Paterson Joseph’s love letter to sci-fi legend Douglas Adams
Having recently completed his debut novel, The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho, British actor Paterson Joseph reminisces about one of literature’s most influential voices and the impact the genre master had on his own writing journey
Douglas Adams’s novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has been in my life in one form or another for nearly 40 years. I first heard the radio play when I was 19 and had been given the cassettes of the original cast album by my girlfriend. I hadn’t listened to tons of BBC Radio 4 up to that point as my parents had Radio 1 or 2 blaring in the background most days. (We switched to Radio London for the reggae and calypso on a Sunday, of course.)
Laying my family radio traditions aside – my girlfriend had decent taste – I dutifully put the cassette in my tape player (Yes, kids. That was how we shared stuff in the 1980s) at home as I went to bed that night. And I listened to it every night (no exaggeration) for four years. I can freely quote from huge chunks of it, even half a century later. Memorable stuff. And definitively life changing.
Some of the precious cassettes were stolen – a tale for another time – and I refused to listen to the fragmented remnant again. I also refused (and continue to refuse) to watch any live-action version on the grounds that the images in my head from the audio version are perfect. I have that original cast recording now but, in the intervening years, the novel has been my comfort.