The alt.fan.douglas-adams FAQ

Section B- About Douglas Adams


B.1. Introduction

The information in this section is not very detailed or searching, because of a desire to respect Douglas Adams' personal privacy. Also, you might as well get a copy of "Don't Panic" anyway.

B.1.1. Full name, birth & family

Douglas Noel Adams (DNA) was born on March 11th, 1952. After nearly a decade of saying in his blurbs that he was nearly married to a lady barrister, on November 25th 1991 Douglas Adams and Jane Belson tied the knot in a quiet ceremony at Finsbury Town Hall in London (bad luck ladies). They live in Islington.

Their first child was born on June 22nd 1994. Her name is Polly Jane Adams, but while she was in the womb she acquired the nickname 'Rocket'. Douglas describes her as "long and slim and dark and incomprehensibly beautiful".

B.1.2. Why is he sometimes called "Bop Ad"?

...because of the way he signs his name, at book signings and so on. As you will see (if you have images turned on), it's quite distinctive:

And if you've not had any of your Douglas Adams books signed by the author, why not print out the above image and sitick it onto the front inside page so that you can pretend that you have?


B.2. Douglas Adams and computers

Douglas Adams has a close association with computers. He likes Macintoshes, and at one stage lived with one in Islington (see the dedications in The Complete Radio Scripts and Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency). He says that computers have completely changed the way he writes- he has gone from avoiding writing by finding food to eat, to avoiding writing by reconfiguring his Macintosh's operating system.

He has even written a foreword to "PowerBook, the Digital Nomad's Guide" (ISBN 0-679-74588-2), saying how he couldn't see how he ever did without his PowerBook before.

B.2.1- Computer game: Starship tanic

Douglas Adams' current project is a computer game for PC and eventually Macintosh platforms, with the full title "Douglas Adams' Starship Titanic". For more information, see C.1- Starship Titanic.

B.2.2- Computer game: The Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy

New information in section B.2.2.4!

With Infocom's Steve Meretzky (who no longer works for Infocom), Douglas wrote The Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy adventure game, as well as Bureaucracy.

The Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy computer game can be purchased as part of the compilation The Lost Treasures of Infocom, if you can still find it, as well as even rarer compilations such as The Infocom Sci-Fi Collection. It may also be found on the Internet, but anyone who's uploaded it to the 'Net has broken the law, see B.2.2.2.

The latest Activision rehash of the Infocom text adventures, "Masterpieces of Infocom", does not contain Hitch Hiker's Guide as the rights have reverted back to Douglas Adams (nor does it contain "Shogun", created in association with James Clavell, their only other collaborative piece).

'Eric S.' generated what he describes as a comprehensive list of sources of the Infocom and Hitch Hiker's games, on his web page here.

One solution for the Hitch Hiker's game could be downloaded from here.

For other solutions to the Infocom games and lots more, you could try the Interactive Fiction Archive based in Germany. The specific position of the Hitch Hiker's solutions is here.

Infocom related discussions are abound in the rec.games.int-fiction newsgroup. The Lost Treasures compilatisons haven't been made for quite a while now, and pretty much all stocks of these compilations have run dry (probably because of all the r.g.int-fiction folk hunting the last few out!) Although the smaller Activision compilations are suppossed to replace the Lost Treasures compilations, certainly in the UK they are near impossible to find. For people in the UK http://www.reserve.co.uk/ may possibly have a few copies of LTOI 1 & 2 as it is still in their on-line catalogue.

You don't need a Mac or a PC to play the games, nor do you need the right versions of the games for the right machines. Infocom games were interpreted, and hence the game files themselves are useable across all platforms with a suitable Infocom interpreter. The game file itself is still under copyright, but there are PD versions of suitable interpreters available for most machines, so it is quite possible to play HHGTTG on anything from UNIX to an Acorn by porting across a copy of the data file that you may legally ow(or, admittedly, may have illegally downloaded), even if your copy of HHGTTG is for a completely different machine.

A good site for Infocom interpreters is ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/interpreters-infocom/ or chat to the folk in rec.games.int-fiction for more information.

Richard Harris of The Digital Village adds:

B.2.2.1. Will the Hitch Hiker's game be republished?

