Douglas Adams 42 book

42 — a new book drawn from Douglas Adams own papers (Updated)

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A new book 42 — The Wildly Improbable Ideas of Douglas Adams will offer a unique insight into his life and work

You can help fund a book drawn from the papers of Douglas Adams, lodged with his alma mater St Johns College, Cambridge, and celebrating his genius.

After his death in 2001, Douglas Adams’s papers were loaned to his old Cambridge college, St John’s – over 60 boxes full of notebooks, research, letters, scripts, jokes, speeches, to-do lists, hard drives and even poems. The following is drawn from the book’s funding page (see below).

The book will reproduce extracts from the archive with explanatory text and footnotes to add context. Developed in close association with Adams’s family and literary estate, 42 will be a full-colour, large-format hardback that follows his career from early collaborations with Graham Chapman to his work on Doctor Who, through the Hitchhiker years, Dirk Gently, his groundbreaking non-fiction book Last Chance to See and his later digital work. Alongside this are details of projects that never came to fruition like a proposed theme park ride and a TV series provisionally entitled The Secret Empire.

Adams was as much a thinker as he was a writer and one of the reasons for creating this book is to properly explore this aspect of his life. The combination of his deep fascination with technology and his unique imagination meant that he had an uncanny knack for predicting the future direction of the digital world. As far back as 1995, he suggested that computers needed to stop being giant hulks of metal and disappear into the things around us to make them smarter. In 1990 he presented the program Hyperland, in which (aided by Tom Baker) he prophesied are world where information would be accessible by context and through hyperlinks. It’s an impressive watch, even more than 30 years later.

The book will be published in 2022, the year that Adams would have turned 70. A number of his friends and fans are contributing letters to Douglas written for this occasion that will appear in the book. They include Sanjeev Bhaskar, Margo Buchanan, Mark Carwardine, Prof Brian Cox and Robin Ince (The Infinite Monkey Cage), Arvind Ethan David, Sue Freestone, Stephen Fry, Neil Gaiman, Simon Jones, John Lloyd, Michael Nesmith, Dirk Maggs, Caitlin Moran and Robbie Stamp.

How you can help 42 get published

The book is being crowdfunded via Unbound. There are a range of rewards available ranging from £15 to get a copy of the book in ebook format, through to £500 giving you a signed book, post cards, art work and more. Full details on the 42 funding page (and a handy video explaining the project.)

The book will be edited by Kevin Jon Davies, who first met Adams in 1978, knew him for 20 years, and has subsequently worked on a number of Hitchhiker-related projects.

It will be 320 pages long and A4 format.


In the few hours since we posted this piece, the book has been completely funded. We’re proud to be even a small part of that, and look forward to seeing the book when it’s released next year. There’s still time to get involved if you’d like to see your name included in the list of supporters.