The Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture is held every year to raise funds for Adams’ favorite causes, Save the Rhino and the Environmental Investigation Agency. Hopefully I don’t have to tell you who Adams was and what he wrote. But you may not know about one of his lesser works, and in my opinion, one of the best popular science books ever written, Last Chance to See. If you haven’t yet read it, you’ll learn much about endangered species and find your heart being broken even as you laugh out loud.
For this year’s lecture, Adams’ friend and fellow author Neil Gaiman was asked to speak. As usual, Gaiman is charming, entertaining, funny and insightful. The whole things is worth watching, and Gaiman comes in around the 17 minute mark of the video below. In it, he discusses Adams’ prescient thoughts about why books endure:
“Douglas said…Books are sharks,” Gaiman told a packed audience at the Royal Geographical Society in London.
“I must have looked baffled because he he looked very pleased with himself. And he carried on with his metaphor. Books are sharks … because sharks have been around for a very long time. There were sharks before there were dinosaurs, and the reason sharks are still in the ocean is that nothing is better at being a shark than a shark.”
Adams told Gaiman: “‘Look at a book. A book is the right size to be a book. They’re solar-powered. If you drop them, they keep on being a book. You can find your place in microseconds. Books are really good at being books and no matter what happens books will survive.’ And he was right,” said Gaiman.