A Redditor found a fax sent from Douglas Adams' to Byron Preiss in a copy of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Apparently Byron edited a version of the book. I wonder if it was the version I fell in love with when I was a teen.
Fax from Douglas Adams to US editor Byron Preiss
Monday, January 13th, 1992, 5:26pm
Thanks for the script of the novel… I’ll respond as quickly and briefly as possible.
One general point. A thing I have had said to me over and over again
whenever I’ve done public appearances and readings and so on in the
States is this: Please don’t let anyone Americanise it! We like it the
way it is!
There are some changes in the script that simply don’t make sense.
Arthur Dent is English, the setting is England, and has been in every
single manifestation of HHGG ever. The ‘Horse and Groom' pub that Arthur
and Ford go to is an English pub, the ‘pounds’ they pay with are
English (but make it twenty pounds rather than five – inflation). So why
suddenly ‘Newark’ instead of ‘Rickmansworth’? And ‘Bloomingdales’
instead of ‘Marks & Spencer’? The fact that Rickmansworth is not
within the continental United States doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist!
American audiences do not need to feel disturbed by the notion that
places do exist outside the US or that people might suddenly refer to
them in works of fiction. You wouldn’t, presumably, replace Ursa Minor
Beta with ‘Des Moines’. There is no Bloomingdales in England, and
Bloomingdales is not a generic term for large department stores. If you
feel that referring to ‘Marks & Spencer’ might seriously freak out
Americans because they haven’t heard of it… we could either put warning
stickers on the label (‘The text of this book contains references to
places and institutions outside the continental United States and may
cause offence to people who haven’t heard of them’) or you could, I
suppose, put ‘Harrods’, which most people will have heard of. Or we
could even take the appalling risk of just recklessly mentioning things
that people won’t have heard of and see if they survive the experience.
They probably will – when people are born they haven’t heard or anything
or anywhere, but seem to get through the first years of their lives
Another point is something I’m less concerned about, but which I
thought I’d mention and then leave to your judgement. You’ve replaced
the joke about digital watches with a reference to ‘cellular phones’
instead. Obviously, I understand that this is an attempt to update the
joke, but there are two points to raise in defence of the original. One
is that it’s a very, very well known line in Hitch Hiker, and one that
is constantly quoted back at me on both sides of the Atlantic, but the
other is that there is something inherently ridiculous about digital
watches, and not about cellular phones. Now this is obviously a matter
of opinion, but I think it’s worth explaining. Digital watches came
along at a time that, in other areas, we were trying to find ways of
translating purely numeric data into graphic form so that the
information leapt easily to the eye. For instance, we noticed that pie
charts and bar graphs often told us more about the relationships between
things than tables of numbers did. So we worked hard to make our
computers capable of translating numbers into graphic displays. At the
same time, we each had the world’s most perfect pie chart machines
strapped to our wrists, which we could read at a glance, and we suddenly
got terribly excited at the idea of translating them back into
numeric data, simply because we suddenly had the technology to do it…
so digital watches were mere technological toys rather than significant
improvements on anything that went before. I don’t happen to think that
that’s true of cellular comms technology. So that’s why I think that
digital watches (which people still do wear) are inherently ridiculous,
whereas cell phones are steps along the way to more universal
communications. They may seem clumsy and old-fashioned in twenty years
time because they will have been replaced by far more sophisticated
pieces of technology that can do the job better, but they will not, I
think, seem inherently ridiculous.
One other thing. I’d rather have characters say ‘What do you mean?’
rather than ‘Whadd’ya mean?’ which I would never, ever write myself,
even if you held me down on a table and threatened me with hot skewers.
Otherwise it looks pretty good […].
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
A couple years ago I got a tour of John Jude Palencar's studio. Brian Zinn, one of the men who found the Cleveland key, noticed Painting 3 in the background of some video I shot there and wondered if the original had more detail that what was printing in the book. He was right. As you can see from this screen shot, there is much more detail around the borders. I wonder if you might find some new clues there...
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Monday, February 27, 2017
Monday, February 20, 2017
Friday, February 17, 2017
Monday, February 13, 2017
It took a year for the first of Byron's keys to be found. But in 1983, three kids from Chicago - Eric Gasiorowski, Rob Wrobel, and David James - dug a big hole in Grant Park and unearthed a plexiglas cube, inside which was an ornate casque with a ceramic key, inside.
I met with Eric and Rob, in Chicago, in 2014. Along for the adventure was my friend, Charles Moore (who was with me back in 2005, when we knocked on J.D. Salinger's door). After we poked around Grant Park, Eric and Rob took us to Milwaukee in search of another key.
This is a clip from an early cut of our documentary, The Secret of Byron Preiss.
Friday, February 3, 2017
I was eight years old when I found a copy of The Secret: A Treasure Hunt at the Bedford library, outside Cleveland. This would have been in 1986, in the dark days before the Internet, when it was impossible to simply Google the book to see if the keys had been found. I figured they'd all been dug up, already - or would, before I turned 16 and could drive off in search of them, myself. And so I forgot about it for many years.
Flash forward to 2014. I was working as a crime writer, finishing up research for a book called True Crime Addict, about my obsession trying to solve the Maura Murray case. I desperately wanted to leave true crime behind forever and so I began looking for an unsolved mystery that might be fun to explore for once. Maybe even something I could share with my son. And then I remembered the book I found when I was his age.
I learned that the hunt was still on! In fact, only two of the keys had ever been found. The only person who knew the exact location of the buried keys was Byron Preiss, who died in a tragic car accident, in 2005.
Since then, I've traveled across the country in search of these damned keys. I've dug holes beside the Fountain of Youth, poked around the lost colony of Roanoke, explored San Francisco and Milwaukee, and got lost on Staten Island. I've also gotten to know some of the people close to Byron - the artist, John Jude Palencar, for one - as well as Byron's family. Learning about Byron's legacy has made me a better father. And the adventure has opened my eyes to great, beautiful world around us.
I have much to share with you, in 2017. I have completed a documentary, The Secret of Byron Preiss, with Low Spark Films, which we will submit to festivals later this year. And there are plans for a sequel to Byron's book, as well.
Check out the trailer!
For now, I wanted to share the basics with you. On this site you can explore the puzzle paintings and verses. You can also learn about the history of the book and find links to messageboards devoted to theories about where the keys might be found. The book is available in Kindle format as well.
Feel free to share your own theories in the comments sections.
If you have a possible solution you would like to share with the community, please contact me at email@example.com so that we can Skype about it.
In the coming weeks, I will post interviews and clips that will shed more light on the story and reveal new clues that lead to the locations of the buried treasures.
For those who have obsessed over this book for years, we look to you for guidance and help. Please remember, this website is a fresh start for people new to this mystery, so be kind when we throw out some bone-headed new theories.
Good luck, everyone! And have fun out there!