This is arguably one of, if not the most famous science fiction novel out there. It is certainly one of the most popular as it has sold millions of copies in multiple languages. This one has been on my list to read for a while and I can now finally check it off.
Douglas Adams is probably one of the most famous underground science fiction writers of all time. Among those who know who he is he is obviously very beloved, whereas despite writing one of the most famous books of all time, many do not know who he is. What I found most fascinating about him is reading about how he wrote this book and some of the critical events in the book. It is really quite fascinating and funny to see how he came up with his ideas. This is with out a doubt his most famous work and not too long ago was turned into a movie. I have not seen it all so I can’t comment on it other than there is one out there. Sadly Adams passed away in 2001 of a heart attack. Way too young.
This one starts out with an ordinary man named Author Dent who seemingly lives an ordinary life. He is about to have his house demolished to make way for a brand new bypass, but with the help of his peculiar friend, Ford Perfect is able to hold off the construction crew for a few hours. While Ford looks like a normal human he is actually from another planet, and realizes that the Earth is about to be destroyed to make way for an interstellar bypass. Ford saves Author’s life by using alien technology to beam him on the ship that is about to destroy Earth. From there the two travel across the universe encountering some of the most bizarre individuals including, inter dimensional mice, depressed robots, an Improbability Drive, and species capable of creating planets. On top of all this there is the question and answer to life, the universe and everything.
I know I probably say this more than I should, but this is certainly one of the most unique novels I have ever read. There are not many who dabble in the realm of sci-fi humor in fact the only other one I can really think of is Confessions of a Class D Super Villain. Which is nowhere near as popular as this book but nonetheless a fun read and should get more credit and attention than it does. Still I can certainly see how and why this book is so popular and has become quite the sensation even nearly 30 years after it was first published.
I enjoyed this one and felt the mix of an extraordinary imagination along with some neat science fiction ideas somehow worked extremely well for this novel. There were funny parts through the story as well as any number of nonsensical inserts that had little if anything to do with advancing the plot but that is the thing that makes this one great. The story itself knows this and does not take itself too seriously so these little inserts are fine and work for the story. It is really quite bizarre how everything fits together. Like if I told you that there is potentially two pages dedicated to a whale floating in space and his thoughts, you might say wtf, what does that have to do with anything, funny thing is that it really doesn’t have ANYTHING to do with anything. Yet when reading you just shrug your shoulders laugh and keep going because it somehow through the genius that is Douglas Adams makes sense for this story. I am smiling and shaking my head now as I think about that part of the story.
While the style of this story certainly works, and it is hard to argue with its success, I did think it was very interesting to read how the story developed with the style that it did. To me I think the key point that makes this all work is that it was not serious, what I mean is that the tone of the story is just a fun nonchalant, truly, anything goes style. I think that is the one thing that makes this whole idea work. Along with that the story knows it is not serious. What I mean by that is like when you watch certain movies where you know the main characters are safe because of the nature and tone of the plot. RED and Deadpool are good examples of this in my opinion in the movie realm, but I have not really seen this style in the written form. While I have read other books that have a sort of anything goes, when turning the page you truly have no idea what to expect, this one is by far the best. Those others, to me, are strange for the sake of being strange and that is all they have to offer. They are also serious and it is hard to read a serious story where one extremely bizarre circumstances seem to happen one after the other.
Recently I read Wrinkle in Time and I think that one and this one have somewhat similar styles in terms of creativity and just craziness. Wrinkle in time had some very strange and odd events taking place along with bizarre characters and aliens. But for me the reason I felt if fell short was because it took itself too seriously while somewhat trying to be lighthearted, as it is a children’s novel. Adams creativity in this one truly knows no bounds and he brilliantly makes it work flawlessly.
The characters in this one are great as well. There are so many strange and interesting personalities that keep the reader interested and zoned in. I also liked how he wrote mostly in dialogue. There were very few long and drawn out descriptive pages, instead there was more dialogue between the characters that again made for a more interesting read in my opinion. I will also say that despite the goofiness of the story there are times where Adams gets deep without really doing so. I mean who wouldn’t want to know the answer to The meaning of life, the universe, and everything? But in typical Adams fashion he gives an answer that is both nonsensical, and in an of its absurdity, somewhat mimics this crazy thing we call life.
After I have had some time to digest this book I would have loved to have talked to Adams and just ask him if wrote this book and series as a joke. Like if he just wrote it thinking o well this will be fun writing and whatever happens will happen. As always I enjoy the story behind the story. I just have a had time thinking that while writing this that he was thinking, yep this is going to sell millions of copies. I don’t think it matters but I think it would be interesting to hear what Adams had to say to that question.
It is also worth noting that this is a “Trilogy of Five,” which makes no sense at all. There are five books total but the last one was not written by Adams as he died in 2001. I have not decided if I will read the others in the “Trilogy” but I am certain they will all be equally entertaining. It is also worth noting that this book is a relatively quick read, and it appears that the others are similar. So if you did want to read the whole “Trilogy” you may not have to spend months if not longer finishing it.
I really liked this one and cant believe it has taken me this long to get around to it. Maybe someday in the future I will check out the others in this series, I can only imagine what ideas Adams has come up with. In the meantime, you absolutely have to check this one out if you have not already. A great read for any sci-fi fan, and one that almost anyone can enjoy.