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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

July 26, 2008

I decided to pick up The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams because I know it’s a favorite novel among nerds. From nerds in high school to nerds on He-Man.org, it is a well-liked book.

My review? Mehhhhh. Recommended? Mehhhh. But maybe my expectations were set too high. From the back jacket: “As parody, it’s marvelous: it contains just about every science fiction cliché you can think of. As humor, it’s, well, hysterical”—The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Yes, it is a well-written parody. From the two-headed alien President, to who actually controls Earth, to the Improbability Drive, it pokes fun at those things that make sci-fi identifiable. But I didn’t think it was hysterical. I thought it was “just there…”

I don’t want to trash it, because it has a good premise and some great characters. Some good points are made outside of “haha, look at this sci-fi cliché turned on its head.”

For example, Zaphod Beeblebrox, President of the Imperial Galactic Government, exists as a leader solely to distract his constituents from what is really happening in the galaxy (p. 39). He reminds me of our current US president, except ours doesn’t have two heads. But the Government loves to exploit a situation (*cough*9/11*cough* Terrorists/Ahhh!) to distract us (War? What war?). This was a wonderful observation on Adams’ part about the way governments work. They make us fear something that has nothing to do with anything.

Decent book, but I think I expected to much. I liked it, but didn’t find it hysterical, “extremely funny” (Washington Post) or “reminiscent of Vonnegut” (Chicago Tribune).
There is funnier Sci-Fi out there: it’s called the history of Xenu (from Wiki).

Next up: Speaking of being reminiscent of Vonnegut, Galapagos. Don’t expect this review for two weeks, though.

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