New information in section B.2.2.4!

For the official answer to this question, see http://www.douglasadams.com/creations/infocom.html.

It seems that the plan is: yes. Originally, they had planned to include it as a 'game within a game' as part of "Starship Titanic". Sadly, due to "various strategic and copyright reasons", this is not going to happen. After ST ships, though, they plan to publish the game again. Here's a quote from Tim Browse, of TDV, late last year:

A more recent message indicated that they were considering releasing the original version of the game as shareware, but this hasn't happened yet either.

Most of the above was verified to be what it is: rumors. The game is now on Douglas Adams' website. It can be played online at http://www.douglasadams.com/creations/infocomjava.html or the Z file can be downloaded from http://www.douglasadams.com/creations/hhgg.z5, but you will need to find a Z interpreter for that.

Another rumour is that there will be an all-new Hitch Hiker's game to go along with the supposedly upcoming movie, though. It may be a console game, which probably means Nintendo, Sega, Playstation and the like.

B.2.2.2. Where can I download the Hitch Hiker's game on the Web?

New information in section B.2.2.4!

There will be some sites on the Internet where it is possible to download the Hitch Hiker's computer game, and possibly even Bureaucracy as well. However, this is illegal, on the part of both anyone who uploads the game to the 'Net, and anyone who willingly downloads it from the 'Net afterwards.

TDV may well take action against such distribution (including, but not limited to, closing of web sites, lawsuits, concrete shoes, calling in the Vogons, etc.) It would be best if you avoided posting web addresses for the game to the group, as it may upset the respective webmasters when they find their site being closed.

Look, it's simple (but people are still getting it wrong). Do not post the game on your web site. Do not post the address of any site (yours or otherwise) where the game supposedly has been posted. Do not post requests for the game or offers to send it. And most of all do not post the game itself to the group- it's not a binaries group. Unauthorized distribution of the game remains illegal.

Take this advice with a large boulder of salt. Since the game can be freely downloaded from DNA's website, I doubt the will do much to you any more... just don't try to sell bootleg copies of the game.

B.2.2.3. What about the other Hitch Hiker's game that has been talked about recently?

This might be in reference to an as-yet-incomplete fan written game being worked on that is based on the Hitch Hiker's Guide story. For legal reasons progress of this game is currently halted (and foreseeably this could put a permanent axe through the game's proceedings) and the author's name should probably not be mentioned, but then maybe that's just a demonstration of paranoia...

B.2.2.4- Hitch Hiker's game on the Comic Relief site

Read the bit above about it being on DNA's website. It was on the comic relief site, and it may still be, but it should be permanent on Mr. Adams' web site.

B.2.3- Computer game: Bureaucracy

Douglas Adams and Steve Meretzky went on to write a second game called Bureaucracy, with the same format as Hitch Hiker's Guide.... Bureaucracy was credited to "Douglas Adams and The Staff of Infocom" since there were lots of Infocom people involved (Jeff O'Neill, Dave Lebling, Fred Morgan and others). It was said, even at the time of Bureaucracy's release, that Douglas Adams simply provided the anecdote upon which the entire game was based, but wasn't involved in the rest of the game's production (Andrew Williams: "He probably had to duck out for a bath...")

Bureaucracy is one of the games included in The Lost Treasures of Infocom II (not to be confused with the first volume with Hitch Hiker's Guide... on it), and The Infocom Comedy Collection. It now also appears on Activision's newest collection of old Infocom games, called Masterpieces of Infocom, just released on their "Essential Collection" budget label. This collection is very inexpensive (around 10, maybe about $10), runs on PC or Mac, and includes 30 or so other old Infocom text adventure games.

The playing requirements, sources for solutions etc. are the same as for the Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy game.

B.2.4- Computer game: The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

The end sequence to the adventure game Hitch Hiker's Guide mentions a second game called The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, but this game doesn't exist. Douglas Adams started to write it, but because Bureaucracy had poor sales, Adams and Infocom dropped the project. Infocom tried to revive the project later, but the virtual death of Infocom in 1990 brought this idea to an end.

