Jul 19, 2013

July Genreflecting: Review: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Genreflecting wordle

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy coverSeconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.

Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker's Guide ("A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have") and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox--the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod's girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years.

From Goodreads

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy  is one of the most popular humorous science-fiction books ever written. First published in 1979, it has been read by several generations and has remained extremely well-spoken of. Personally, it wasn't all that for me. I enjoyed the jokes I knew were coming & Adams has a unique storytelling ability, but it was a jaunty, jumbled mess as far as I'm concerned. The cast was quirky and fun in ways that I hadn't really expected, but it was a bit wacky. I think that's part of the allure for so many people. The sheer absurdity and outlandishness of the stories is quite enticing.

It follows the adventures of Arthur Dent & Ford Prefect as they hitchhike across the galaxy. Ford, being the alien updating the Guide, got stuck on Earth for 15 years and right as it's getting ready to be demolished, he grabs his mate Arthur and continues on his merry journey. They meet all sorts of aliens, see several planets, and enjoy the shenanigans of other travelers just as weird as themselves. Their antics land them in all manner of troubles, but they always seem to come out for the better on the other side. Personally, I adored Marvin! He's the opposite of what you think of when you think robot and his rapier wit allow for some memorable lines.

It's rather obvious why this one falls under science fiction. Between the inter-galactic travel, robots, & aliens, there are so many check marks on the list that it couldn't possibly go anywhere else. The part that really cements this book's place in science fiction though are the moral dilemmas and explanations throughout. As we meet countless races of non-humanoid life, we are constantly informed of their natures and thought processes. It's not simply a matter of knowing what they're doing, it's also the analyzing of why they do certain things. It makes all the difference in the world understanding someone's intent and background. Also, the scientific possibilities of all the artifacts and mechanics seen within the book allow the reader to imagine that some great things are possible.

Have you read this book or others in the series? What do you think about it? Be sure to check back next week when I giveaway a science fiction book and review The Program by Suzanne Young.

Here is the trailer for the movie version, which I find easier to follow and actually quite close to the book. If you haven't seen it, you should!

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