Sunday, 14 May 2017

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams
First published in the UK by Serious Productions in 1979. Audiobook edition narrated by Stephen Fry published by Random House in 2005.

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How I got this book:
Downloaded as part of the 2017 AudioSYNC season

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : from £4.80 (PB)
Wordery : from £5.25 (PB)
Waterstones : from £6.99 (PB)
Amazon : from $2.51 / £1.89 (ebook)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

A much loved science-fiction classic, this entertaining intergalactic adventure has a lot going for it - including narration by British comedian Stephen Fry. Adams displays his talents for a creating a whole new world in this first of five audiobooks in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. Packed with brilliant humour, extraordinary characters and a highly original storyline, it's no wonder that this novel is a favourite of so many.
One Thursday lunchtime the Earth gets unexpectedly demolished to make way for a new hyperspace bypass. For Arthur Dent, who has only just had his house demolished that morning, this seems already to be more than he can cope with. Sadly, however, the weekend has only just begun, and the Galaxy is a very strange and startling place.

I absolutely loved the Hitchhiker's series as a young teenager so was curious to discover how I would feel listening to it again now nearly thirty years (eeek!) later. One of the AudioSYNC downloads last week was the Stephen Fry narrated version. He does an excellent job, obviously enjoyed the novel as he reads it and managing to include a few aural nods to the original radio series. I wasn't prepared for how much of the book I still had memorised so apologies to anyone alarmed by the 'crazy' headphoned woman apparently muttering to herself, 'It must be a Thursday, said Arthur, I never could get the hang of Thursdays.' 'Life? Don't talk to me about Life!'.

Marvin is still, for me, the complete star of the show, but the other characters are excellently portrayed too and Adams' dry wit carries the story with a humour that is perfectly suited to my own. I hadn't remembered the story having so much politics in it. Admittedly it's disguised well, but prescient ideas such as the new President of the Galaxy, Zaphod Beeblebrox, having got the job for his ability to deflect attention from the real power-holders rang pretty true. The electronic book form of The Guide predated ebooks and ereaders by decades too.

Despite my glorious wave of nostalgia, The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy didn't quite get the full five star rating. There are pacing issues and a couple of plot holes large enough to fly a Vogon constructor fleet through. Some story elements haven't dated well either. The 'small green pieces of paper' will probably still make sense to American readers, but became obsolete in the UK shortly after my first reading of the novel back in the 1980s. That said, where Hitchhiker's 'scores over more pedestrian' science fiction is that it is simply tremendous fun. I could feel Adams' ideas almost clambering over each other to be written down and he had me giggling most of the time.

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  1. It's worth listening to the audio if only to hear Stephen Fry narrate it. I haven't read this one yet (can you believe it?!).

    1. I can't believe it!! T'was one of my absolute favourites as a teen