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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, #1)
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Group Reads 2017 > June 2017 - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

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message 1: by Jo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jo | 1092 comments This is to discuss one of June's group reads - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.


Marc-André | 298 comments I read it a few years ago and even if it is cleaver and full of ironic observations, I wasn't flabergasted by it. I was smurking from time to time as I was reading it, enjoying some of the references, not sure what all the fuss was about.

This might be a case of art influencing so much pop-culture that 30 years later the original looks derivative. The radio broadcast/novel coming out right after the first Star Wars film probably helped it achieve its status as a classic too, as sci-fi needed a parody and some deconstruction (although I'm sure someone can point out older works that did just that, but are far less known).

I had to force myself to read the second book and I never finished it.


Rosemarie | 450 comments I read all the books in the series a few years ago. I thought they were a lot of fun to read. I really enjoyed the original BBC series as well.


Terri (terrilovescrows) | 4 comments I read them when they originally came out and several other times. I love them. They are funny and satirical.


Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 142 comments I read the five books some years ago. I enjoyed them very much.


Peter Cook | 9 comments I read The Hitchhiker's Guide for the first time in 1981. I reread it last year because I needed a laugh at the time. It is far more funny to me now because my opinion of humanity as a whole has become so low. I'm like Ford, worried about how much humanity doesn't know.


message 7: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4084 comments Mod
I tried to read this when it first came out & several times thereafter. The humor just never struck me. I'm not much for British humor. Never cared for Monty Python, either. I finally got through the first 3 books in audio narrated by Adams a couple/few years ago. It was a bit of a chore, but they're so iconic that I felt I had to.


Phil Jensen | 100 comments True conversation:

Me: What's your favorite book?
Other reading teacher: I can't choose- all seven Harry Potter books.
Me: Oh. I couldn't get through the fourth one. They all felt the same.
ORT: Well! What's your favorite book?
Me: I love Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
ORT: I just learned everything I need to know about you.


Theresa Sl | 14 comments Read it a few years ago, loved the adventure. I especially liked Marvin's storyline of God's final message. Also always have to think about the book whenever it takes a long time splitting the bill in restaurants :)


message 10: by Phil (new) - rated it 5 stars

Phil Jensen | 100 comments Theresa wrote: "I especially liked Marvin's storyline of God's final message."

I think about the ending of So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish every time it feels like the world is messing with me.


Peter Cook | 9 comments Phil wrote: "True conversation:

Me: What's your favorite book?
Other reading teacher: I can't choose- all seven Harry Potter books.
Me: Oh. I couldn't get through the fourth one. They all felt the same.
ORT: W..."


I carry a paperback of The Hitchhiker's Guide in my backpack, in case someone wants to know how I think and *why* I think.


message 12: by Buck (new) - rated it 3 stars

Buck (spectru) | 896 comments My daughter gave me a paperback of Hitchhiker several years ago. The humor was cute at first but after a while it just got monotonous. I didn't finish it. But a couple of years later I did enjoy the movie.


message 13: by Jo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jo | 1092 comments I like this book but it really is quite British so i'm always surprised how popular it is elsewhere. I'm also a fan of the TV series, they repeat it from time to time and it always makes me laugh.

I have The Salmon of Doubt (one of the Dirk Gently series) on my bookshelf waiting to be read. As I don't have a copy of the Hitchiker's guide to the Galaxy at present, maybe I will read this instead.


message 14: by Leo (new) - rated it 2 stars

Leo | 569 comments Another classic I never read. I'm glad its this month's read because it means I will finish it. Started yesterday and though I do like Monty Pyton very much, I can already say that I prefer English humour on the screen, not in my SF-book.


message 15: by Bruce (new)

Bruce (bruce1984) Buck wrote: "My daughter gave me a paperback of Hitchhiker several years ago. The humor was cute at first but after a while it just got monotonous. I didn't finish it. But a couple of years later I did enjoy th..."

I started reading it last year, and although I enjoyed the humor, I couldn't get through it either. It just got to be so goofy I couldn't see the point.


message 16: by Leo (new) - rated it 2 stars

Leo | 569 comments I'm not really enjoying it either. Sometimes it's funny, but it just doesn't match my expectations of reading a SF-book. It's reading pretty fast so I've got good hopes tot finish it.
Are the other 4 books of the sequel like this?


message 17: by Buck (new) - rated it 3 stars

Buck (spectru) | 896 comments Hmm. And I thought I was the only one who didn't love this book.


message 18: by Ronald (new)

Ronald (rpdwyer) | 155 comments I read Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy years ago. I liked it, and I might get around to writing a 4 star review.

