Douglas Adams…

was born on this date in 1952.

Adams died of a heart attack in 2001. His obituary from BBC included this background:

Adams was born in Cambridge in 1952 and educated in Essex before returning to Cambridge to study at St John’s College.

His career included work as a radio and television writer and producer before his life was changed by the publication of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in 1979.

The satirical tale chronicled the journey of alien Ford Prefect and his human companion Arthur Dent throughout the Universe after the destruction of Earth.

It centred around the search for an answer to life, the universe, and everything – which turned out to be 42.

The novel went on to sell more than 14 million copies worldwide and was followed by the sequels The Restaurant at the End of the Universe; Life, the Universe and Everything; and So Long and Thanks For All the Fish.

The Writer’s Almanac has this:

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a series of satiric science-fiction novels that begins when the main character, Arthur Dent, is yanked from Earth just before the planet is demolished to make space for an interstellar highway. The book begins: “Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea. This planet has–or rather had–a problem, which was this: most of the people on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time . . . lots of the people were mean, and most of them were miserable, even the ones with digital watches.”

Great stuff — at least it was 25 years ago.