Go grab your towel and sit down to enjoy this pseudo-review of The Hitch Hiker’s Guide Series by Douglas Adams.
For a bit of convenience (Whose, you ask? Well that is currently being investigated by the species that inhabit Argabuthon), I’ll first list all the books in order:
1. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy
2. The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe
3. Life, The Universe And Everything
4. So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish
5. Mostly Harmless
6. And Another Thing…- Written by Eoin Colfer (I haven’t read it, so my review doesn’t include any comments on it)
For a large part of the first novel, I was feeling pretty much the same as Arthur Dent.
I will write this review while drawing parallels from Arthur’s life to better explain my feelings while reading this book.
The day I started the book was nothing extraordinary, little did I know that the book was this bulldozer that would demolish the house that was my general belief of what books contain (or the yellow Vogon ships that would demolish my planet of beliefs!)
Sure, the reviews were on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet, but I never thought to look.
At least Arthur got a fair warning saying, “Don’t Panic”- I never got one that said “This trilogy of five books is about to change your life”
Anyway I went with the flow, just like Arthur. Saying stuff like “What?”, “Where’s the Tea?” and “So this is it, we are going to die.” and taking help from The Guide occasionally to brush up on my facts.
I learnt early on too, not to question things too much because the answers will make you wish you had never asked.
Although I was always grateful about knowing the questions because, well, 42 is one answer where I’d rather have the question.
But by the fifth book I got a fair idea of how things worked here, and went beyond my state of perpetual confusion to enjoy the books.
The best part about the books, according to me, is the writing.
It is witty, funny, satirical, edgy, absurd and all that awesome kind of stuff that I love reading and can never write! So obviously this series became a favourite.
So it is science-fiction. And has a lot of quantum physics which I didn’t understand, I admit it (you people are smarter than me when it comes to Science- so you would enjoy it.)
But in spite of that I am saying I loved it! Doesn’t that mean it is really something?? 😀
Here is the basic overall plot of the series which I must give you because it is a review, although I’d rather you just dive into these books and experience all the craziness firsthand!
Never mind! Stick with me here and the best part comes towards the end.
So it begins with Arthur Dent, an Englishman lying in the dust in front of a yellow bulldozer that’s about to demolish his house to make way for a bypass. Just when he thinks it couldn’t get any worse than this, his peculiar friend Ford Prefect tells him some really bad news!
The Earth is about to be destroyed by yellow Vogon ships to make a hyperspace bypass.
(Oh and BTW, Ford Prefect is actually an alien!
Keeping up yet?)
But of course, Arthur and Ford being the pretty important characters here, they must stay alive and so they hitch a ride on one of the Vogon ships and thus begin their Adventures through the Universe!
By the end of the first book they have the Answer to The Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe and Everything (not the question, though. And in search of that, a couple of mice want to buy off Arthur’s brain!), Arthur gets to know about this book called “The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to The Galaxy (yes I’m talking about the one which is more popular than the Celestial Home Care Omnibus, better selling than Fifty More Things to do in Zero Gravity, and more controversial than Oolon Colluphid’s trilogy of blockbusters Where God Went Wrong, Some More of God’s Greatest Mistakes and Who is this God Person Anyway?), and also that Ford is one of the writers/contributors to the book.
They are joined by Zaphod Beeblebrox (the President of the Galaxy who is also a relation of Ford Prefect), Marvin- the perpetually depressed android and Trillian (formerly known as Tricia) McMillian- another one of Earth’s survivors.
Towards the end of the first book, they leave for “a quick bite” at The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe.
Well, there is the Creation of the Universe and then there is the End!
Hungry? There lies a Restaurant towards the end of the Universe… and now this is a quest to get something to eat.
Add to this the Infinite Improbability Drive and there you have it, the perfect recipe for an absurd but absolutely entertaining book!
The inhabitants of Krikkit are unaware of the existence of life outside their planet. So when they discover it, they plan to destroy it. Life, The Universe and Everything is in danger!
Slartibartfast, who is a designer of planets, becomes the driving character of this book.
Things to look out for: Bowerick Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged who decides to insult everyone in the Universe in alphabetical order, Slartifartbast’s Bistromathematical spaceship, and the re-acquaintance of the sentient bowl of petunias from ‘Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’ that results in Arthur Dent glimpsing his own future.
And just when Arthur as well as I had started getting used to the leaps through time and space (I totally stole this phrase from The Time Travel Project), Arthur is transported back to Earth (thoughts such as “But the Earth was destroyed!!!” are petty details which should be overlooked for your own sanity): with no souvenirs of the last eight years! He almost starts believing that they never happened but he discovers that since his absence all the dolphins have disappeared with a message for the humans, “So Long, And Thanks for All The Fish”.
Arthur then falls in love with the mysterious Fenchurch- and both of them have a flying love story (that’ll only make sense if you’ve read the book- in fact, almost everything will make sense only after you’ve read the books- and not much of it even then!).
