“ Author: Douglas Adams / Format: CD-Audio / Date of publication: 01 April 2005 / Genre: Science Fiction / Subcategory: Science Fiction General / Publisher: Pan Macmillan / Title: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy / ISBN 13: 9781405053976 / ISBN 10: 1405053976 „
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After years of stringent scientific study the world's greatest minds have been able to prove that sarcasm is indeed the highest form of wit. Of course there are still those who claim the opposite is true, but further analysis has revealed a direct correlation between how much a person disregards sarcasm, and how bad they are at actually using it. I mention this, not because of any particular relevance; or indeed truthfulness, but because I have just finished reading Douglas Adams the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. My point? Don't really have one I guess, except that this Douglas Adams really knew how to use his sarcasm.
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is not unlike a Terry Pratchet book in this regard. It's a novel that simply revels in its own sarcasm, with a deep seated sense of irony that enables it to transcend its own foolishness.
To describe the book in simple terms is nigh on impossible. It's a story; well, to be honest not so much a story as a collection of words, that intentionally avoids coherence. It's as if Adams looked at the works of other authors. Saw their use of a structured plot, and realized how inconvenient this would be if he wanted to make fun of everything in one go. So whenever the story looks like it's leading anywhere; building up an important villain, or giving its cast a goal to complete, the characters will find themselves blasted through time and space to some point where the previous plot can be safely dismissed once more.
In this regard it reminded me of a serial show akin to Red Dwarf. There are storylines interspersed throughout the book, but these storylines exist only in their given chapters as vehicles to tell the jokes in. Once the jokes are told the book can move on to an almost different story entirely; while throwing pointless words like continuity, coherence, or heck, even logic, straight out of the window. The thing is it genuinely does work really well.
Like Red Dwarf I'd say that Hitchhikers Guide works so well thanks to the cast of characters who work as your anchor throughout this highly unorthodox universe. The main thrust of the novel follows a man named Arthur Dent. Arthur is a human being who starts the book out having a very bad day that just gets progressively worse as the years roll by. You see his house is about to be demolished to make way for a new government sanctioned bypass. Ordinarily this would seem like a pretty bad way to start your day, but is proved to be a pretty moot point when the rest of the Planet Earth is demolished minutes later to make way for a new hyperspace bypass. From this point out the now homeless (completely) Arthur finds himself Hitchhiking across the galaxy in search of the Question to Life, The Universe, and Everything. Of course everyone knows already that the answer is 42, but for reasons that will eventually become apparent (somewhat apparent) Arthur holds within his head the secrets to what exactly the question is, that gives us the answer 42.
Joining Arthur is his friend Ford Prefect, who has been stuck on Earth looking for a lift for 15 years, and felt that Ford Prefect would be a fairly inconspicuous name to use. Ford is an Alien who does field research for the book The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Ford is able to aid Arthur in his journey as he comes from the far off planet of Betelgeuse Five (Nowhere near Guilford) and has been Hitchhiking across space for many years.
There's also Zaphod Beeblebrox; President of the Galaxy, who has stolen the starship Heart of Gold for its necessity to a very important mission. He doesn't know what this mission is, why it's so important, nor indeed if there is any mission at all, as he had previously decided to wipe his own memory of the whole matter. He did, however, have a very good time stealing The Heart of Gold, so reading the book you have to assume that he's the kind of character who doesn't mind doing crazy dangerous stuff for a simple laugh; which he actually is. His co-pilot is a human woman named Trillion whom Arthur had failed to score with many years earlier. To be honest I didn't actually like Trillion all that much. She bore all the hallmarks of the standard pretty faced female character, but in a book without pictures. Don't think she ever did anything else of note either.
Of course anyone who's ever heard of this book has probably heard that the highlight has to be Marvin. This is probably because the highlight really does have to be Marvin. Marvin is a robot, but he's a robot that was given an actual personality by his creators, and is by far the most relatable character in all of fictional history. You see Marvin is a robot with a brain the size of a planet whose main duties involve fetching things for Zaphod Beebelbrox. As a result Marvin is feeling very, very depressed. He spends every moment of the book muttering to himself about the menialness of his own existence, loathing all forms of life, all forms of technology, and most forms of inanimate objects equally. He is probably the only character in history that can put an accusatory look into his face without actually having any facial features to change. Although to be fair Adams does take some sort of perverse pleasure in dumping everything on poor Marvin, in order to validate the poor guy's world view. Still, with his constant barrage of complaints, gripes, and hilarious one liners, I challenge anyone to read this collection and not fall instantly in love with Marvin the clinically depressed robot.
