The Last Time I Saw Douglas Adams

By Edwina Harvey

sfgenreThe Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy appeared as a radio play (broadcast in Australia by the ABC) around the time I was becoming a fledgling adult. Uniting two of my passions: science fiction and humour, I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. When I discovered the novelisation I devoured it then passed it around to friends with the zeal of a religious convert, desperate for people to speak the language of towels, hoopy froods and Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters. 

The word “stalker” hadn’t entered the general vernacular, but I was a fan, and courtesy of co-operative work colleagues and flexi-time, I was able to get to a number of Australian book signings by Douglas Adams. In 1985 I even managed to get to one of his book signings at Forbidden Planet in London prior to attending a Hitch Hikers Guide convention in Birmingham run by the international fanclub, ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha.

 Did I engage in stunning repartee with Adams at any of these meetings? Did he remember me from one signing to the next? Sadly, no. Usually I just mumbled “Thank you,” though to my chagrin I did manage to say “You’re very tall,” once; a fact I’m sure he was well aware of. The closest I actually got to conversing with Douglas Adams was via several letters (that thing we did before emails were invented,) when I was active with and acting on behalf of the Hitchers Club of Australia. Passionate about protecting wildlife, his animal conservation book, “Last Chance to See”, was in its early planning stages and Adams was seriously considering trying to find a live Tasmanian Tiger. That plan was later dropped as the focus of the book shifted to endangered species not yet considered extinct. 

In November 1990, as Douglas Adams toured Australia promoting the release of his book, “Last Chance to See”, co-authored with Mark Carwardine, I scored a hattrick, getting my copy of this new book signed by Douglas Adams at Galaxy Bookshop in Sydney, before attending a literary dinner at the Ballroom of the Queen Victoria Building, where as guest speaker, Adams seemed much more comfortable speaking to a receptive audience, entertaining them with funny stories (he’d been a member of the Cambridge Footlights after all) than signing books to strangers, which seemed to have become a bit of a chore to him as his fame increased. About a week later I attended a literary luncheon in Melbourne where he again had the audience in stitches while promoting “Last Chance to See”. Ironically, it would be the last time I saw my favourite author alive. 

In a radio interview with Richard Fidler in 2014, Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveller’s Wife, mentioned she’d been a volunteer guide for Highgate Cemetery, where many came to visit the gravestones of celebrities, including Douglas Adams. I squirreled this interesting piece of trivia away with no expectation of revisiting England.

The World Science Fiction Convention being held in Dublin in August 2019 presented me with an opportunity. England was ‘just next door’, what if I extended my holiday a bit? 

It was a sunny Sunday morning when I made my way to Highgate Cemetery, paid my £4 admission, (the cemetery was under threat of being sold and redeveloped into high-rise apartment blocks in the 1970s before being purchased by the Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust) and asked for directions to Douglas Adams’s grave site. I was told I wasn’t the first to seek him out that day. So I wasn’t a lone pilgrim? I wondered if my counterpart had travelled as far as I had to pay their respects. 

Adams’s gravestone is not far from the cemetery entrance; a little way off the main walk and up an incline, the barely discernible pathway snagged with tree roots. A sign with ‘42’, no doubt left as a mark of respect by another fan, shone like a beacon and led me to the unassuming gravestone. I found no trace of the towel I’d read someone had left there. I assume it’s rotted away over the years. But the large ceramic pot I’d heard about, crowded with biros, was there. I’d brought a pen of my own especially, and found a place for it amongst the others. Then I retreated to a nearby bench to reflect on my youth, and the excitement the Hitch hikers Guide had given me. I’d spent a weekend travelling between Sydney and Brisbane by coach (a bum-numbing 16 hrs each way) to see the La Boite Theatre’s production of the Guide stage play (the first Australian production I think); I snuck into ABC TV studios one New Year’s Eve because a friend of a friend had access to the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy TV series months before it was shown in Australia; I’d met other Guide fans from all around the world, many still my friends today. I was an active part of an amazing phenomena that ended up with more arms than a spiral galaxy as Adams’s Hitch hikers Guide evolved into various formats including records, theatre, books, computer-game and eventually a film. I didn’t even know I’d stuck my thumb out, but I’d been taken on a marvellous ride!

