Douglas Adams - a science fiction writer?

5. Conclusion - Douglas Adams, a comedy science fiction writer

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Considering the complicated and quite funny plot of his Hitchhiker saga and keeping in mind that this was not his only work, you can hardly categorize Douglas Adams as a mere science fiction writer. A more satisfactory view of this author is that he occupies a very small niche in the literary genres, namely comedy science fiction. His Hitchhiker novels are not only entertaining and funny, they are at the same time an approach to a different view of the meaning of life, the universe and everything. DNA succeeds in sustaining his amusing overtone without neglecting the deeper structure of his complex creation. I go along with Carl R. Kropf when he says that DNA often reverses the conventions of science fiction, which creates a certain amount of satirical quality, but there is more to it, DNA sometimes thinks one step ahead. He inverts only to be able to invert again at some far later point in his stories, returning unexpectedly to the track he was previously on. This confusing procedure can be explained when taking into consideration how DNA often writes his books.

"Since I had no grand plan in writing Hitch-Hiker's", he admits, "but was simply making it up as I went along, I often painted myself into the most terrible corners. At one point I had carelessly thought that it might be fun to have Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect thrown out of the airlock of a Vogon ship without spacesuits, just to see what happens. Unfortuanately (sic), of course, if anything was going to happen, I was going to have to think of it. I got very stuck." (Radio Scripts, Footnotes II, p.51)

Therefore DNA created an open-ended universe with seemingly no plan at all. But with the final novel he provides us with all kinds of clues and in a way compensates for the frustration the reader might sometimes experience when something he has been waiting for disappears into thin air and seemingly is completely forgotten. His mode of writing certainly develops together with the progress of the Hitchhiker plot. Between the first appearance of the Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy and the final show-down in "Mostly Harmless" nearly fifteen years passed and the Douglas Adams who started off with nothing more than a few good and funny ideas has gradually grown into a serious writer who isn't afraid of pointing wittily at some problems of everyday life as well as carving deeper into philosophical questions which continue to stir the reader's thoughts when the cheerful laughter of the first moment has faded away.

Anything that happens, happens.

Anything that, in happening, causes something else to happen, causes something else to happen.

Anything that, in happening, causes itself to happen again, happens again.

It doesn't necessarily do it in chronological order, though.

(Mostly Harmless, preliminary 'axioms')

The question if Douglas Adams is a science fiction writer or not will finally be answered by him personally. He frankly answered my question if he sees himself as a science fiction writer:

"Well, not really, though I suppose I am. I don't *feel* like one. All my roots are in the comedy world. I don't know any science fiction writers. I tend to know comedy writers and scientists."

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To continue reading, you'll have to buy "Don't Panic" by Neil Gaiman

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Douglas Adams - a science ficion writer? (c)1995 Oliver Creighton