Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Monday 14/05/01How dare the man die? I don't anger easily, but that's my overwhelming emotion after I've forced myself to believe what should be the blackest of jokes.

Monday
14/05/01 How dare the man die? I don't anger easily, but that's my overwhelming emotion after I've forced myself to believe what should be the blackest of jokes. Rage, sadness and nostalgia saturate the Net; everywhere you look on Usenet, in weblogs, news services and personal pages there are people mourning the passing of Douglas Noel Adams, writer. You'll have your own memories of hearing the HitchHiker's Guide: mine are hopelessly intertwined with soft-focus memories of growing up, leaving home, finding friends, finding myself. And finding that towels, mice, fjords and forty-two were a common language I shared -- and share -- with a million others. His influence persists throughout my life. Some snapshots: discovering that the mysterious Zaphod Beeblebrox in the telephone directory was a magazine editor I wanted to write for; talking to Michael Bywater about what really happened in France with a Porche stuffed full of contraband computer gear -- and the rest; bunking off work with a secret lover to sit, entranced, through a lunchtime lecture on ecology; discovering that his current novel-in-progress was twelve years behind deadline. Words cannot express my feelings on hearing that. And last week I got a happy message from a friend chortling that recordings of HHGTTG are still vastly popular in the Napster interzone, and that you can still find a thousand teenagers who think calling themselves Zaphod online is pretty cool. If you can have a fervently atheist patron saint of the Internet -- irony demands no less -- then Douglas Adams is that saint. The computer is as much part of everything he did as the bakelite wireless was for the Goons. Not that I'm over the anger, or the sadness, or the terrible feeling that some intergalactic code of fairness has been breached, but the man proved beyond doubt that irony doesn't have to be caustic, that it's as much a part of our universe as gravity and as worthy of celebration and delight as birthday cake and beer. I'll try and remember that, even if the space between the stars is a little emptier now.

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