Paperback (Pan Books, 199 pages)
First published 1979; this edition published 2009
Rating on Goodreads: 3 stars
“On 12 October 1979 the most remarkable book ever to come out of the great publishing corporations of Ursa Minor (and Earth) was made available to humanity — The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
It’s an ordinary Thursday lunchtime for Arthur Dent until his house gets demolished. The Earth follows shortly afterwards, to make way for a new hypersapce bypass, and his best friend has just announced that he’s an alien. At this moment, they’re hurtling through space with nothing but their towels and an innocuous-looking book inscribed with the big, friendly words: DON’T PANIC.
The weekend has only just begun…”
I have to admit, the sheer scale of Mr Adams’s imagination is astonishing. I’m not sure I could come up with something quite as ‘mind-fucking’ as this.
I started this purely because I adore the film, and my friend Lucy had been telling me to read the series for quite a while. So I appeased her and sated my own curiosity by picking a copy up.
And as crazy and wonderfully weird as Adams’s imagination is, the book felt almost contrived to me. I can’t fault his ideas, but there are so many of them that I was overwhelmed and thus underwhelmed because nothing made sense and seemed pointless. Of course, I know that the magic of Hitchhiker’s hinges on the bizarre and often confusing, but for me there was too much nonsense and not enough of a solid plot structure.
The characters are fantastic, though, I must say. Poor Arthur. I really did feel for him. Zaphod Beeblebrox is a priceless joy, with Marvin ever comical. And I loved the British humour so much (being British myself, I couldn’t stop laughing at certain bits, though I won’t spoil if you haven’t read); Adams had a comedic gift, undoubtedly.
I gave this three out of five stars on Goodreads because I adored certain bits and disliked others, but what I do know is that the book made me feel like I’d just dunked my brain into a kaleidoscope. It’s that trippy.
And if you like trippy, try this. It’s a drug without the side effects.