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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“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.
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.
The only criticism of this edition is that the story is followed by an almost as long discussion of the making of the movie, which consists of a series of pretentious laments by a whiny producer about how terribly difficult it was to throw his money around, have many meetings in Beverly Hills, and get a movie made; followed by interviews with self-aggrandizing actors who explain deep things about their characters that Douglas Adams probably never thought of himself, because he was having fun writing the book, not over-analyzing his characters.
The story, at first, seems normal as a narrator tells us about a man getting his house knocked down. The reality slowly fades, as random names and phrases that the narrator uses are seeming very un-Earth like. It is present day, or around this time, and first set in London, England. Soon after, the setting turns into a fantasy, yet not impossible, world of aliens around our galaxy that we never knew. It jumps into this turn fairly quickly, and persuades you to keep reading with the constant action and suspense. Then, there are the characters. “The thing that used to worry him most was the fact that people always used to ask him what he was looking so worried about.” Our main character; Arthur Dent. Arthur is the one real character in the story that can be related to or understood by us, the human people of Earth. A stubborn, normal, fed up human that is always confused or questioning things in all the madness of the plot. Ford Prefect, Zaphod Beeblebrox, Marvin-all know what is going on in this crazy world since they are a part of it. A women named Trilian brings a mother character to the book, being human aswell but always caring and responsible during the adventure. These main characters are the protagonists, and the entirety of their journey is the antagonist. They all seem to be in search for something, but each character doesn’t really understand what it is or how to find it.
In the beginning, all Arthur cares about is his house. Shortly after, his house and everything around it aren’t his biggest problem. His home planet of Earth went through a dramatic change, from full of life to non-existent. His best pal Ford, who was secretly not from Earth himself, decided to rescue Arthur from his death. This spirals to extreme coincidences and near death-experiences as they hitchhike their way through space. They later get picked up by the president of the Universe, Zaphod Beeblebrox, and his two helpers Trillian and Marvin. They are now searching for the legendary planet of Magrathea, which was told to have been creating planets as luxury items. The ship searches, and discovers, the hidden planet, but finding the true treasures are harder than they appear. The randomness of their adventures and the narrations throughout the novel show a genius way of connecting these facts and instances into one story that captivates the reader. The erratic events somehow create a normality. It brings the reader into the story, teaches and explains all the events and ideas, and gives flashbacks so all the facts come together into one plot.
While reading this, every chapter has something that would make me laugh or force me to press forward in the book. Adams achieved his goal, finally bringing us a children’s book for adults. When explaining this to someone, it sounds like you are reading a kindergarten’s story. But when actually reading it, the elements of description and hidden pieces of the story somehow make the overall book feel more mature and more deep. I loved the sudden and random way he would explain, almost over explain, all the details in the story. Though you could say he was droning on and on, the way he does this helps the story seem more clear through the insanity. I enjoyed the comical way that Adams used to describe who people are without even the character itself knowing about it. Mr. Prosser, the man trying to knock down Arthur’s house, was shown to us as this; “Curiously enough, though he didn’t know it, he was also a direct male-line descendant of Genghis Khan..” The story later tells that the stubby male called Mr. Prosser gets very vivid, but violent, war scenes in his memory every now and then. Adams later uses this to explain Mr. Prosser’s thoughts and feeling about what he does or how he lives. Interesting ways that Adams shows his characters are far from normal, but far from normal is perfect for me and I appreciated it immensely. My favorite thing about the characters was having Arthur as the main focus. Arthur is the rock, the glue, the sanity of the entire story. I related to him myself, and he keeps you in focus during the book. Though I was thrilled with these parts of the book, sadly not every story is perfect. Compared to the roaring events of the rest of the story, the ending just didn’t meet my expectations. There just wasn’t enough action in it like the rest of the story, but I could see how a tranquil ending would wrap up all the crazy events in the book.
Adams has a very unique style, and it would seem to work with young adults who find themselves not usually enjoying reading books. It has that childish setting and overall feel, but with mature ways of writing. A younger child may enjoy the fun setting but have trouble sticking to the plot, so a more young adult would suit it better. The Hitchhiker Guide to the Galaxy is a comical, interesting book that would be great for anyone who likes science fiction or fantasies.
Mr. Adams writes:
"A few villagers wondered why Almighty Bob would send his only begotten Sandwich Maker in a burning fiery chariot rather than perhaps in one that might have landed quietly without destroying half the forest, filling it with ghosts and also injuring the Sandwich Maker quite badly. Old Thrashbarg said that it was the ineffable will of Bob, and when they asked him what “ineffable” meant, he said look it up."