The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Author: Douglas AdamsMain characters: Arthur Dent--former Earthling, Ford Prefect--from Betelgueuse; currently a galaxy hitchhiker, Tricia McMillan (nicknamed Trillian)--former Earthling, Zaphod Beeblebrox--President of the Galaxy, wanted for theft; also from Betelgueuse, and Marvin--the paranoid robot

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Summary

It was a very normal day on Earth and Arthur Dent was arguing with Mr.Prosser. They had very different views on whether Arthur's house should be demolished to make a bypass. Arthur, in desperation and frustration lies down in the ground in front of the bulldozer as to not let it move forward. His friend, Ford Prefect came to fetch him (he is also unknowingly form Betelgueuse, not Earth, but has disguised himself as a human) urging him to go get a drink with him as the world was ending.Ford knew, with the technology he had, that Earth was going to be demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass. Arthur finds this outrageous and dismisses Ford. However, it was at that moment that someone announced to the Earth that it was about to be demolished. Without much time to spare for surprise, Earth was destroyed.Ford had managed to take Arthur and hitch a ride on the Vogon's (the species that destroyed Earth) spaceship. They had managed to do this as the kitchen crew took pity on them and let them on board. As soon as the Vogons noticed there were unwanted passengers on board, and, being the unfriendly species they were, captured Arthur and Ford. They then were ejected into the vacuum of space.Instead of instant death, the spaceship Improbability Drive picked them up and whisked them to safety.The Improbability Drive is a phenomenal spaceship that can travel huge--no gargantuan--much too big for us to imagine--distances across the universe. It can travel to the most improbable places in the universe, and right now, it decided to whisk itself to Arthur and Ford's safety. Once picked up by the Improbability Drive, Arthur and Ford meet the rest of our main characters: Trillian(who is an earthling Zaohod had taken a liking to), Zaphod, and Marvin(the robot).Zaphod had stolen the Improbabilty Drive from the galactic government, well, really, for no reason at all. It had very high security, too, but Zaphod had become president of the galaxy for that very reason. Besides being a genius, he was extremely scatterbrained and did not know what to do with his life. But, if there was one thing Zaphod pursued, it would be riches.Zaphod takes them on a journey to Magrathea--a planet so old it was lost to the ages and only existed as a myth. Magrathea's inhabitants made planets and was incredibly wealthy. Then, the galaxy became bankrupt and no one was able to afford Magrathea's planets. No one knew exactly what happened then, but no one ever heard of how the people of Magrathea was doing after. Zaphod suspects a huge treasure within Magrathea.With the power of the Improbability Drive, they found Magrathea and while the rest goes down a forgotten tunnel to investigate,(except Marvin; Zaphod and Trillian both find him extremely irritating) Arthur is left outside to guard.(Although Magratheans were supposedly dead)Slartibartfast, a Magrathean greets Arthur and decides to show him some events that happened that created Earth; Arthur is a little cautious at first, but decides to follow Slartibartfast. Slartibartfast shows him a very old video about the first humanoid beings bickering about the meaning of life. Fed up with the constant quarreling, they decide to build a supercomputer and send 2 prophets to ask the computer the answer the life, the universe and everything. The supercomputer replies that it must take some time; 7 and a half million years to be exact.The descendants of the 2 prophets, 75,000 generations later, comes to seek the supercomputer. The two are very disappointed when the supercomputer (Deep Thought, it was named) said the answer to life, the universe, and everything was 42. They get quite angry and the supercomputer prompts them: well, what was the question exactly? The 2 prophets were left speechless at that. However, Deep Thought agrees to create a supercomputer that will undergo a 10 million years of thought process to calculate the question to the answer:42. That supercomputer is Earth.Unfortunately, Arthur learns from Slartibartfast that Earth was destroyed for that hyperspace bypass just before the 10 million process could be completed. However, 2 mice (yes, mice) who have been surveying the process of Earth also join in. They suggest that some clues to the questions in Arthur's brain as he was one of Earth's creations. Before Arthur could struggle with the choice, Zaphod and Trillian burst in the room with a large group of galactic cops chasing Zaphod for theft of the Improbability Drive. The trio escapes and boards the Improbability Drive once again and continues their journey in the galaxy.

Characters in order from left to right:Ford Prefect, Trillian, Zaphod Beeblebrox, Marvin, Arthur Dent

The book's strong points:The genre was science fiction and comedy--it was a very nice combination: the imagination of the future was certainly enlightening and the comedy kept me turning page after page. The sarcasm and intriguing characters also play a main role in snaring the reader's attention. The use of vocabulary and descriptive language is also very much worth noting; the images were created very clearly in my mind.

The main idea/message of this book was to demonstrate that YOU give meaning to YOUR life. In the book, people searched relentlessly for the meaning of life and got quite upset when the super computer proclaimed that the answer was 42. They belived so strongly that once knowing the answer to life, the universe and everything they could live their life with purpose. They waited for someone else to hand them meaning to their life.Another example in the book is one of the main characters: Zaphod Beeblebrox. Zaphod does not know what to do with his life. In short, he does whatever amuses him and dismisses the consequences. It is quite a shame, because he is a genius and if he had purpose, he would achieve much greater things in his life (which is limited of course) than theft and riches.The main idea is that you find the meaning of your life; and pursue it, because if you don't--no one else is. Our lives are very limited and you can't just sit there waiting for purpose to come to you; you must obtain purpose yourself. Once you find meaning to your life, you'll find yourself achieving things thought impossible by your former self.

The book's weak points:The book was evidently written carefully; however, it didn't really build to a climax or wrap it all up with its conclusion. It is a 5 book trilogy, which imakes it understndable to not have such a definite and powerful ending. I have read the Harry Potter series and each and every book built up to an extreme climax and made powerful and memorable endings. In this book, I cannot quite see what the author was trying to do with the story. Mr. Adams had a good idea to start with, but did not quite know where or how to continue.

Setting: The galaxy--most of the time was spent on the Improbability Drive on a course for Magrathea. So, it was a dark and the view was occasionally lit up by stars. A small portion of the time was spent on Earth and Magrathea.

232 pages


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