h2g21

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams

Surprised Smiles Imagine you wake up in the morning to find out your house is going to be knocked down to make way for a motorway. As you try to stop the bulldozers, an acquaintance turns up and starts acting weird. Then the earth gets destroyed by spaceships.
Confused Sharky Well that was a short story.
Shocked Smiles BUT WAIT. Your acquaintance turns out to be an ALIEN. He hitches a ride on one of the spaceships and takes you along. You’re saved!
Surprised Sharky But then the destructive aliens torture you (with poetry) and throw you out of the airlock.
Shocked Smiles BUT WAIT. Seconds before you die of air loss you get picked up by another spaceship with less murderous people (and a deeply depressed robot) on it! You’re saved!
Default Sharky This is starting to become a pattern isn’t it?
Default Smiles Basically. And if you think you know where it’s going inside that pattern at any point, you’re probably wrong. This is a weird book and it’s never going to stop being weird, so there’s no point in stopping at everything and scratching your head over it. You’ve just got to let yourself be carried on the wave of insanity and enjoy the ride.
Happy Sharky2 Just don’t expect anything to make sense and you’ll do fine. Just enjoy how it's being said. There's a lot of that great, conversational tone that Smiles loves especially, and plenty of witty dialogue. Once again everyone is terrifically sarcastic almost all the time.
Happy Smiles And all that aside, plenty of the humour is because everything is just so out of left field, and you’ll often be laughing in disbelief at how incredibly random something is. Like someone prodding a really unhygienic looking mattress before sitting down on it (understandable) and the narrator immediately reassuring us that all harvested mattresses are killed and thoroughly dried before use and hardly ever come back to life.
Surprised Sharky 2 I guess that isn’t for everyone, and if you don’t enjoy the sheer absurdity of the first couple of chapters you really aren’t going to like the rest of them. But honestly I think it works because it’s so weird. This is a dark plot when you get right down to it.
Confused Smiles Wellll…
Surprised Sharky Oh your house is getting knocked down, that's okay, THE PLANET IS BEING DESTROYED ANYWAY. Your best friend is an alien you say, well I hope you realise he's going to lose most of his interest in you as soon as he finds his old friends again. Oh he was explaining everything to you? That's alright, I'm sure you can manage in the cold blackness of space dragged along on a uncertain mission that nearly gets you all killed while nothing around you makes sense and you no longer have a home to go back to.
Sassy Smiles And we'd gone so many reviews without another Sharky rant…
Happy Sharky2 I'm not finished. But… it’s played for comedy. And it’s completely hilarious. Again, incredibly dark comedy if you really look at it, like the last human trying to come to terms with losing everything, or a robot that’s so depressed it can make a ship commit suicide by trying to talk to it.
Default Smiles Out of context Sharky is making this all sound horrible, but believe me it’s funny. Quick example. Arthur, our main character, can’t get his head around the earth being gone forever, and tries to cope with smaller and smaller concepts with varying results, until he realises he’ll never have a burger again and passes out from the shock. I mean who wouldn’t.
Sassy Sharky The destruction of the earth is funny in this book for heaven’s sake. That's seriously impressive.
Default Smiles Someone’s house getting knocked down to make a motorway, sad. The whole PLANET getting knocked down to make a space-motorway… strangely hilarious, if it's done right.
Happy Sharky2 Exactly. There’s this great mix of things on a global scale being surprisingly petty and trivial and that just makes it all so great. Two things. One, there’s some casual swearing so again, don’t just hand it off to your kid and then blame us later. Two, it’s not a stand-alone book. It’s the first in a trilogy-
Default Smiles Of four books.
Happy Sharky2 Yeah. I don’t know if that matters to you but we’re telling you anyway. Now, if I HAD to pick on something-
Sassy Smiles And of course you do.
Default Sharky Anyway, all that about the wave of insanity and the randomness being the fun of it aside, there’s definitely parts of the story where almost too many weird things are happening at once. This book was originally a radio show and I had a listen to that, and those overcrowded sections work better in pure dialogue and sound. Not that they’re necessarily bad but for me the book definitely shines when it spends time on a few big bizarre things you can focus on and digest rather than a ton of very fast-paced small ones.
Surprised Smiles Oh. Huh, that’s a valid point. I thought you were just going to start another rant.
Angry Sharky 3 I always have a point to my rants.
Shocked Smiles What was the point of the earlier one?
Surprised Sharky The point is you're not going to stop me from ranting at ridiculously dark or sad things. I love the book to bits but if nobody else is going to get upset over Earth and everyone on it being vaporized I might as well. Then again that's how the plot gets away with being as fun as it is. It would have been way to easy to make it angsty and I'm really glad they didn't.
Confused Smiles I just don’t understand how you can enjoy a book and overthink everything about it and let that stew in the back of your mind at the same time.
Default Sharky I’m a great multitasker.
Surprised Smiles I think you just like looking for stuff to get mad at. Like, it helps you enjoy things more to rant about them.
Happy Sharky2 See? Multitasking.

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