Douglas Adams and the Cult of 42
We know that 42 is the answer to life, the universe, and everything, but how did Douglas Adams come up with it? In this excerpt from the book 42: Douglas Adams’ Amazingly Accurate Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything, author Peter Gill teases us with some background on how Adam’s radio comedy series (and later, book) The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy came about.
As the book’s title suggests, Adams, like most authors, was not afraid to borrow, and there are revealing similarities between Welsh’s Hitch-hiker’s Guide to Europe and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. One of these provides perhaps the most intriguing explanation for “Why 42?”. As you may remember Adams had Deep Thought perform a little expectation management and say: “You’re really not going to like it” before revealing the Ultimate Answer.
Curiously, Hitch-hiker’s Guide to Europe had told of visitors to the UK searching for family roots finding “the answer a little disappointing” – after travelling around the world in search of “the solution to the most puzzling question of all”. A coincidence, perhaps . . . but this coincidence is on page 42.