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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Douglas And Terry - This Week In History!

Twitter is a useful place to hang out. Today I discovered that Douglas Adams was born on March 11 1952 and Terry Pratchett died on March 12 2015. So, two authorly things within two days.

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I remember when I first discovered Douglas Adams and The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. It was in 1981, when I was studying librarianship at RMIT. Librarianship was a huge study, let me tell you! The course was supposed to be two years, but there weren’t the facilities to do it over two years, so it was all crammed into one, a graduate diploma. We used to agree among ourselves that if we could have gone to the library to work at five a.m we would have.

It was the most exhausting year I have ever spent studying at uni. So I needed something to keep me cheerful. I can’t recall anyone recommending the book to me. I just remember laughing out loud, and reading and rereading and quoting. And then I discovered that other librarianship students were also reading it, and we quoted it over coffee during our few breaks. My brother and I recorded the radio show. I watched the TV series. I saw the film. In the end, I read all the books, including the sixth one, written by Eoin Colfer from notes by the late author. I read both Dirk Gently books. SHADA, his Dr Who episode, was finally finished and put together using animation for the missing bits, and of course, I bought it in DVD and it has pride of place on my shelves. I also have a CD of him reading the third book in the series, Life, The Universe And Everything. He really could read well!  

Sad that he went and died on us so early! Not even fifty years old. What could he have written if he had lived longer?

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And then there was the amazing Terry Pratchett, author of some of the funniest and most touching novels I’ve ever read. There were 41 Discworld novels, which were fantasy, but had great fun sending up the real world. I honestly can’t recall how I became a fan. A friend recommended the series, but I made the mistake of beginning from the start, with The Colour Of Magic, which was not his best work, so it took a while to come back via another novel, Mort, and fall in love.

But fall in love I did, to the extent that I have read and reread the Discworld series, and all my paperbacks are falling apart.They are comfort reading for me.

I am so happy that Good Omens, the novel he wrote with Neil Gaiman has finally made it to the screen.  The small screen, probably just as well, because it would have had to be cut savagely to do a film version. It will be a while before I get to see it, because it will be first on Amazon Prime, then on the BBC and, about a year from now, finally make it to the rest of the world. But for the time being,
I am enjoying the radio play, which features Terry and Neil in cameo roles!

Vale, Douglas and Terry - you are much missed, but never forgotten.  


Brian Joseph said...

Though it has been awhile, I am a big fan of The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. I also first was exposed to it back in the 1980s. I must give it a reread soon.

Believe it or not, I have not read Terry Pratchett. I must rectify that soon.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Hi Brian! If you are going to read Terry Pratchett, I suggest you don’t start with the first novel, The Colour Of Magic. Believe it or not, his work gets better as it goes, not worse! I found Mort a good place to start. In it, Death(a regular character in the series) takes an apprentice as an excuse to introduce him to his adopted daughter, and the apprentice stuffs up while Death is off on holiday. This Death’s “pale horse” is called Binky. Very funny, and once, when I was at a talk by the author, he said himself that Mort was a better place to start than his first book - so I had got it right!

AJ Blythe said...

What did you think of the film, Sue? I really didni't like it, but I loved the tv series and book. And love Terry Pratchett. Agree that Mort would be a good place to start.

Sue Bursztynski said...

I preferred the T.V series and the book, but didn’t mind the film. They had a bit of fun with it - did you spot the original Marvin in that queue? And that scene where the Vogons were smashing the jewelled crabs mentioned in the book was not in the TV series. Seeing Martin Freeman as Arthur Dent convinced me he could do Bilbo Baggins when the time came - another ordinary person suddenly dragged kicking and screaming into the wider universe!

I should add that a friend of mine who was even more of a fan than me absolutely loved the film!

AJ Blythe said...

There you go. Maybe it was when I saw the film rather than the film itself? (If I remember correctly I had an infant and a toddler and I was ridiculously sleep deprived at the time).

Sue Bursztynski said...

Wow! Was it that long ago? Anyway, why not re-view it with your Barbarians?

AJ Blythe said...

Sadly it was (where does time go). My eldest Barbarians has seen it and really enjoyed it, so I probably should watch it with the youngest...

Sue Bursztynski said...

Sounds like a good excuse for a re-view - enjoy!