Friday, April 22, 2005

17. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

by Douglas Adams

I wasn’t planning on rereading the Hitchhiker books before the movie comes out next week, but when I saw Amityville and sat through the preview going, “Who’s that? Where are they? I don’t remember that!” I realized, fuck. I need to reread these. Not all of them. Just the first three. I would read just the first one, but there’s a part in the preview that looks like they’re at the concert at the Restaurant, so I’m reading the first three just to be safe. They can’t possibly do all five in one movie. Right?

Anyhoo – I totally missed out on The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy when I was in high school. I’d heard about it, but I didn’t really know what it was and wasn’t even really clear on its concept as a book. Thanks again to the Chicklit forums for introducing me to an awesome read. The first time I read this was three years ago, right after graduating college. I read it again last year when I found a nice leather-bound edition for twenty bucks at Borders and spent many hours on Amtrak, going to and from my parents’ house, reading the five-part trilogy. Which makes this my third reading and, hey, just as awesome as the first.

What I love most about the book, what most people probably love about the book, is Douglas Adams’s unique social sarcasm. From the first page you’ve got this: “The planet has – or rather had – a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.” When the planet is eradiated by the Vogons to make way for an intergalactic bypass, Arthur Dent becomes one of the last two Earthlings left in the universe. Lab mice, who turn out to be the most intelligent species on Earth, want to buy his brain to figure out the Ultimate Question to the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. Adams’s take on that Answer and how Arthur fits in to the larger galaxy is engaging and hilarious.

I love the characters in the book. Marvin the Paranoid Android, who is a manically depressed robot. Trillian, the other Earthling, who turned down Arthur at a party to jump through space with a two-headed egomaniac. Zaphod Beeblebrox, who is that egomaniac and who, as President of the Galaxy, is on a larger mission, the details of which are locked in a space in his brains. And of course, Ford Prefect, a researcher for the Guide who got stranded on Earth for fifteen years and who I love. I named my laptop after him.

But I probably don’t need to recap the story for you, right? You’ve read it. And if you haven’t, you really should. You’ve got a week before the movie premieres. Hop to it. And don’t forget your towel.


Anonymous leila said...

So, what did you think of the movie?

2:42 PM  
Blogger Exxie said...

Oh, I loved it! But you'll have to wait to hear about that until I post about The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

4:42 PM  

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