25. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Humans, and Digital Watches.

“Ford,” he said, “you’re turning into a penguin. Stop it.”

Did that grab your attention?

I thought as much.

Originally broadcast as a sci-fi comedy radio show in 1978, H2G2 (dude, I know the slang), otherwise known as Douglas AdamsHitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, was turned into a “trilogy” of six books. The first of which contains the marvelous quote included above for your reading pleasure.

But, and keep up, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a nifty little book of scientific calculator-esque appearance, which I will henceforth refer to as The Guide in order to avoid confusion with H2G2; the latter being the novel that I’ve just read, and the former being the guidebook inside the novel that I’ve just read. So, The Guide advises you on the best ways to see the universe on a budget, should you be so inclined, as well as containing an encyclopedia of very important stuff. Just so:

“The History of every major Galactic Civilization tends to pass through three distinct and recognizable phases, those of Survival, Inquiry and Sophistication, otherwise known as the How, Why and Where phases.

“For instance, the first phase is characterized by the question How can we eat? the second by the question Why do we eat? and the third by the question Where shall we have lunch?

Douglas Adams

Ford Prefect is a writer for The Guide, and an alien hitchhiker stranded on Earth; his friend, Arthur Dent, is an Englishman who gets a rather rude shock when he finds himself hitching a ride, with Ford, aboard a bureaucrats’ spaceship, after said bureaucrats demolished Earth to make way for a hyperspatial express route. As you do.

Other esteemed characters in H2G2 include Zaphod Beeblebrox, either the brilliant, or really, really stupid, President of the Galaxy; Trillian, an Englishwoman dating Zaphod after being “saved” by him from Arthur’s drunken clutches; and Marvin, the Paranoid Android, who gives Eeyore a run for his money, and wins. Although I’m unsure as to how being more manically depressed than a stuffed donkey counts as a win.

Never you mind, the characters don’t matter! The point, young Padawans, is that H2G2 is a hilarious, frank, and ironically self-aware commentary on human habits, whilst being so bloody British that it makes me want to move to London and gulp down lots of tea. Minus the aliens, of course.

Also, I hate Star Wars.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie. I've never seen it.

Unlike Star Wars, H2G2 has something to offer for everyone: Human Resources theories, the reasoning behind peoples preferences for digital watches, and an explanation as to why a towel is the single most important item for a galaxy hitchhiker to carry.

Therefore, I’m going to leave you with a morsel of self-help advice gleaned from the novel. Because I’m nice.

It is an important and popular fact that things are not always what they seem. For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much – the wheel, New York, wars and so on – while all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man – for precisely the same reasons.

If you are curious as to who the first most intelligent life-form on Earth is (as opposed to the second and third life-forms, which are mentioned above), I’m afraid you’ll have to pick up the book yourselves. Cheerio!

Edit – I’ve now read books two and three of of H2G2;  Life lessons from a hitchhiker: firstly, you may be excused from saving the galaxy if you have a headache.

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21 responses to “25. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Humans, and Digital Watches.

  1. I have seen the movie, enjoyed it and I agree with you here wholeheartedly, H2G2 is hilarious. Another fantastic review. You know, one can become addicted to reading these :D

    I await your next!

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention 25. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Humans, and Digital Watches. « The Friande -- Topsy.com

  3. Dennis Sheehan

    Guide to the Galaxy, Humans and Digital Watches is a great parody and extremely entertaining your review is brilliant.

    Dennis Sheehan

  4. I read these books last year and love love loved them. SO funny, although it was a bit much to read them al in one go.

    Just wanted to let you know that your feature is up on Page Turners this morning.

  5. H-I decided to follow you after reading the very interesting interview you did with Becky at Page Turner Books

  6. This is a great book, and the rest of the trilogy are also pretty funny.

    I LOVE the movie and someone close to me in college loved it enough to steal it, so I need to go buy a new copy!

  7. I’ve been meaning to read this ever since our College Students book club picked it as a group read. This might have to bump up a couple spots on my tbr list!

  8. I’ve watched the movie guys! Really bizarre, but in the end I rather enjoyed it. Not as good as the book, though, but most things aren’t…

  9. It was a bizarre movie. Trippy, to say the least. Well, now you can say that you watched the movie and survived :D

  10. Another very entertaining write-up! I have not seen the movie, but maybe I should review it!

    Also, I posted my PRE-VIEW of “The Last Airbender”. I remember you had asked about this movie earlier. Looking forward to it. It should be definitely get the taste of “Twilight: Eclipse” out of my mouth.

    • A friend of mine saw it without reading the book and said it was pretty bizarre & unfunny… It’ll be interesting to read your thoughts!
      Off to read the pre-view of Last Airbender, & I commend you on your bravery for watching Eclipse.

  11. Just found your blog (from charliebanks blog)..good timing i must add, as I just read this book.

    I agree, hilarious book and a great review to boot!

    ps. it seems you’ve managed to make my list of blogs i actually read! wooo!

    • I’m still reading The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, but I think I preferred the first book?
      Thanks for the compliment! Hoping to see more of you in the future (and I agree – Charlie has a lovely blog).

  12. I like it when people write about H2G2 as it is the best trilogy of six ever. DA is sorely missed.

    Corrections – Ford was ONE of the writers, not THE writer for the Guide.

    Please, please, please watch the BBC TV series (ignore the primitive effects) for the best way to view H2G2. I have heard that listening to the BBC Radio series is even better but I am not good at listening to stuff (tend to switch off).

    The film (IMHO) was dreadful. I saw it at the cinema and was disappointed. I bought the DVD just to check it was as bad as I thought – and it was. I even tried watching it again recently (for verification) and I couldn’t make it even half way through.

    I love the books, I am on my second set as the first set got worn out from re-reading. Also try the Dirk Gently books for even more DA delectation. Worth a read too is Starship Titanic – DA was busy writing the computer game so asked Terry Jones (Monty Python) to write the book and it is very much in the DA style.

    • Oops, thanks for pointing that out, I knew he was one of the writers but I guess I miswrote it up there. I watched the movie after reading the books and was a little stunned at the crappiness of it. I don’t think they’re going to be making the planned sequel. I’ll have to keep an eye out for the BBC TV series at my local library.

      Thanks for all the recommendations! Have you checked out my post about books two and three of the series? It’s here if you’re interested.

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