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The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Paperback – April 30, 2002
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It's safe to say that The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is one of the funniest science fiction novels ever written. Adams spoofs many core science fiction tropes: space travel, aliens, interstellar war--stripping away all sense of wonder and repainting them as commonplace, even silly.
This omnibus edition begins with The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, in which Arthur Dent is introduced to the galaxy at large when he is rescued by an alien friend seconds before Earth's destruction. Then in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Arthur and his new friends travel to the end of time and discover the true reason for Earth's existence. In Life, the Universe, and Everything, the gang goes on a mission to save the entire universe. So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish recounts how Arthur finds true love and "God's Final Message to His Creation." Finally, Mostly Harmless is the story of Arthur's continuing search for home, in which he instead encounters his estranged daughter, who is on her own quest. There's also a bonus short story, "Young Zaphod Plays It Safe," more of a vignette than a full story, which wraps up this completist's package of the Don't Panic chronicles. As the series progresses, its wackier elements diminish, but the satire of human life and foibles is ever present. --Brooks Peck --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“WITH DROLL WIT, A KEEN EYE FOR DETAIL AND HEAVY DOSES OF INSIGHT . . . ADAMS MAKES US LAUGH UNTIL WE CRY.”
–San Diego Union
“LIVELY, SHARPLY SATIRICAL, BRILLIANTLY WRITTEN . . . RANKS WITH THE BEST SET PIECES IN MARK TWAIN.”
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Top Customer Reviews
Guide is primarily about the adventures of Arthur, an ordinary average guy forced to leave earth and go on a journey through the cosmos. He is joined by Ford Prefect, a writer for the Guide, Trillian, an astrophycist from Earth, Zaphod Beeblebrox, the President of the Galaxy, and Marvin, an extremely depressed robot. Over the course of five books, they encounter a wide array of aliens, planets, and towels.
The best element of these books is the humor. Adams is a master of satire, regularing stopping the plot to give a humorous take on everything he can think of. This book is almost impossible to put down it's so funny. The only downside is that he clearly had no idea where to go with the overall plot. After the second book, plots and characters would appear and disappear out of nowhere, and the ending fizzled out. That is the only reason I couldn't give this 5 stars.
This is one of the best pieces of YA literature out there. Have fun.
I still carry a towel with me, where ever I go in the universe. My very first lesson from the "Hitchhiker's Guide."
No, really. My first.
I went to see Douglas Adams deliver a talk, shortly after the first book was published. Hadn't read it and didn't know who he was but the local public radio station made a big deal about his upcoming talk. Hundreds of kids whipped out towels and twirled them over their heads when Adams walked on stage. Had no idea at all what that was about. Learned quickly and loved his novels.
Now admittedly, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. I thought it was going to be a science fiction adventure filled with humor. I was kind of right, but I felt that I also was wrong in my expectations at the same time.
Let’s start with what I liked about the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. The books are funny. I laughed out loud a number of times, particularly in the first three books. I felt his humor was very satirical and he lampoons a plethora of subjects. Sometimes it is very obvious what he is poking fun at, while at other times I wasn’t entirely sure.
Another positive of the series is that Adam’s has a pretty interesting imagination. From aliens that demolish planets for hyperspace bypasses to concepts like bistromathics, and even the titular guide itself. These make interesting canvases for Adam’s humor and you never quite know what you’ll be coming across next.
Now I think these two things are the strongest points of the series, but there are also a number of weaknesses. The first is that the plot is somewhat lacking. I mean there are goals that are put forth in the books, but they are often never resolved at least in any positive way. Typically there a lot of random twists and turns that leave you spinning after awhile. The humor involved in these often helps, but the strength of these books is in the humor not necessarily the plot.
Second, I found the characters rather unlikable. Maybe they were supposed to be that way, but I really found it hard to relate to any of the characters in the book. Arthur was probably the one I was most able to relate to, but even then he wasn’t particularly likable. The other characters are either jerks or just fairly shallow and really don’t help connect you to the already weak plot.
The next weakness is that the quality of the books are uneven. The first three books in the series are the best. I enjoyed the fourth one, but felt that it was much slower than the other books. The fifth well, it just felt like a mess and that Adams was really tired of the series and was trying to make everyone in the book as miserable as possible.
I’d also say that while humor is a major strong point of the series, sometimes it feels as though it’s trying to lean on it too much. That everything feels like some setup for a sarcastic, satirical turn later. Maybe I just felt that way due to reading all five books back to back.
Now, it may sound like I didn’t like the books. I did like them, just not as much as I thought I would going into them. I was expecting a bit more plot, but I felt that the series delivered on the type of humor I was expecting.
So I was a bit disappointed by these books, but they were an interesting read and I’m glad I went through this series. Just be prepared for a threadbare plot, lots of randomness, and a good amount of sarcastic humor. If you’re expecting that, then maybe you’d be prepared for what you find, at least more prepared than I was.
IT SHOULD BE NOTED that the books are largely unabridged. Three books in and I have found only one alteration. In "Life, the Universe, and Everything", the conversation about the award for "The Most Gratuitous Use of the Word 'Belgium' in a Serious Screenplay" has been altered and shortened. The scene is, therefore, less humorous. I miss it.