Review: ’42: The Wildly Improbable Ideas of Douglas Adams’

3 min readSep 29, 2023
Review: '42: The Wildly Improbable Ideas of Douglas Adams'

42: The Wildly Improbable Ideas of Douglas Adams by Douglas Adams (Author) Kevin Jon Davies (Editor)

Just remembering everything that was not quite yet in place in 2001, I wonder what Douglas would have thought of it all. A fervent fan, as so many, I was instantly curious when I heard about this book, which offers a rare chance to peek inside somebody’s life.

Douglas Adams’s papers were loaned to his old Cambridge college, St John’s, after his death in 2001. Kevin Jon Davies, in close association with Adams’s family and literary estate, shifted through all of it, to regal us with facsimiles of what he found, and added beautiful and heartfelt letters of Douglas’s friends in the process.

With a foreword of Stephen Fry and Neil Gaiman, these memorabilia follow the all too short career Douglas had (it seems he had a terrific time), from early collaborations with Graham Chapman to his work on: Doctor Who, the Hitchhiker years, Dirk Gently, Last Chance to See and his later digital work. It offers glimpses of his early short stories, plays, fun parties, and collaborations. It has tons of photographs, and in all, it reminds us of someone who ceased to exist more than twenty years ago, but who lived joyously and unstoppably, working very creatively since school. A mind that influences us to this day and whose work keeps being adapted and celebrated.

Many things never really happened, and some are described here: like a proposed theme park ride and a TV series provisionally entitled The Secret Empire.

Jon Davies has directed The Making of Hitchhiker, the 1993 documentary for BBC Video. Adams then invited Davies to art-direct The Illustrated Hitchhiker, a large-format book with pioneering digital composites. Since then he has contributed to a number of Adams-related projects, including as a researcher into Adams’ archives for The Hexagonal Phase (2018); the final radio series of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

’42: The Wildly Improbable Ideas of Douglas Adams’ is on sale since September 19, 2023.

Publisher: Unbound

Pages: 336

Type: Hardcover

EAN/UPC: 9781800182684




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