I think one of the things that the book is doing is making fun of cliched, tired tropes in science fiction. For example, there is the trope of the Impending Doom of Earth. In Hitchhiker's Guide however, the earth is gotten out of the way early.

I like wacky science fiction. We need more wacky stuff in the world.


Rosemarie | 450 comments Ronald, I agree with you about the book-it is wacky. I enjoyed it too.(I have read all five)


message 20: by Phil (new) - rated it 5 stars

Phil Jensen | 100 comments Leo wrote: "Are the other 4 books of the sequel like this?"

This book and The Restaurant at the End of the Universe are both based on the original radio scripts, so they have a similar frantic, lighthearted pace. After that, the novels get gradually more grim and pessimistic as Adams aged and became bitter. The fifth book, Mostly Harmless, is a major downer.


message 21: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4084 comments Mod
Phil wrote: "This book and The Restaurant at the End of the Universe are both based on the original radio scripts, so they have a similar..."

Interesting. I finished the third book & called a halt, but during lunch I was reading an essay by Spider Robinson in User Friendly where he discussed fighting with his own tendency to become more cynical. He blamed a lot of it on the news. Bad news sells, so he rarely sees the good stuff. Specifically he mentioned the eradication of polio being buried in a squib way back on page 34, Section B, of the newspaper instead of getting the headline it deserved. It was a pretty good piece, although his love of MACs is rather ironic & gag-worthy in context.


message 22: by Ed (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ed Erwin | 1901 comments Mod
Ronald wrote: "I like wacky science fiction. We need more wacky stuff in the world."

Here! Here!

Like many, I read this series in the 1980s. My first encounter had been tuning into the middle of the show on PBS during the part where a whale is falling through space and thinking WHAT THE HECK IS THIS! That is perhaps the best way to be exposed to this work. If you come in with expectations that it is a classic, it will probably seem overrated. But at the time this felt so fresh and totally out of left field.

And it was always fun to find other people who had read it, and share in-jokes with them. I went to a very nerdy high school, so there were quite a few around. It has had a lasting impact among nerds. You'll still find references to it worked into computer code, programming books, and related works. The number 42 is everywhere, though the joke isn't very funny anymore, and I still find myself saying "Share and Enjoy!" for things that are of dubious worth.

I re-read this a few years back. It isn't as funny to me any more, but I still very much enjoy the excerpts from the supposedly real "hitchhiker's guide".


message 23: by Ed (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ed Erwin | 1901 comments Mod
Phil wrote: "Leo wrote: "Are the other 4 books of the sequel like this?"

This book and The Restaurant at the End of the Universe are both based on the original radio scripts, so they have a similar..."


If I remember right, there was a radio play, then another radio play, then a stage show, then a tv adaptation, then the books. The story was revised at each step. So the funniest things stayed in and the less funny was left out, and there may have been some additions or changes due to collaborators.

The later books were all pure Adams, and were all written hastily well past publisher deadlines. So they do feel a little different, but mostly the same, and none are as interesting to me. But still good enough if you like the first ones.


message 24: by Leo (new) - rated it 2 stars

Leo | 569 comments So I'm glad I finally read it. Reading your comments, I think will not read the following books. I think Ed is right, its not fair to compare it with 'regular' classics. Either you like it or you don't, there doesn't seem to be much inbetween. I didn't know the book came after radio and tv shows. Instead of reading the follow-ups I will be looking out for the screenplay.


message 25: by Phil (new) - rated it 5 stars

Phil Jensen | 100 comments Leo wrote: "So I'm glad I finally read it. Reading your comments, I think will not read the following books. I think Ed is right, its not fair to compare it with 'regular' classics. Either you like it or you d..."

If you enjoyed the first one, then I strongly encourage the second one, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

It's my understanding that the BBC radio show came first, at least two of the books came second, and the made for TV movie came third. The scripts and recordings of the radio show are available, but I find the books more satisfying.


Rosemarie | 450 comments I agree, Phil. I found reading all five books satisfying and enjoyed them.