There's not really much else to say. Do you want to laugh out loud at a gloriously absurd sci fi novel, and feel great afterwards? Then read The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. If you don't, then don't! Not difficult really.
The Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy is a novel written by English author Douglas Adams based on a BBC radio comedy and has been made into a TV series and a film. It features the travails of Arthur Dent an Englishman who whilst stopping the destruction of his house to make way for a by-pass witnesses the destruction of the Earth to make way for a Galactic hyper drive. The book composed in short chapters as an echo of the radio comedy transports Arthur around the universe and exposes the faults in humanoid life through the lens of a typical 30 something Englishman.
Douglas Adams was an English novelist; he was famous for his wry humour, lover of technology famously the first to buy an Apple in Europe and his skills in improvisation and sadly passed away in 2001.
The hitchhikers guide was first presented as a short series of episode in a BBC radio show, the conversion of a radio show into a book means that the chapters are necessarily short and punchy. There is a lot of word play and several asides away from the main narrative theme used as comedic effect and usually used to poke fun at English attitudes to race and foreigners. The books central story is one of a fairly unpleasant middle Englander raging against the destruction of not so much the earth as the things he likes about the Earth, mostly warm ale, tea and football.
The book begins with the imminent destruction of his home to make way for the new town by-pass and proceeds with ever increasing circles of complexity. Each level only seems to make Dent appear more English rather than less and the galaxy a very ordinary place rather than a weird and complicated.
Just after we meet Arthur we meet Arthurs friend Ford Prefect who saves Arthur and admits that he isn't human and is only on Earth to write a piece for the Hitchhikers guide, however, Ford has become marooned on the planet and has to wait for the next visitors to escape the planet. We are taken by the Vogons who are going to destroy the planet; they are the galaxies jobs worth and take everything literally. Arthur and Ford are expelled from their ship and are very fortunately picked up by the Heart of Gold, a ship guided by incalculable odds. Arrival onto the ship is the true start of the novel, in it we meet the President of the Galaxy, a depressed robot, and they are searching for the mythical planet Magrathea.
With this set up, Adams explores the up tightness of the English when encountering new and unusual settings. We meet strange planets, strange thoughts and odd scenes but through it all Arthur is always confused, angry and prone to shout because he's convinced everyone else can't understand him. With his travails, the comedy of Marvin the depressed robot, the fate of the whale when transported to a new planet, the meaning of life and the reason for white mice. All are used to explore the contrary nature of humanity to see the next horizon but to reject what they see when they get there. So Arthur is constantly exposed to the wonders of the universe but is more interested in the lack of a decent cup of tea and the complexity of chance.
So many features of the book have been parodied since it was released and you have to remember to read the book without the constant rendering of the more famous sections. Everyone knows the meaning of life and the answer the computer gives but the book actually gives more than that and suggests a reason for the answer without fully explaining. In everything there is humour, sometimes morbid, candid or even self-depreciating but never offensive or banal. The writing is sharp, incisive and you can feel the influences of Monty Python, the Goons and political satire, so when we meet the President of the Galaxy we are told that only 6 people in the galaxy know that the President is only picked for his complete uselessness.
Reading the book again after reading the novels in my teens was like greeting an old much loved friend who you've not seen for a few years but instantly slip into old jokes and go for a pint in the local. You know what's going to happen but the language is so sharp and witty that you find yourself smiling and laughing all over again, this is a book which has influenced a whole genre of British comedy and it's no surprise that the book feels like it could be by Stephen Fry as Fry and Adams were friends.
I enjoyed reading the book and look forward to reading the other 5 books of the trilogy in 6 parts.
Over 30 years since Hitch Hiker's conception this book has as much resonance today as it ever did.
Although it is clearly a sci-fi novel, Douglas Adams masterpiece also sits comfortably as a satire, comedy and modern tale of conservation.
Through the chaotic inter-galactic adventures of one very dull human named Arthur Dent we are made aware of the duallity of our own insignifcance in the grand scheme of things, with the importance of being aware of the minutiae in life as each one may very well be the answer to life, the universe and everything.
Adams creates characters we care about from dour Dent, to preppy alien journalist Ford Prefect. Groovy space supserstar Zaphod Beeblebrox and the engmatic Trillian are wonderful counterparts to perpetually depressed android Marvin.
Each character and world we encounter is painted with colourful similies and analogies ("They hung in the air exactly the same way bricks don't"). Adams is the master of the absurd image and uses anthropomorphism to both hilarious and enlightening ends.
