Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Book Review: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

Synopsis - Charting Arthur Dent's odyssey through space are:  The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - One Thursday lunchtime the earth gets unexpectedly demolished to make way for a new hyperspace bypass.  For Arthur, who has only just had his house demolished that morning, this seems already to be more than he can cope with.  However, the weekend has only just begun, and a galaxy is a very strange and startling place.
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe - When all questions of space, time, matter and the nature of being have been resolved, only one question remains - "Where shall we have dinner?"  The Restaurant at the end of the Universe provides the ultimate gastronomic experience, and for once there is no morning after to worry about.
Life, The Universe and Everything - In consequence of a number of stunning catastrophes, Arthur is surprised to find himself living in a hideously miserable cave on prehistoric Earth.  However, just as he thinks that things cannot possibly get any worse, they suddenly do.  He discovers that the Galaxy is not only mind-bogglingly big and bewildering, but also that most of the things that happen in it are staggeringly unfair.
So Long, and Thanks for All The Fish - Just as Arthur Dent's sense of reality is in its dickiest state he suddenly finds the girl of his dreams.  He finds her in the last place in which he would expect to find anything at all, but which 3,976,000,000 people will find oddly familiar.  They go in search of God's Final Message to  His Creation and, in a dramatic break with tradition, actually find it.

Review - The first book whose title is the most famous was originally published in 1970, the following three books in the early 1980's.  You would think they would be dated but they do travel into the noughties and it's second decade pretty well.  A bit like Monty Python, The Young Ones and other comedies of that ilk.  I had this tome on my shelf for some time having nabbed it off my son.  It is a thick book and I think that did put me off, anyway I finally got around to reading it.  I am not sure I could really tell you what it's about as it is all quite nonsensical.  The synopsis above should help with that (taken from the back cover).  Very cleverly written, Adams is clearly extremely bright with his wit and wonderful imagination.  It's strange to think that in the seventies computers were in quite early stages but rather like Orwell's novel 1984, some of the technology mentioned is current in today's society.  At that time a hyperspace bypass may not have seemed an idea so very far away when science and technology were progressing rapidly.  Space travel happens but we have still yet to see a bypass in the sky!  Anyway, without going into the why's and wherefore's too deeply, it is an amusing read and something quite different.  I have seen the TV series when it was repeated (I think) in the 80's and the film (2005) with Martin Freeman playing Arthur Dent but I don't remember the original radio plays.  If you like 70's/80's comedy think Cambridge set and science fiction then this might be right up your street.  A good fun read.  4*

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