7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2005
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a book by Douglas Adams. It is arguably one of the funniest books in the galaxy. This is an incredibly imaginative, colorful, and hilarious novel by English author Douglas Adams that will have you turning the pages until you reach the last one, and then leave you wanting more. But don't panic! There are a total of five books in the trilogy.
The story begins with our hero Arthur Dent, who is about to have his house demolished in order that a bypass might be built where it stands. Little does he know that on this, the worst of all Thursdays ever, that doesn't mean much because the Earth is about to be demolished to build a hyperspace bypass through the solar system. Luckily for him, his close friend Ford Prefect turns out to be a field researcher for the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a sort of electronic encyclopedia, and is from Betelgeuse.
Ford explains to Arthur that the demise of his planet is imminent, and whisks him away to a spaceship at the last moment. Thus begins the fun, and along the way we'll meet more interesting characters, visit the end of the universe, discover the true origins of mankind, see the earth created (and destroyed), and find out that we are only the third most intelligent species on the planet. We'll also learn more about the guide it self, and why it sells so well: it has the words "Don't Panic" inscribed in large letters on the cover.
Adams writing style is chock full of original and entertaining metaphors and descriptions. We see spaceships that hang in the sky "much in the way that bricks don't", monsters so stupid that they assume if you can't see them, they can't see you; and learn it's unpleasant to be drunk: just ask a glass of water. Adams pokes fun at god, physics, probability, and life, the universe, and everything (the latter three being the title of a subsequent novel in the series).
If you read one book before the Earth is blown up, make it the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Click to purchase this one! Along with this masterpiece, let me recommend another hilarious romp (I picked up off Amazon) The Losers' Club: Complete Restored Edition by Richard Perez, not exactly science fiction but truly entertaining and loads of fun.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
No matter how many times I read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and I've read it quite a few times already, it never fails to thrill me and induce bouts of almost uncontrollably hearty laughter. With this novel, Douglas Adams gave life to a phenomenon that will long outlive his tragically short life, delighting millions of readers for untold years to come. I'm not sure if science fiction had ever seen anything like this before 1979. This is science fiction made to laugh at itself while honoring its rich tradition, but it is much more than that. Adams' peculiarly dead-on humor also draws deeply from the well of sociology, philosophy, and of course science. Whenever Adams encountered a sacred cow of any sort, he milked it dry before moving on. Beneath the surface of utter hilarity, Adams actually used his sarcasm and wit to make some rather poignant statements about this silly thing called life and the manner in which we are going about living it. This is one reason the book is so well-suited for multiple readings-a high level of enjoyment is guaranteed each time around, and there are always new insights to be gained from Adams' underlying, oftentimes subtle, ideas and approach.
Arthur Dent is your normal human being, and so he naturally is more concerned about his house being knocked down than facing the fact that the world is about to end. His friend Ford Prefect, he comes to learn, is actually a researcher from a planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse, but before he can even begin to comprehend this fact, he finds himself zipped up into the confines of the Vogon space cruiser that has just destroyed the planet Earth. Things become even trickier for him when he discovers the great usefulness of sticking a Babel fish into his ear and then meets the singular President of the Galaxy Zaphod Beeblebrox and his shipmate Trillian, both of whom Arthur actually met months before at a party. Such impossible coincidences are explained by the fact that Beeblebrox's ship is powered by the new Infinite Improbability Drive. Dent grows more and more confused during his travels on board the Heart of Gold, and the story eventually culminates with an amazing visit to an astronomically improbable world.
Much of the humor here is impossible to describe; this novel must be read to be appreciated. It seems like every single line holds a joke of some kind within it. The characters are also terrific: the unfortunate Arthur Dent, who basically has no idea what is going on; Ford Prefect, Arthur's remarkable friend from Betelgeuse; Zaphod Beeblebrox, with his two heads, three arms, and cavalier attitude; Trillian the lovely Earth girl who basically flies the Heart of Gold; Slartibartfast the planet builder and fjord-make extraordinaire; and my favorite character of all, Marvin the eternally depressed robot. Life-"loathe it or ignore it, you can't like it" is the Paranoid Android's philosophy. One brilliant thing that Adams does is to step away from the action every so often to present interesting facts about the universe as recorded in the Hitchhiker's Guide; here we learn about Vogon poetry, the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal, Trans Galactic Gargle Blasters, and other fascinating tidbits about life in the crazy universe Adams created. He even gives the reader the ultimate answer to the question of Life, the Universe, and Everything in these pages.
