inmates  crazy stuff  images  links  *info*
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In Memoriam
Douglas Noel Adams
March 11, 1952 - May 11, 2001

"This must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays."

*** The MFAQ (Most Frequently Asked Questions) ***

Version 3.4 / Last changes 7 May 2005 / This posted 7 May 2005

Welcome to!

In this little corner of Usenet we discuss things supposedly related to British book/game/film/radio author Douglas Adams and his works. This MFAQ is meant to answer the common questions so that discussion on the froup can be more about the less common and/or totally absurd ones.

This MFAQ is posted (tries to be, anyway) weekly on Thursdays; the web home of the MFAQ is:

For more in-depth, out-of-date info on Douglas Adams and his work, please visit the more than complete FAQ at its home:

A few notes about the (afda) newsfroup:

a) This is an unmoderated froup, which means you may see "spam" from time to time. It is best not to respond to spam, except maybe to send a mail to the spammer's service provider if you can figure out who it is and you feel like it. b) This is also NOT a binary froup. That means if you have this great picture file, background "wallpaper", etc. you should post an offer to email it to people or a pointer to where they can download it rather than attaching the file to the post. Binaries to the froup will be met with a flurry of nasty notes from regulars. So if you didn't know before, now you do. :-) c) Common sense, while rarely seen on Usenet, can be a help. Ridiculous breaches of netiquette tend to result in flames. If you're totally new to Usenet news[gf]roups, you might want to look at this piece on netiquette at In fact, there's a bit on this page that immortalizes what happened several years ago on this very froup. So be careful what you wish for. ;-) d) One thing to note is that we're not particularly picky about being on-topic all the time, which means if you want to know what Douglas Adams fans think of this or that, you're usually okay in asking. In fact, these days it's rare to see much on-topic at all. Unless you count the movie and new radio series posts. In which case there's quite a lot.

The FAQ team was once Greg Pacek, Owen Cameron and Ben Brockert. Anyone who wants to take a stab at updating/maintaining it now should feel welcome to.

This MFAQ was developed by Greg "CrazyOne" Pacek, with the help of Iain Barker (web translation), Ben Brockert (FAQ-MFAQ cross-pollination), other afda participants and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri.

Since the majority of the authors no longer (regularly) post in afda, the MFAQ is in need of a maintiainer. I'm posting it this once, and I may post it again, but a maintiainer who isn't me would be good. :-)

And now... on with THE ANSWERS!

** The questions/contents (in some sort of order):

(new info since previous post indicated with bold in the contents)

  1. Who is Douglas Adams anyway?
  2. What has he written/created?
  3. What's all this about _The Salmon of Doubt_?
  4. What happened to the company he co-founded?
  5. What is this about?
  6. What's this I hear about a movie?
  7. How do I find the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy or Bureaucracy computer games?
  8. Where can I get other CDs, tapes, books, etc.?
  9. What do you get if you multiply six by nine? (and other notes on 42)
  10. What kind of stuff is in the complete FAQ?
  11. Where do I find HHGG/DNA _______ on the web?
  12. Where else can I interact with Douglas Adams fans?
  13. Is there a fan club? (ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha info)


  1. Who is Douglas Adams anyway?

  2. You really don't know? ;-) Douglas Adams was a British author of humorous books and other items in various media (radio, tv, computer games, etc.) By far his best-known work is The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (in its various forms) and its sequels. For a lot more info, please visit the more than complete FAQ mentioned above. And of course check out

    By the way, his name is Douglas Noel Adams, so around here we often call him DNA for short. He was born March 11, 1952, in Cambridge (the one in England). And he died of a sudden heart-attack May 11, 2001, in Santa Barbara, California, leaving behind his wife Jane, daughter Polly and millions of grieving fans. For more off-line info about DNA's works you can check out _Don't Panic_ by Neil Gaiman and the Pocket Essentials _Hitchhiker's Guide_ by M.J. Simpson. For a brand-new biography of DNA, see M.J. Simpson's _Hitchhiker: a Biography of Douglas Adams_ (currently at places like An official biography by Nick Webb, _Wish You Were Here_, is also available.


  3. What has he written/created?

  4. Well, the best bibliography is at Floor 42 (see also item 11) or in the more-than-complete FAQ, but here's a quick list of the most common works (some of these have co-authors):

    Radio Series: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

    TV Series: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

    Books: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy The Restaurant at the End of the Universe Life, the Universe and Everything So Long and Thanks for All the Fish Mostly Harmless

    Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul

    Salmon of Doubt

    Last Chance to See

    The Meaning of Liff The Deeper Meaning of Liff

    Computer Games: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Bureaucracy Starship Titanic

    Feature Film: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (see item 6)

    Web community: (now part of BBC New Media, see item 5)


  5. What's all this about _The Salmon of Doubt_?

  6. OK, here at last is the (hopefully) final word on _The Salmon of Doubt_:

    At one point in the depths of time, an author named Douglas Adams started writing a book that was tentatively named _The Salmon of Doubt_. This book was originally going to be another Dirk Gently book, but it stopped being that. For a while, it was going to be another Hitchhiker's book, but it stopped being that as well. At some point, I believe it had parts of both.

