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Adams, Douglas

time radio gently detective

(British, 1952–2001)

Adams came to prominence with the airing of his absurd and hilarious radio comedy, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1978–80), the first half of which was converted to a television series and expanded as a novel (1979). It follows Arthur Dent, the last surviving human when Earth is demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass, on a bewildered pilgrim's progress round various corners of space and time in the company of assorted, blasé humanoid aliens and Marvin, a depressed and paranoid android.

Adams was one of the first writers to realize science fiction's enormous comic potential and the second half of his radio series, expanded in print, took Dent and friends to the eponymous Restaurant at the End of the Universe (1980), an exclusive establishment where the universe's élite have booked places to witness the end of time. This was followed by three other Hitchhiker sequels. Just as extravagant and inventive are Adams's two Dirk Gently novels which satirize the hard-boiled detective genre. These elevate the detective's archetypal ‘hunch’ and the close-knitting of the traditional plot to the status of cosmic law, The Interconnectedness of All Things, which only Gently believes in. In the second instalment, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (1988), Dirk is embroiled in a bizarre explosion at Heathrow airport that miraculously injures no one, and which we later learn was the temper-tantrum of the god Thor trying to buy a ticket.

Terry Pratchett, Rudy Rucker, Bob Shaw. See SCIENCE FICTION  RP

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