Time stopped for Adams when he was 49 years old, while the years kept passing by for me with the same whooshing sound he claimed deadlines made as they passed him by. I was older than him now. How ever did that happen? But here I was, having travelled half way around the world, to pay my respects to someone who unknowingly had been such an influence on my life, and the lives of countless others. 

His gravestone was so unassuming, simply announcing to eternity: Douglas Adams -  Writer – 1952 – 2001. It didn’t even begin to do him justice. Yes, he’d been a writer, but he’d been so much more than that.

rocket crux 2 75

About the Author

Edwina Harvey

ed-harveyPretty much a life-long fan of speculative fiction, Edwina Harvey is a writer, editor, silk painter and ceramic artist.

Her short stories and articles have appeared in a variety of publications including Aurealis, Antipodean SF, Grass Roots, Harbinger, Magpies, Strange Pleasures #3 and Worlds Next Door.

She has had three books, The Whale’s Tale, The Back of the Back of Beyond, and An Eclectic Collection of Stuff and Things and a novelette, Never Forget, published through Peggy Bright Books. <www.peggybrightbooks.com>.

 Edwina received her editing qualifications in 2012 and now works as a freelance editor, specialising in speculative fiction.

aus25grn

AntiSF & The ASFF

AntipodeanSF supports the ASFF

ASFF logo 200

Please visit the ASFF website and consider joining for up-to-date info about Australian SF cons, awards, competitions, and to receive the Foundation's newsletter, Instrumentality, and more.

<https://asff.org.au>

The AntipodeanSF Radio Show

AntiSF's Production Crew

nuke conflux 2017 200Ion Newcombe is the editor and publisher of AntipodeanSF, Australia’s longest running online speculative fiction magazine, regularly issued since January 1998, and conceived back around November 2007. He has been a zealous reader and occasional writer of SF since his childhood in the 1960s, and even sold a few stories here and there back in the '90s.

“Nuke”, who it turns out loves editing more than writing, lives in the New South Wales North Coast holiday destination of Nambucca Heads, where he is self-employed in IT training, computer support, desktop publishing, editing, writing, and website implementation. He is also the resident tech-head, skeptic, and board member of community radio station 2NVR, where he produces a number of shows including The AntipodeanSF Radio Show.

aus25grn

mark web 200Mark Webb's midlife crisis came in the form of attempting to write speculative fiction at a very slow pace. His wife maintains this is a good outcome considering the more expensive and cliched alternatives. Evidence of Mark's attempts to procrastinate in his writing, including general musings and reviews of books he has been reading, can be found at www.markwebb.name.

One of Mark’s very best forms of writing procrastination is to produce the eBook series for AntipodeanSF, which he has been doing since issue 175.

aus25grn

In The Next Issue...

Coming In Issue 272

Buchstabensuppe
By Tony Owens

Content
By Ashley Cracknell

Drowning
By Chris Karageorge

Fodd Prints
By AE Reiff

For More Options Press 9
By Myna Chang

Hotel de Mort
By Emma Louise Gill

The Hot Equations
By Simon Petrie

The Smeg
By Harris Tobias

The Walls Have Tongues
By S. A. Mckenzie

Tribunal on the Misuse of Swords and Knives
By Len Baglow

AntipodeanSF April 2021

ISSUE 271

Speculative Fiction
Downside-Up
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

rocket crux 2 75

Download AntiSF E-Book

Epub version:

Kindle version:

AntiSF's Narration Team

timonthy gwyn 100Timothy Gwyn is a professional pilot in Canada, where he flies to remote communities. During a lull in his flying career, he was a radio announcer for three years, and he is also an author.

In addition to short stories at AntipodeanSF and NewMyths.com, his SF novel is available internationally in print and ebook formats. "Avians" draws on his love of alternative aviation to tell the tale of a girl who runs away from home to join a cadre of glider pilots on a world without metal or fossil fuels.