Marvin makes a small but memorable appearance, no Zaphod, and a bit of Ford- being his usual self!
Then, there is all the talk about parallel universes that are anything but parallel. Now, there is a Tricia McMillan as well as a Trillian McMillan. But we get to that later.
The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy had just two words for Earth: Mostly Harmless.
But Ford is surprised to find that suddenly all his writings for Earth have been included! This leads him to discover that Megadodo Publications, has been taken over by InfiniDim Enterprises.
Fenchurch (the love of Arthur’s life) disappears and now Arthur is depressed!
This is also a story about Random (I don’t know if revealing her surname and thus who she is counts as a spoiler here or what, so Google it if you are very curious)- a teenager who wants to find a place to belong.
This book gets very serious at places, it isn’t as funny as the other four books, but I really loved it!
The end was abrupt, it could have been better.
But all in all, I must say it was a wonderful series of books!
I am so glad I continued in spite of my confusion in the very beginning where I felt like quitting- and that’s the advice I’ll give you: Don’t Panic and Don’t Quit!
This series is an absolute delight.
Now the best part (I promised you one and here you have it):
Here are some of the most funny, witty, wacky, sarcastic, satirical, absurd quotes from this series (the most enjoyable experience while reading the book was the writing and I rarely find such books so I cannot miss this opportunity).
The Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy
“Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.”
“The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.”
“He felt that his whole life was some kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.”
“If there’s anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now.”
“A towel, [The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy] says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-boggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.”
The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe
“The story so far:
In the beginning the Universe was created.
This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”
“Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.”
“It is worth repeating at this point the theories that Ford had come up with, on his first encounter with human beings, to account for their peculiar habit of continually stating and restating the very very obvious, as in “It’s a nice day,” or “You’re very tall,” or “So this is it, we’re going to die.”
“I’m up to here with cool, okay? I am so amazingly cool you could keep a side of meat in me for a month. I am so hip I have difficulty seeing over my pelvis.”
“But what about the End of the Universe? We’ll miss the big moment.”
I’ve seen it. It’s rubbish,” said Zaphod,”nothing but a gnab gib.”
Opposite of a big bang. Come on, let’s get zappy.”
Life, The Universe and Everything
“He hoped and prayed that there wasn’t an afterlife. Then he realized there was a contradiction involved here and merely hoped that there wasn’t an afterlife.”
“The Guide says there is an art to flying”, said Ford, “or rather a knack. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.”
“It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.”
“Just believe everything I tell you, and it will all be very, very simple.’
Ah, well, I’m not sure I believe that.”
“My doctor says that I have a malformed public duty gland and a natural deficiency in moral fiber”
“Trillian did a little research in the ship’s copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It had some advice to offer on drunkenness.”
“Go to it,” it said, “and good luck.
So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish
“Life… is like a grapefruit. Well, it’s sort of orangey-yellow and dimpled on the outside, wet and squidgy in the middle. It’s got pips inside, too. Oh, and some people have half a one for breakfast.”
“He almost danced to the fridge, found the three least hairy things in it, put them on a plate and watched them intently for two minutes. Since they made no attempt to move within that time he called them breakfast and ate them. Between them they killed a virulent space disease he’d picked up without knowing it in the Flargathon Gas Swamps a few days earlier, which otherwise would have killed off half the population of the Western Hemisphere, blinded the other half, and driven everyone else psychotic and sterile, so the Earth was lucky there.”
“This man is the bee’s knees, Arthur, he is the wasp’s nipples. He is, I would go so far as to say, the entire set of erogenous zones of every major flying insect of the Western world.”
“But the reason I call myself by my childhood name is to remind myself that a scientist must also be absolutely like a child. If he sees a thing, he must say that he sees it, whether it was what he thought he was going to see or not. See first, think later, then test. But always see first. Otherwise you will only see what you were expecting.”
It is by eating sandwiches in pubs on Saturday lunchtimes that the British seek to atone for whatever their national sins have been. They’re not altogether clear what those sins are, and don’t want to know either. Sins are not the sort of things one wants to know about. But whatever their sins are they are amply atoned for by the sandwiches they make themselves eat.”
“A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.”
“Nothing travels faster than the speed of light, with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws.”
“Protect me from knowing what I don’t need to know. Protect me from even knowing that there are things to know that I don’t know. Protect me from knowing that I decided not to know about the things that I decided not to know about. Amen.
Lord, lord, lord. Protect me from the consequences of the above prayer.”
“What was the self-sacrifice?”
I jettisoned half of a much-loved and I think irreplaceable pair of shoes.”
Why was that self-sacrifice?”
Because they were mine!” said Ford, crossly.
I think we have different value systems.”
Well mine’s better.”
“These muddles were as nothing to the ones which historians had to try and unravel once time trouble was discovered and battles started pre-erupting hundred of years before the issues even arose.”
I hope you enjoyed it.
So Long, and Thanks for all the Views! 😉