Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
By Douglas Adams
So i’m a bit ashamed that it has taken me this long to finally read a copy of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. I’m just a few day shy of the 29th birthday, a big fan of Science Fiction and Fantasy genre and finally i was able to sit down and this famous, cult following book.
Now, don’t get me wrong, i’ve seen the movie. It was great, but I do recall a few people complaining about some things which I didn’t get. Besides, as an avid reader I know how when books are adapted to the big screen things get left out, over looked and that details are missed. I get that, I understand that some things that are written are unable to make it to the visual works.
I don’t want to compare the two, though it’s going to be hard as I’ve seen the movie first and have become a little bit biased as that is how I visualized the characters, the voices as I read the book. But, the book gave much more details that I missed in the movie, making it a much more exciting read. Not to mention the ending is a lot different too, however much of the dialogue, even the passages from the book are close to exactly the same in the movie and the book, which made me giggle. (That doesn’t happen that often)
To start with, the story centres around Arthur Dent, an Earthling who is having a bad day. He wakes up to a group of bulldozers ready to demolish his house to make way for a bypass. Little does he know that within 15 minutes the entire planet is set for demolition to make room for a space highway bypass. (Oh the irony.)
Arthur is saved by his best friend Ford Perfect, an alien whom has been trapped on earth for 15 years. They get picked up by a Vogon ship as stowaways, who eventually get caught and thrown out an air lock. (Without first listening to some Vogon poetry.) Arthur is then introduced to the Hitchhicker’s book and finds out Ford is a researcher for the book itself, labeling the humans as “Mostly Harmless”.
The story continues with the Heart of Gold spaceship picking the two up just before the vacuum of space completely kills them. Of course the Heart of Gold is the first ship created with the probability device, something that is still confounding when I try to think about it. Though I wish they would have included the cubical with the group of monkeys behind the door… that was pretty funny to read in the book. Even Marvin has the exact same mannerism as in the book, I still hear Alan Rickman’s voice very time i read his lines. It is there that they meet Zephod and Trillian and the connections between the four are explained, how Ford is Zephod’s cousin, and that Trillian was a girl Arthur tried to pick up at a party, only to be interrupted by Zephod himself who took Trillian off Earth with him.
We learn then how Zephod stole the Heart of Gold, to find the impossible planet, Magrathean. Though even Zephod himself does not understand why he wants to do that. What changes for me after watching the movie is that they go right to Magrathean, with no side trips along the way. It was a little confusion at first, but makes the story flow smoother.
We now reach the scene from the movie that is just as epic in the novel, with them approaching the planet, with the recorded message telling them to turn way and the two nuclear missiles being launched at them. Arthur hits the improbability drive and the two missiles turn into a sperm whale and a pot of patunias.
Once on the planet, Zephod, Ford and Trillian find a way into the planet, to find something, which we never really understand what it is Zephod is after. We do learn however that Zephod himself knows of his crazy state and even tells the two that there is a part of his brain missing, the part between the two heads. And that it was himself who got ride of it for some reason so that he could become President of the Galaxy. It’s actually a very interesting part of the story, giving more credit to the character Zephod that he is somewhat smarter then anyone believes him to be.
It is interesting to note how in the book there is a different order on how events happen, we do not learn about Deep Thought until after Arthur meets Slartibartfest who explains to him the creation of Deep Thought to answer the Universal Question. The answer of which is “42”. Though as that was not a satisfactory answer to the Question, Deep Thought tells them to build the greatest computer to come up with the real question that would explain the answer. Earth. Earth was a large computer set up to run the process of finding the question that would take 10 million years. Of course the earth was destroyed 5 minutes before the process was over.
The population of Magrathean had been placed in status (a planet who created customized planets) to avoid the financial decline of the galaxy and had been woken up to recreate earth, by the mice, the smartest creatures in the galaxy so that they can finally find the question to the answer. Though, once they realized that an earthman had survived the destruction of the earth they don’t have to create the earth and start the entire process over again. Instead they wanted to dissect Arthur’s brain.
They are disrupted by two police officers of the galaxy, following Zaphod for theft of the Heart of Gold. The four of them escape, using Slartibartfest’s aircar to return to the Heart of Gold space ship where they find Mavin next to the police’s space ship. We find out that Mavin was bored and communicated with the ship about his thoughts on the Universe, that caused the ship to kill itself and the police men at the same time.
The book ends with the group back in the Heart of Gold lightyears away from the Magrathean with Zaphod asking Arthur if he was hunger and saying that they would stop at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe for a bit to eat.
It’s a different ending, a more wide open ending but in this ending Arthur learns to accept himself that he has no earth or home to go back to and that he would learn more about the new galaxy he will live in.
It’s a good ending and I’m looking forward to reading more about the adventures of Arthur, Ford, Zaphod and Trillian in the Trillogy of Five. The book is very entertaining, with a lot of humour that made me laugh out loud several times. I have read a few of Douglas Adam’s books before and know he is a terrific author, but this has been one of my favourite read to date.
If there are others out there, like me who have not read the actual book before, I do recommend picking up, even an ebook copy, of this book to read yourself, you will not regret it.