Alright boys and girls – today is the day to discuss the version of the Hitchhiker’s Guide that most people are familiar with, the novelization. This is going to be a review of only the first book, for reasons too dull to go into here
To be clear – I know where my towel is. I carry it with me in my car. Yes. I’m a geek. I’m proud of it.
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Harmony; 25th Annv edition (October 19, 2004)
Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 7.6 x 1.0 inches
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Again, it seems like the best parts of the book are contained in the Guide
The way the whole book just seems way too short, and wraps up in a really odd place. The fact that most of the material for the second book existed before he started writing the first says that it was just split there because that’s where the two “series” split – it definitely feels more like a chapter break than a book ending. (in fact, the first bazillion times I read it I didn’t even notice – I just went from one book to the next without regard for stopping points owing to having the first four all in one volume)
This is by far the most well known version of the Guide – No one ever says “oh yeah, the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I’ve hear that radio play!”. (of course, people *will* now be saying “oh yeah…I saw that movie…”).
I’m finding it very difficult to write about this book, in part because it’s a very personal book for me. A lot of my sense of humor is informed by the way this book was written – I tend to quote it often, and to some extent it’s what pushed me into writing. There’s a definite love of the written word, a joy at a certain turn of phrase, contained between the covers of this book.
As mentioned before, that’s part of the problem – sometimes a wonderful phrase doesn’t fit into the general story. (as an example, the line about Ford saying “they don’t have sarcasm on Betelgeuise, and Ford sometimes missed it if he wasn’t concentrating” doesn’t really work when you realize, a few pages later, that Ford’s primary method of communication is sarcasm.)
Still, despite that, the book holds up very well with repeated reading. (to be quite honest, it holds up much better when read with its sequels, but that’s another review). Since I lost most of this review due to fatfingering in vi earlier today, I’m going to just get on to the scores. Same scoring method as the radio show.
In terms of Originality, it’s been brought to my attention that Douglas Adams was heavily influenced by Kurt Vonnegut. I don’t change my score from yesterday, I just thought you’d want to know. On top of that, this is an adaptation of his own earlier work. How do you score that?! So, for originality, the HHGTTG, book form, gets – a multidimensional mouse.
The Imagery in the book has a far more sarcastic and silly feel than that of the radio version – mostly because the vivid sound effects and visceral interactions are replaced with Adams’ snarky, witty descriptions. It’s very effective, but very different. A bowl of petunias.
The Story still feels a bit tacked on. That’s forgiveable, but unfortunately means it only nets a splattered sperm whale.
Characterization is fairly weak, all things considered. Just about everying is a sarcastic smartass – the ability to hear tones of voice and inflection that helped correct that in the previous incarnation aren’t available to help this time. Still, it all works. I give it a cup of nutrimatic drink.
Editing is…well…there’s only one spot where I don’t like the editing – they explain Zaphod’s position as president in detail in both a footnote and in the text, using almost identical passages. I don’t like that. But other than that, the editing is good enough that you don’t even notice it. Definitely worth a custom built planet.
Emotional response is…well, less than it was, but still very good. It’s a very funny book, and I recommend it as the sort of thing that people who like this sort of thing will like. Definitely worth a flanian pobble bead.
Overall, I like this book a lot, despite its few little quirks. I’m running out of things to give these…so how about a nice big yellow bulldozer.
In total, the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Book) gets a nice, squishy babelfish.