If you think that Shoghi Effendi’s writings were the pinnacle of the English language, then you obviously haven’t read anything by Douglas Adams.Adams, of course, is the author of the wildly famous Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (H2G2) series of books. Plainly put Adams was a wordsmith; someone who awed you with his eloquence and playful mastery of his craft.I remember the first time that I read Adams. I got goose bumps. I thought, you can do that? I had no idea til then that simple words in the English language could be combined in such a way. Here’s an example:

There is an art, [...] or rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.

Who writes like that? I mean, who thinks like that?

Underneath the light-hearted comedy and critique of human foibles, it isn’t difficult to spot Adams’ fascination with scientific ideas like chaos theory, quantum mechanics and quantum physics. Adams loved and appreciated science and within a very short time after the publication of H2G2, some of the most prominent scientists of our time became his biggest fans.

Douglas Adams was many things; a successful author; a loving father and husband; a towering man of more than 6 feet; a fan of science and scientists; a radical atheist (a label he applied to himself so others wouldn’t mistake him for a dithering agnostic); a lover of gadgets and technology (especially the Macintosh). But prolific, he was not.

He used to make light of his chronic writer’s block by saying that he loved deadlines…especially the whooshing sound they made as they flew past one’s head. And due to his untimely death in 2001, we will only have his H2G2 books, a few other lesser known works, and some incomplete manuscripts.

Adams was frustrated that it took around 20 years for his iconic work to make it onto the big sceen. He once quipped that the Hollywood process is like “trying to grill a steak by having a succession of people coming into the room and breathing on it.” Unfortunately, I don’t think the movie quite captures his brilliance. But then again, it simple can’t. I think its impossible to successfully carry over all the elements from one medium to another.

I still recommend that you go see The Hitch Hiker’s Guide movie. If nothing else, consider it a good, long commercial for the books. An after seeing the movie, do your brain a favor and read the whole trilogy (yes, all five parts). And after you’re done, don’t forget Douglas Adams’ lesser known but equally brilliant books about Dirk Gently – an idiot savant version of Sherlock Holmes.

You won’t think of life, the universe and everything (including the English language) in quite the same way ever again.