From: Richard Harris <**@two–worlds.com>
Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2001 19:07:14 +0100
Subject: Your ST article on Douglas Adams
Your article in Sunday’s ST on Douglas Adams was as striking an example of sloppy, ill–informed and assumptive journalism as I have come across, painting as it does an entirely erroneous picture through a combination of inaccurate, partial and unattributed information and unfounded speculation.
Your avoidance of verifiable source through the use of terms such as ‘a close friend’ and ‘sources close to’ is indicative of very poor or undiscriminating journalism – any genuine friend of his would be more than happy to go on record with anything they had to say about him.
As a friend and colleague of Douglas and a co–founder of The Digital Village/h2g2, please allow me to correct, with facts and direct information, a few of your more basic errors and misassumptions. I am happy to have these comments attributed to me. Rather than an impassioned rant (however justified), let’s try this point by point – please bear with me:
“FRIENDS of Douglas Adams have revealed how the author of The Hitch–Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was blighted before his premature death by a malign “Midas touch”. The pressure of justifying a £2m advance for his final novel preyed on his mind until he became incapable of writing, even when he had flashes of his old inspiration.”
Blighted? – I can think of few people to whom the term is less applicable – you make a cheerful and gentle man sound like some tortured latter–day Vanderdecken, forever attempting to round the Cape of his writers block. Douglas’s inspiration rarely deserted him – part of his problem was not merely being interested in too many things, but actually being capable of driving people’s perception of what the future could be. In recent years, he’s been at least as much respected for his ability to articulate a shared vision of the future of society, technology and the environment as for his original fiction. It’s in this area and the inspiration he’s provided through his work with scientists, engineers and philosophers that may in fact prove to be his most important legacy – many of the world’s greatest thinkers and innovators will cheerfully acknowledge the inspiration and challenge that a discussion with Douglas could provide.