A quirky, charming romp through space that will leave you amazed at Adam's ability to weave seemingly obscure, random insignifcances together into a revealing tale of our very existence.
In my opinion this is a good book, it took me longer that usal to get into but once i did, i wasnt disappointed. I havent seen the film yet but i will definately recommend it to get a wider look at the book. overall its a good audiobook. this audio book by douglas adams is compeling. this is guys trying to find the knowledge in the universe. normal guy wakes up and things start happening to him, which somone happen to be writing about. I would recommend this to friends has a matter of fact i have, only to two but getting there. in my opinion there is not much disadvantages to this audio book and can be listened to on long or short journeys because you will not get bored, but thats in my opinion.
it is a interesting audio book and angood listen on the train.
But it is taking a while to get into it .
it is posted on ciao now .
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has been incarnated, and indeed reincarnated, in many, many forms over the years.
It kicked off as a quirky BBC Radio show which ran for two series. Douglas Adams then brought his humorous science fiction adventures to television, print, stage and the "big screen". Each time the plot has evolved slightly, or taken a new direction altogether. One of the delights of the series is how Douglas Adams seamlessly weaves his narrative together - leaping through time and space, but always retaining the core characters and always maintaining a high level of wit, ingenuity and insight. This book may be getting old, but it sure isn't getting tired!
This book, part one of a trilogy (Adams always delighted in the fact that his "trilogy" has five parts!), tells the story of an average man who's humdrum life is thrown into complete chaos when, completely unexpectedly, the Earth is demolished to make way from a new hyperspace bypass. He is saved from this catastrophe by his long standing friend, Ford Prefect who suddenly turns out to be from somewhere in the vicinity of Beetlejoose (that is, a complete other world) and not from Guildford, as he had hitherto claimed.
The book is filled with wonderful observational humour and a complex plot that both thrills, intrigues and (admittedly) confuses! Ford and Arthur meet Zaphod Beeblebrox, the President of the Galaxy, who is on a mission to find the planet of all planets. They are also meet Marvin (the paranoid android) and Trillion (who's story is so mindfrazzlingly complex, I won't go into detail - just wait till you get to book five!)
Improbability Drives, hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional mice, Slarty Bartfast, sperm whales and cups of tea are just some of the things/people that the heroic quintet encounter on their travels. If you're worrying that this all sounds a bit "zainy" - have no fear. Douglas Adams portrays it all in such a well considered and engaging fashion that it all becomes thoroughly engaging (if not believable)
One final things I would say is:
If you saw the film just a few years back PLEASE don't be put off reading the book. As they say, "The book's always better than the movie" and, in this case, it is perfectly true.
The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy is one of the funniest books I have ever read. It manages to go off at tangents and bring you back to the main story very well, without making you think it has distracted you too much from what is going on... mainly because the whole thing is absurd and the asides just lend to the absurdity of the whole thing. Terry Pratchett definitely learnt a thing or two from the work of Mr Adams, especially this book, the beginning of a "trilogy" of five parts. Douglas Adams is sadly no longer with us but he will always be rated very highly in my opinion, with the book taking up a prominent position in my bookcase. Possibly the only book you will ever read where Earth is demolished to make way for an interstellar bypass. I guarantee it. Or your money back. Bizarre characters, bizarre prose and an amazing laugh out loud quality make this book a must read for anyone who likes to laugh... but a love of science fiction might be of benefit.
This is an absolute classic! I won't bother to summarise the plot as that's clearly been done already, but I would like to take a little trip down Memory Lane and wax lyrical about this masterpiece! My first introduction to Douglas Adams was when a school-friend loaned me a copy of The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy (with a banana stain on page 38 - isn't it funny the things you remember?). Anyway, it was late 1970s and it was still quite a new phenomenon (only later did I discover the radio series, the records, the theatre production, the badge, the T-shirt, the fan club, and the videos of the TV series). Yes, I'm showing my age, but it's kind of nice to think I lived through it all while it was still happening. A couple of months ago we were having a family meal in a local child-friendly place, and we had table number 42. I was impressed that the young (very young) waiter was able to comment on that being the answer to life, the universe and everything, and even inform me that Take Your Towel To Work Day was fast approaching! Only later did I stop and realise that this lad wouldn't have even been born when Hitch-Hiker's Guide was first published.
It's nice that such quality still appeals to the younger generation, and not just people of a certain age! Even now, some twenty odd years since I first read the book, I can still quote Vogon poetry (word perfect for my sins!). But don't worry, I'll spare you that torment.
The brilliance of Douglas Adams' writing was that this was the first time I had encountered science fiction writing crossed with out and out humour. It was a revelation!
