As quickie starter item, I will just jump right in with this: Came across a whole box of books that I had worked on or made covers for, wrote forewords or appeared in.
There is that lovely little cameo in Stephen Fry’s ‘Making History’ (as a ‘defector’, ha, made me smirk). Later it was much fun to meet up with him in Mainz for his BBC documentary on Gutenberg, did a bit of biographical research on “Henne Gensfleisch” for them - and great fun later to end up in the safe with the original 42 line Bible and white handkerchiefs.
Did that bio-sleuthing again later much more intensely for his Wagner movie, but that’s another story for another day - much like Stephen’s nearly compulsive habit of singing the Ride of the Valkyries at the top of his lungs every time he crosses the Rhein river ;)
The ones that really had me giggling: a set of softcovers I made for and with Douglas Adams back in the late 90s. He had always been beta and sometimes alpha user of our software, always used to bring him the latest versions “the bits are still warm” from compiling…
And this was a case of him using Bryce by himself to come up with ‘42 spheres floating over an alien landscape’ (took a bit of nudging to get the mountain built out of a ’42’ as well if you look closely).
We spent days in his hilariously vertical house in Islington and in the Provençe among the vinyards to get to his final goal: forty- two ways in which the number 42 is coded into that set of spheres!
There is no way I could remember more than a handful, but it got extremely intense, with binary, trinary, color-coding and such. Wonderfully esoteric angles…
Really I doubt he himself could have still remembered later - but he did claim loudly over his daily bottle of Penfolds Bin 77 that he had solved it! Alas, that is one mystery he took to his grave.
He died almost next door to us in Santa Barbara - when I arrived the Mac was still running, as if he had just gone to the bathroom. It was a sweet little memorial there - contrasting the huge one in London later - which to his total amazement and much against his wishes was held in the church at Trafalgar Square. David Gilmour softly playing guitar for him there might have made up for the setting - playing on stage with Pink Floyd was one of his happiest days, never saw him so beaming again. (Among 50 guitars at his house, all of them were left-handed, except for one - just in case Dave might visit! Of course bringing my friend Phil over there one day, he would have to break the strings on exactly that one…)
Many memories over the years, but I stayed out of the later zoo of tributes and web fests. Really, it was a more quiet and very sad time. He had been my first visitor in the Burg over here and we opened a rare Grange Hermitage for that! (Lest I sound like a total lush: one glass is about my limit - but Douglas had been “working on an immunity to Shiraz”. Phew!)
Douglas also chose that “100 points by Parker wine” as he happily explained even to neighboring tables at Post Ranch Inn, driving up the Big Sur Coast, with Terry Gilliam on the way to TED, where they were my guests on-stage, musing about the future, as we alway loved to do. The six hour drive itself was by far the best bit though- many detours in Pismo Beach dunes, tiny See Canyon, Morrow Bay and such. In the hilarious Antique Mall in Cambria I bought him a Braille Playboy - all white with just dots.
Douglas was one hell of a special human. There are anecdotes hardly anyone would believe, in Venice at a costume ball dressed as Mickey Mouse (!) or in Alaska on a small boat with James Cameron shouting “iceberg, iceberg!” and later Douglas literally accosting Bill Gates after dinner! Some day I should probably write that all down. It so defines who he was, much more so than funny named aliens in the books he almost regretted writing.
Anyway. The covers were cuter than they look there, quite small - and the spheres with thick embossing. (I had no influence on the type, font, layout, just the images as such, driven by his wishes… and he ranted on about the fonts himself ha)
Maybe someone will still find them, ‘Ballantine’, and solve the riddle of the 42 spheres! ;)