On Twitter, he is @timothygwyn, and his blogs are at <timothygwyn.com>.

old style mic flat 25

carolyn eccles 100

Carolyn's work spans devising, performance, theatre-in-education and a collaborative visual art practice.

She tours children's works to schools nationally with School Performance Tours, is a member of the Bathurst physical theatre ensemble Lingua Franca and one half of darkroom — a visual arts practice with videographer Sean O'Keeffe.

(Photo by Jeremy Belinfante) 

old style mic flat 25

ed erringtonAlthough a writer of the baby boom persuasion, Ed has not boomed for quite a while.

He lives with his wife plus a menagerie of non-domesticated — native Australian animals intropical North Queensland.

His writing within the ‘real’ science fiction context of COVID-19 is intermingled by long night sky vigils — searching for pesky aliens intent on maintaining their social distance to the nth degree.

angle mic

pixie willo 100Pixie is a voice actor, cabaret performer & slam poet From the Blue Mountains in NSW.

She enjoys writing short fiction, plays for radio and stage as well as her own brand of weird poetry.

She hosts the 'Off-Beet Poetry Slam' held bi-monthly in Katoomba.

old style mic flat 25

mark english 100Mark is an astrophysicist and space scientist who worked on the Cassini/Huygens mission to Saturn. Following this he worked in computer consultancy, engineering, and high energy research (with a stint at the JET Fusion Torus).

All this science hasn't damped his love of fantasy and science fiction. It has, however, ruined his enjoyment of rainbows, colourful flames on romantic log fires, and rings around the moon. He has previously been published in Stupefying Stories Showcase, Everyday Fiction, Escape Pod, Perihelion and also on AntipodeanSF where he is part of the narration team.

old style mic flat 25

geraldine borella 200Geraldine Borella writes adult short stories and stories for children and has been published in anthologies for both. In 2018, one of her children’s short stories placed second in The Buzz Words Short Story Prize and she won an ASA Emerging Writer’s Mentorship. She currently works part-time as a hospital pharmacist and as an online creative writing tutor.

She’s fascinated by stories that expand upon today’s technology, addressing the moral and ethical issues that might arise. Equally, she enjoys the creative freedom that writing for children allows. Right now, she’s writing a young adult novel, reworking a middle grade novel and writing adult short stories when inspiration strikes. She lives with her husband, Tim, in Yungaburra, Far North Queensland and dreams of one day taking a European gap year.

angle mic

tim borellaTim Borella has never lost his childhood passion for SF and writing in general and has been lucky enough to have worked most of his life as a pilot — in other words, he’s never properly grown up.

He lives in country Far North Queensland, has won awards for songwriting, and has had various other writing achievements, the most recent being an honourable mention in the 2018 international Literary Taxidermy Short Story Competition.

He also has bachelor degrees in science and teaching, and has completed a couple of as-yet unpublished SF novels. He’d dearly love to spend more time writing, but will have to continue juggling for another couple of years until the kids have fully left the nest.

angle mic

alistair lloyd 200Alistair Lloyd is a Melbourne based writer and narrator who has been consuming good quality science fiction and fantasy most of his life.

You may find him on Twitter as <@mr_al> and online at <alistairlloyd.com>.

aus25grn

sarah pratt 200Sarah Pratt is an avid fiction writer and a Marketing Consultant.

She is currently working on her first novel but loves diving into short stories to bring a little lightness, intrigue or humour to the day.

Her work has appeared in Sponge Magazine and The Commuting Book.

old style mic flat 25

marg essex 200Margaret lives the good life on a small piece of rural New South Wales Australia, with an amazing man, a couple of pets, and several rambunctious wombats.

She feels so lucky to be a part of the AntiSF team.

old style mic flat 25

The AntipodeanSF Radio Show

AntiSF Radio Show

antipod-show-50The AntipodeanSF Radio Show delivers audio from the pages of this magazine.

The weekly program features the stories from recently published issues, usually narrated by the authors themselves.

