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The only guide to the galaxy you'll ever need to read
on 3 December 2003
There is just one reason why The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy was voted into the BBC's Top One Hundred Books list, and that is because it is simply brilliant. It is a work of science fiction, but the humour contained within the story is not only incredibly witty, but also unusual within its chosen genre. Be prepared to susend your disbelief however, as the series of adventures and coincidences encountered by the characters is nothing short of extrordinary.
The story follows a rather eccentric Englishman by the name of Arthur Dent, as one Thursday morning the Earth is demolished by a group of poetry-loving Vogons who want rid of the planet in order to make way for a Hyper-Spatial Express Route. This sets the scene for Arthur and his extra-terrestial friend, Ford, to journey through space and, amongst other things, come accross the two-headed, three-armed President of the Galaxy Zaphod Beeblebrox, his one-time girlfriend Trillian, and a paranoid android by the name of Marvin. There are many aspects of the book that contribute towards its status as a cult classic, but I believe primary among these is the way in which Douglas Adams manages to bring accross the personalities of the characters. "Arthur said coldly, 'We've met, haven't we Zaphod Beeblebrox - or should I say... Phil?'" Not only are they resonsible for some of the most amusing lines I have ever had the pleasure of reading, but upon finishing the book I felt a longing to become one of the crew upon the Heart of Gold ship the characters inhabit. Arthur is a particular favourite of mine, and the way in which he looks upon the current events of his life with such fascination is a great source of amusement. "'You know,' said Arthur, 'it's at times like this, when I'm trapped in a Vogan airlock with a man from Betelgeuse and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I'd listened to what my mother told me when I was young.' 'Why, what did she tell you?' 'I don't know, I didn't listen.'" Another part of the writing I found hugely impressive was the way in which Adams managed to create a whole range of fascinating gadgets, including the ships irritatingly cheery Eddie, who is much-loathed by the other characters.
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is only the first in a series of five novels which I am informed started life as a set of radio plays in nineteen seventy-eight (followed by the book, a year later). I would whole-heartedly recommend that any reader has enjoyed the book to set about reading the rest. I have to date read the books three times, and have each time been utterly seduced by the warmth, wit and humour. It truly deserves to be referred to as a classic.