I don’t find these books funny. This is my second time reading this
book. The first, I absolutely hated the book, but this time, I figured
I’d go in with my eyes wide open. It didn’t help. I can see how some
people would find this style funny, but it wasn’t for me. It reminded me
somewhat of Terry Pratchett, whom I do often find funny, but this didn’t
appeal to me at all. The adventure is mundane, and although it shows off
the different alien species (and one depressed robot) and their failings
and ambitions, it wasn’t enough to hold my interest. There is very
little more for me to say, because the whole appeal rests on the random
way the author changes subjects to make silly observations, sometimes
about our own world as it’s transposed into the galaxy at large.
Apparently bureaucracy are the same for all alien cultures. It’s
apparently funny to a lot of people, but not to me. I tried –I really
did. But I don’t see myself finishing the series for a second time.
This is a beloved classic series, by seemingly every science fiction fan
in the world. Or maybe just the noisiest ones. Regardless, I gave it a
shot when I was much younger, and I hated it. Still, I trundled my way
through five books, and hated every single one. Older now, I’ve been
wanting to give the books another chance, feeling that I was probably in
my highly critical critic stage, where a lot of books on my website have
review ratings lower than they should. So I took this chance to rectify
that, and give it a proper chance.
I was wrong –my initial
reactions have not changed. I wouldn’t say that I hated the book, but I
didn’t enjoy it. There were a few –very few- funny moments, but since I
didn’t like the humor, and the whole book is based on the reader finding
this funny, a lot of the book was torture. I read it to turn the page,
even as the narrator told us about the alien races, and how they elected
a President whose time was best spent in jail and out of the way, or
making snide comments on all aspects of society. I could definitely see
where he was coming from, but only when certain facts are neglected and
the action being described was simplified beyond reality. Still, that
was the point, and I can see how many people could find this funny.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of them.
The attempted humor
reminded me of Terry Pratchett books, like
Wyrd Sisters, or others,
which I quite enjoyed. It’s all tongue in cheek, with comments that
would be considered to be under the breath. That humor didn’t always
resonate with me, but it was always funnier than what I read here.
Arthur Dent was clueless, even as he followed Ford Prefect around to
the bar (where an alcoholic buzz can help them traverse a hyperspace
jump and crackers can stave off the after-effects), to an alien
spaceship, then to the stolen improbability ship and to the planet that
is its destination. He takes the aliens in stride, and manipulates the
depressed robot until he strikes up a conversation with an alien
salesman. When he’s brought into the showroom, he finds that Earth was
actually a sentient computer, designed to find the question to the
ultimate answer of the meaning of life, the universe, and everything:
42. And it was ordered by beings from another dimension whose tiny
manifestiation in our universe shows up as mice, the most intelligent
species on our planet.
It turns out that the interstellar bypass
that destroyed Earth was a mistake, and that the computer would have
been finished with finding the question five minutes later. Ha-ha. The
mice have ordered another planet, almost exactly like Earth, but when
they discover Arthur, they decide they can use his body to finish the
calculation instead. Why didn’t they ever think that when in a cage with
Trillian, the woman from Earth? In another twist, she’s the same woman
whom the galactic president picked up at a bar when Arthur was trying to
pick her up. Talk about coincidence!
There is a bit of a buildup
to describe Zaphod Beetlebrox, the President, and how he became
president, just to steal the improbability drive and get to this planet.
He somehow sealed up the memories of why he wanted to steal the ship and
come to this planet, something we would probably discover in a future
book, if I decide to continue.
Zaphod, Ford and Trillian team up
to rescue Arthur (whose house was about to be bulldozed for a freeway
bypass in England just before the world ended, by the way). The
depressed robot had even fried the computer on the police vehicle that
came to arrest Zaphod for stealing the Heart of Gold spaceship. Then off
they go, to their next adventure.
The titular Hitch hiker’s Guide
to the Galaxy is a device that very closely resembles a tablet from
these days, able to scroll through thousands of pages and search entries
at the touch of the screen. What prescience, and probably the best part
of the book. The entries themselves were silly, but hardly relevant to
the story. Again, I didn’t find them very funny, though I think one or
two made me smile.
So the next question is whether I continue
with the series or not. I’ve already read it once, and didn’t enjoy it.
Am I willing to put myself through that again? Not at the moment. Maybe
I’ll forget how I felt while reading this book and go for the second one
someday. I just don’t see that happening right now.