on November 26, 1999
This is undoubtedly the best sci-fi-comedy ever written, and I say that with confidence. Douglas Adams' wit is unmatched in this genre. I have re-read this series at least 5 times, and it gets better each time. Thanks to Adams's insight, I too am on a continual search for the reason why 42 is the answer (just look how many times it pops up randomly... or not so randomly)
In this classic story, Arthur Dent, a lovable and easily-confused Earthling gets dragged on the journey of a lifetime as Earth is destroyed by a group of Vogons to make way for a hyperspace by-pass. He is joined by a host of unforgettable characters: the easy-going researcher for the Hitchhikker's Guide to the Galaxy Ford Prefect; the hyper Two-Headed, Three-Armed President of the Galaxy Zaphod Beeblebrox; and his sexy companion former-Earth-reporter Trillian; and Marvin, the hopelessly depressed android. Together, they are off to explore the galaxy, battle with pesky mice-geniuses (no, not Pinky and the Brain), eat dinner at the end of the universe, travel through time, meet the man who designed Norway, redefine "improbability," patronize and annoy countless alien races, search for a decent cup of tea in an unforgivig universe, and continue the eternal quest to find out why 42 is so darn important.
Adams is a visionary. This is unlike any series I have ever read. Although "Mostly Harmless" was a slightly disappointing conclusion(?) to such an entertaining series, I will always consider the Hitchhikkers' "Trilogy" to be among the greats. If you do not own or have never read these books, then this compilation is a necessity for you. I recommend that you purchase it immediately, call in sick from work, school, or whatever, put up a small Somebody Else's Problem (SEP) field around you, and read it and again and again.
I have been a fan of Douglas Adams since I first read "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" when it was released. I have previously read all of these books (though I had not read the short "Young Zaphod Plays it Safe") before, some several times. When I saw this compendium I was compelled to buy it so I could have a volume with all this brilliant insanity in one place. I found Adams' introduction and explanation of the different Hitchhiker's permutations and iterations fascinating and revealing, and found all the books as whimsical and delightful as I had recalled. This edition has the added benefit of being printed on high quality ultra-thin paper, and being quite plushly bound. It definitely looks like an heirloom, but inside it is one hundred percent inspired lunacy.
Without question the original book is the crown jewel of the collection, and stands the test of time as one of the most original and brilliant novels written in the twentieth century. More than the plot following our heroes Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect (and a cast of thousands), it is Adams' amazing ability to turn a phrase into something not totally unlike any other book isn't that utterly distinguishes the first volume of the series. While that last sentence is an obvious homage to Adams, his wit and ability to redirect a line to a place that is totally unpredictable is uncanny. The book is not only brilliantly conceived, but glitters with a patina of dark humor which is utterly unique in literature, the only analog being the television and film productions of Monty Python.
I enjoyed the other volumes in the series as well, with the first three being my favorites. By "So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish" I started to see a bit of monotony creep into Adams' writing style, occasionally to the point that it almost seemed that he was forcibly imitating himself. Although I did enjoy the final two volumes in the series, I would probably have given them independent ratings of four stars, while the others are clearly five star masterworks. I did find the character of Fenchurch (introduced in "So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish") intriguing, and couldn't agree more with Adams' analogy of Mark Knopfler's guitar style to the effect of Fuolornis Fire Dragons. It is no surprise to me that Douglas Adams was a Dire Straits fan, and I found his brief tribute to the band to be an amusing buried delight.
This book is not only great contemporary literature, a level of accomplishment which most sci-fi novels aspire to, but rarely achieve, but is a great value too. The book is over 800 delightful pages long: buy this book and prepare for a wonderful otherworldly journey, but don't forget to bring your towel.
