Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Audio Book Review

August 25, 2010

When Arthur Dent is rescued from Earth by his alien friend Ford Prefect mere minutes before the planet is destroyed, he embarks on a wild and crazy journey across the galaxy equipped only with a towel and a Hitchhiker’s Guide. This novel, titled The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy after the unique and wonderful guide, is a science fiction classic by Douglas Adams. It was first published in 1979 after coming to life as a popular British radio series in 1978.

The novel is also available as an unabridged audio book read by the author. There is another version read by the British actor Stephen Fry which is also a great listen, but it is such a treat to hear the author’s concept of how the story should be read and to feel an intimate connection with Adams as he directly relates his novel to the listener.

The novel features a fascinatingly bizarre cast composed of Arthur, the poor human who is just discovering what’s really going on in the universe; Ford, a really hoopy frood who loves a drink; Zaphod Beeblebrox, the two headed President of the Galaxy; Trillian, a female human who Arthur actually met at a party before all these shenanigans started; and Marvin, the depressed robot and ultimate paranoid android. As the group makes its way through the stars, Adams tells us all about the galaxy with tantalizing excerpts from the Hitchhiker’s Guide and observations on life. He even gives readers the answer to the ultimate question of Life, the Universe and Everything (it’s 42, and if that makes no sense, you’ll just have to wait until researchers can figure out what the real question is).

The Hitchhiker’s Guide is not only a science fiction journey but a study in comedy. The novel is a hilarious romp through the galaxy that brings to mind Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, Monty Python and British sitcoms.

Adams is a master of details, with funny little comments and observations that come out of nowhere and make you chuckle. The humor is intelligent and starts right on page one when Adams gets right to it, taking potshots at evolution, capitalism and Christianity (nothing is too sacred for Adams). If you’re not busy laughing too hard, take a second glance at the humor because underneath the veneer of sarcasm and dry wit are meaningful statements about life and all the things we think are important, but in the grand scheme of the universe, really aren’t.

A must read or listen for anyone interested in an incredibly entertaining yet surprisingly layered book.

This is a guest post by Gary Kohler from the insurance website LifeCover.ca.

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