On the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series

The Zen of 42

By Marie-Catherine Caillava

Was Douglas Noel Adams a tall fellow from the U.K. who wrote comedy science fiction in the British nonsense style, or was he a Zen master who enlightened the life of many people through his Zen-for-all manual called The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?

This question probably never occurred to most readers of H2G2. After all, DNA’s masterpiece is both comedy and sci-fi, and at first sight it’s not related to East Asian philosophy. Take another wonder of the British humor: Monty Python’s Flying Circus–it’s incredibly funny, disturbing, socially provocative, but has nothing to do with Zen. Or consider the root of all British sci-fi: Doctor Who–it’s clever, thought-provoking, scary and bizarre, but still has nothing to do with mysticism or religion, even when it asks questions about the deep nature of man.

So, was Doug Adams a tall Brit Zen master or a tall Brit funny-sci-fi writer? To answer this question, we’ll have to search our memories.

Breathe in slowly, look around you again to check and make sure no sales attendant in the bookshop has yet spotted you hidden behind the self-improvement shelf reading this, and try to concentrate. Try with all your might to remember what it felt like when you first read H2G2. Was it just a good laugh? Did you say: “Ah, my ribs hurt but I needed that. I haven’t laughed so hard since my brother-in-law fell into the icebox!” Or was your reaction only: “Gee, what imagination Mr. Adams has. It’s all much more convincing science  …

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