The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

Book #301

Reviewer: t, of as long as i’m singing

Please give a warm welcome to our newest reviewer, t, from as long as i’m singing.   Enjoy !

I suppose I should start with a disclaimer, in that I have a bit of a man-crush on the late Douglas Adams. Well, the writer equivalent of a man-crush at any rate. With Adams’ work, I am much like a small child standing tippy toe at the urinal – trying desperately not to touch the sides with any of my bits – while he just straddles the damned thing, striking a devil-may-care stance with both hands clasped easily behind his head.

Now, none of that has anything to do whatsoever with the book The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy except for this. It is Adams’ way of simply strolling around each an every page, and almost incidentally keeping the story together that makes it such a fun read. And by that I mean this: the basic idea of the whole book is that the world – our world – is destroyed, leaving only one human alive to tell our tale. A tale he hardly knows, nor cares to speak of. Unfortunately, Adams gets around to this within the very first chapter, leaving him with a full thirty-four chapters left over with little or nothing to really speak about.

Oh, except how beneficial it is to have a towel handy (don’t believe me? Check out National Towel Day). Or how to best hitch a ride on a passing space ship. He also takes the time to disprove the existence of God. By first proving it, of course. And if you ever wondered why your android device has a “Babel Fish” app, this book will fill you in. You will find out that not only are humans (or “were humans”, as the case may be) the third smartest species on the planet, but you will also learn what odd things can happen to our bodies upon encountering an improbability drive. And, of all the books in all the world, “Hitchhikers” is the first to finally address what both sperm whales and bowls of petunias think about, as they plummet to the earth (the whale’s bit is longer, the petunias’ funnier).

The book represents the first in a five-part trilogy, a story that actually started life as a radio show. Following the publication of the book, it then grew into a BBC series, which finally resulted in a major motion picture. And by “major”, I mean major flop. In fact, when I run into someone who is dead-set against reading the book, it’s usually because they’ve “already seen the movie.” And are still scrubbing their eyes with an S.O.S. pad as a result. If this sounds similar to your situation, I would highly recommend seeking treatment first, and then reading the damned book already. It is NOT the movie. Nor is it the BBC series. Or the original radio show either. The author did this on purpose as he didn’t want to simply write the same story for all four mediums. To me, the book will always be the best of the bunch – even if the BBC series had the occasional glimpse of hot space chick ta-ta.

Now, if all of the above hasn’t enticed you enough yet, then I’ve but three words left: Marvin the paranoid android. OK, technically four words, but the “the” is really much more of a placeholder than an actual word, and could have easily been skipped altogether, had they simply decided to name him “Marvin, paranoid android” instead. But I digress. The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy is the very book that brought Marvin to life. He’s an android who has the bad fortune of having feelings, none of them good or uplifting. He sourly sulks through most of the story and can always be relied on to be there when an intelligent quip about idiocy is needed. It is Marvin who delivers what is possibly the best line in the entire book when he says “Here I am, brain the size of a planet and they ask me to take you down to the bridge. Call that job satisfaction? ‘Cos I don’t.“ Don’t go see the movie, but in it, Alan Rickman delivers this line to perfection. I even have the sound bite saved as an app on my android. Right next to my Babel Fish.

Now, if I somehow made you think earlier that this was the best line in the book, then nothing could be further from the truth (incidentally, another of Adams tactics: taking you through pages and pages of asides and digressions, only to find out that none of it had any importance to the storyline whatsoever. Or that it was a complete and utter lie from the start). In fact, the book contains more fantastic lines than not, all of them born out of a love of twisting words together into pretty sentences. Ones that should be looked upon for their beauty more so than their content. Ones that are tasty when read aloud. Ones that are read aloud multiple times, just to enjoy the flavor again.

I won’t make mention of other quotes, for two reasons primarily. In the first, you really should read them from the man himself, and in context. And secondly, I can never quite remember if the quote I want is actually from the book being addressed here, or from one of the other four in the series. Mine is in a single-bound edition containing all five books, plus a short story about one of the main(er) characters, Zaphod Beeblebrox (a steal at the Barnes & Noble price of $19.99!). And I simply refuse to go rifling through all those pages just to verify whether a given quote I’d like to use is prevalent to this review.

Oh. That’s right. This is supposed to be a review, isn’t it? Well, to that extent, I‘d like to say: The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy. Two thumbs waaaaaay up! Go out and obtain yourself a copy, why don’t ya? But I would recommend when you do, you make sure you have room on your bookcase for four more just like it. Rest assured, you’ll need that space sooner rather than later.


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3 thoughts on “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

  1. Dana March 23, 2013 / 12:51 pm

    Love his names…. Gag, the psychiatrist, Dent, who laid on the ground in front of the bulldozer, Zarniwoop…the big woop…. and just Marvin….sigh

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