    _The Salmon of Doubt_ wasn't, by DNA's own reckoning, to be the end title of the book - like everything else Douglas worked on, it was most likely a work-in-progress, and would have continued to be so even after publishing, if he had his way with it. Despite that fact, some ordering systems starting listing publication dates for the book, and for a while there were a bunch of fake reviews on, as the book didn't even exist at that point.

    After DNA's unfortunate demise, various essays and writings, including the written portion of _The Salmon of Doubt_, were compiled and released in a book by that name. So there finally is a book by DNA that is entitled _The Salmon of Doubt_, thus vindicating all of those silly ordering systems once and for all. It is not, however, a full story, nor will it ever be finished by someone else by all the current signs.


  7. What happened to the company he co-founded?

  8. Douglas Adams co-founded a new media company several years ago called The Digital Village. Its first project was the computer game Starship Titanic. Later work began on what became, the online real-life Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, an information and community oriented web site. When that project became the major part of TDV's activities, the company name was changed to h2g2 Ltd. And in early 2001 was acquired by BBC New Media and became part of their web portfolio. Also under development at that time at TDV/h2g2 Ltd was an all-new Hitchhiker game. This has since disappeared into the ether, but information on it can be found at .


  9. What is this about?

  10. (or actually now the address is ) is the online Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Go check out this amazing site, the Guide to everything, as researched by everyone! Submit your own guide entries, comment on others, put up info on the web without knowing any HTML, and on and on. There are over 50,000 registered researchers now, and lots of ways to interact with others. You can even use h2g2 on your WAP-enabled mobile phone, which proves once and for all that fiction will become reality.

    The site was originally developed by The Digital Village (later h2g2 Ltd.) and picked up by BBC New Media in early 2001.


  11. What's this I hear about a movie?

  12. By all reports, DNA had completed a draft of the script for the movie that both he and the movie studios were basically happy about before his death. Jay Roach is the last director to be solidly associated with the project, and said in mid-July 2001(ish): "Robbie Stamp and I have been talking about how to resurrect the film project. So difficult to imagine without the master. But would still be great to see it live."

    On 17 Nov 2002, the BBC announced that Karey Kirkpatrick, of Chicken Run fame, had been signed to polish the script written by DNA. The same report mentioned Jay Roach as director, and said that DNA would be posthumously credited as executive producer. ( )

    DNA's wife Jen Belson confirmed that Karey Kirkpatrick was indeed involved in a radio interview given in January 2003.

    Jay Roach left the project as director (staying on as producer) and British music video team Hammer and Tongs were approached. They accepted. Casting began, and here is the cast list:

    Arthur Dent: Martin Freeman Ford Prefect: Mos Def Trillian: Zooey Deschanel Zaphod Beeblebrox: Sam Rockwell Marvin's body: Warwick Davis Marvin's voice: Alan Rickman Slartibartfast: Bill Nighy

    There is some debate as to whether the film is good, but my recommendation is not to listen to anybody and go and see it for yourself. You might like it. On the other hand, you might not. And on the other hand, you might merely think it's alright. It depends which head you're in at the time.


  13. How do I find the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy or Bureaucracy computer games?

  14. Well, the deal is that the rights to the HHGG game have reverted back from Activision (successor to Infocom) to Douglas Adams. In fact, this is why the game did not appear on the most recent Infocom collections. (It does appear on "The Lost Treasures of Infocom" and "The Infocom Sci-Fi Collection", both of which are now apparently out of print, or at least very difficult to find.) If you do have an old version of the game, however, it is possible to take the data files from it and use it on virtually any type of operating system. Infocom designed the game (and other text adventures they did) to use the same data file on any sort of computer and utilize an interpreter program that was written for that platform (often refered to as a Z Interpreter). The practical upshot is that you can get a shareware or freeware Infocom interpreter for nearly any platform you like. This FTP site has been recommended as a source for several such interpreters:

    Occasionally people sell their copies of these collections on the auction website eBay ( ).

    Please note that unauthorized distribution of the game remains illegal, and h2g2 Ltd may well take action against such distribution (including but not limited to closing of web sites, lawsuits, concrete shoes, calling in the Vogons, etc.)