Only later did I discover that Douglas Adams had written for the BBC and had been involved with some of the Dr Who scripts. Now, it may not have been his work, but there was one episode I remember (he was named as a script editor, but I don't suppose he was the only writer involved), in which Tom Baker was trying to climb back up a shaft he had fallen down. He whipped out a little book entitled Mountain Climbing For Beginners, glanced at it and muttered something about it being written in Tibetan. He discarded the book and pulled out another one, Tibetan For Beginners. As I say, I've no proof this particular bit was written by Douglas Adams, but it had his mark on it, as far as I was concerned.
Hitch-Hiker's Guide was, in my opinion, the best of the series. I felt it went gradually downhill after that - most noticeably with So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish, by which time I really felt his heart wasn't in it and he was only doing it for the money.
Nevertheless I would recommend this book without hesitation, it's a brilliant read - and once you're read this one you will simply have to read on to the end of the series, just as I did. Douglas Adams was one of the truly great writers of our time, and his works have given me hours and hours of entertainment - I just wish he had lived long enough to write even more.
Oh, and I'm sure when I started to write this review, it said there were 41 reviews already written. Please, please, let mine be number 42!!!!
?People of Earth, your attention please. This is Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz of the Galactic Hyperspace Planning Council. Plans for development of the outlying regions of the galaxy require the building of a hyperspatial express route through your star system, and regrettably your planet is scheduled for demolition. The process will take slightly less than two of your earth minutes. Thank you? That was the moment when the people of earth discovered that they are not alone in the universe; Arthur Dent discovered that his friend Ford Prefect was not from Guildford after all, but a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Beetlejuice and the incredible cult that is the Hitchhikers Guide to the galaxy begins. Back in the late 70?s the Hitch-hikers guide began life as a radio show, written by Douglas Adams, who was also a script editor for Dr Who and previous jobs had included chicken shed cleaner (according to my copy of the book) The idea for the book came when he was lying on his back, drunk in a field near Innsbruck with a Hitch-hikers guide to Europe in his hands. The Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy, is an electronic book, with the words ?Don?t Panic? written in large, friendly letters across the cover. It includes much information that is essential to Hitchhikers across the galaxy and Ford Prefect is a writer and researcher updating the book. He rescues Arthur from the premature demolition of Earth by hitching a lift aboard the Vogon ship, the plot continues by them being ejected unprotected into deep space from the ship, where they are rescued by Fords cousin, the ex-president of the galaxy Zaphod Beeblebrox, who stole a space ship that he was supposed to be launching, which was fitted with the new infinite improbability drive, which when activa
ted means the ship can simultaneously pass through every point in the Galaxy. The other main characters are Trillian, (an attractive Ape descendent who Arthur had once met at a party in Islington) and Marvin, the paranoid android who has a terrible pain in all the diodes down his left side. So begins a series of adventures that spans 5 books ?The Hitchhikers guide?, ?The restaurant at the end of the universe?, ?Life the universe and Everything?, ?So long and thanks for all the fish? and ?Mostly Harmless?. The first two books were originally serialized for Radio 4 and are available on cassette, or currently on CD on Amazon at £15.99. On 21 September this year they return to Radio 4, with the last 3 books finally serialized, although there are slight changes in the cast due to the sad death of Peter Jones, the book. The late Douglas Adams himself is also playing a part, as he always wanted to play the part of Agrajag and recorded himself years ago so thanks to digital technology the great man himself can still be part of it. The first of the books, the Hitch-hikers guide to the galaxy, is easily the most popular of the set, it takes the ?heroes? across the galaxy, to Milliways, the restaurant at the end of the universe. You discover how the earth was built, why it was built, the answer to Life the Universe and Everything, which it is no spoiler for me to tell you that it is actually ?42? and why sci-fi geeks have spent the last 20 years quoting phrases like ?So long and thanks for all the fish? and ?Its Thursday, I never could get the hang of Thursdays.? Douglas Adams does build a very bizarre link between Science Fiction and Religion; the books include whole theories on the existence of God and creation, and you meet Slartibartfast who won an aw
ard for his design of Norway. It opens with a comment that ?one Thursday, approximately 2000 years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change?. The books therefore are not for everyone, they have a very dry sarcasm running through them with infinite numbers of potential quotes on every page. The audio books are in my opinion the best medium to enjoy the hitchhiker?s guide, probably something to do with the fact that that was the medium it was written for. Every time the characters are encountering certain death you get the monotone voice of the book giving fascinating facts about the universe (which are all true I?m sure!) I am also convinced that this gave the inspiration for Holly in the Red Dwarf series, although Holly is a more interactive version. The books were also made into a TV series, which is repeated every now and then but it is looking decidedly dated and I just didn?t find it as good. There are rumours of a film, which may be a better option with the advances of technology now at their disposal but there is something about the guide, it seems to belong to a normal croud of people who just enjoy a laugh, and I am not convinced a slick, modern film would really do it justice, and would actually take a lot of the character out of it. No discussion about the Hitch-hikers guide to the Galaxy would be complete without a trip to the BBC website. www.bbc.co.uk/cult/hitchhikers/quiz/ this is an excellent website with quizzes about the show and you can check out other cult shows over the years Star Trek etc the hitch-hikers section even offers a personal profile test for robots wishing to work for the Syrius Cybernetics Corporation I did this test and thought you may be interested in the result: ?You are perky, chipper, and always ready to help out
with advice in a crisis. You will do anything to make your friend's lives easier, but tend not to prioritise tasks well. Most people despise you, as you have absolutely no concept of when to keep your mouth shut.? So my apologies for anyone I have irreversibly offended, I?m sure it wasn?t intentional, so I?ll just go and soak my head in a bucket of water and thank you for reading my review. The hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy is available on Amazon for £5.59.
