“It is said that despite its many glaring (and occasionally fatal) inaccuracies, the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy itself has outsold the Encyclopedia Galactica because it is slightly cheaper, and because it has the words “DON’T PANIC” in large, friendly letters on the cover.” -The Guide
I had no idea when I started reading this book that it would end up on my list of top favorite books. But it’s just the type of book I can’t pass over: Written by Douglas Adams, it’s hilariously funny, ultimately sci-fi, has priceless and witty philosophical satire, is just plain weird, and makes sense and doesn’t make sense all at the same time. Besides the mainstream hilarity that will make any reader laugh till he cries, Adams loves to put jokes in there that only he gets (which just confirms the awesomeness of the whole thing). Summed up: Read this book. You don’t only have to be a fan of sci-fi/space stuff, anyone can read this classic and just love it.
At least, I’m 99% sure.
Here’s a short summary:
Arthur Dent is a normal human being on planet Earth. In fact, nothing about him could be more normal. … Except for the fact that he has a friend who is secretly an alien humanoid from the vicinity of Betelgeuse. Arthur wants to save his house from being torn down by destroyer bulldozers to make way for a motorway bypass. The alien friend, Ford Prefect, happens to be there and saves the day for Arthur by telling him that the Earth is about to end, sticks his thumb out to the sky, and they both end up on a Vogon spaceship. The Vogons have destroyed the Earth in order to make a hyperspace bypass through the galaxy.
Okay, Arthur. It was your house or your Earth.
Welp, too late.
Along with Zaphod Beeblebrox, the humanoid with two heads, Martin the Paranoid Android and the Earth girl Trillian, Ford and Arthur hitchhike their way through the Galaxy in search of the meaning of life on the Heart of Gold, a spaceship run by the Improbability Drive. Along the way they encounter near-death experiences, hilarious creatures, a dead planet with automatic defense systems, and, worse, are even forced to listen to some Vogon poetry. They hear later that the Earth was, in fact, all just an experimental procedure by mere mice, just a supercomputer that already held the answer to the meaning of the life.
Arthur Dent and his friends decide to go get something to eat.
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe is the sequel, and the second in the whole Hitchhiker’s series. In my opinion, it’s the second best, and the ones after were not my favs. But no similar book beats the Hitchhiker’s Guide. Now, for some biased points … which there are only a few, which means this book gets a five star hands down. In my opinion, of course.
- Language. I could dedicate a whole blog post to this problem and its limits in writing, books, and movies, but this is the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy here. In my opinion, I don’t think I would blame a citizen Earthling for his swearing when he’s seen the end of the world and is going on an adventure that seems will end in inevitable death with a bunch of nonsensical weirdos. There’s no more Starbucks for Zark’s sake! There isn’t a whole lot of cussing in the first book, but if you plan on reading the rest of the series, just be prepared to skim over the “f” word in a couple of places.
- Blasphemy. Since I am a Christian, this is the worldview I hold. This book is chock full of making fun of God, Christianity, what philosophers think about the beginning of the world, and has the subject of the nonexistence of God in a scenario that pokes fun at the whole thing. I don’t have a problem reading this; I’m exposed to this sort of thing a lot, and that’s good. Most of the time, the subject is in a hilariously funny context, and I admit I have trouble trying not to smile. But hey, Douglas Adams also even makes fun of the Big Bang. Just be careful. This guy was genius, but obviously with a whole different worldview.
There’s a bit on the book. Switching to the movie with the same title (and only two swear words), which was released on April 28, 2005. What’s so cool about the movie is that 1) Douglas Adams wrote the script (who else would you pick?), 2) Martin Freeman plays Arthur Dent (again, who else would you pick?) and 3) You need to have read the book or the movie isn’t going to make any sense in a “this is so dumb and stupid and weird” sort of way. Read the book? You’ll love the movie. It reminded me of Doctor Who: the awesome weirdness, the fact it takes place in space and time, that it has to deal with aliens blowing up Earth (which I have always been a fan of since I was little kid) and all that timey wimey stuff, so if you’ve seen Doctor Who, you’ll be at home with this one.
The movie also has some quotes from the book, word for word in little places here and there. These sort of things I love to catch. Watching it, I felt like jumping up and saying, “Oh, remember that!?” And then going “Dang it, I’m the only one who read it.” It also keeps some of the philosophical satire, the meaning of life, the mice, the Heart of Gold, Martin the Paranoid (and depressed) Android, Slartibartfast, and even the singing dolphins. Yes, the singing dolphins, I won’t give it away.
So, in closing, I repeat: This book and movie are both awesome, please read and watch it. So grab a towel, stick your thumb to the sky, and get ready to hitchhike along with Arthur, Ford, Zaphod, Trillian, and Marvin as they try to find the meaning of life and successfully fail to get the sort of answer they were hoping for. DON’T PANIC.
Oh, and don’t forget to bring your digital watch.
Have you read or seen the Hitchhiker’s Guide? I’d love to hear your thoughts.