    You can now play a Java version of the HHGG game online at (This was done with little fanfare. Not sure if the Comic Relief site one is still meant to work or not.) Just hop on over to to play the game. I don't know to what degree they care about downloading the z datafile itself, but its location can't be hidden anyway. It's at You can use it with any z interpreter as mentioned above. Keep in mind the above remark about unauthorized distribution. You should direct people to the site, nowhere else.

    It is also available in newly updated form from the BBC Radio 4 HHGG minisite -

    Bureaucracy is slightly easier. It appeared on a couple of Infocom collections in the past, and appears on Activision's newest collection of old Infocom stuff called "Masterpieces of Infocom", released on their "Essential Collection" budget label. This collection is very inexpensive (around 10UKP/probably about US$10) runs on PC or Mac and includes 30 or so other old Infocom text adventure games. It's been a while now though, and I'm not sure if this latest collection is still in stores or not.

    Look, it's simple. DO NOT post the games on your web site. DO NOT post the address of any site (yours or otherwise) where the games supposedly have been posted. DO NOT post requests for the games or offers to send them. And most of all DO NOT post the games themselves to the froup. (It's NOT a binaries froup.) Unauthorized distribution of the games REMAINS ILLEGAL. Play the Java game online for HHGG; buy the inexpensive collection for Bureaucracy.


  15. Where do I get other CDs, tapes, books, etc.?

  16. The Radio Series is notoriously hard to get ahold of, at least in the US, and the TV Series is approaching that point. North American VHS tapes of the tv series and the making of show are in stock at at the moment, though. In the UK and other places in the EU you can still get these directly from the BBC ( and click on the Science Fiction section), but the BBC won't ship across the pond, or, indeed, outside the EU. As for walking into a store, well, the BBC shops do usually have them. Very old info from Australia suggests the ABC shops are a good source for the radio series. The best place for most of the world to look for the radio series is probably or, which carry the latest BBC editions and ship anywhere. If you're a member of ZZ9 (see item 13) you can buy the radio series (and other merchandise) through their members-only merchandise catalog. (Remember you have to be careful with video because the North American format is different from most other places in the world including Europe and Australia. Japan is the same as the US and Canada, though.)

    Some of the books are more difficult (impossible) to get than others. My recent experience indicates that the UK-based online bookstores (Internet Bookshop at and ) hold possibility of getting UK editions of many of the books and audiobooks. US-based online stores (Borders, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.) and their brick and mortar counterparts offer varying success at getting US editions. The Dove Audio unabridged editions of all the novels read by DNA himself are best purchased at, which is a division of the same parent company as Dove Audio. These same audio editions are available in electronic format from Smaller bookshops both on and off the web can be great sources of hard-to-find stuff. If you score a radio scripts book at this point you are very lucky indeed. Don't forget to check for people selling used stuff. Or, to search a large database of used and rare books, try

    You can still get The Voyager Company's CD-ROM version of Last Chance to See. This has the full text of the book plus photos and the entire book read on audio by DNA. Comes in Windows or Mac version. Here's a direct link to the info (Win versions appear to be out of stock again, call for info):

    Please note that like the game, the Radio Series and TV Series are under copyright. Uploading or downloading audio or video files of them could get you into trouble. Use a bit of common sense. Fair use should allow short audio clips of under 30 seconds, though. (Standard disclaimer applies. I do not have intimate knowledge of the law.) Same with the books. Quotes are okay, but posting the whole things are a big no-no. Expect to be shut down or worse if they catch you.


  17. What do you get if you multiply six by nine? (and other notes on 42)

  18. Well, 54, of course. It can be argued that in base 13 you get 42. Those of us who have followed this froup for some time have seen the revelations of those who have newly discovered this. (Some of us have even been there ourselves.) It's an extremely tired discussion, though. The joke, when Douglas wrote it, was simply that it was the wrong question for the answer (or the wrong answer for the question, if you prefer.) He has said himself "Nobody writes jokes in base 13."

    42 is just a number. It has no significance in relation to any other previous uses of the number 42, as least as far as DNA always insisted.


  19. What kind of stuff is in the complete FAQ?

  20. Well, all kinds of good stuff, like differences between US and UK versions of the books, more answers to less frequently asked questions, song lyrics, biographical info about Douglas, all sorts of silly info about the making of things, DNA and Dr. Who, links to other cool stuff and the Question to the Ultimate Answer. Well, maybe not the last one. Again, the address is

    Some information (for example, information about the movie or the radio series) is completely out of date and waiting for somebody to come along and write things for it. However, nobody has yet done so.

    Two of the better things linked to the FAQ page are the Ultra-Complete Indices. These were undertaken a few years back by Mathias Maul and are very useful when you are looking for a certain quote. You can find The Ultra-Complete Index to The Hitchhiker's "Trilogy" or The Ultra-Complete Index to Dirk Gently on the FAQ website.

