So I am without a guest contributor this week so I’m afraid you are all stuck with me! Today I want to remind you all about the joy that is The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. My first introduction to this story was the early BBC adaptation into a TV series, as a child I was completely captivated by the combination of live action and parts where the book came to life in the little animated sections. Finally purchased in my teenage years, I was surprised and overjoyed to see that the Hitchhikers books were now a “Trilogy in Five Parts”. Despite it being many years since watching the series, I was still able to attribute the voices and the imagery at certain points (although it has to be said that following the film I do now hear the book being spoken as Stephen Fry).
Hapless Arthur Dent, through a quirk of friendship with Ford Prefect is able to leave the Earth just seconds before it’s destruction by the Vogon’s to make way for an Intergalactic Superhighway, by hitching a life on said vessel of destruction. The introduction of the little babel fish as a way of understanding and translating any language was genius in making that a complete non issue for the rest of the story. Arthur discovers that his friend is actually a writer for the titular guide and having spend may years on Earth was able to complete it’s entry, but concluding that it was “mostly harmless”.
With no home world left, Arthur has little choice but to continue on with Ford throughout his journey in space. They are caught on their journey by the Star ship “Heart of Gold” which had been liberated by the enigmatic (and double headed) Zaphod Beeblebrox. The star ship is powered by a newly discovered infinite improbability drive (have your hot cups of tea ready), which many want to get their hands on or indeed the owners want back! Again the concept of “infinite improbability” allows for the story to go completely believably in an direction it wants.
This is a laugh out loud book, with so many iconic references from the friendly “Don’t Panic” on the front of the guide to the number 42 being the answer to “Life, the Universe and Everything”. It has opened the door to many Marvin the Paranoid Android impressions and titters over the name of Slartibartfast who was the creator of Norway’s crinkly edges.
Douglas Adam’s mind must have been an amazing place to be!