Wednesday, November 11, 2009

CBII: It Was Something Yellow: Book 4 - The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy - Douglas Adams

I've got to admit, I've heard a lot about Doulas Adam's The Hitchhicker's Guide To The Galaxy and most of it sits determinedly on the favourable side of the fence. Of course I was expecting to be blown away within the first ten minutes of the book but maybe I would have enjoyed it more as a radio broadcast. You see, this is how the book came into existance. Originally it was an episodic radio broadcast done in Britain and was then picked up and published an a variety of incorrect ways. Chapters were published out of order or were missing entirely, parts of book two were mashed into book one and so forth. In the forward to the book (which is the entire collection), Adams explains the journey that results in this edition The Trilogy Of Four. He aslo assures us that this is indeed the correct version and should be trusted implicitly.

The Hitchhicker's Guide revolves around Arthur Dent who is a wholly unremarkable individual and a friend of his that goes by the name of Ford Prefect. Arthur's house is about to be demolished this morning to make way for a new expressway but it takes Arthur a good while to remember why he should pay attention to the yellow "things" outside his house. Of course, once he remembers what is supposed occur today, he promptly rushes outside, plops himself in the mud in front of a bulldozer and commences arguing with the local bereaucrat. Meanwhile his supposed cousin Ford Prefect (who is actually a not so cleverly disguised writer for The Guide) has recieved a signal that warns him that he should vacate Earth post-haste. In a moment of uncharacteristic generousity, he decides to take Arthur for one last drink. He proceeds to convince Arthur to stop his muddy protest and also, somehow, coerces the bereaucrat to take Arthur's place. Arthur and Ford adjourn to the local pub where Ford lets it be known that the Earth is going to be destroyed in about fifteen minutes. Also, he wishes to know if Arthur has brought his towel as The Guide is insistant that all a hitchhiker needs is a towel as ,if one has a towel, he must have all the other items needed for travelling the galaxy. It's at this point that the Bulldozers level Arthur's house and the spaceships show up. You see, the Earth is slated for demolition in order to build a new intergalactic expressway. The Earth is destroyed and our travellers wake up in a darkend room somewhere else.

All in all The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy is decently entertaining. Adams focuses on the interactions of the characters and the witty dialogue between them to carry the story. In many instances he'll back-fill the story with flashbacks or Guide entries in order to flesh-out characters or give context to their situation. There is a lot of wit and humor in this book but the level of whimsy is off the charts. In spots it seemed to me that the humour was a bit out of place and served nothing more that an oppourtunity to be funny. Indeed, the funniest parts of the book are the Guide entries. While I would chuckle at times within the rest of the story, The Guide entries are hilarious because they are totally deadpanned and serious which is more to my taste. Also, I felt like nothing happend for the first 150 pages or so except the characters blathering at each other. I actually had to force myself to keep going and that is quite rare for me. That being said I'm sure that The Hitchhiker's Guide is perfectly servicable for many people and I'm not going to give up on it either. I just hope something happens in the next book. The Restaraunt At The End Of The Universe.


  1. I also failed to be blown away by this book. Mind you, I liked it, probably laughed out loud a couple of times, but ultimately it didn't live up to the hype for me.

    Hardcore Douglas Adams fans may cringe at this, but I very much enjoyed the movie. No, I do not mean the movie was better than the book; I just went in to it with low expectations and was quite pleasantly surprised.

  2. yeah, those rake thingys that kept popping up and smacking them in the face were funny. does this book have those? if not, go DIRECTLY TO HELL, douglas adams!

  3. This book is awesome. Maybe that's just my taste, but I found it hilarious the first time I read it and every subsequent time. And it's one of the few books I'll actually recommend to people if I find out they haven't read it.

    Maybe check out Adam's other series, "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency" and it's follow up "The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul". They've got more of that deadpan humor in them. I'll admit that the Hitchhiker's "Trilogy" frequently goes for broad humor.

  4. I enjoyed them well enough but am not a full on Adams Cultist. The humor is a bit broad at times and there's enough social satire to keep it interesting but I just never became a huge fan of his work.

  5. I haven't read the books yet. Despite being given them by a boyfriend in high school (yes, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth), who was absolutely fanatical about them. I did give the leatherbound collection to a friend of my kids for his bday and he raves about them also. And my son started reading the first book, but I know it hasn't grabbed his attention yet because he hasn't disappeared for days as he usually does when engrossed in a book (oh the blessed quiet!)

    I did however Love the movie. But based on your review, I will probably continue putting off reading the books until I'm out of other reading material. =]


  6. Read them all, enjoyed each in it's own way. Can't say I'm a cultist either. Also can't wait for you to review Fear and Loathing. Heh.