Amy Wachsmuth, December 6, 2013 (view all comments by Amy Wachsmuth)
With my usual dubious feeling towards all things revered I cracked the cover. After reading the opening page, all my doubts vaporized, and soon afterwards so did our planet--in the story...
Arthur Dent is a normal English Joe, who fancies a cup of tea in the morning and a pint in the afternoon. He is dragged away from his house, which is about to be bulldozed to make room for a highway interchange, by his friend, Ford Prefect.
Ford is a galactic hitchhiking alien who's been stranded on Earth for the last fifteen years, while doing research for the title book, “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”
Ford could care less about Arthur's house, as he's just intercepted a signal from a Vogon Constructor Ship, which he knows are tasked with destroying planets to clear a routes for new hyper-spatial expressways. Progress, you know. He's brought Arthur to the pub in attempt to tank him up to ease the inherent discomfort of riding in a matter transference beam.
Ford and Arthur stowaway on the Vogon ship, and therein begins the adventure in which they learn the origins of our planet, for whom it was created, and why. Along the way we meet the two headed, AWOL, galactic president/hippie, Zaphod Beeblebrox, Trillium, who is the other remaining earthling, and a manically depressed robot named Marvin.
And then there's The Guide, with a cover stating, "DON'T PANIC", and subjects illuminating readers on nearly infinite topics, including the necessity for hitchhikers to possess a clean towel at all times.
The author, Douglas Adams, takes gorgeous colors from physics, math, social parallels, humor, and pure originality, and swirls them in a bucket of flippant genius; then he crunches up a spaceship and dips it in. Shaking it out, and hung on the line to dry is this book.
The product is slightly psychedelic, loaded with wildly imaginative ideas that swirl before our mind's eyes before shifting into something else fascinating and original. For example, the guide informs us that the “..beautiful planet Bethselamin is now so worried about cumulative erosion by ten billion visiting tourists a year that any net imbalance between the amount you eat and the amount you excrete while on the planet is surgically removed from your body weight when you leave: so every time you go to the lavatory it is vitally important to get a receipt.” Or the improbable inventor of the golden Infinite Improbability generator, “which could generate the infinite improbability field needed to flip a spaceship across the mind-paralyzing distances between the farthest stars” without all that “tedious mucking about in hyperspace”, who was a student rather than a self-exalted physicist. He ended up being lynched by an angry mob of physicists who just can't stand a smart ass.
With all these potential story threads flying around, there's me wondering what to make of it, and hoping he'll go in deep with one or two of my favorites. Then the book ends when the characters decide it's time for lunch.
Just like that.
Huh? Wha? You mean this isn't going to go on until every original idea is put in a mortar and ground into dust by a pestle wielding author? You want me to think about these things, and make what I will of them? How weird. How lovely. How trippy. Wheee!
Meg Chapple, January 22, 2012 (view all comments by Meg Chapple)
I was a latecomer to the Hitchhiker's series, but was instantly a fan. Douglas Adams' humor is simply genius. The premise and characters are delightful and the plot is a ton of fun, but the real treasures are in Adams' absolutely hilarious anecdotes about the other inhabitants of the universe. It is easy to see how these books are classics in humorous literature, and are a must read for anyone capable of enjoying a book. They are fortunately appropriate for readers of all ages and backgrounds and the humor is extremely accessible. I hadn't imagined literature could be slapstick, but Adams is even able to pull that off and make it look easy. If you know someone who hasn't read them, they also make a great gift--guaranteed to delight. And while Adams' other books are also wonderful, this is his work at his best. I have not completed the series yet, but the several books in it that I have read are as wonderful to read as the first.
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Forty-two. Now read this classic to see what we're talking about. Sort of. It's pretty complicated you better read the book. Bring a towel.
by the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Team
by The Boston Globe,
by Publishers Weekly,
"A whimsical odyssey...Characters frolic through the galaxy with infectious joy."
by Washington Post,
"The feckless protagonist, Arthur Dent, is reminiscent of Vonnegut heroes, and his travels afford a wild satire of present institutions."
by Chicago Tribune,
"Very simply, the book is one of the funniest SF spoofs ever written, with hyperbolic ideas folding in on themselves."
by School Library Journal,
"As parody, it's marvelous: It contains just about every science fiction cliche you can think of. As humor, it's, well, hysterical."
by The Arizona Daily Star,
"Adams is one of those rare treasures: an author who, one senses, has as much fun writing as one has reading."
--The Boston Globe
Seconds 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.
Where are these pens? Why are we born? Why do we die? Why do we spend so much time between wearing digital watches? For all the answers stick your thumb to the stars. And don't forget to bring a towel!
"[A] WHIMSICAL ODYSSEY...Characters frolic through the galaxy with infectious joy."
Jacob Wonderbar must have hit a time warp on his way home after losing the election for President of the Universe, because fifty years have passed on Earth. What's worse, during that time the entire Astral society has come under threat of destruction, and it's up to Jacob to make things--including time itself--right. So, with the unlikely help of Mick Cracken, Jacob time-hops through the universe with Sarah Daisy and Dexter, encountering dinosaurs, Napoleon, and bad '80s fashion in their search for the one person who can help them--Jacob's father.
Buckle your space-belts, the third book in the Jacob Wonderbar series proves that time travel is all fun and games until someone gets stuck in the wrong century!
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