Monday, February 15, 2010

The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide

Douglas Adams wrote several humorous science fiction stories starting with The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Yes, there was a movie that came out a few years ago. My original motivation in reading the first story is to compare the novel and the movie. The movie has some connection to the original story, but it really is a different story. Then I had to read the rest of the stories to see if the screenwriters adapted various scenes from the rest of the novels for the movie. They borrowed some elements, but not very much. So if you have seen the movie, you will not be bored by the books.

Arthur Dent is a regular guy that lives a rather ordinary and boring life. That is until he discovers that his house is about to be destroyed for an interstate exchange. And then, because of his friend Ford Prefect, learns that the earth is about to be destroyed by the Vogons for an interstellar exchange. Arthur's adventures start from there and never really stop, though there are some dull bits where he just about goes crazy. Arthur meets Trillian, Zaphod Beeblebrox, and Marvin, the depressed robot.

The story of each of the characters varies in focus with each novel, with some characters fading in and out. Douglas Adams does each justice, sort of concluding their individual stories towards the end of the series. For example, we get to know Trillian in the first book, The Hitchhiker's Guide, but she fades to the background until the last novel, Mostly Harmless.

The humor of the books is akin to Monty Python, Dr. Who, or Red Dwarf. Just when you think you finally understand what is going on, the story takes a completely unexpected turn. It's very difficult to predict what will happen next and you will get little explanation. You are forced to except the silliness or unbelievability to continue with the story.

It would be a mistake to assume you could read the novels individually or out of order. You really can't. Adams masterfully interweaves the stories so that by the last novel, things mostly tie in together. Things that you read about in one novel show up later, making me think Adams had a master plan, though he claims the opposite. Even though it took a great deal of time, I am glad I persevered through to the last novel.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Restaurant at the end of the Universe
Life, The Universe and Everything
So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish
Young Zaphod plays it safe
Mostly Harmless

Book Ratings: 4 stars

Oh, and yes the answer to the Ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42.

The books I select for review are books which I personally select from my local library. I do not receive any reimbursement from authors or publishers or free books. I do provide links to Amazon as a convenience to the readers of this blog. I do earn a small referral pittance which is not even enough to buy a soda.

No comments: