42: the name
You just have to do a quick Google search: 42 is the science fiction number par excellence and, by extension, of all fantasy genres. There are memes, T-shirts and whole articles to figure it out. It is the subject of tributes, people play with it and quote it more or less overtly. Above all, they attempt to reveal its mystery.
Because, to start with, the number 42 has a clear origin: it is the surprising answer to the question “What is the meaning of life, the universe and everything?” provided by the computer Deep Thought, after reflecting on it for 7.5 million years, in Douglas Adams’ novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. An icon of the genre at its most humorous (putting him side by side with Kurt Vonnegut, Terry Pratchett, Italo Calvino and, closer to home, Pere Calders), Adams did not stop at that. In the novel, after giving the famous answer, the computer refuses to leave it at that and adds that the problem is really that the question had not been properly phrased. Which, of course, leads to the characters building a better computer so they can ask it the Ultimate Question…
For now, we’ll leave it there. Because that, the invitation to pose new questions, to leave the great answers aside in order to improve the initial approaches, is the festival’s ultimate aim. To use 42 as a way of reconsidering this genre.
A name that is different, so different in fact that it is not even a name but a number.
A name that celebrates an always creative tradition: that of fantasy genres.
And, what’s more, a name that was chosen on the 42nd anniversary of the work that created it (yes, Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy turned 42 in 2021).
For everything else… we’ll see you at 42.