Listen to the latest episode now:

The AntipodeanSF Radio Show is also broadcast on community radio, 2NVR, 105.9FM every Saturday evening at 8:30pm.

You can find every broadcast episode online here: http://antisf.libsyn.com 

SF Quote

Reality is the part that refuses to go away when I stop believing in it.

Philip K. Dick

The Contributors

Chad has a B.S. in Biochemistry from California State University Dominguez Hills and an Associates degree in Culinary Arts from Le Cordon Bleu, Pasadena.

His fiction has been published in Larks Fiction Magazine, 365 Tomorrows, Farther Stars Than These and Verdad among others.

He has made a few short films the most recent of which was an official selection of Dances with Films.

Link to Chad's Vimeo: <https://vimeo.com/cbcinema>.

nick petrou 200Nick works as a freelance writer out of Perth, Western Australia, where he likes to read unsettling fiction and complain about the sun.

His short fiction is forthcoming in two anthologies by Black Hare Press.

You can find out everything there is to know about him (and more) at <nspetrou.com>.

aus25grn

callan j mulligan 200Callan J. Mulligan was born in Melbourne, Australia, in 1988.

Writing poems and fiction from a young age, his imagination took him through several creative careers including Marketing, Music, and Film & Television.

At the age of 29 he wrote his first published work of fiction, a novella titled ‘A Mind of His Own’. The debut work received critical acclaim and scored amazon's Top 100 for thriller and suspense.

Callan predominantly writes science fiction, and his work often contains existential and philosophical themes. He has a deep, personal, love of science, especially astronomy and cosmology.

Callan lives with his wife on the Queensland Gold Coast and spends his time playing more video games than should be considered healthy, and not reading nearly as much as an author should.

aus25grn

louis evans 200Louis Evans is a sci-fi writer living in Brooklyn with his partner and two cats named after fictional European detectives, Hercule Poirot and Lord Peter Wimsey.

His fiction has appeared in Analog SF&F, Interzone, GigaNotoSaurus and more.

He would never get involved in a pyramid scheme, which is why you can have complete confidence that THIS business opportunity is the! real! deal! Let's do lunch . . .

His website is evanslouis.com and he tweets @louisevanswrite

Kaoru Sakasaki 200Kaoru Sakasaki lives with his family in Yokohama, south of Tokyo.

He writes late at night after putting his children to bed.

In 2020, he won the Judges’ Special Prize in the first Kaguya SF Contest organized by Virtual Gorilla Plus.

neil a hogan 2020Neil A. Hogan has been writing space fiction on and off since the '80s.

His next novel, The Robots of Atlantis, is due out in May 2021.

Find out more at <https://www.StellarFlash.com>.

aus25grn

João VenturaJoão Ventura writes short fiction, which has appeared in several websites (AntipodeanSF and Bewildering Stories among them), and also in printed form: Somnium, in Brazil; Dragão Quântico, Hyperdrivezine, Phantastes (Portuguese fanzines); Universe Pathways (in both the English and the Greek versions).

He had short stories in several Portuguese and Brazilian antologies: A Sombra sobre Lisboa (2006), VaporPunk (2010), Antologia de Ficção Científica Fantasporto (2012), Lisboa no ano 2000 (2013), Lisboa Oculta - Guia Turístico (2018), O resto é paisagem (2018), Almanaque SteamPunk (2019), Winepunk (2019), Regiana Magna (2020).

In 2018, a collection of his short stories (in Portuguese) came to light, with the title Tudo Isto Existe.

He likes reading, writing (surprise!), has a blog and is a university professor (now retired).

He is married, with two children and he lives in Lisbon.

Those who read Portuguese can have a glance at some of his stuff in Das palavras o espaço.

Samuel Gachon is a student in creative writing at QUT, with a minor in media and entertainment.

He lives in Brisbane, and has published a few stories on Wattpad and Deviantart.

Links:WordPress: <https://wordpress.com/pages/samuelgachon.wordpress.com>.

