The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Hitchhiker’s Guide # 1
Publisher: Del Rey
Number of pages: 216
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.
* * *
When I was new with my current job, one of my colleagues told me about his favorite book, one that, according to him, made him laugh like a crazy loon by himself. I didn’t really take note of it, since our reading genres were very different, and even when he lent me a copy of the book, I still didn’t give much thought about it. When I first met my new friends at the book club, I saw one of them carry this big black book that looks like a dictionary…or a Bible, even. Just like that, I found myself encountering that same book again.
Of course, I still didn’t read it, because I just wasn’t interested. But ever since we started a 100 Favorite Books list in our book club, and ever since we all decided to discuss books face to face, I had run out of excuses. After years and years of not paying attention to the book, I finally picked up a copy and read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.
How do I describe what this book without spoiling things, or without thinking everything I am writing is absolutely ridiculous is a bit of a problem, so I will just not write about that. Instead, I’ll write about what this book has: the end of the world. Oh, but not the Mayan kind with natural disasters. There’s also a poor guy who just happened to be at one place at a certain time who may not be so poor now because he practically becomes the last human being everywhere. And then there were aliens. Spaceships, too. And finally, the Ultimate Question. Or, not.
My friend was right, though — this book was very funny. I found myself giggling every now and then to this book, often times while I was on my commute to work or some other place. I’ve always been wary about sci-fi stuff because I feel like my brain cannot comprehend much of it (except maybe it is has something to do with computers, even if they’re medical computers), but I found The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy quite readable even if it was absolutely absurd at some point. Maybe that’s really the point.
It’s funny, yes, but I didn’t really find it absolutely hilarious. It’s good, but I don’t really have the urge to get the next ones and read it immediately (although they did say it gets better there). I enjoyed it, but perhaps not quite as much as my friends enjoyed it.
However, I did enjoy discussing this book with my book club over breakfast. With questions about favorite characters, what we’ll do in case the world ends and if we’ll allow ourselves to have a babel fish (of course – very useful for travel!). Having a group of friends to discuss a book about in detail makes me like the book a little bit more, possibly because I tend to associate the memories with the book.
And because it had to be commented: what kind of answer is 42, anyway?