The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979) – Douglas Adams

After re-watching the movie earlier this week, I thought it would be nice to go back and read the original novel (based on the BBC radio play penned by Adams) and go travelling with Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect again.

This book first came into my hands decades ago, in the early 80s when I was living in Kingston. It showed up in my stocking (if memory serves) one Xmas, and I always wondered how it got there. To that point in my life, I had not shown any interest in British humour, nor had I truly been introduced to it yet.

All I can imagine is that my Mom, who did all the Xmas shopping must have stopped and chatted with some customer service rep in a book shop, and tried to describe her son to them, and get a recommendation. I can hear her saying that I loved things like Star Trek and Star Wars, and the rep thought right away, science fiction buff.

Unfortunately for them, I was only a buff for science fiction film and hadn’t found my way into science fiction novels. I didn’t do that until was older (even now I’ll get picky about how far I delve into literary sci fi).

That didn’t mean I didn’t read it. At ten/eleven my sense of humour hadn’t quite taken root yet, and reading funny lines didn’t have the same impact as hearing funny lines. I would pick it up every now and then and try and enjoy it, but it never really took. Not until I was about 18.

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I was at university, and had finally been introduced to Monty Python (the only UK humour I’d been exposed to before that were Some Mothers Do ‘Ave Em and Are You Being Served?) and I finally got the fun sense of wordplay and outlandish creations that Adams populated his tales with.

So, this week, when I revisited the story, I chuckled and laughed out loud constantly. From Vogon poetry to very clever and intelligent shades of blue to a poor sperm whale, a ship outfitted with an improbability drive, the computer Deep Thought who has the answer to life, the universe and everything, and, of course, the president of the galaxy and inventor of the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, Zaphod Beeblebrox, I enjoyed every riotous minute of it, and can’t help but feel sorry for my younger self for not enjoying it as much as he should have.

Sure, Earth gets destroyed, and he can’t seem to find a decent cup of tea, but Arthur Dent finds himself off on the adventure of a lifetime, with strange allies at his side, and the discovery that his was only the third most intelligent species on the planet.

There is so much laughter coursing through this book, it’s a joy to read and made sure there was a smile on my face for the entire time I read it. It’s just so much fun.

Man, do I love this book. I’ll be checking out the rest of Adam’s original series in the near future I’m sure, including a stop at The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

hitch

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