Friday Review: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Oh, don’t worry. I have read it before. Many, many years ago. When I was thinking about my reading list for this year, I decided I was going to start revisiting some old friends. Reconnect, if you will. See how they are doing after time has passed. This classic was my first stop.

I’m not sure there is anyone out there who doesn’t know this book. I suppose some of you young whippersnappers might not. It was first published in 1979. It is the story of poor Arthur Dent, who awakens one fine morning to find that the government has decided to put in a new bypass. There’s only one thing standing in the way: Arthur’s house. While Arthur is trying to stop the demolition crew in his front yard, his friend Ford Prefect shows up, with the information that the world is about to end. It seems there’s a new bypass being built in this part of the galaxy and the only thing standing in its way is the Earth. Ford manages to get himself and Arthur off the planet before it gets razed and they set off with Zaphod Beeblebrox, Ford’s two-headed cousin, rogue and elected Galactic President, who has used his position to steal the most advanced space ship ever built. Rounding out the crew are Zaphod’s girlfriend, Trillian, and the suicidally depressed android, Marvin. And they are off for some universal fun.

How has the book stood up since I last read it? Well, it’s still ridiculous, and full of absurdity. Adams doesn’t care a whit about the laws of physics or science. The whole thing is full of stuff that you know couldn’t possibly happen, even given the most extreme suspending of disbelief. The jokes are broad and obvious. The situations the traveler’s get into are improbable at best and impossible most of the time. And yet, it is still a funny book. Adams has a way with words that makes it work.

“The ships hung in the air in much the same way bricks don’t”

Stupid, right? But it makes you chuckle. Oh, it’s dated and shows its age in many spots, sure. But let that go, and you are in for a laugh-filled read of pure nonsense. If you enjoy your sci-fi with a big hit of comedy and don’t worry too much about the parts that date the story, you might want to grab your towel and enjoy (or re-enjoy) the books in this classic trilogy. All six of them.

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3 thoughts on “Friday Review: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

  1. I have an extremely well-thumbed omnibus edition that was outside a shop in a bargain bin in my hometown. I was always going through that bargain bin because I love to read and was barely surviving on benefits when I was 19, so books were (and very much still are) my happy, safe place.

    What a rollercoaster ride! I still can’t believe that it was sat in a bargain bin when it had only just been re-released, but I’m not one to complain about saving money.

    I was immersed from the very first page. It had everything I wanted: scifi, humour, spaceships, talking mattresses (okay, so I didn’t expect that bit, or the Chesterfield sofa) – even a plot, albeit a meandering, nonsensical, ravings-of-a-drunk, sort of plot, and I laughed myself silly.

    A few years ago, for my 42nd birthday, I made my friends bring towels to the pub, to celebrate my being The Answer 🙂

    Like

      1. Adams wrote Shada, and severel other episodes of Doctor Who (the Krikkitmen were written for an episode that was rejected – possibly because they were too much like the Cybermen – so they ended up in HHGTTG instead). A few years ago I wrote a fanfic inspired by the Krikkitmen crossed with Red Dwarf – so I ended up with Lister crashing the TARDIS on an uncommonly tidy planet, populated by robots. Some were as sleek as the Krikkitmen, while other’s looked like Kryten – they were called the Krytermen, and Lister was unknowingly their god. That went down quite well with people.

        I wish I could have met Adams myself; I think we shared a similar sense of bonkersness when it came to writing 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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