While often embarrassing in a public place, laughing out loud while reading is an example of pure pleasure that so rarely occurs that any author capable of producing this effect should be commended. Douglas Adams is such an author. The only problem is his writing style should be taken in small doses, because when read all together you start to get buried in all the clever little comments and they lose their effectiveness. The first two novels in this series are two of the funniest books I have ever read. The basic plot is simple: Earth is destroyed to make way for an interstellar highway and Arthur Dent, one particularly hapless Earthman, is taken along by an interstellar hitchhiker to the far reaches of space. This synopsis does not do justice to the incredible universe Adams drags us into: Ships that run on improbability factors or restaurants checks, a two headed former president of the galaxy who is looking for a real good time, and other events and people too bizarre and numerous to summarize. The problem is that each succeeding book seems to jettison some whimsy for a more serious form of science fiction until in the last book the laughs are hard to find. The first two books deserve the highest rating, but this review is based on all the content contained within. But once you start, you'll want to read all of them, Adams does make sure that the reader wants to know how it all turns out. Hopefully you'll enjoy the journey.
on August 8, 2002
I don't know if I'll be annoying Amazon or not by this review but I bought this edition of the Hitch-Hikers Guide because I keep losing all the others that I've bought. If you want a review of the actual story then read the other reviews: I agree 100% that it's fabulous.
However, if you want to own the books, then I suggest that you don't buy this omnibus edition. The extra features aren't all that fantastic and it's printed on low-quality paper. Have a look around for the other editions that are available and buy one of them, or buy each book individually. On the other hand, you might end up like me: lending out all your copies to friends because it's fantastic and eventually losing them all. Oh well, the only thing nicer than a brand new book without a single crease is a dog-eared relic that's been read by tens of people 20 times over.
on January 3, 2003
I read this book expecting a lot - I had heard numerous references that were supposedly to this book, so I decided to finally read it and find out what all the hype was about.
I'm glad to say I wasn't disappointed. Quite to the contrary, the book exceeded my expectations. It's beautifully crafted, and the humor is so whimsical and Pythonesque, that it's both clever and absurd at the same time.
It was especially great to read one seemingly absurd part of a story (like a detailed description of a flowerpot hitting the ground), and then, several books later, find out how it ties with the story. Adams does an excellent job and bringing things together - reading these series is like watching a puzzle unfold in front of your eyes.
Another great aspect was finally reading about the many references found to the story - you'll never look at number 42 the same way.
While many people have given negative reviews to the last book (Mostly Harmless), I thought that while it was a bit hard to follow, it wasn't any different from any other H2G2 book.
If you're a Python fan, you owe it to yourself to read this book (Adams wrote several skits with the Pythons and was a close friend). If you're not, you might still like it, if you like whimsical, clever humor.
on January 3, 2011
Sorely disappointed that one of my most loved books would be so riddled with typos. This would be completely unacceptable of a printed book, what would make it ok in a Kindle version? I would have liked one of the reviewers to point that out for me before I bought it. I am, of course, keeping it now, but it is infuriating.
on April 15, 2005
While reading this book, you will frequently find yourself debating a few things in your mind. One of those things is: "I really need sleep, but I need to read this book more, I just don't know what to do..."
This book is really a collection of all five books in the Hitchhiker's trilogy (um, ya, five books shouldn't be in a trilogy but thats how this series works), written by Douglas Adams. However, I had no previous experience with these books or with Douglas Adams and I thoroughly enjoyed reading them in this form. I couldn't image having read one of the books, then having to wait to get the other one. This series really is meant to be read in its entirety. The entire story flows throughout each book and needs to be read in order too.
So here is the story, a terrible accident is about to befall earth which drags the main character, Arthur Dent, on a wild romp throughout a hilarious Galaxy. Arthur just wants to get back home to Earth which leads to the stunning climax. This series is full of one liners, two liners, and even some three liners. If your a fan of British comedy, British satire, sci-fi, or just great literature then Douglas Adams weaves a tale that will appeal to you.
The first book in the series, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy really should be required reading in school, it really is that good.