There are funny books and there are science fiction books, but rarely has any author managed to write a successful comic science fiction novel that has been as widely read as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It has been adapted as a radio series, a TV series, numerous cassettes and CDs, and even a computer game, all the while growing ever more popular as readers old and young travel through the exciting worlds and planet systems of Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect. This review is therefore a fitting memorial to the author Douglas Adams who, as some readers will have heard, died of a heart attack six days ago, aged 49. The news will surely be a huge disappointment to the vast and loyal readership that the book has gained ever since it was first published in 1979. The series of four books – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; The Restaurant at the End of the Universe; Life, the Universe and Everything and So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish chronicle the adventures and travels of earthman Arthur Dent who inexplicably finds himself the only survivor when one Thursday morning, the earth is demolished by a fleet of Vogon Constructor ships to make way for an intergalactic hyperspace bypass. The unsuspecting Dent is rescued from this rather odd calamity when it turns out that his friend of five years, Ford Prefect, is not actually an out-of-work actor from Guildford, but an intergalactic hitchhiker who has been stuck on Earth and is desperately trying to get off it. And so they depart on a most incredible expedition during which they encounter Ford’s cousin Zaphod Beeblebrox, the publicity-hungry and fraudulent President of the Galaxy and his companion Trillian who turns out to be the second surviving ape-descendant from Earth merely because Zaphod had picked her up at a party on Earth that he had decided to visit incognito six months before the fateful Thursday. Zaphod and Trillian are in illegal possession of the Heart of Gol
d, a fantastic breakthrough in hyperspace travel that uses something called the ‘Improbability Drive’ to get from one end of the galaxy to the other in no time at all. And so, the four of them travel all over the galaxy, saving the Universe on more than two occasions! On the way Arthur discovers startling secrets about the creation of the Earth, the end of the Universe, the position of the erstwhile human race in the entire scheme of things, and the distinct lack of a good cup of tea anywhere in the Galaxy. The book contains many endearing characters: Marvin the terminally depressed Paranoid Android who has “a brain the size of a planet” and yet is reduced to doing menial jobs for incompetent life forms, and Slartibartfast (yes, that is his name!) who works for a race who manufacture made-to-order planets for those who can afford them. Ultimately, Arthur goes in search of God’s final message to his Creation, and in a dramatic break from tradition, actually finds it. This book is a must read for anyone who enjoys a good laugh at the expense of the human race who are, to Arthur’s dismay, the most insulted life forms in the galaxy. The humour is subtle and satirical and more often than not there are very interesting ideas and messages behind the book’s comic sci-fi perspective. It makes for great nighttime reading, although, once you get into the story, you might find yourself redefining on a few occasions what ‘late night’ actually means.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has long been regarded as a comedy classic and a milestone in science fiction writing, and has spawned a whole host of copycat books, most of which failed miserably to live up to the original and best. The beauty of it lies in the originality of the idea, even if some of the jokes try to be a little clever for their own good, and to be honest, some passages read quite awkwardly. That said, re-reading this novel for the first time in ages was a very enjoyable experience. A lot of it is probably because the characters and the plot are so familiar – I’ve heard the radio play, seen the 1980s TV series and read all five books in the trilogy (yes, a trilogy of five in classic Adams fashion...) so many times that I remembered bits of storyline before I’d even reached the right page. However, for those of you who might not be familiar with the course of events, here goes: This is the story of Arthur Dent, a deeply average human whose life in turned upside down and inside out one Thursday morning when council bulldozers arrive to knock his house down and make room for a bypass. That is nothing compared to the events