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4.7 out of 5 stars
The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy: A Trilogy in Five Parts
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on 11 March 2012
The spaceship was big and yellow and hung in the air in exactly the same way that bricks don't.

Assembled in one giant bundle of wordplay are all five books in Douglas Adams' magnificent trilogy investigating life, the universe and everything. Simply put they are the funniest books ever written and the great tragedy is that their creator, Douglas Adams, went to his grave leaving us with just a handful of treasures by which to remember him.

You know the plot: the world is going to be destroyed by vogons - Arthur Dent, a man in a dressing gown, survives the conglagration and explores the universe. Meanwhile someone else works out the meaning of life and some mice think they know what is happening. And we all know the answer - it's 42! That is not a spoiler. What happens next might be.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
...but it was followed, in 1979, by something rather smaller but infinitely more useful and far easier to read - "The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy", the story of Arthur Dent, local radio executive, dressing-gown wearer and interplanetary refugee.

Originally released as a BBC Radio series, H2G2 quickly found its way to print and was followed over the period of thirty-odd years by five follow-up books, a TV series and a film. In that time the story arc gained a huge fan-base and brought its author, Douglas Adams, a degree of immortality achieved only by the lesser gods.

This edition gathers together the first five books, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979), The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (1980), Life, the Universe and Everything (1982), So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish (1984) and Mostly Harmless (1992) under one cover. The sixth book, And Another Thing ... was written by Eoin Colfer in 2009 and is available seperately.

So what exactly IS H2G2? Ostensibly, it tells of Arthur's peregrinations across the universe in search of a nice cup of tea (the Earth having been destroyed by a Vogon Constructor Fleet to make way for a hyperspace bypass) accompanied by Zaphod Beeblebrox (ex Galactic President and totally hoopy frood), Ford Prefect (roving researcher for the Guide and expense account beta-tester), Trillian (just some girl) and Marvin (a Paranoid Android). The characters sound fun but actually they are rather cod, stock sci-fi personnel so... move on, there's nothing to see here (although Marvin is the most endearing and best loved literary robot of all time).

There is not really much in the way of a storyline either, at least in the first two books, and what develops subsequently isn't much cop - hopelessly confused and confusing and it's clear that Adams was either trying too hard or not hard enough. Or at all, for that matter; he famously stated that he wasn't much good at plots...

He also noted, even more famously, "I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by." which hints at the true genius of the man. Douglas Adams was a profoundly gifted humourist, a satirist of repute and THAT is one reason why people love his books. It's the gentle Wodehousian humour, the sideways look at late 20th century culture and technology that makes these books so special and anyone who's read the series has his or her favourite quotes. For my part...

"For a moment or two the old man didn't reply. He was staring at the instruments with the air of one who is trying to convert Fahrenheit to centigrade in his head while his house is burning down."

and

"You mean," said Arthur, "you can see into my mind?"
"Yes," said Marvin.
Arthur stared in astonishment, "and ...?"
"It amazes me how you can manage to live in anything that small."

...sum up the man's ironic genius. My personal favourite is the description in SLATFAT Fish of a Porsche... "It was a low bulbous shape, like a small whale surfing - sleek, grey and rounded and moving at a terrifying speed." Fantastic! and if you can imagine five (shortish) books written in that vein, you have an inkling of what you will be reading.

Another reason for reading these books is Adams' prodigious talent for setting out strange and provocative ideas: the eponymous Restaurant of the second book is one, as are his two revolutionary FTL transport mechanisms - the Infinite Improbability Drive and Bistromathics. Silly? Yes. Wildly impractical? Frequently. Amusing? Yup. Inherently and strangely logical? Mais certainement... Well, maybe not always so silly. Consider the answer to the meaning of life etc etc. i.e. "42". What Adams is saying is that we spend so much time looking for answers that we forget to wonder which are the most important questions. Sentient household appliances, cloud computing (for which, see Hactar) anyone? And, of course, with The Guide itself he managed to predict the development of the pocket internet, so not just amusing but also prescient and thoughtful.

I think it's fair to say that DA did, for scifi literature, what Monty Python did for comedy and the Sex Pistols for popular music. Have you read anything by Terry Pratchett? He owes his career, and probably also his knighthood, to Adams.

That's a hell of a legacy.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 11 March 2012
The H.H.G is the book which anticipated the Kindle , and I cannot think of a work more suited to read on it .

Arthur: What is it?
Ford Prefect: It's a sort of electronic book , it'll tell you everything you want to know , that's it's job.
Arthur : I like the cover "Don't Panic" , that's the first helpful or intelligible thing anyone has said to me all day.
Ford : That's why it sells so well . Here , press this button , and the screen will give you the index ...

