Almost 28 years ago, a young (27) and still overdrawn Douglas Adams was poised on the brink of fame. The first radio series of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy had been released ("Escaped," was more the word, according to Douglas) and largely ignored in a late night slot on BBC Radio 4. It had then been repeated at a less perverse time, gathering listeners and momentum as the six episodes unfolded. But the books, the second radio series, the TV show and the long, long-delayed movie version were still to come.
Douglas Adams had done a handful of short interview pieces, most of which had just pinched his jokes and ignored his opinions. But when freelance reporter Ian Shircore got the chance to spend several hours with him under cover of an unlikely feature for Penthouse magazine, Adams found himself with half a day to ruminate, pontificate and smoke too many cigarettes in the cluttered office where he was earning a crust as script editor for the Tom Baker-era Dr Who. Apart from the few column inches Penthouse was able to accommodate, these tapes, from 1979, have lain unpublished ever since. They are being released now, in three parts, to mark the first issue of Darker Matter, the online magazine that brings you the best new SF short stories from around the world.
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