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.
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.
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.
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!!!)
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.
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
on December 24, 2001
I listened to this book on CD; the six CD BBC Radio production. While I certainly found the book amusing, I don't know why people are so excited about it. It seems that Adams pretends to have a plot but really does not want to have one. The tone is too ridiculous to be meaningful and the characters are too flat.
The event that starts the novel is the demolition of Earth for a hyperspace bypass. Only one human, Arthur Dent, escapes with an alien taking human form, Ford Prefect. Following this, they meet some other characters and have a random, bizarre romp around the galaxy.
There were some interesting ideas here but Adams just didn't pursue them. Super-beings create a computer to determine the answer to the meaning of life (this in itself could have an interesting point; man relies on machines for the most important of tasks etc...) and after millions of years, it reaches the answer. "The answer is 42." As this made no sense to the super beings, they designed a planet-sized computer called Earth to find the question to the meaning of life. In the novel, the question is never revealed even though one of the characters knows it.
The title of the novel is an actual book in the story. It a collection of articles and miscellaneous data about the galaxy, towels, alcohol and all sorts of different topics; this could have formed the basis for an interesting plot. The story could have featured, Ford Prefect, himself a contributor to the guide travel about and write about the places he visits and other such tidbits. It could be some sort of "Lonely Planet" book for the galaxy.
There were other parts of the novel that were just plain weird; the editor of the, "The Hitch hiker's Guide to the Galaxy," takes an inter-galactic cruise in his office. The main characters travel in a space ship powered by an Infinite Improbability Drive. The characters visit a restaurant that exists at the end of time...
I fully admit that the book is funny; it has a sort of British humor that I just love but after that, there's not much of substance here. However, seeing as it is incredibly popular for some reason, it may be worth a read.
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".
This is a wonderfully enjoyable tale. Author Douglas Adams has taken a highly improbably scenario, the earth being disintegrated to make way for a galactic highway, and turned it into a funny but riveting story.
Arthur Dent is a rather unassuming man trying to get through his day and maybe find a good cuppa tea. His friend Ford Prefect has some bad news for him, his world is going to be destroyed in a few minutes, and oh yeah, he's an alien who can save him. Not very probable, but I was hooked.
Zaphod Beeblebrox is an outlandish character who also happens to be the President of the Imperial Galactic Government. I am in awe of his ineptitude at life in general, but love his quirkiness. He's a fun character who could take the story in any numbeer of directions at any moment.
I like the way Mr. Adams balanced the male characters. Arthur, Ford and Zaphod are distinctive and each take the lead at various times, but none outshines or dominates the storyline. Even though this book was first published in 1979, it has aged well. The references to the new digital watches is even more funny with the advent of the current computer/phone watches. The humor contained in the book is ageless.a
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.