Wattpad: <https://www.wattpad.com/user/SamuelGachon>.

aus25grn

james patrik 200An emerging writer, James Patrik enjoys exploring the existential themes.

A lifelong science fiction fan, he has a particular fondness for Japanese culture—especially Tokusatsu.

James is also passionate about psychology and is currently studying a Bachelor of Psychological Science.

You can read more of his work at: <www.jamespatrik.com>.

aus25grn

Toshiya Kamei holds an MFA in Literary Translation from the University of Arkansas.

His translations have appeared in venues such as Clarkesworld, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and World Literature Today.

steven fritz 200Steven Fritz graduated from the University of Maryland, became a Naval Aviator and flew helicopters and maritime patrol aircraft in the US Navy.

After leaving active duty, he earned a Ph.D. in Radiation Biophysics at the University of Kansas and spent several years as a medical school faculty member and senior administrator.

After university he managed a seed stage venture fund and did a stint as an avionics entrepreneur. He’s been infatuated with science fiction since his youth and has been writing SF full time for three years. You can follow Steven on his website at <InigoPress.com> or on Twitter at @StevenLFritz1.

brian-biswasBrian has published over sixty short stories in the United States as well as internationally.

His short story "A Betrayal" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and anthologized in The Irreal Reader.

A collection, A Betrayal and Other Stories, was published by Rogue Star Press in 2018, and his novel, The Astronomer, will be published by Whiskey Tit Press later this year.

Brian is listed in the International Writers and Authors Who's Who, Marquis Who's Who, and the Internet Speculative Fiction Database.

You can read more of Brian's work at his website: <www.brianbiswas.com>.

Or follow him on Twitter: @brianbiswas

"Mercury" is an extract from Brian's upcoming novel The Astronomer.

lauriebell 2 200Laurie Bell lives in Melbourne, Australia. She was that girl you found with her nose always buried in a book. She has been writing ever since she was a little girl and first picked up a pen. From books to short stories, radio plays to snippets of ideas and reading them aloud to anyone who will listen.

She is the author of The Butterfly Stone and The Tiger's Eye (YA/Fantasy) White Fire (Sci-Fi) and The Good, the Bad and the Undecided (a unique collection of short stories set during the events of White Fire/Sci-Fi). 

You can read more of her work on her blog <www.solothefirst.wordpress.com> Look for her on Facebook <www.facebook.com/WriterLaurieBell/> or Twitter: <@LaurienotLori>

Rambles, writing and amusing musings

Smile! laugh out loud! enjoy the following

<www.solothefirst.wordpress.com>

aus25grn

ed-harveyPretty much a life-long fan of speculative fiction, Edwina Harvey is a writer, editor, silk painter and ceramic artist.

Her short stories and articles have appeared in a variety of publications including Aurealis, Antipodean SF, Grass Roots, Harbinger, Magpies, Strange Pleasures #3 and Worlds Next Door.

She has had three books, The Whale’s Tale, The Back of the Back of Beyond, and An Eclectic Collection of Stuff and Things and a novelette, Never Forget, published through Peggy Bright Books. <www.peggybrightbooks.com>.

 Edwina received her editing qualifications in 2012 and now works as a freelance editor, specialising in speculative fiction.

aus25grn

Harris Tobias lives and writes in Charlottesville, Virginia. He is the author of two novels: The Greer Agency & A Felony of Birds. He has written dozens of short stories many of which are available on line at <quantummuse.com>. He is the author of many children’s books including At The Robot ZooMoonRivet Saves His Skin and An Alphabet Book of Bugs available in print from

CreateSpace and as ebooks for Nook & Kindle. You can find links to his writings here: <harristobias-fiction.blogspot.com>

kevinjphyland 200Old enough to just remember the first manned Moon landing, Kevin was so impressed he made science his life.

Retired now from teaching he amuses himself by reading, writing, following his love of weather and correcting people on the internet.

He’s been writing since his teens and hopes he will one day get it right.

He can be found on twitter @KevinPhyland where he goes by the handle of CaptainZero and his work is around the place if you search using google or use the antisf.com.au archive.

aus25grn