Contributed by
"William E. Emba"
Douglas Adams is best known for his wacky Hitchhiker's Guide
to the Galaxy series. But his two Dirk Gently novels, while
maintaining Adams' characteristic high wackiness, also carry
a good deal of sophistication. In particular, before reading
DGHDA, one should review Coleridge "Kabla Khan" and "The Rime
of the Ancient Mariner", since a major part of the fun and the
plot revolves on Adams' peculiar reading of these two poems.
Mathematics enters the novel in several ways. Small little
math jokes and jibes abound. for example, a 7year old girl
attending a don's dinner is conjectured to be "the new maths
professor".
More seriously, the main character, Richard MacDuff, is a
programmer whose current project is converting numerical data
into sounds. He discusses this in some mathematical detail at
times. Another character, playing with MacDuff's computers,
sums up the first three terms of a Fourier series graphically.
And MacDuff has written an article on the relationship
between music, mathematics, and beauty, and which gets
quoted extensively.