    In the places where these two documents overlap, info there should be in agreement with info here. If we have any incorrect info, we are therefore at least definitively inaccurate. Or maybe it's more like this: the FAQ is definitive; reality is frequently inaccurate.


  21. Where do I find HHGG/DNA _______ on the web?

  22. Looking for sound clips, bad poetry, quotes, indices of certain passages from the books and other such stuff? Check the FAQ site above (item 10),, the ZZ9 website (see item 13) and the sites below first! You're bound to find nearly anything you're looking for. (Kate Brown's very professional-looking site with general info, message boards, a trivia quiz and more. The best looking DNA fan site I've seen, period. Sometimes the info here is better than the info in the FAQ. This site also has the best DNA bibilography, definitely better than the one in the FAQ.) or (The unofficial official homepage of a.f.d-a, under direction of webmaster Iain Barker. Includes this very MFAQ for your reading pleasure.) (Home of Project Galactic Guide. Conceived and executed long before, the idea is a similar one. Everyone contributes entries on a wide variety of subjects. While the execution may not be as flashy as h2g2, it's worth a visit for the content alone.) (Megan Branning's page now called Studio 42. Home of Bart's Guide to the Galaxy. ;-) Flash required, apparently. (Tomas Wallin's page has a large selection of audio samples from the radio series in RealAudio format.) (Slartibartfast, from the country with the award-winning coastline, has put together a bit of useful info. Most of it can probably found somewhere else, but it was the button at the bottom that says "Do not press this button" and how that is set up that did it for me. Maybe I'm just easily amused.) (Vogon Heavy Industries is home to an impressive Java HHGG implementation which I finally did get to work recently. Alas, it appears to have been neglected for some time. Still, the design is good and concept is certainly sound, worth visiting just to see how similar it is to the Guide described in the original versions.) is MJ Simpson's web page devoted to DNA news and events. (He published one of the DNA biographies, as well.) Or, it may be more correct to say, it is an archive of old news and events, along with which is an archive of *really* old news and events. Both pages have closed, and Simpson has decided to 'retire' from DNA journalism. is DNA's old web site, where you can find a few movies and photos of him interacting with this wild thing called "real life". (Thanks to Apple for keeping the website around even after his death.)

    Once recommended sites, now with a few problems: (Note - these are liable to be removed at some point in the future, if they continue to not work.)

    [If you want me to plug your website, please post or email your web address, and I'll take a look.]


  23. Where else can I interact with Douglas Adams fans?

  24. Since this froup has filled with so much, er, off-topic silliness (nothing bad if you like it! but hey, some don't), Stuart has created the douglasadams-news moderated mailing list at All messages sent to the list will be approved by a moderator before being sent to everyone else. To join, go to and follow the instructions. In fact, there are around a dozen other lists on eGroups with DNA-related subjects, but none of them receive that much traffic, even though they are unmoderated. I've joined several to see what goes on in them, and the answer is basically nothing different than what happens on afda. Nobody seems to have any extra insight to offer.

    The forum at is a good place to check out, though I suppose its future will be uncertain. is certainly full of DNA fans, and is just a cool concept in all respects.

    The forum at Floor 42 ( ) has become rather active as well. It's populated by some of the same people who frequent the forum, as well as some others. Many of these people do not frequent afda, so you might meet some new fellow fans. Floor 42 also maintains a contact list. AOL Instant Messenger seems to be the most likely chat method, though you'll also find some ICQ numbers and possibly even more ways to be in contact with the people listed there. And you can add your own listing, of course, if you'd like people to contact you.

    Some afda regulars chat via Internet Relay Chat. Fire up your IRC client, login to and join channel #afda. If you need an IRC client, it seems that mIRC is rather popular for Windows. For Mac it's IRCle. And there are clients for other assorted operating systems as well. You can find these in the usual software download places. I'm not going to write a primer for IRC in here, partly because it would take too long, but mainly because I'm not really qualified. Floor 42 has an IRC channel as well, #Floor42 on I mention this mainly because DALnet's homepage,, has some good general info if you're new to IRC.


  25. Is there a fan club? (ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha info)

  26. ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha (aka ZZ9) is the official Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy Appreciation Society. It was established in 1980 and have released a quarterly magazine, Mostly Harmless (the name of which was used long before the book of that name came out), full of interviews, fiction, news, art, discussion, and so on, ever since. They also produce a wide range of merchandise related to Douglas Adams exclusively for members of ZZ9. They come highly recommended by many people on the newsfroup. They also arrange and coordinate meetings for fans of Hitchhiker's Guide, mainly based around the UK. The society is based in the UK, but they're able to accept membership dues in US dollars. Current details, including contact addresses and so forth can be found at their homepage:


Thanks for reading!

That's all I have for now. If you have suggestions for more questions or new info on these ones, please send it/them!


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