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So long ... and thanks for all the fish

Originally published in the Ketchikan Daily News, January 2023; written by Pat Tully


For those of you unfamiliar with the works of Douglas Adams, this column’s title is a book in his series The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, featuring the hilarious interstellar adventures of Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, and the villainous Vogons. In the first and eponymous book in the series, Arthur Dent wakes up to a bulldozer preparing to tear down his house. As Arthur argues with the officials who authorized the work, they are interrupted by a fleet of Vogon spaceships that plan to destroy the Earth to make way for a hyperspace bypass. Arthur escapes with Ford Prefect, his merry band of galactic hitchhikers, and a whiny robot named Marvin. Their ship is powered by an Improbability Drive--the farther and faster the ship travels, the more improbable things happen to keep the Universe balanced.


The series made popular, at least with fans, the advice ‘Don’t Panic’, the answer ‘42’ (but what is the question?), and the Vogon’s favorite phrase, “Resistance is useless!” A 2005 film based on the series fails to capture its spirit—although Alan Rickman is perfect as the voice of Marvin. What makes the books great is Douglas Adams’ slyly understated humor. If you are looking for a funny, off-the-wall experience this winter, try reading—or re-reading—The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and the rest of the books in the series.


Now for something completely different. The Daily News has published weekly Ad Libs for almost 20 years, written by library staff at the Ketchikan Public Library and the UAS-Ketchikan Campus Library. We are very grateful to the Daily News for giving us space in their weekend edition to publicize Library programs, services and collections. They have been very patient with our sometime breezy attitude towards deadlines (one of my favorite Douglas Adams quotes is, “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”), and encouraging when we struggled to find a topic.


Finding a topic has become more and more of a struggle in recent years, and because of this we have reluctantly decided to stop writing the Ad Lib column, at least for a while. Many thanks to the Ketchikan Daily News, and all of you who have read this column over the years and were kind enough to compliment us on it. In the words of Douglas Adams: “So long, and thanks for all the fish.”

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