combine creativity, digital culture and motivation to a different school lessons. You must think about it.

Here, a good digital resource to some lessons about science-fiction in Literature lessons. 

You must prepare some good pedagogical activities to teach science-fiction and let your students to do a creative work.

Last Chance
Douglas Adams & Mark Carwardine, 1992

Other resources:

Last Chance to See is an entertaining and arresting odyssey through the Earth’s magnificent wildlife galaxy.

Last Chance to See is a 1989 BBC radio documentary series and its accompanying book, written and presented by Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine

In the series, Adams and Carwardine travel to various locations in the hope of encountering species on the brink of extinction

As I wrote, Adams was an advocate for environmentalism and conservation. The book was published in 1990.

Adam's book/audio book his Last Chance to See is a awesome book to include into science school curriculum. We are all engaged on the same battle, now. Protecting species in danger of extinction.

Don't forget the audio book. Students love digital resources in education. I now... however they prefer to read on paper books. Me too!

Here another digital resource: The original movie trailer for Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. Don't panic.

The day that Adams died (May 11, 2001) Richard Dawkins professor of the public understanding of science at University of Oxford wrote:

"Science has lost a friend, literature has lost a luminary, the mountain gorilla and the black rhino have lost a gallant defender (he once climbed Kilimanjaro in a rhino suit to raise money to fight the keratinous trade in rhino horn), Apple Computer has lost its most eloquent apologist."


update: 11.03.2021
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The Washington Post "Neil Gaiman remembers 'genius' of 'Hitchhiker's Guide' humorist".

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