Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has been haunting me from bookshop to bookshop for years. I finally bought the “Trilogy of Four” a few months ago and then, last week, I finally got around to reading it. However, note that the above picture is a split of two books. This is because I was part way through So Long and Thanks for All The Fish, when my roommate told me about Mostly Harmless, apparently the fifth instalment in this series. Whelp, my mistake. So of course I had to go out and grab that one.
Essentially, what I remember about Hitchhiker’s is Adams’ way with words. Adams has written a delightfully whimsical story in which sentences never end the way that you’d expect and I laughed out loud way more times than I usually do while reading. I could flip to any page of this series and find a fantastic quote.
I’ll prove it to you. Let’s choose a fan favourite. Let’s turn to page 394:
(Disclaimer: page 394 is the dedication page for Life, The Universe, and Everything, so this is the next page with words on it, 395)
It wasn’t just that the cave was cold, it wasn’t just that it was damp and smelly. It was the fact that the cave was in the middle of Islington and there wasn’t a bus due for two million years.
See? Told you. This is on the first page of the third book in the Trilogy of Four and it sets the scene beautifully, while also being more than a little silly.
Honestly, I don’t remember the story. But this is not a bad thing. There’s a lot going on and characters jump from planet to planet to timezone to galaxy to parallel universe and back again. There’s a galactic president whose job is to distract people from the guy who actually makes all the decisions. There’s a depressed robot; homicidal robots from the planet Krikkit; Perfectly Normal Beasts that appear from nowhere, stampede through the plains of a tiny little planet, and then disappear again; and a very mixed up teenager named Random. Plus, Ford Prefect. I love that guy. And, of course, Arthur Dent. This series read like an adventure-of-the-week TV serial with a great cast, great sense of humour, and incredible imagination. The world-building was fantastic, and you even somehow managed to suspend your disbelief long enough to buy that spaceships could be powered by probabilities.
Although the story does feel very disjointed, Adams continually links together seemingly throwaway comments early in the series to super important events that happen much later. Kind of like “Bad Wolf” in Doctor Who.
Quite frankly, I don’t know how to review this series. It’s an institution, if you can say that about books. And the writing style is something that I couldn’t pull off in a million years. Adams is funny, surreal, whimsical, heart-warming, and infuriating all at once. He’s also a damned genius and we lost him far, far too early.
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is beyond a star rating. What I will say is that if you like your books to be completely unpredictable and laugh-out-loud funny, pick up this series immediately, if not sooner!