I swear I thought I read this book, I have not. I really honestly and truly do not know how a story I know so well, with lines I quote all the time, could have snuck past me. I blame the movie. And the television show. And pop culture? I don’t know. But this has all been solved because now I have read it. Or Stephen Fry read it to me and it was delightful.
For anyone else who may have missed this one, here’s the basic idea. Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway (which itself becomes redundant almost immediately), our guy Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher from Betelgeuse 7 working on the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Ford has spent the last fifteen years on Earth posing as an out-of-work actor and become best friends with Arthur, who is already having a terrible day as his house is being demolished for a highway. Once they are off-planet their adventure only grows as they become looped up with a series of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox: the two-headed, three-armed president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot. All this while traveling through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”).
Makes sense, yes?
Douglas Adams is playing with the reader, layering in ideas and notions that are meant to make you think while simultaneously going for the laugh. The book is performing on several levels at the same time, and what you get out of it has much more to do with what you are willing to put into it. I chose to go the audiobook route for Hitchhiker’s Guide because its read by Stephen Fry. There may not be a more perfectly suited human to reading this words aloud. I have already purchased the next book in the series and foresee running through the whole series in the next few months.
This book was read and reviewed as part of the charitable Cannonball Read.