Wednesday, September 06, 2006

AUSTRALIA - The Confusing Country

The Uncertain Principles blog has bumped Douglas Adams' Last Chance To See up its booklog queue in a tribute (of sorts) to the recent tragic death of Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin.
I'm not really sure why this book didn't sell a bazillion copies. Adams was, of course, a wildly successful author of humorous science fiction, and people love wildlife. And he does a terrific job of making comedy out of the various trials and tribulations suffered while trying to get to the remote locations where these rare animals survive, while also conveying something of the wonder involved in seeing creqatures that are among the last of their kind. You would think it would've been a hit, but it pretty much sank without a trace. Go figure.
Down in the comments of the Uncertain Principles piece, you'll find a link to a short Douglas Adams piece about Australia which I think is worth promoting. You can find the full text of "The Confusing Country" here. Here's an extract...
The first of the confusing things about Australia is the status of the place. Where other land masses and sovereign lands are classified as either continent, island, or country, Australia is considered all three. Typically, it is unique in this.

The second confusing thing about Australia are the animals. They can be divided into three categories: Poisonous, Odd, and Sheep.

It is true that of the 10 most poisonous arachnids on the planet, Australia has 9 of them. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that of the 9 most poisonous arachnids, Australia has all of them. However,there are curiously few snakes, possibly because the spiders have killed them all. But even the spiders won't go near the sea. Any visitors should be careful to check inside boots (before putting them on) under toilet seats (before sitting down) and generally everywhere else. A stick is very useful for this task.
And again from the comments, you'll find a link to the downloadable Last Chance To See CD-Rom at Home of the Underdogs - Last Chance to See. If you do happen to download this long-out-of-print software, please consider making a contribution to our Save The Rhino fundraiser. I think Douglas would approve...


D.B. Echo said...

Something about "The Confusing Country" didn't ring true - it read like a pastiche, like someone trying to sound like Douglas Adams (specifically, someone trying to sound like "How To Escape From Earth", from the back cover of The Resataurant at the End of the Universe album.) And it turns out that's exactly what this is: a piece written for the H2G2 website by a fan.

Douglas's piece on swimming with rays in Australia (or trying to, anyway) from The Salmon of Doubt has an overall much more serious tone, and is much more apposite in the light of Steve Irwin's death.

Gareth said...

Thanks. I consider myself duped. Oh well.

Mosher said...

I consider myself fortunate that I own both several copies of the book as well as an original of the CD-ROM. I didn't even pay for it. Some nice person in the US sent me it for nothing in exchange for finding them some software on the 'net.

Kakapo visit details are up on my blog, BTW. Feel free to rip as much as you want off. All I ask is a link to the original article(s) :)