The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
A Thoughtful Review
The dreadfully depressing beginning
Please note that there is a very thoughtful forward in the beginning of the book by Adams himself. Also note that is not what I find depressing, but an entire different matter altogether. When starting a novel, or in this particular scenario, the combination of five novels and one short story, authors try to give the reader perspective. I suppose Adams did that, maybe just on a tad larger scale. When entering a novel you need to get a feel for the style.
Characters are not necessary to introduce immediately, one shouldn’t rush it. A feel for the setting would be nice too, though also not necessary to introduce first thing. I can guarantee that you will get the mood of the book first thing, as long as that mood is brash, outrageous, or just plain cheeky. I feel the reason this book is so different than any of the ones I have previously read in the science fiction genre, is because it tells the truth. Not in the way you immediately think of the truth, it still has laughable futuristic devices (Improbability Drive) and yet still has all the truths of life. Though you may not realize it, many authors use fantasy and science fiction to create an escape. An escape from the boring life we live, but Adams, he takes our boring life and just chucks it into a science fiction universe. Take Arthur Dent, one of the main protagonists. Arthur is not out of the ordinary, nor does he feel out of place in the world. He does have specific quirks, such as, valiantly ignoring problems at hand, never being able to get the hang of thursdays and has a brilliant tactic for which to deal with being chased, which is to stand stock still until someone pulls him along. At this point I have gotten extremely off topic. You are probably wondering why I said the beginning was depressing. Why this seems exciting! That is because, as an opening Adams creates a description, similar to the slow span inwards that you see in movies, jumping from the galaxy, to the solar system, to earth. He then describes the evolution of the human race in a hysterical, though somewhat backwards fashion. The slow inward span continues until we reach a young girl. She has just had an epiphany. She has found a way to end all wars, how to make the world a good place! And just as she was about to the reach her phone and tell everyone... she died.
Arthur Dent, or more truthfully his house, had been placed in the unique position of being the recipient of a glorious literary technique. The house in question was about to be bulldozed to create a highway bypass, much to Arthur’s dismay. Arthur had only found out about this unfortunate event the night before. He then decided to use his limited time to go to the pub and rant about the unfairness of the world to anyone who would listen. Using his brilliant skill of ignoring problems at hand. How is this in anyway significant enough to make it into a review going over five novels and a short story you ask? (spoiler alert for the first chapter ahead. If you prefer to read spoiler free skip to the section with the bold heading final verdict). Arthur’s house is used as a parallel. If you heard that some random person’s house in England was knocked down you would think, Oh that’s unfortunate, and move on. Earth is destroyed in the exact same manner that Arthur’s house was. An alien race called the Vogons decided it was time to freshen things up and build a new hyperspace bypass. Not, with any direct need for one, just because it’s a thing to do. Just so happens that Earth is in the way, oh well, one less planet. They weren’t even that evolved anyway, they still thought smartwatches were a pretty neat idea. Obviously when the populations of Earth hears that their home is about to be obliterated they panic, and scream horror of how unfair it is. Not including the occasional junkie or holy roller that screams how they were right. And, much like Arthur’s home, it got no trial, the people of “progress” were the judge, jury, and executioner. Earth was destroyed and the galaxy thought, Oh that’s unfortunate. But this is only where the story begins. Arthur and Ford (A hitchhiking alien from Betelgeuse) find a ride out before Earth is trashed. Leading to a spew of highly improbable, coincidental adventures that span five novels and a short story.
The Final Verdict
Read it. Just read it. You will immediately fall in love the quirky, yet heartbreakingly truthful ideology. There is a reason you can buy this book at Barnes & Noble in the fancy covers they reserve for the true classics. If given the opportunity I would rate this book 42 stars out of ten. (The number 42 is an ongoing joke throughout the book). At times it is hard to follow, but it’s comedic value is irreplaceable. I would definitely recommend this book to anybody in general, especially those who like science fiction or comedy or both.