Most "funny books" wouldn't even attempt to dissect the absurdity of our so-called civilization, this is what sets the Hitchhiker series apart from anything else. At points you see that while it may be funny -- all it really is, is insightful. The ridiculousness of humanity is displayed brilliantly -- through aliens. You'll find yourself laughing out loud.
As far as the ending to everything, it is one of the best endings of any series ever (in my opinion of course). It really instills an important moral, whether you get it at first or not, you may have to think about it a while. The ending also wraps up everything and makes perfect logical sense. The spontaneous happenings will have you on the edge of your seat until the very end too.
This series deals with what it really means to be alive and what the meaning of life really is. Isn't that really what everyone wants to know anyways? The answer might be so funny you'll die laughing!
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is being made into a movie too, due out in 2005. I don't see how it could live up to the high standard set by this book but we will have to see.
If you enjoy this I'd highly recommend THE LOSERS CLUB: Complete Restored Edition by Richard Perez, a somewhat unrelated (not sci-fi) but very amusing and FUN book. Short, quick, and funny -- that's how I like them.
Overall, The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy really is great! A must read by everyone!
I ordered this book with the hope that it would be as well made as the other Gramercy Literary Classics books. It is. In fact, it might even be better than the others I have (I have about ten or so books from this collection). Thickly padded leather binding, silk ribben sewn in as a placeholder, nice leather smell like a car interior. The pages are very thin, like the paper used to make bibles. Makes sense given the page count.
I like this, and it is an outstanding deal.
on July 5, 2000
One memory I had as a child was sneaking to the library and pocketing the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and reading it. I didn't get all the jokes, and some of it was over my head, but I read it not only as a fine work of humor but as a sci-fi book as well. When I was old enough to know better, I spend money on some of the novels, squirreled the other ones from my like-minded brother, and read through until the fourth book. We even bought the Infocom text adventure, expanding Adams's universe to the interactive novel.
Adams's book has done what few others have--transcended both genres it tries to emulate. HHGTTG is known, like Monty Python, as the epitome of UK humor, a few large steps above Tom Holt and Red Dwarf. But it also reads as a brilliant science fiction novel, and becomes what it tries to parody. Deep Thought was a crack on HAL, but soon Deep Thought *became* HAL, and a scifi classic was born.
The books are all very good--but, like any series, some are better than others. THHGTTG and The Restaraunt at the End of the Universe are serialized from the TV/Radio series, and read as such--episodic spasms of comedy wrapped in a loosely believable overall universe. Life, Universe, & Everything gets a full novel treatment, more lineral than the first two; it presents much of the same humor in a somewhat different, more traditional style. It suffers, but not significantly. So Long--regarded by many to be an abberation to the series--is not as bad as many fans think it is. It indulges perhaps too much in its own self-parody, and is less scifi than straight humor. Yet it makes up for itself in a rather fun (albiet depressing) end story. Mostly Harmless pits us back where we were before, highlighting poor neglected Trillian in what seems to be a wrap-up of the entire mess of a trilogy. MH may disappoint some--especially with the departure of many favorite characters--but levels the series out quite nicely.
Some series--like Asimov's Foundation--get better as the series progesses. Others, such as the Dune books, get increasingly inane and tiresome. Hitchhiker's does much like the former, perhaps bumpier for the ride, but a fruitful and glorious ride nonetheless.
on December 12, 2005
The ULTIMATE Hitchikers Guide To The Galaxy. The ULTIMATE edition. This one has everything in it. All 5 novels are present and accounted for, and the short story is here too. Except for The Salmon Of Doubt, which is the first 11 chapters of what was ment to be the last book, its all here. The book itself has a thick leatherbound hardcover. You should probaly get some sticker remover because they stick stickers all over it, and I know you dont want stickers on your pretty new leather book. It has a built on bookmark. The pages are lined in gold. The pages are pretty thin, but then agian its suppose to be like a bible. Not as thin as bible pages and the font is bigger, but still thin compaired to other books. A very good low price here too, I recommed for anyone who wants to read these stories. You may even want to buy it for the amazing presentation it comes with.