that await him however – his best friend, Ford Prefect, turns out to be not what he had seemed at all, and the rest of the day is taken up with an intergalactic superhighway, the destruction of the planet, the worst poetry in the universe, some extreme improbability, a man with two heads and three arms, a girl from Islington and an old man called Slartibartfast, who has a strange fixation with fjords. You also get to meet Marvin the paranoid android, a machine that epitomises technology gone wrong. He was one of the first androids to be ‘blessed’ with a realistic human personality, with the result that he is the most profoundly depressed and depressing robot ever created. Zaphod Beeblebrox, Ford Prefect, Trillian and Arthur himself will be familiar to mos
t people, but the highlights are generally provided by the excerpts from the Hitchhiker’s Guide itself. This is basically an electronic guidebook to the universe, with roving reporters criss-crossing distant star systems to send in reports on exotic planets and alien civilisations like the Hooloovoo (a hyper-intelligent shade of blue), or the Earth, which is described in just one word: ‘Harmless’. The TV series supplemented the passages from the Guide with some high-quality (for their time) computer animations, the most memorable of which was for the Babel Fish – a creature which I sincerely hope is not discovered any time soon, as it would immediately put me out of a job! It’s a small fish-like animal, which is able to interpret to and from any known language once it is inserted into your ear, thus rendering all translators redundant at a stroke. Things like this are the book’s strong point – creatures, places and inventions that are somehow credible, despite the fact that the reader knows that they are no more than figments of Douglas Adams’ imagination. Slartibartfast is a great character and Magrathea is an inspired concept, while the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation and its multi-planet sized complaints department could quite easily be compared to the Microsoft we know and love today, for example! Where I find that the book is a little weak, however, is in the dialogue and the sometimes laboured attempts to crack jokes in the text. Character traits are exaggerated, and not always with the intended effect – Zaphod and Ford try to outcool one another with glib one-liners, and while you can see what Adams wanted to say, sometimes it doesn’t come across quite right. Occasionally, he hits the nail on the head – the effect of a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster is spot on, and I love the expression of Vogon ships hanging in the air ‘just like bricks don’t’. You j
ust get the impression that he wanted to make these jokes that sounded really good when he thought them up, but just did not have the same effect when pinned to the page. That aside, this is a cracking read – you will laugh out loud at some of the jokes, and I found that the characters and everything came flooding back to me after just a few pages. Even if you have never read the book before, a basic knowledge of science fiction means that you will probably know what answer Deep Thought is going to give to the great question of life, the universe and everything, but I found that I still had to keep reading to find out! That is the book’s great strength – despite my gripes and moans, the basic premise of the book is still a winner, and its status as one of the most important science fiction novels ever written is assured. White mice, eh. Who’d have thought it?
I did it all backwards - saw the TV series, then read the books and, finally, heard the radio series. OK, I was only 9 when the radio series was first broadcast so I guess I can be forgiven. Elements of all three versions appear dated now, causing some people who didn't catch them first time round to wonder what all the fuss is about. The fuss is about the fact that though many have imitated, Douglas Adams did it first and (in my opinion) best. Douglas Adams writing combines an incredible breadth of imagination, unique humour and, unlike many imitators, a beautiful literary style as well as a real understanding of human nature. The characters and their interactions are funny largely because they are recognisable but set in unrecognisable surroundings. I've read all the books many times and I know a lot of the lines by heart (I'm really that sad) and it's funny how relevant a lot of what Douglas Adams wrote really is to everyay life on our utterly insignificant little blue green planet - even though most of us no longer think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.
