It’s a sort of electronic book. It tells you everything you need to know about anything. That’s its job.
Posted by: John Martz
Book: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
…he also had a device which looked rather like a largish electronic calculator. This had about a hundred tiny flat press buttons and a screen about four inches square on which any of a million ‘pages’ could be summoned at a moment’s notice. It looked insanely complicated, and this was one of the reasons why the snug plastic cover it fitted into had the words Don’t Panic printed on it in large friendly letters. The other reason was that this device was in fact the most remarkable of all books ever to come out of the great publishing corporations of Ursa Minor – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The reason why it was published in the form of a micro sub meson electronic component is that if it were printed in normal book form, an interstellar hitchhiker would require several inconveniently large buildings to carry it around in.
With this illustration, I travel backwards in the book again to Arthur’s introduction of the book within the book, the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s difficult to imagine this once-fantastical device without thinking of iPads, iPhones, Kindles, and Wikipedia. And it’s unfortunate that Douglas Adams, a Mac-user and tech nerd, never got to see his vision realized of a handheld device with instant access to endless sources of information.
In the book, the device is described has having “about a hundred” tiny buttons, though were it written today, the Guide would surely have a touchscreen. Still, I couldn’t resist making it look like a calculator (and very much like a Kindle) if only to decorate the buttons with an alien alphabet.
This will be my last illustration for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. In creating the series I realized that I didn’t want to illustrate the characters. It’s a book about ideas — science, reason, philosophy, religion — and the characters exist only as vessels for these ideas. I feel I’ve exhausted this stylistic exploration of the book, and so next month I will begin a new series for a different book. Stay tuned.
And if you’re an iPad user, I’ve created iPad-friendly wallpaper of this illustration that works in both landscape and horizontal orientation.
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