The Hitchhiker's Trilogy by Douglas Adams
Published by Science Fiction Book Club on October 16th 2000
Series: The Hitchhiker's Trilogy #1
Genres: Fiction, Humor, Science Fiction
Length: 839 pages Source: Gift from Family
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Suppose a good friend calmly told you over a round of drinks that the world was about to end? And suppose your friend went on to confess that he wasn't from around here at all, but rather from a small planet near Betelgeuse? And what if the world really did come to an end, but instead of being blown away, you found yourself hitching a ride on a spaceship with your buddy as a traveling companion?
It happens to Arthur Dent.
An ordinary guy from a small town in England, Arthur is one lucky sonofagun: his alien friend, Ford Prefect, is in fact a roving researcher for the universally bestselling Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy ... and expert at seeing the cosmos on 30 Altairian dollars a day. Ford lives by the Guide's seminal bit of advice: Don't Panic. Which comes in handy when their first ride--on the very same vessel that demolished Earth to make way for a hyperspacial freeway--ends disastrously (they are booted out of an airlock). with 30 seconds of air in their lungs and the odd of being picked up by another ship 2^276,709 to 1 against, the pair are scooped up by the only ship in the universe powered by the Infinite Improbability Drive.
But this (and the idea that Bogart movies and McDonald's hamburgers now exist only in his mind) is just the beginning of the weird things Arthur will have to get used to. For, on his travels, he'll encounter Zaphod Beeblebrox, the two-headed, three-armed ex-President of the Galaxy; Trillian, a sexy spacecadet he once tried to pick up at a cocktail party, now Zaphod's girlfriend; Marvin, a chronically depressed robot; and Slartibartfast, the award-winning engineer who built the Earth and travels in a spaceship disguised as a bistro.
Arthur's crazed wanderings will take him from the restaurant at the end of the Universe (where the main dish of the day introduces itself and the floor show is doomsday), to the planet Krikkit (locked in Slo-Time to punish its inhabitants for trying to end the Universe), to Earth (huh? wait! wasn't it destroyed?!) to the very offices of The Hitchhiker's Guide itself as he and his friends quest for the answer to the Question of Life, the Universe and Everything ... and search for a really good cup of tea.
Ready or not, Arthur Dent is in for one hell of a ride!
The most important thing to know about the Hitchhiker’s Trilogy (other than to know where your towel is), is to read one book at a time. When I was in high school, I had the good fortune to be gifted what I call my “Hitchhiker’s Bible,” a large book with paper-thin pages that contains all the first five books in one convenient edition. It seemed like a dream come true… the first time I read it.
Now, after the third time, I have to admit that not all the books are masterpieces. In fact, I am not at all fond of the third book, Life, the Universe, and Everything. Being, as it is, stuck in the middle of the trilogy, it’s a sort of unfortunate buffer between the two interesting halves and makes it a drudge to get through… kind of like the Council of Elrond in The Fellowship of the Ring. I love this series, and the only reason it gets four stars is because I’m daft and I read it all together and the third book throws me off and I end up skimming to get to the good parts.
You have to take Adams with a grain of salt. Keep in mind, he wrote four versions of this story: the books, the radio show, the BBC miniseries, and the movie. None of these editions are identical, and all of them were written by the same man. It is, therefore, useless to squabble over technicalities and we should simply assume that in one universe or another, they are all correct. His humor is a bit flat and he has a bad habit of introducing Super Important Characters that disappear after 60 pages as though they had never existed. It is all part of his charm.
The Hitchhiker’s Trilogy is one of those books that people love, or hate… but not in-between. For those who are on the fence about the book and are not sure they want to commit the time to reading it (indeed, my tome-version looks pretty intimidating, even to me), I must emphasize that the best adjective to describe it is “ridiculous” and I advise you (get ready for this – it’s practically sacrilegious) pick up the recent film version. The script is strikingly similar to the first book, which is, as a whole, the best of the six… and it requires less of a commitment.