This novel is just an amazingly hilarious read that will leave you yearning for more; to our great fortune, Adams indeed left us more in the form of four subsequent books in the Hitchhiker's "trilogy." If you don't like science fiction, it doesn't matter; read this book just for the laughs. The most amazing thing about Adams' humor is the fact that everyone seems to "get" it. Adams broke all the rules in writing a novel quite unlike any that had come before it, and he succeeded in spades. This may well be the funniest novel ever written.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 25, 2007
Written by Douglas Adams, "The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy" was first published in 1979 and is the first instalment of his legendary five-part trilogy. (Adams apparently attributed this to a poor grasp of arithmetic). The series started life as a radio show, before becoming a book, a television series, a play and a bath towel. After years of trying, it was finally adapted for the big screen in 2005. Douglas Adams was born in Cambridge in 1952 and died in May 2001, while working on the film's screenplay.
Arthur Dent wakes up on a Thursday morning with a raging hangover. Having left London about three years before the book opens, he now lives in England's West Country. That, however, is about to change : the local council has decided to knock down his house to make way for a bypass. Although their plans had officially been place for around nine months, they had somehow 'forgotten' to mention it to Arthur until the previous day - hence, the raging hangover. In a very bad start to the day, his hangover is interrupted by a bulldozer trundling up the garden path.
Things aren't about to get any better, either. Arthur's one-man protest is disturbed by Ford Prefect - a very good friend who drags him off to "The Horse and Groom", with the express intention of drinking several pints of bitter. The pair have been friends for around five or six years. So far as Arthur knows, Ford is an out-of-work actor from Guildford. In fact, he comes from a small planet near Betelgeuse, is a roving reporter from "The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy" (imagine an interstellar Rough Guide) and has been marooned on Earth for about fifteen years. Unfortunately, it's come to his attention that the world is about to end : the Vogons, on behalf of the Galactic Hyperspace Planning Council, need to demolish Earth to make way for a hyperspace bypass. Fortunately, Ford has a way out and he plans to bring Arthur with him.
After surviving the demolition and some Vogon poetry, the pair are picked up by Zaphod Beeblebrox - the two-headed, three-armed, renegade President of the Imperial Galactic Government and an old friend of Ford's. Beeblebrox has managed to 'acquire' a very stylish spaceship called 'The Heart of Gold' - a ship with a very improbable fuel source. The ship's crew is completed by Trillian, a human female, and Marvin, a paranoid android.
This is an exceptionally enjoyable, extremely funny and very easily read book - Terry Pratchett fans, in particular, should enjoy this.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2007
"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" is a thoroughly strange book, that at the same time is oddly charming. It starts in a really weird way, with the demolition of Earth (yes, our planet) in order to build a interestellar highway. Only one man survives the end of our world: an Englishman, Arthur Dent. Arthur is saved from sure death by one of his friends, Ford Prefect, that also happened to be an alien doing some research for "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" (an electronic book that "tells you everything you need to know about anything", and that specially highlights the need for a towel).
Ford got a lift for them with a Vogon spaceship, where they would soon be subjected to a danger worse than death: Vogon poetry. Anyway, as nothing bad last forever, there were soon ejected into space to suffer certain and painful death, only to be rescued again just in time to begin their adventures.
Both Ford and Arthur are interesting characters, but I found Arthur's whining particularly funny. For example, and in his own words to Ford: "you are talking about a positive mental attitude and you haven't even had your planet demolished today. I woke up this morning and thought I'd have a nice relaxed day, do a bit of reading, brush the dog... It is now just after four in the afternoon and I am already being thrown out of an alien spaceship six light-years from the smoking remains of the Earth!".
There are other characters and things you will find interesting, like an eternally depressed robot (life, "loathe it or ignore it, you can't like it"), Zaphod Beeblebrox, and the Babel fish (capable of translating any language in the galaxy if you put them in your ear). There are also some scenes that appear out of the blue, but that are quite enchanting. For instance "Arthur blinked at the screens and felt he was missing something important. Suddenly he realized what it was. - Is there any tea on this spaceship?-he said".
On the whole, I highly recommend this book. Its premise is extremely original, and you will have lots of fun reading it. If you can, buy it know, and be ready to meet the mice * :)
Belen Alcat (* = you will understand that phrase only after reading this book!!!)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 2005
Okay. A review without a synopsis or, in fact, a review. If you're on this page, if you're reading these words, then you've heard of Hitchhiker's and you want me, as a total stranger, to tell you if it's any good or if you should buy it or not.
Just buy it. Don't ask questions. Just buy it. And read it.