Mandy S. (it_mandy) | 7 comments I'm only a couple chapters into Hitchhiker's Guide, but I'm enjoying it so far. Definitely a different take on sci-fi, and it's definitely taking jabs at sci-fi cliches, which I'm amused by.

I can't help but read this book in the voice of Kevan Brighting, the Narrator from the video game The Stanley Parable, if anyone is familiar.


message 28: by Ed (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ed Erwin | 1901 comments Mod
Mandy wrote: "I can't help but read this book in the voice of Kevan Brighting, the Narrator from the video game The Stanley Parable..."

Funny! I can't help but here the voices from the original TV show. But the Stanley Parable guy would sound cool. Quite a fun little game. I've never laughed so much at a video game as I did on that one.


message 29: by Suki (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suki St Charles (goodreadscomsuki_stcharles) | 27 comments I read this when it first came out (1979), and I loved it-- I thought it was hilarious, and it was my favorite book for almost ten years. I reread it several times, then it stayed on the shelf until recently. I was really looking forward to rereading it, and I was very surprised at the difficulty I had getting through it. There seems to be a tragic undertone to the whole story that I had totally missed when I was younger. I didn't enjoy this rereading nearly as much as I had anticipated.


message 30: by Bruce (new)

Bruce (bruce1984) Suki wrote: "There seems to be a tragic undertone to the whole story that I had totally missed when I was younger. I didn't enjoy this rereading nearly as much as I had anticipated."

I wonder if the world around us has changed enough so that the tone feels different now than it did in 1979?


message 31: by Suki (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suki St Charles (goodreadscomsuki_stcharles) | 27 comments Bruce wrote: "Suki wrote: "There seems to be a tragic undertone to the whole story that I had totally missed when I was younger. I didn't enjoy this rereading nearly as much as I had anticipated."

I wonder if t..."


You have made a very good point, Bruce. The way the world looks today, the terrible irony of trying to save your house only to have your planet destroyed definitely cuts a little close to the bone. Also, I am nearly 30 years older than I was last time I read the book-- maybe I am reading a tragic cast into the book that isn't really there, or the passage of time has made me more sensitive to the whole story, not merely the comedic gloss that captivated me when I was younger. Also, knowing that Adams is no longer with us definitely casts a shadow.


message 32: by Phil (new) - rated it 5 stars

Phil Jensen | 100 comments Suki wrote: "I am nearly 30 years older than I was last time I read the book-- maybe I am reading a tragic cast into the book that isn't really there, or the passage of time has made me more sensitive to the whole story, not merely the comedic gloss that captivated me when I was younger."

I suspect this is the case. A strong theme throughout the Hitchhiker series is the triviality of human existence. Our entire planet is wiped out by a bureaucratic oversight, and its only epitaph is "Mostly Harmless." An alien names himself "Ford Prefect" because our actions are so meaningless that he assumes cars are the dominant life form; at least they seem to have a purpose.

As a teenager, I embraced these messages. I felt surrounded by idiotic, meaningless social structures. Things happened for no particular reason. The existential slapstick of Arthur Dent's search for meaning/dignity/peace was hilarious.

As an adult, I'm tied into a number of social structures. They give meaning and direction to my life, and I act because I think I can affect outcomes. The idea that human life is chaotic, unpredictable, and cosmically insignificant is less funny now.


message 33: by Bruce (new)

Bruce (bruce1984) Phil wrote: "As an adult, I'm tied into a number of social structures. They give meaning and direction to my life, and I act because I think I can affect outcomes. The idea that human life is chaotic, unpredictable, and cosmically insignificant is less funny now. "

That's a fascinating point!


message 34: by Ronald (new)

Ronald (rpdwyer) | 155 comments This is from the science fiction fanzine Ansible:

The Weakest Link. Alexander Armstrong: 'Which novel featured the characters Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect and Zaphod Beeblebrox?' Contestant: 'Pride and Prejudice.' (BBC1, Pointless) [PE]

The most recent issue of Ansible:

http://news.ansible.uk/a360.html#15


message 35: by Donna Rae (new)

Donna Rae Jones | 99 comments Ronald wrote: "This is from the science fiction fanzine Ansible:

The Weakest Link. Alexander Armstrong: 'Which novel featured the characters Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect and Zaphod Beeblebrox?' Contestant: 'Pride a..."


I like that. What people say when under pressure ...


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