Sunday, July 4, 2010

96. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

My dad loaned me The Uplift War to read as one of my sci-fi picks months ago and he asks me every time we talk if I've read it yet. For some reason or another, I kept putting it off. Either a book came in from the library or something else that someone loaned me looked more appealing. But I was finally all set to start reading it a few days ago. I came home from work and Colin sat me down for a serious talk -- flipping though the book, he told me there was no way I would be able to finish it AND the other books I had lined up by the July 4 deadline (one year exactly from the start of the project). I think he thought it was longer and more dense that I was expecting. He suggested that I read another sci-fi book for the project, he came up with a list of titles to choose from, and that I read The Uplift War after the project is over -- that way, I could take the time to enjoy it, instead of rushing through it. Point taken -- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy it is. Dad, I promise The Uplift War is first on my post-project reading list.

Don't panic! Losing your planet isn't the end of the world.

Earth is about to get unexpectedly demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass. It's the final straw for Arthur Dent -- he's already has his house bulldozed this morning. But for Arthur, this is only the beginning... In the seconds before global obliteration, Arthur is plucked from the planet by his friend Ford Prefect -- and together the pair ventures out across the galaxy on the craziest, strangest road trip of all time.

Plot summary taken from the paperback back cover. It took a surprisingly long time to type. 

This book is hilarious! I don't know why, but I didn't expect it to be funny. Check out a couple of quotes as proof:

"And then, one Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change, a girl sitting on her own in a small cafe in Rickmansworth suddenly realized what it was that had been going wrong all this time, and she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it would work, and no one would have to get nailed to anything."

"It is an important and popular fact that things are not always what they seem. For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much -- the wheel, New York, wars, and so on -- whilst all the dolphins had ever done was much about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed they were more intelligent than man -- for precisely the same reasons." 

(This second one is the beginning of chapter 23; I would have quoted all of chapter 23 if room -- and my typing skills -- allowed.)

My second reaction is that this book is totally and completely bananas. Wackadoo, for sure. But it was very amusing and I really enjoyed reading about the purpose of earth, the plan of the mice, etc. Colin said that much of the book parodies other science fiction works, so it's possible that I wasn't going to get as much out of as the next guy. 

Now, usually I get a photo of the book cover by searching for images on Google. I couldn't find the exact cover of the paperback from the library, so I took a photo with my phone. Why is it important to get a photo of the actual book that I read? Because of how the title is type set -- The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. This didn't look weird to me, so when I created my Google Doc to keep notes, that's the spelling that I used. When I added this title to the Currently Reading box on the blog, that's the spelling that I used. Later, I noticed that the title on the book spine and on the back cover used "Hitchhiker's" -- being a proofreader, this inconsistency pissed me off a little. Which spelling was I supposed to be using? I copied and pasted the answer I found on Wikipedia below. My conclusion about the cover of the book I checked out of the library? Lazy art direction. But then, I'm a little judgmental, so there you go.


The different versions of the series spell the title differently—thus Hitch-Hiker's GuideHitch Hiker's Guide and Hitchhiker's Guide are used in different editions (US or UK), editions of the novel, (audio or print) and compilations of the book. Some editions used different spellings on the spine and title page. The BBC's h2g2 style manual claims that Hitchhiker's Guide is the spelling Adams preferred.[44] At least two reference works make note of the inconsistency in the titles. Both, however, repeat the statement that Adams decided in 2000 that "everyone should spell it the same way [one word, no hyphen] from then on." [45][46]

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