In the DNA
Happy birthday Douglas Noel Adams. Shame about you dying, but still.
I hear there’s a new TV series based on Dirk Gently. I haven’t watched it. With is odd. If someone had told me, even ten years ago, that there would one day be a Dirk Gently TV show and I wouldn’t watch it, I’d have thought they were insane.
But look at this.
That’s Dirk, apparently.
Funny. It reminds me of something.
In the novels, Dirk is described as fat, ugly and toadlike with a wildly mismatched clothes, a long leather coat and a ludicrous red hat.
Still, that wouldn’t make good telly, would it?
Adams was, in his way, as concerned with entropy as Bidmead. He even has Skagra mention it in ‘Shada’. Entropy, of course, is the shuffling of everything into predictability. The ultimate terminus of increasing entropy is the reduction of all things to homogeneous porridge.
Adams himself was very concerned with the corporate crapization of everything into synthetic banality. It’s a running concern of the Hitch Hikers books, from the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation to Infinidim Enterprises.
Funny thing is, if you were going to do Dirk as he’s written, you’d probably end up with something not entirely unlike this.
|Damn that Nutrimatic Drinks Dispenser.|
Pudgy, loud, obnoxious, loquacious, domineering, tasteless, grumpy. Just add chain-smoking, pizza-addiction, slovenliness and a tendency to con rich old ladies.
Adams was sometimes very influenced by Doctor Who. For instance, the cricket-commentator stuff in Life, the Universe and Everything is highly reminiscent of similar scenes in ‘Volcano’ (but funny) and Arthur Dent even finds himself faced with a gigantic stone image of himself on an alien planet in the second series of the Hitch-Hikers radio show, just a few years after pretty much the same thing happened to the Doctor.
I’m not accusing Adams of plagiarism, you understand, just of having been influenced… and no writer can work without influences. Indeed, one view of writing is that it consists of the shuffling around and misinterpretation of what other people have already done in some way or another. Nothing wrong with that. And Adams was one of the most brilliant comic writers who ever lived, so….
But I’ve often wondered if the Sixth Doctor bequeathed a little something of himself to Dirk. Was Adams watching the show in 1985-6? The first Dirk book came out in ’87.
Perhaps its just the elision that I created in my own mind when reading the Dirk Gently novels as a teenager.
In any case, happy posthumous birthday Douglas. Thank you for ‘Pirate Planet’ – a deceptively angry story about imperialism and the cost of prosperity – and for co-writing ‘City of Death’. Sorry about what they did in that fucking film. And sorry about that Artemis Fowl bloke pissing on your grave while lighting cigars with banknotes. And thanks for creating an award for The Most Gratuitous Use of the Word Fuck in a Serious Screenplay. I remember reading that at about the age of 16 and laughing so much I nearly suffocated.