Written for the Celebrity Death Match Review Elimination TournamentThe Bout: The Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy vs. The Complete Tales and Poems of Winnie-The-PoohZaphod Beeblebrox: Trillian! Start up the Infinite Improbability Drive!Trillian: Infinite Improbability Drive is on!Zaphod: Anything Improbable yet?Arthur Dent: A odd fat yellow bear with a honey pot has just materialized in front of us. How interesting.Trillian: How Cute!Ford Prefect: Why, the odds of that happening is 678,999,999 billion to one.Arthur: Now a purple dinosaur has appeared. O My God! He's eating the bear!Trillian: EWWW!Zaphod: And what is the odds of that happening?Ford: About 756 Billion Trillion to one.Zaphod: I knew I should have visited my bookie today.Robert
I once believed I was an alien life form, albeit I was in third grade at the time, and thus subject to the ramifications of peer pressure, which sometimes contradicts common sense. Having watched enough cartoons, along with enough animated movies and not so animated ones, I even resorted to the beep-beep noise used by The Road Runner and unintelligent Martians. It was not one of my prouder moments, but looking back on it now, probably showed my ability to suspend disbelief, and helped sprout the seeds of my imagination. Since then, I’ve developed the spine of a porcupine, I can spit nails, and I have the hard exterior shell of a Plexiglas spacecraft, so I guess the cycle is complete and all is right with the cosmos.But there are definite glitches in our universe, as evidenced in THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY. First, we have the demolishment of the Earth for a galactic freeway or hyperspace bypass. We find out our intelligence level has been exceeded by mice and dolphins, and that dolphins tried to warn us multiple times of our impending doom, but gave up when their form of communication was not acknowledged and accepted our offerings of fish instead. Ford Prefect is alive and well, is not to be confused with the failed Ford model, and in multiple cases, his intelligence exceeds that of the protagonist, Arthur Dent. The plot becomes a bit discombobulated and farfetched at times and sometimes powered by the Infinite Improbability Drive, but that only adds to the wackiness and pleasure of the overall experience.Even towels are magically transformed to “the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.” And you just might need one to stifle your laughter, grins, and outright guffaws at some of the hilarious discussions presented in this fun, quirky read. Where, in the end, “I came for a week and got stuck for fifteen years.”“Resistance is useless!” So you should just sit back and enjoy yourself, albeit from another planet like Mars or Pluto, and where the future is not mired by a hyperspace bypass. Of course, there’s always the possibility that introverts may rule this particular universe, and this brings me to one of my favorite lines of this tale: “If they don’t keep on exercising their lips, he thought, their brains start working.” So, in that regard, I will continue to exercise my brain through the absence of moving my lips, except when I have something intelligent, relevant, or interesting to say, or when I occasionally forget that my mouth is moving.If you have a wickedly morbid, sarcastic sense of humor, this book is definitely for you. Since I laugh so often I sometimes don’t even know why I’m laughing, I rather enjoyed this read. And you can too, for the measly sum of less than thirty Altairian dollars a day. “So long and thanks for all the fish.”Tina
Original post at One More PageWhen 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, 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.Goodreads Filipino Group - Face to Face Book Discussion # 3 (Photo c/o Kwesi)And because it had to be commented: what kind of answer is 42, anyway?Chris
I picked this up at a book fair in seventh grade, which is the perfect time to stumble across the Hitchhiker trilogy (yes, trilogy; I deny the last 2 or three books), and the next week I was kicked out of independent reading because I was laughing so loud that I disturbed the others. I don't like a lot of wacky humour books (I can't stand "Good Omens"), but Douglas Adams has the perfect blend of over-the-top craziness and dead-pan ("the space-ships hung in the air exactly the way that bricks don't"). I spent the next four years driving my English teachers nuts by trying to write like him.Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Wonderfully absurd. Rather than a review this is a sampling of the humour you can expect. You decide:)Concise: “The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't”Deep: “They discovered only a small asteroid inhabited by a solitary old man who claimed repeatedly that nothing was true, though he was later discovered to be lying.”Timeless:“And so the problem remained; lots of people were mean, and most were miserable, even the ones with digital watches.”Relevant:“This 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 movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.”Alejandro
Please, before anything... DON'T PANIC. This review is harmless, well mostly harmless.I think that one of the things that one has to keep in mind while reading this book is that it was written in 1979. Having this important factor in perspective, it's quite astonishing the vision of Douglas Adams, the author, presenting a lot of visionary elements, starting with the very "book inside the book", I mean The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, since it's presented as an electronic book. which now it's a very common way to read a lot of books now. Also, he mentioned stuff like "touch-sensitive screens" that yet again, it's now something introduced in our daily lives. Science-Fiction, the good science fiction is defined by being visionary in the moment to be published and a fact, years later. Just like Verne's work predicting events like space rockets and nuclear submarines.The President of the Universe holds no real power. His sole purpose is to take attention away from where the power truly exists...Obviously, beside the mesmering tecnology stuff that he predicted, the signature style here is his remarkable sense of humor, smart sense of humor. In literature and pop culture in general, there were been unforgettable examples of computers like the cold HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey and the noble K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider, also robots like the loyal R2-D2 from Star Wars and the logical robots from I, Robot short story collection. However, nothing of that can prepare you to the experience of meeting "Eddie", the Main Computer of the Heart of Gold spaceship or Marvin, the Paranoid Android. This is one of the best traits of Douglas Adams' wit in the development of artificial intelligence. I wasn't surprised since some months ago, I read Shada by Gareth Roberts but based on the Doctor Who's unaired script written by Douglas Adams where you find another priceless example of a computer with a personality that only Adams is able to develop. You laugh and laugh with them BUT not only because they's funny but also they are truly logical as artifical intelligences in their way to react to situations. Adams' impact of how presenting artificial intelligence can be found too in another novel of Doctor Who, Festival of Death by Jonathan Morris, where the author showed how well he learned Adams' lessons.Resistance is useless!I believe that Douglas Adams' involvement in the production of the iconic British sci-fi TV series Doctor Who as script editor and writer of three stories, it was fated since I found remarkable similarities on the premises of both works, this novel and the TV series. Both has a peculiar fellow who stole certain machine and along with companions is travelling around. So, it wouldn't a surprise that he got some inspiration since Doctor Who was widely known since 1963 specially on its native country, England. Of course, his participation on another British TV institution like Monty Python's Flying Circus was a relevant point for Adams to explode his humoristic potential.To boldly split infinitives that no man had split before...It's possible that people unfamiliar with Adams' work could think that since this is a novel with comedy, they could think that it can't be a "serious" science-fiction book. However, the brilliance of this novel is its capacity of offering smart humor while using scientific concepts like the theory of faster-than-light objects. Even you won't be able to fight against his priceless explanation behind the UFOs' sightings.Without spoiling anything, I think that my only reason of getting off a star in my rating of this great novel was its lacking a proper closure. I understand that this the first book in a trilogy of five books (yes, you read correctly, it wasn't a mistake) so the adventures and mysteries will continue in the second book The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. However, it was quite unsettling when you are having the time of your life reading it and the book just stopped to have words. I describe it like that since I didn't feel an ending. It was indeed just like the impossibility of not finding more words in the book. What I can give to Adams is that that was quite improbable but in my opinion, quite unlikely way to just "ending" this book. Certainly I want to read the rest of this great trilogy of five books. (Yes, yet again, it isn't a mistake)Alan
Absolute genius. His deliberate construction of interesting, often grammatically tortuous, always rewarding prose was fantastic.I listened to the radio series.I bought the books.I taped the radio series and listened endlessly; especially to the second series.I bought the LPs!I bought the Marvin the Paranoid Android single!!I did NOT like the TV series; maybe the technology wasn't up to itI liked the film.I liked the fact that every single version was different!!Felicia
What can I say? I wish I had been in the movie, although it was bad and I guess I should be happy about NOT being in it.David
Okay, I can understand how somebody might not absolutely love The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It does after all combine a few things—such as scifi and screwball comedy, for instance—that not everyone can deal with. In other words, the nerd quotient is high here, and people who aren't wired that way might end up perplexed. BUT--and this is a big ol' BUT: I don't understand how anybody can HATE this book. In fact, if I weren't such a saintly, even-keel, kittenish kind of guy, I might say that I'm tempted to hate haters of this book. How can you hate such a genial, well-meaning book? I mean, Douglas Adams just saunters in, gives his readers the glad hand, rolls up his sleeves, and gets down to business—summoning every gag in his repertoire just to keep you curmudgeons entertained. And does he succeed? In my opinion, yes. Most definitely. I should probably tell you, by way of disclaimer, that I have some hardcore nostalgia invested in the Hitchhiker books. (There are five in all, but I never read the fifth Mostly Harmless.) This may be the first non-film novelization full-length book that wasn't strictly intended for kids that I ever read. That's an accomplishment for a kid who was raised on reruns and talking to himself in the tool shed in the backyard. I kind of hated reading for the most part before I got out of college. (I know! I was one of those people! Endlessly grasping for the channel changer and being ruined by the media.)Since I was maybe twelve or thirteen when I read this, I'm sure some of the dry humor flew right over head, but the slapstick, sight gags, and ridiculous plotting sure didn't. There are so many absurdist details in this ricocheting narrative that presenting you with a thorough summary would be tough. Suffice it to say that it centers on an Earthling named Arthur Dent who narrowly escapes the destruction of the planet when it is destroyed to build a galactic superhighway. He ends up hitching a ride on a stolen spaceship with the (two-headed, three-armed) president of the galaxy.If you're rolling your eyes, you are (1) a killjoy and (2) not the intended audience for this book. Go read Jane Austen or one of those books about cats that live in libraries. If you're smart and have good taste, read this book. It's kind of like a slightly lowerbrow Woody Allenesque scifi farce, if you can imagine such a thing. (Well, there was Sleeper, so I guess maybe you can.) The plot, like those in Allen's earliest films, is a little flimsy and haphazard, but the Child Version of Me insists that you will enjoy it anyway unless you're a complete asshole.Kate