I'm a great fan of Douglas Adams , and the first volume , The Hitch Hiker's Guide , is quite possibly my favourite book of all time : witty , inventive and with a central core of philosophy , it has a quote for every occasion . I'd decided that having the saga in CD form (the radio series) cassette tape (talking book & the LP ) as well as the script book and the paperbacks , I could not justify buying the whole thing all over again on Kindle .
But I can't resist it at this bargain price .
All I want now is a Kindle cover with the words "dont panic" in large friendly letters ...
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67 of 73 people found the following review helpful
on 28 November 2005
I had read all of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy's incarnations individually, mostly from the local library. I am a big fan - but tatty library copies only go so far. When you appreciate a series of books this much, to own the real thing is an absolute must.
This boxset presents all five books in the trilogy (!) nicely in paperback, with a hard box to house them all in. These editions are quite bare-bones, but perfect for reading multiple times - and they all share a cover scheme that is oh-so subtly changed to suit the book you are reading.
Those who have not met with Douglas Adam's most famous works before are in for a reat treat - espcially if you like some witty and intelligent yet slightly off-the-wall humour. This is an excellent way to enjoy the series.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 27 July 2006
I thoroughly enjoyed these books. It had always been something that had "been there" throughout life and I ahd always thought about reading them, but frankly, couldnt be bothered (much like LotR, which I also read for the same reasons) but once the film's release was announced, I decided to read at least the first book before seeing it. That way, Id get the "right" (although, the Radio and TV series' were different in parts to the books anyway...) story.

I love how they are written and all the little bits that are just thrown in at not-so-random places (they have some relevance). I think its because that is how I tend to talk. I say something, then have to explain something else so you know what the first thing was, then I go back again. Adams does that in these books, so it was very easy for me to come to grips with.

I reccommend these to anyone who enjoys random, but well thought out silliness. They'll make you laugh and can be read over and over again.

And who knows, you might even understand more about Life, the Universe and Everything *shifts eyes and hides at the end of book 5*

Enjoy!!
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on 19 October 1999
The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy is the best series of books I have ever read. I discovered them courtesy of my brother around 5 years ago, I read the 'trilogy' and have since become a ver avid fan. The chronicles of Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect and the rest of the gang are always guaranteed to make me laugh, and the books are always very well-written by Douglas Adams, as the pace never slows and there is never a dull (or unfunny moment). I live my life according to these books, as I'm sure any of my friends will testify. If you're thinking of buying this book, I would definitely recommend it to anyone after a comedy novel, a sci-fi novel or just a new outlook on life as a whole.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 11 March 2012
There's not a great deal to be said in reviewing this Kindle edition: it's the same wonderful five part trilogy that we already know and love. It is worth noting, though, that we get the same forewords as accompany the individual volumes, by Neil Gaiman, Terry Jones, and others. Russell T Davies' paeon to the wonderful paperbackness of the first book is rather incongruous in this context, but that just adds a pleasing touch of oddness to things, and his description of it as "fiercely, beautifully silly" is exactly right.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 11 March 2012
I am so chuffed at today's Daily Deal! I have loved these stories since first hearing them on Radio 4 many years ago. I lent my tree book versions to someone a little while back and they were never returned so it's doubly useful to have this set in a format that I cannot lend to anyone! Result!

If you have never read the books - please do. They are joyous!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 24 March 2003
Just the most fantasic book I have ever read. DA had the wierdest sens eof humour ever, and just to ensure freshness, these books are notentirely unlike the order of events in the radio shows, which are also just about fantastic. I just introduced my wife to these ona long car journey, and she now understands far more of what I say! tremendous!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
OK, straight to the point this is one awsome book. This Science fiction book is a golden oldy, a fab set at a great price. 776 pages of it, great fun.
I'm not much of a reader myself but this is the sort of book that keeps you reading and reading and reading.
If your into Science fiction this is has got to be your best buy. In the first book the Earth explodes along with a sperm Whale (after being teleported into the sky over a desert world...OUCH!!!).
There are also some great phrases that stick in mind, this from Marvin the Paranoid Android: "Life, don't talk to me about life, you can either face it or ignore it but you can't like it".
Not convinced? Have a go at this. Ursa Minor Beta is one of the most appalling places in the known Universe.
Although excruciatindly rich, horrifyingly sunny and more full of wonderfully exciting people than a pomegranate of pips, it can hardly be insignificant than when a recent edition of PLAYBEING
magazine hedlined a article with the words "When your tired of Ursa Minor Beta your tired of life", the suicide rate quadrpled over night!!! You've gotta buy it!!
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