Another reason given for the fact Restaurant... was never made was that Douglas Adams was too busy and asked another person (unknown) to help, but that person couldn't grasp the concept of "interactive fiction" and so it died the death.


B.3- Contacting Douglas Adams

If you are trying to contact Douglas with a question, you should first make sure that there isn't another way to find the answer to your question, because due to the large number of people on the Internet who don't quite comprehend how many people there actually are on the Internet, Douglas has to pick and choose which messages to respond to, and is only likely to respond to the questions that he hasn't heard a million times before (if at all).

Check out A.2- Where can I find more information about Douglas Adams? and the suggested sources thoroughly before going any further.

If you don't get any response by the following methods, don't pester- he probably just doesn't want to hear about it. Do not be disappointed or surprised if you do not receive a reply, however, because the e-mail address is inevitably flooded with sycophantic and curious fans who ask him inane questions that they can't be bothered to look themselves, or who want to know something tediously sad about the number 42, or ask him questions about some of his characters' sex lives (sad sad sad sad sad).

B.3.1. What's Douglas Adams' e-mail address?

Douglas makes no secret that his personal e-mail address is dna@tdv.com. Notice that this is not hypertext linked because it is extremely likely that you should not not NOT use this address, which is for his own personal and business correspondence alone.

Instead you should e-mail askdna@tdv.com (subject to the above conditions). Douglas employs somebody to perform the tedious task of ignoring his mail from him. In the past, mail that Douglas considers 'worthwhile' has received a response from the man himself, but don't bet on it.

B.3.2. Where can I write to Douglas Adams by post?

This should be done through The Digital Village office:

B.3.3. Does Douglas Adams have a web site?

See C.2.2. Where's Douglas Adams' web site?, which is more or less the same question and it saves having to update it in two different places...

B.3.4. Does Douglas Adams read the alt.fan.douglas-adams newsgroup?

Basically, no, although he used to. He never posts here any more, and it is hardly surprising; he explained many of his reasons for abandoning the newsgroup on his (now 404) homepage (URL preserved for posterity). Many people believed it was him, but some did not, and those who didn't made a fuss about the fact they believe he was 'false', even though everybody else tried to tell them they were wrong. "Another case of the few spoiling it for the majority."

That said, Douglas Adams has been known to post occasionally even since he gave up reading the newsgroup on a regular basis. At the time of writing, for example, his most recent post was to dismiss the rumours about Jim Carrey being in the Hitch Hiker's Guide movie.


B.4. Douglas Adams and Doctor Who

Douglas Adams wrote three scripts for Doctor Who, and was also Doctor Who script editor for a year, during the late 1970s. All of the released videos of these three Adams-penned Who stories have since been deleted, so here's what you've missed.

Shada was never completed due to a strike at the BBC, and has since been released with a copy of the original script and Tom Baker's voiceovers to fill in the missing sections. This has now been deleted, but the order number was BBC48142 (VHS). It contains a number of plot elements which later turned up in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. A Professor Chronitis, a time machine which is an office in a University, a certain joke, etc. The similarities are so great that for copyright reasons a novel of Shada could never be published.

Dirk Gently... also contains plot elements from The City of Death, which Douglas also wrote. That story is credited to "David Agnew", which is a pseudonym used on BBC programmes where the writer's real name is not used for contractual reasons. The script was originally started by David Fisher, who couldn't finish it for personal reasons.

The Pirate Planet was only very recently deleted on video- there are several similarities between it and Hitch Hiker's Guide... but nothing so great that Douglas might want to sue himself... Again, this was released by BBC video and has recently been deleted- the order number was BBCV5608.

Douglas also wrote a treatment (plot synopsis) for a film called Dr Who and the Krikketmen. It was never expanded to become a complete script, but most of the pertinent plot points reappeared in Life, the Universe and Everything.


B.5. What Douglas Adams has written

This is only a very brief overview of the Douglas Adams bibliography, which has now been given its own page- see section Y. The increasingly inaccurately named Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy trilogy:

The Dirk Gently novels:

With Mark Carwardine:

The Liff books, with John Lloyd:

Doctor Who stories:

Short stories:

This list is not definitive. Please note that Douglas Adams has not yet written The Salmon of Doubt...


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