This is the kind of book that changes lives, that influences to the point of taking over your life. It lives you just on the brink of insanity, and if you don't come out of it confused, you did a hell of a lot better than me. The story starts off with the lead character Arthur Dent waking up one Thursday. The day doesn't start off well. Outside his house is a council bulldozer, poised and ready to knock down his house to build a bypass. Arthur's idea of a protest is to lie in front of the bulldozer. Arthur soon gets a visit from his good pal Ford Prefect. He eventually persuades Arthur to leave his position in the mud to join him for a stiff drink at the local pub. Here he tells Arthur the truth, that his is actually an alien from a planet in the region of Betelgeuse, and not from Guildford. Yet, there is even worse news for our hero. Earth is soon to be demolished to make way for a bypass. Arthur and Ford survive by catching a lift with a Vogon ship, and from here explore the furthest reaches of the galaxy, meet the strangest creatures, read passages from the most remarkable book in the world, The Hitch-Hikers Guide To The Galaxy and may (or may not) get a small bruise on their forearm. This book should never be read in public as there is no way you can possibly avoid the inevitable convulsions of laughter, which may get a few strange looks (if your laugh is anything like mine). The one-liners run thick, the acute observations on life are mind-bogglingly clever and all this is just another tribute to the genius of the late Douglas Adams. Do not be put off by the science fiction side of the book, what little of it there is, is all for the sake of comedy and is wittily explained. The characters are warm and loveable: meet Marvin, the Paranoid Android (Ahhh, so that's how they came up with it!), a super intelligent robot who is manically depressed and has a large portion of the funniest lines in t
he book. Meet Zaphod Beeblebrox, the two-headed, three-armed President of the Galaxy and also the biggest party animal on the galaxy. Meet Eddie, the ship's annoying computer with a life-like personality which is far too cheery for most people's liking. There are dozens more characters, each one carefully crafted into a work of art. Ever wanted to know the answer to life, the universe and everything? Read on, and laugh yourself silly. On a more personal note, I've had a long absence from dooyoo due to the summer, and I'd just like to say thank you for all the letters, cards and phone calls pleading with me to write again. Well, here I am, back by popular demand so to speak. Oh, and ladies, please, no more love letters, my postman has a bad back as it is.
FIT THE FIRST This is my opinion of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, one of the most remarkable books ever to come out of the great publishing corporations of the Milky Way. It was written by a 6 foot 5 ape descendant named Douglas Adams, although originally he no more knew that his book was going to be a publishing sensation than a lemming realises that its’ future is not in the financial sector but does in fact lie just over the edge of a large fjord somewhere in Norway. The book of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy did not actually start its life as a book at all. It did in fact begin life on a small, unregarded, non-commercial radio station that the inhabitants of Earth in their usual unimaginative way had decided to call 4. This is a fact that many humans, even those who read the book, often failed to realise. Indeed many humans even thought it had all begun as a short-lived, low-budget television series but that is largely due to the fact that most humans prefer to watch television than to read books. Television is less demanding and doesn’t require the viewer to turn pages every couple of minutes or so, although some people have compensated for this lack of an interactive element by their use of remote controls. It is widely believed that printed media is in decline simply because it has failed to capitalise on utilising any form of remote control. Some learned academics have even suggested that if books had employed a remotely controlled method of turning the pages during television’s infancy, then television may never have become a major media at all. This is of course largely speculative and out of the realm of this op. FIT THE SECOND The book itself is a trilogy told in five parts. The five parts are each published under their own heading and are titled, in chronological order: The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy The Restaurant at the End of the Uni
verse Life, the Universe and Everything So Long…And Thanks For All The Fish and Mostly Harmless. Some readers of this op might have noticed that there are six books listed above. That is because the word “and” was inserted as a link to close off the list and not actually a book in its own right. Douglas Adams wrote a number of books, not all of them Hitchhiker based, but he never wrote one called And. Had he done so, it would undoubtedly have become an international best seller. FIT THE THIRD The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy then tells the story of an earthman named Arthur Dent whose house is about to be demolished to make way for a bypass. Before he has too much time in which to get worked up about this point, the point in question becomes moot as the Earth itself is demolished to make way for a new hyperspace bypass. Mention of Arthur Dent’s house is not referred to again after this incident. Any further references to his home refer in fact to the now-demolished planet Earth and not to his house. Moments before the demolition (the planet, not the house), Arthur hitches a lift aboard one of the Vogon Constructor ships. He is aided in this apparently implausible feat by his best friend, Ford Prefect. Ford Prefect, it turns out, does not actually come from Guildford at all, but originates from a planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse. He is a journalist compiling entries for a new edition of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and has spent fifteen years on Earth updating the old entry. It now says, Mostly Harmless. From this point on the galaxy becomes a kind of playground for our two travellers as they journey from one place to another, or in some cases, one time to another. They meet a lot of very strange and sometimes familiar people along the way, always aided by the aforementioned Hitchhikers’ Guide. The Earth it turns out was a
