A Doug's Life
Stephen Fry wrote the following in May 2001, after his friend Douglas Adams died at age 49. (From here.)
To his friends Douglas Adams will be remembered as a giant of a man with a kindness to match. But to his fans I think he will be seen as someone who brought wit into science fiction. With the greatest respect to Gene Roddenberry and others, that had not been done before.
He had almost a Wodehousian style and some of his phrases and jokes entered our language. He changed the way people spoke. You still hear some of his jokes from the Hitchhiker's books being told in pubs.
I think he would like to be remembered as someone who created a complete other world through his work. But he was also a bridge between science and popular culture. He was absolutely passionate about science and nature and his work made rather arcane things become quite accessible.
He was always angry that some people saw scientists as arrogant. He never did. He saw science as about exploration, discovery and wonder. He would say that arrogant people were people who thought they were certain about something. He did not think science was about that. He could connect science to everyday people's experiences. The image of Arthur Dent in his dressing gown wandering around next to these huge spaceships and time machines was part of that.
His death is a great loss. It is a total bummer to say the least. But I think, to paraphrase one of his phrases, at least one of the headlines on his death should say, 'So long and thanks for all the books'.