Happy 61st birthday to Douglas Adams. He is best known as the writer of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, A Trilogy in Five Parts, one of my favorite sci-fi series. If you haven’t read it yet, I’m not speaking to you until you have. So there.
Adams died young, at the age of 49 of a heart attack. He is well known enough that today’s Google doodle is in his honour. He is, to sci-fi, what Terry Pratchett is to fantasy: a comic genius. Sci-fi and fantasy tend to have a dedicated reading community, and most people who aren’t sf/f readers don’t tend to read its authors. Douglas Adams was one of the few, among them Neil Gaiman, Aasimov, and Bradbury, who managed to gather readers among the mainstream book audience.
If you love Douglas Adams, and are looking for writers in a similar vein, I have a few suggestions. My criteria are as follows: excellent wordsmiths and a love of language, beautifully done satire that you don’t have to be a member of the sf/f in-crowd to understand, and great stories that make you want to share the books with others. My candidates are as follows:
Terry Pratchett, particularly his Discworld series. Start with Guards, Guards! Then Men at Arms. Don’t limit yourself only to his adult titles, because his writing for children and young adults is equally adept, and well worth a read. Nation is one of my favorite books, still, and probably always will be.
Neil Gaiman. Stardust was… perfect. Anansi Boys, I loved. And the paragon of funny books, written by Gaiman and Pratchett together is Good Omens.
Jasper Fforde for a fine sense of the ridiculous, and nods to lovers of literature like Austen and Bronte – read his Thursday Next series.
Christopher Moore. I think my favorite was You Suck: A Love Story.
Go forth, and snicker.