This book is a must-read for anyone interested in (1) Sci-Fi, (2) Humour, (3) PG Wodehouse. The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, with its sequels, stands in a genre of its own. It has been compared to other iconic British comedy such as Monty Python material, or such tongue-in-cheekers as Dr Who. While these share a history with Hitchhiker's and its author, Hitchhiker's has its own unique contribution to make to contemporary entertainment and contemporary literature.
No need for a synopsis or a gushing review here. You can Google hundreds (if not thousands) of websites, some fan-driven, some professional, that will tell you all you need to know (and much that you probably wish you could avoid). And you can always see the fair-to-middling 2005 Spyglass Pictures movie for the general plot (with significant studio-pleasing alterations). But nothing can compare to the almost real thing: The Book.
Almost real, because the real real thing is the original and unsurpassed BBC radio series (1978-80). You can still buy that one on CD. If you want to experience the majesty of Hitchhiker's in the medium its episodic and staccato plot was originally penned to fit, then get the radio series. Otherwise read the book(s).
Why? Because I said so.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2002
'The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy,' by Douglas Adams, is a spontaneous comic adventure. To bring out the humorous characters and events, Douglas Adams uses a lot of satire to attract the reader's attention. A scene that brings out much of the satire is at the beginning of the book. Arthur Ford lies in front of bulldozer to stop the demolition of his house so the city can build a bypass. Arthur, having just found out the day before, is annoyed because the plans were buried from the public. To emphasize the satire, Adams destroys Earth to build an intergalactic bypass whose plans were also buried. This is all going on while the construction workers are trying to find a way to get more money out of their union for working with insane people. Adam uses this satire throughout the entire book to give it an added flavor and to persuade changes on earth with certain situations. As Arthur and Ford start hitchhiking their way around the galaxy to find the ultimate answers to life and the universe, they encounter worlds full of trouble.
The story starts out with Arthur Dent protesting his house from being torn down for a bypass, when his friend Ford Perfect, an alien who has been posing as an out-of-work actor on earth for the past fifteen years, drags Arthur away to tell him the world is going to be destroyed. He warns his disbelieving friend Arthur that the planet is soon to blow up, and rescues both of them seconds before its destruction by hitching a ride from the Vogons. After Ford and Arthur are tortured by hideous poetry, Zaphod Beeblebrox, the president of the galaxy, and Trillia, the only other surviving human being, save them. Together they travel the galaxy to lead to the ultimate answers to life.
I would say this book is Random. Sinister. Funny. 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' covers everything from galactic space monsters to far-off planets no one has ever of. This completely random book has the reader on his toes from the very first page to the last. Totally unpredictable. If you want a joyful, whimsical ride through space, then read 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2002
The Hitchhiker's guide to the Galaxy is the funniest science fiction brief novel I've ever read. Dialogs are funny, descriptions are comic and the argument is hilarius. Most of all, this is a smart novel where the casuality is masterly managed. Actually, nothing that happens in the novel is casual but just very, very improbable. These very improbable events produce a world where, for example, humans are only part of a ten million years long experiment done by the most intelligent species in the universe: mice, of course.
I'm looking forward to read the other two parts of the "incresingly inaccurately named Hitchhiker's Trilogy".
on October 6, 2011
I usually don't fall in love with a book so quickly, but this one stole my heart and captured my attention right from the off. Its zany humour and imaginative characters really won me over, so much so that I intend to buy the entire series as soon as I possibly can. I borrowed this one from the library.)
Arthur Dent is just your average man living on Earth whose house is about to be demolished. Naturally, he's very upset about this, so his friend Ford Prefect takes him down to the pub to converse and try to cheer him up. Oh, and also to tell him the entire Earth is about to be demolished, so his house is really nothing to worry about.
The story then quickly moves into the far reaches of space with Arthur and Ford meeting many delightfully quirky characters when travelling throughout the universe. To name a few, there's Zaphod Beeblebrox, an ex-galactic president with two heads and three arms; Trillian Astra, a human who is well-versed in mathematics and astrophysics; Marvin, a manic-depressive robot; and Slartibartfast, an elderly alien from the planet Magrathea.
Interspersed within the chapters are excerpts from the actual 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy', which aims to help wandering intergalactic hitchhiker's with certain rules and tips. These are just as wonderful and hilarious to read as the main story and it never feels as though the focus is being torn away.
The pacing of this story is wonderful; it's always exciting and never boring, and if you're anything like me, you'll become so heavily involved in it that you'll find it hard to ever put it down.
The only downside is that at just 220 pages, it's rather short, and the story does end rather suddenly -- which is why I'm anxious to get my hands on the next books to finish off the tale.
In the end, if those are the only two negative things I can think of, 'Hitchhiker' is easily one of the best novels I've read.
