While the genre of Science Fiction isn’t particularly known for its sense of humor, the The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams is a prime example of how the format’s unique characteristics can be used for humorous effect.
With droll British humor and an absurdist streak to match anyone in the Galaxy, Adams is able to bring us a thrilling adventure through time and space that not only provides some genuine chuckles (maybe even guffaws) along the way, but also presents us with an awe inspiring picture of the universe (as well as an Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything).
Hitchhiker’s Guide Summary
Following the adventures of Arthur Dent as he tries to survive (and comprehend) the strange vastness of the universe after Earth is unceremoniously destroyed to make way for an interstellar expressway, the first novel in the series also introduces the reader to a motley cast of characters, including Ford Prefect (a humanoid looking alien who accompanies Arthur on most of his travels), Tricia McMillan (Arthur’s love interest and a fellow earthling who was also able to escape Earth’s destruction), Zaphod Beeblebrox (the two-headed President of the Galaxy) and the super computer Deep Thought (who is tasked with discovering the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life).
While the first book deals primarily with Dent accompanying Zaphod and the others on a quest to find the legendary planet of Magrathea, subsequent books (and plays, movies and comic books) help to expand the universe even further.
Hitchhiker’s Guide Review
Although most fans probably identify the series most closely with the 6 main books, the Guide originally started off as a comedy radio series that was broadcast by the BBC, the first parts of which eventually became the novel. That makes sense, as the book does have a slightly episodic feel to it. Besides the books and
radio series, it has also been adapted as a series of comic books, a TV series, a computer game, and even a 2005 movie starring Martin Freeman.
While I thoroughly enjoyed the book (and even the sequel The Restaurant at the End of the Universe), I couldn’t seem to muster up the energy or enthusiasm to keep going any further. Maybe I just got a little tired of the increasingly fantastical, tongue in cheek nature of the plot and characters. Maybe I just have a hard time appreciating British humor (wait, that can’t be it…Red Dwarf is one of my favorite shows of all time). Either way, if you’re a fan of science fiction or humor or absurdist farce, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a must read. Just remember two things: Don’t forget your towel…..and Don’t Panic!
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Quotes
“This planet has — or rather had — a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much all 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.”
“In many of the more relaxed civilizations on the Outer Eastern Rim of the Galaxy, the Hitchhiker’s Guide has already supplanted the great Encyclopaedia Galactica as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom, for though it has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate, it scores over the older, more pedestrian work in two important respects. First, it is slightly cheaper; and secondly it has the words DON’T PANIC inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover.”
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Series: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy | The Restaurant at the End of the Universe | Life, The Universe and Everything | Mostly Harmless