This tickles me. It’s a gallery that presents some popular video games and re-imagines them as book covers in the style of Penguin classics. They have the wonderfully abstract yet impactful feeling of the 60’s. Here’s a taste, see if you can guess the classic third-person shooter it represents:
Douglas Adams was not a particularly prolific writer, and by all accounts had to be bribed, cajoled and downright threatened to produce anything. “I love deadlines.”, he once wrote. “I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” Thankfully, while lying drunk in a field in Innsbruck, Austria in 1971, gazing up at the canopy of stars above him, Adams came up with the idea for and subsequently wrote The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Starting as a BBC radio series, through subsequent books, records, and other media, Hitchhikers was a hugely influential work of SF comedy. It follows the exploits of hapless earthling Arthur Dent and his pal Ford Prefect, who Arthur is surprised to learn is not in fact from Guildford as he previously claimed, but actually from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse.
Adams made several contributions to video game history, starting with the computer text adventure adaptation of Hitchhikers, produced in 1984 by the dominant company in that genre at the time, Infocom. His collaborator on that project was Steve Meretzky, who himself had been hugely influenced by Adams when creating Planetfall (1983) for the company. The game would flout several conventions of the text-adventure, including a sequence where the game would outright lie to you about what you were seeing. Adams also did the text-adventure Bureaucracy in 1987 for Infocom, and later the Myst-like graphic adventure Starship Titanic, published by Simon & Schuster Interactive. Titanic featured voice talent from John Cleese and Terry Jones, two members of the famous British comedy troupe Monty Python’s Flying Circus, for whom Adams had contributed early in his career.
Fallout from Hitchhikers also helped shape Sierra’s long-running Space Quest series, done by The Two Guys From Andromeda, Mark Crowe and Scott Murphy. In fact, it’s hard to think of any comedic foray into science fiction without seeing a touch of Douglas Adams in the proceedings.
As much as I might be a microscopic dot on a microscopic dot in terms of literary contributions to the Universe, Adams had a profound impact on me as a writer, as well as a human being. He continues to leave a 6′ 5″ hole in the world, one that will never be filled.