Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Review

I just took myself on a little journey back to the 80s. The 1980s. That's when I discovered that marvelously funny science fiction and cult classic The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy written by Douglas Adams in 1979 at the age of 27. Since I needed a SF book written in 1979 for the Genre Decades Challenge and written by someone younger than 30 for the Pop Sugar Challenge, I decided to revisit an old friend and see how it holds up over 30 years later.

Quite nicely, in fact.

The book is one delicious romp--starting with Arthur Dent, a rather boring Englishman who wants one thing out of life...to save his fairly unattractive house from being demolished to make way for a new freeway. To this end, he is lying in the mud in front of a bulldozer when his friend Ford Prefect plucks him from the mud, convinces him to down several pints of beer, and helps him snag a ride onboard a Vogon ship which has just come along to demolish the Earth to make way for galactic freeway. Ford, ostensibly an out-of-work actor, is in reality an alien from Betelgeuse who has been doing research for a revised version of the Guide and has been waiting fifteen years for someone to come along and rescue him from this backwater little planet. He didn't really want it to be Vogon ship...after all Vogons hate hitchhikers and are likely to drop you out of an airlock if they find you. And if you're really unlucky they'll read their poetry to you first.

This is the story of Arthur and Prefect's adventures after they survive the horrors of Vogon poetry (oh and the demolition of a planet and being tossed out an airlock). Adventures that hook them up with Zaphod Beeblebrox, the two-headed, three-armed President of the Galaxy who's out for a good time and in search of something that his future self wants him to find but won't tell him about; Trillian a brilliant and beautiful woman whom Arthur tried once to pick up at a party and who knows how to fly a ship with Improbability Drive; Marvin, the paranoid android, who is so depressing he causes a space ship to commit suicide; Slartibartfast, award-winning designer of fjords; two white mice in search of a question; and, briefly, a large sperm whale and a surprised bowl of petunias. 

What will our brave heroes learn on there journey? Why, nothing much--just the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. Oh wait. That's an entirely different book in the series. ;-) 

I absolutely loved this book when I discovered it back in high school. I thoroughly enjoyed all the witty dialogue and the outrageous adventures of our heroes. I didn't mind that there really (if you think about it much harder than you should) isn't much of a plot. When you're having so much fun imagining the events that Adams puts in front of you, you don't really notice that the story line doesn't have much of an arc. And, you know what? Over thirty years later...I still didn't notice. This is an excellent, crazy, off-the-wall science fiction adventure. I enjoyed every minute. ★★★★


Geoff said...

I've had this on my shelf for too long! I need to get around to reading this ASAP.

fredamans said...

Great choice of reading! I love this one!! Great review!