giant computer, built some time after a seven and a half million year old program run by a super computer called Deep Thought to work out the answer to life, the universe and everything, to which the answer was forty two. The earth was programmed to calculate what the question is but was destroyed five minutes before drawing its conclusion. It is this question around which much of the books’ stories are generated. FIT THE FOURTH I don’t know how many times I have read / listened or watched this book / radio / TV show but I do know that I never tire of it. The ape descendant Douglas Adams had a very easy, natural and amusing turn of phrase. It may come as no surprise to some earth people that he was in fact a writer and part-time member of the Monty Python team in its’ later yeares and it shows in his humour that takes an often bizarre twist on life. It says a lot about his style that no radio show in the 1970’s could find a way to accomodate his singular style into their routines, and so the only alternative was to give him his own radio show. Douglas Adams was an amazing individual who produced some amazing work. As well as the Hitchhikers’ trilogy, he also authored two books about a rather unusual detective named Dirk Gently (Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, and The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul). With producer John Lloyd he penned The Meaning of Liff, a new kind of dictionary, one which took place names and ascribed to them meanings for things which previously had no words to describe them (thus Addis Ababa is the incomprehensible noise emanating from the loudspeakers of cars with lots of stickers on them). And he wrote one of the best environmental/ecological awareness books ever, Last Chance To See – read it and weep. It is never too late to discover this work for yourself and hopefully this op has given you some flavour of his style. He may be gone (died May 11
th, 2001) but he will never be forgotten. FIT THE LAST And finally I leave you with this. Listed under the books of Douglas Adams on the Amazon web site is a book entitled “The Prostitute in the Family Tree: Discovering Humor and Irony in the Bible”. A browse down the readers’ reviews finds this reply: It isn't by me! 6 April, 1998 Reviewer: from London Please note - if you've come here looking for other books by me, this isn't one of them! I'm the Douglas Adams who wrote the Hitchhiker books, the Dirk Gently books, and co-wrote Last Chance to See, the Meaning of Liff and Starship Titanic. I did not write The Prostitute in the Family Tree.
If Pratchett had been published 1st then Hitchhiker would never have stuck out his thumb and been discovered. The quote came from a critics recommendation on one of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, Terry Pratchett being the current king of the comic sci-fi / fantasy novel an honour previously accorded to Douglas Adams. It was this quote along with the news of the death of Douglas Adams that led me to dig out hitchhiker for a re-read. Being a fan of both authors I thought hold on I remember Hitchhiker: the radio series, the book, the TV series – and all those memories are fond (particularly Sandra Dickinson as Trillian on the TV) so I dug the book out to see whether I had a rose tinted memory or whether it is as good as I remember. Found the book and 1st impressions are great, the cover from the 1979 edition is still stunning – green, blue, orange and pink splodges with the title picked out in red and the phrase “Don’t Panic” similarly highlighted on the back cover. So what’s is it all about I hear you thinking: - Well…….. The main characters are: - Ford Prefect, a man who knows where his towel is, originally from Betelgeuse but stranded on Earth for the last 15 years is a researcher for The Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy and has managed to update the reference on Earth to “Mostly Harmless”. Arthur Dent, a human and a friend of Ford’s, he’s about to have a bad day as the council are about to knock his house down Zaphod Beeblebrox – also a friend of Ford’s, and has an odd appearance, what with the 3 arms and 2 heads, who happens to be the President of the Galaxy. He’s on a secret mission that even he doesn’t know having burned the appropriate part of his brain out. Trillian, a brilliant physicist, formally Tricia Macmillan from Earth who went to a dull party with Arthur but
left with Zaphod Marvin, a paranoid android – a robot with a brain the size of a small planet so criminally underused his personality chip is stuck on manic-depressive. Special mention should also be made of planet maker Slartibartfast but only because I think that’s a great name. White mice and Deep Thought the world’s 2nd greatest computer also have a part to play. The plot without giving too much away: - The earth is destroyed to make way for a hyperspatial express route, making Arthur’s day even worse, but at least Ford and Arthur hitch a lift off planet seconds before its destroyed. Zaphod, Trillian and Marvin steal the Heart of Gold spaceship which has an Infinite improbability drive to locate the lost planet of Magrathea to steal as much as possible. The mice know the answer to life, the universe and everything, which is 42, but have no idea what the question is. And basically everyone’s paths cross, but to know more you’ll have to read the book. Any way if that sounds a bit complicated DON’T PANIC. The story is very easygoing really and the humour is off the wall and surreal going off at tangents all the time dissecting late 70’s early 80s style with a wicked wit or just being plain . Me, I loved it 22 years ago, and I still do – a great comic novel. Douglas Adams, comic writer par excellence, RIP you will be fondly remembered.
Join Douglas Adams's hapless hero Arthur Dent as he travels the galaxy with his intrepid pal Ford Prefect, getting into horrible messes and generally wreaking hilarious havoc.