This is the second time I have read the full Hitchhiker’s trilogy (in four parts), and the third time reading the first book of the trilogy – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. And I have enjoyed all of them very much. Douglas Adams was a completely insane guy, and it is a very sad thing he died so young.
There is so much to say about this book (or more correctly, books) that I don’t know where to start… First of all, if you haven’t read them go ahead and do this. Right now. Stop reading this and start reading the books!
Ah, you’re still here… well, I’ll continue. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (not the book you are reading, the other one) is a very popular book in the whole universe basically for two reasons: it is a lot cheaper than the Encyclopedia Galactica and it also has the words “don’t panic” written in friendly letters on the cover. The term was usually used with the following picture (which was very popular in 1995 web sites from what I remember):
Anyway, the book(s) tell the story of how two galactic hitchhikers (one human Arthur Dent and one Betelgeusian Ford Prefect) get mixed up in the quest to answer the ultimate question to life, the universe and everything, accompanied by a crazy two-headed Zaphod Beeblebrox (who happens to be the president of the galaxy), another human girl (Trillian) and a very, but very depressive robot called Marvin. The story is simply too complex to be explained in less than a couple of pages, and if you want to spoil the fun before you read it, check the book’s entry in the Wikipedia, which now that I think of it, is either becoming the Encyclopedia Galactica or The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (a funny idea from XKCD).
Like Terry Pratchett, Adams understood how people think and how the world is run. For example, Zaphod may be the president of the galaxy but he has absolutely no power, and was actually screened before being selected to be sure that he could not do anything harmful. Some quotes from the book show this even better:
“This planet (earth) 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.”
“One of the things Ford Prefect had always found hardest to understand about humans was their habit of continually stating and repeating the very very obvious, as in It’s a nice day, or You’re very tall, orOh dear you seem to have fallen down a thirty-foot well, are you all right? At first Ford had formed a theory to account for this strange behavior. If human beings don’t keep exercising their lips, he thought, their mouths probably seize up. After a few months’ consideration and observation he abandoned this theory in favor of a new one. If they don’t keep on exercising their lips, he thought, their brains start working. After a while he abandoned this one as well as being obstructively cynical and decided he quite liked human beings after all, but he always remained desperately worried about the terrible number of things they didn’t know about.”
And there are millions, millions more. But why spoil it for you? Buy the book from amazon, and by doing this you’ll give me a very, very, tiny percentage of the sale. But if you find it cheaper somewhere else buy it there.