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'Hitchhiker,' a Guide to Douglas Adams

<I>Hitchhiker: A Biography of Douglas Adams</I>
Hitchhiker: A Biography of Douglas Adams

When Douglas Adams died in 2001 at the age of 49, he left behind a rich body of work including the hugely popular The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The science fiction humor series, which began in 1978 on BBC radio, spawned several books and was later televised. Adams was also working to bring the story to the big screen. NPR's Liane Hansen discusses Adams and The Hitchhikers' Guide with his biographer.

Adams was a legendary procrastinator, often writing scripts up until the last minute, even as the radio actors waited for their lines, says M.J. Simpson, author of Hitchhiker: A Biography of Douglas Adams. Adams also had problems following the traditional structure of a story.

"He was very much making it up as he went along," Simpson says. "Beginnings, middles and endings is what all good stories should have. Well, Douglas was great at beginnings. He was pretty good at middles. He couldn't do endings... mainly because by the time he got to the middle, he'd thought of another really good beginning and he wanted to go write that instead of doing the ending..."

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Liane Hansen
Liane Hansen has been the host of NPR's award-winning Weekend Edition Sunday for 20 years. She brings to her position an extensive background in broadcast journalism, including work as a radio producer, reporter, and on-air host at both the local and national level. The program has covered such breaking news stories as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the capture of Saddam Hussein, the deaths of Princess Diana and John F. Kennedy, Jr., and the Columbia shuttle tragedy. In 2004, Liane was granted an exclusive interview with former weapons inspector David Kay prior to his report on the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The show also won the James Beard award for best radio program on food for a report on SPAM.