Musing on “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”

Cover, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

If you’re looking for a fun read, then you want to read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. HG2G has long been on my radar as a cult classic, but it wasn’t until I started this blog that I took action. I’m so happy  I did because HG2G was that fresh breath of reading that I needed. Most books take themselves very seriously, so seriously that it feels like reading, but not this book.

 

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy started with a man and an idea. Then it turned into a weekly radio series. Unlike the book format where authors have a distant after reaction from readers, a live weekly radio broadcast means immediate reaction from the audience. I believe that it was this immediate interaction with the audience that contributed to the books humor and brevity.  It also doesn’t hurt that Douglas spent time writing for “Monty Python” a classic British comedy series.  HG2G is the first in a series of six books first published in 1979 and was adapted from the first four radio episodes. I don’t know if I’ll need the other five books this year, but I am curious to follow the adventures of Ford and Author as they travel the galaxy aided by the Hitchhiker’s Guide.

 

The core of the story is that two friends venture off into the galaxy to escape the destruction of the Earth which sets off a chain of crazy, impossible events. Ford is an alien and researcher for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that has been stranded on the Earth for 20 years.  During his stay on Earth, he and Arthur have become close friends. When Ford learns that the Earth is going to be destroyed he makes plans for him and Arthur to escape by hitchhiking on a Vogon spaceship. Despite Ford’s experience in the galaxy, Adams makes sure that the experiences are new and unexpected for both characters. This heightens the suspense of the story for the reader. It felt like arm chair traveling.

 

Adams delves into the idea of fate in several different ways. Ford and Zaphod are cousins who meet, again after many years of separation, when the Heart of Gold (the Improbability ship that Zaphod and Trillian stole) picks him up in the middle of space.  Arthur, Trillian, and Zaphod first encounter each other at a party months before the Earth is destroyed, and are reconnected when the Heart of Gold picks Arthur up in the middle of space. Then the Infinite Improbability Drive takes the companions (most importantly the last human being) to a planet that according to history says it is impossible to exist, Magrathea the planet where planets are created. Once there they encounter Slartibartfast, the creator of the Earth, and the pa dimensional beings that had the Earth built so that they could find the meaning of life. I agree with Adams that fate is a big a picture concept, happening and connecting things and people all time everywhere.

 

Publisher: Del Ray 2005 (rerelease)

Pages: 224

 

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