What can you say about an author who wrote a 5 book trilogy? One hilarious read, for one thing. I'd read Adams many years ago and wanted to return to read him again only this time a little more critically to see if the material still worked for me. It did.
Douglas Adams really started something when he wrote this parody of one genre, and in so-doing he started his own genre and others have followed in his footsteps such as Robert Aspirin, Terry Pratchett and even Piers Anthony could be counted among those who have emulated this tongue in cheek, irreverent treatment of what had in the past come to be a science fiction genre that took itself very seriously indeed. It's not hard to see in Adams' acerbic and dry English sense of humor strong ties to the style of humor made so famous by the Monty Python crew of the late 60s and early 70s.
Reading this the second time in the Kindle version, I found that it didn't lose anything for the change in medium. It really is a remarkably short little book for the impact it had. This kindle version included an addendum that provides the background to the production of the movie by the same name that was finally produced following Adams death in 2001. This addendum is fully one third of the length of the actual novel. It didn't need to be in my opinion, but others might find it entertaining and informative.
This is one of the standards in science fiction, fantasy and satirical writing and well worth the time and effort to procure and read. Beware though, once you've finished it you'll want to go on and read the remaining 4 volumes of this famous trilogy.
on May 12, 2008
The Guide explains that it is the exception which proves the rule. It goes on to give this example.
Long ago, the Gloops of Alpha Nucleii, sited on the far side of the Galacticus Quadrant, were in thrall to the Thargs of the Grand Imperial Empire of Maxorphius. On the last evening of every bi-millennium cycle of the two Suns of Antiochus, which was, The Guide explained, the equivalent of two standard solar system weeks, Thargs from the Empire would arrive to tax the poor Gloops of all wealth produced since their last raid.
This left the Gloops permanently overdrawn at Grimgolds, the Galactic Bank, and the Gloops were pretty fed up about it.
`What can we do?' wailed the Gloops to each other after the most recent raid. `We have tried resistance, we have tried reason, we have tried running away, nothing works. `The Thargs are a zillion times stronger than us, will no more listen to reason than the putrefying sponges of Planetoid Desolatoria, and win all the running Golds in the Pan Galactic Olympics. They can never be defeated. The Thargs rule us; the Thargs rule everyone. The Thargs shall rule us for evermore.'
And so, the tyrannical reign of the Thargs continued.
The Guide flicked to the next screen and continued the tale.
Eventually, having exhausted all possible ideas for freeing themselves from the ravenous Thargs, the Gloops turned to the lawyers.
`You see,' explained the Gloops, `the Thargs are all powerful and shall rule us and everyone for evermore. What can we do?'
`Pay us in advance,' the senior lawyer demanded. The Gloops were ready for this, and had booked their lawyers' appointment the day before the Thargs were due, so as to have the necessary legal fees. These, they handed over.
The lawyers retired and deliberated. In due course they emerged from their chambers.
`Can you help us?' pleaded the Gloops. The lawyers turned to each other and nodded knowingly.
`Yes, we can.'
The Gloops were overjoyed, but a little cautious, for the Thargs were all powerful.
`How can you help us? The Thargs rule us; the Thargs rule everyone, the Thargs shall rule us for evermore.'
The lawyers looked down at the Gloops and explained.
`The Thargs rule, you say. They rule everyone. They are stronger, deafer and faster than you. It follows that if you refuse to be ruled by them you will be the exception.'
`Go on...' encouraged the Gloops.
`...And it is forewritten in all the Good Books that it is the exception which proves the rule.'
`So when the Thargs turn up tomorrow to tax your wealth once more, you must defy them.'
The Gloops shivered.
`Defy them? They will turn on us with their all-powerful whirlyblaagblasters, and eviscerate us to extinction.'
The lawyers smiled the smile of those who chose the right career.
`No they won't. You see, it is written that it is the exception which proves the rule, so by defying them as no one else would dare, you are the exception which proves they rule. If they continue to rule over you they will no longer have an exception to prove their rule, and will consequently no longer rule over anyone.' The lawyers beamed. `You've got them, see?'
The Gloops did not see, but they trusted the lawyers. Next day, when the Thargs arrived with their taxing ledgers, the Gloops defied them.
`We've got you,' the Gloops exulted. `We are the exception which proves that you rule. If you attempt to rule us we will no longer be the exception and your rule will not be proven.'
The Thargs turned on the Gloops with their all-powerful whirlyblaagblasters and eviscerated them.
What the lawyers had forgotten, the Guide concluded, was that if it is the exception which proves the rule, there must be an exception to this.
The only exception, states the Guide, to the rule that it is the exception which proves the rule, is that the lawyers always get their fees up front.