Mostly harmless. That’s the entirety of the entry for Earth in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Of course, it hardly matters now, since Earth was destroyed half an hour ago to make way for a hyperspace express route. Now Arthur Dent is stuck on a stolen spaceship with the two-headed, three-armed President of the Universe, Zaphod Beeblebrox, and the girl he stole from right under Arthur’s nose. Arthur Dent is having a very bad day—and that’s even before he has to deal with the hypochondriac, suicidally depressed robot, Marvin.With no home to go back to—his house was demolished minutes before the Earth was vaporized—Arthur has no choice but to continue on his adventure. Before he’s finished, he’ll know three things—what is the meaning of life, which species was really in control on Earth, and that he should never, ever be without his towel.Emily May
This is not the best book ever written. It is unlikely to affect you on any deep emotional level and you probably won't spend sleepless nights just thinking about it.But it's a simple, humourous sci-fi adventure. It won't do something for everybody but I'm a massive fan of Douglas Adams' and his sense of humour. Come on, like it or not, Adams' has some awesomely quotable sayings (not all of these are from this exact book):"In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move." "For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.""The Guide says there is an art to flying", said Ford, "or rather a knack. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.""A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools." "Would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?" "The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't."Tim "The Enchanter"
Idiocy Meets Intellect - 3 Stars This entertaining romp through the absurd is mildly reminiscent of the absurdity of a Monty Python sketch. There is plenty of dry and absurd humour for the British humour enthusiast. If British humour is not your cup of tea *pun alert* then you will want to skip this one. This hardly needs another lengthy review so I will avoid the temptation and will keep it short.This silly story of Arthur Dent and his secretly alien friend, Ford, escape earth moments before it is destroy to make way for a galactic bypass. There is plenty of idiotic banter with humour arising when characters state the obvious. While the story is funny and the writing sharp, it fails to have the coherence of say a Monty Python movie (I am a bit biased in favor the MP) as it often finds humour in the creation of absurd non realities as opposed to satire.That said, much of the ridiculous humour has an intelligent basis. Whether or not the crazy ideas in the story have a basis in scientific fact, it manages to give the impression that it could be based loosely on scientific principle. Additionally, while some humour is silly some humour is dense and requires concentration. When I notice it, it makes me feel highly evolved and inflates sense of heightened intellect. If you didn't find this funny, you were simply to dense to understand the humour :)I understand that this was first a radio program. The pacing and tone of the story makes it suited for the audiobook format. In this case Stephan Fry does an admirable job narrating but imagine a radio production would be even better.I liked it but did not love it. I am sure I will read the next in the series but I won't be starting it immediately.Keely
The universe is a joke. Even before I was shown the meaning of life in a dream at 17 (then promptly forgot it because I thought I smelled pancakes), I knew this to be true--and yet, I have always felt a need to search for the truth, that nebulous, ill-treated creature. Adams has always been, to me, to be a welcome companion in that journey. Between the search for meaning and the recognition that it's all a joke in poor taste lies Douglas Adams, and, luckily for us, he doesn't seem to mind if you lie there with him. He's a tall guy, but he'll make room.For all his crazed unpredictability, Adams is a powerful rationalist. His humor comes from his attempts to really think through all the things we take for granted. It turns out it takes little more than a moment's questioning to burst our preconceptions at the seams, yet rarely does this stop us from treating the most ludicrous things as if they were perfectly reasonable.It is no surprise that famed atheist Richard Dawkins found a friend and ally in Adams. What is surprising is that people often fail to see the rather consistent and reasonable philosophy laid out by Adams' quips and absurdities. His approach is much more personable (and less embittered) than Dawkins', which is why I think of Adams as a better face for rational materialism (which is a polite was of saying 'atheism').Reading his books, it's not hard to see that Dawkins is tired of arguing with uninformed idiots who can't even recognize when a point has actually been made. Adams' humanism, however, stretched much further than the contention between those who believe, and those who don't.We see it from his protagonists, who are not elitist intellectuals--they're not even especially bright--but damn it, they're trying. By showing a universe that makes no sense and having his characters constantly question it, Adams is subtly hinting that this is the natural human state, and the fact that we laugh and sympathize shows that it must be true.It's all a joke, it's all ridiculous. The absurdists might find this depressing, but they're just a bunch of narcissists, anyhow. Demanding the world make sense and give you purpose is rather self centered when it already contains toasted paninis, attractive people in bathing suits, and Euler's Identity. I say let's sit down at the bar with the rabbi, the priest, and the frog and try to get a song going. Or at least recognize that it's okay to laugh at ourselves now and again. It's not the end of the world.It's just is a joke, but some of us are in on it.Sally Linford
While it had some funny moments, even some clever moments, I can't recall any of them, and I can only remember this as one of the stupidest books I've ever read.Melina
I read this book about 51,017 times when I was in seventh grade. I wore my copy out. That was a time in my life when I very much would have preferred to belong to some alien species, trapped here through no fault of my own. Also: "The ships hung in the air in much the same way that bricks don't." How can you improve on writing like that? Q: What's so bad about being drunk?A: Just ask a glass of water. ahhh, good times.