Monday 16 April 2018

You and 42

A couple of years back, I responded to a notice from Watching Books, asking if people were interested in contributing to another of their You and Who-style charity publications, this time one focussing on the life and works of Douglas Adams, to be called You and 42. For most people who know me it will come as no great surprise that I leapt at the chance and, thankfully, both my pitches were accepted, swiftly written and submitted.
Due to various circumstances (none of which are relevant or in any way my business) the project has taken a couple of years to see the light of day. But it's not been left to stagnate during that time. Co-editors and general froods, Jessica Burke & Anthony Burdge, have continued to gather new contributions, spreading the net wider and wider within the fan community, and noted Adams biographer Jem Roberts ( ) has given a preface which perhaps lends the venture more of the sense of legitimacy that it deserves.

The other major change across that hiatus period is that now the book is being published by Who Dares instead of Watching Books. It's still a charity publication, with proceeds going to Save The Rhino ( ), a charity for which Douglas was a Founder Patron (we contributors receive nothing, in case you wondered - not even a free copy).

The book is 300+ pages covering the whole gamut of Douglas Adams' life and various works and endeavours, told from the personal perspectives of a large number of contributors. That's the point of these You and... books, they tell the personal stories of fans relating to, or being affected by, these works.
My pieces cover Douglas' time as script editor of Doctor Who, and then my encounter with Life, The Universe and Everything during GCSE English about ten years later. His time on Doctor Who, and then the severe backlash immediately after, was the last time I found the programme either scary or utterly enthralling for years after, and the last time it was ever classed as required viewing by the other children at my school. About ten years later the Hitchhiker's Guide books were an absolute breath of fresh air amongst the turgidity of Far From The Madding Crowd or whatever else my dull grey smear of an English teacher felt fit to bore us with that week. It showed me that English could be fun, and despite my teacher's best efforts I've never looked back since. 

Those are just my stories, of course, but there are loads more besides, and Who Dares have done the book proud with a smashing cover and some wonderful interior artwork to complement the words. The book is out later in April and you can find out more about it, as well as pre-ordering it, on this link:
In some ways the book's publication is very timely; not only have we just had the final HHGTTG series, The Hexagonal Phase, broadcast on BBC Radio 4, but just a few short weeks ago it was reported that the last surviving male Northern White rhino had died ( ). The species will become extinct when the few remaining females die. Raising money to help save other species of these magnificent animals may allow future generations to appreciate them, and their beauty, as more than simply pictures in a book, or a footnote in human development. It would be a shame if all the hard work that's gone into getting this book out into the world doesn't then feed something worthwhile back to a charity that was so close to Douglas' heart. I would urge any fans of Douglas Adams' work to buy a copy of You and 42.


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