This is the funniest book in the whole galaxy.
It is the first in the classic “5-part” trilogy involving Arthur Dent and his friend Ford Prefect. Arthur Dent is grabbed from Earth by his friend Ford Prefect, whom he just found out is an alien, moments before a cosmic construction team demolishes the planet to build a freeway. They are aided by the Hitchhiker’s Guide which offers such insights as “a towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have” and as well as galaxy of fellow travelers such as Zaphod Beeblebox, Vogons, and old and tired Slartibartgast.
This series, obviously attracts Sci-Fi readers, but will also be enjoyed by Anglophiles, Monty Python fans, world travelers, and well, anyone who is looking for answers to the questions that really matter. This book deserves a perfect score of 10 stars and should be reread at least once a year.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy starts out by telling you about Earth. More so the guide itself. The Guide is a galactic bestseller everywhere but on the planet Earth. Ford Prefect is a field correspondent for the Guide stationed on Earth and fully aware that the Guide has forgotten about him. His best friend is the Earthling Arthur Dent. Arthur’s boring life in the West Country is changed one morning when contractors pull up to his house in order to demolish it to make way for a bypass. After making a quick diversion and going to a local bar, Ford alerts him that he is actually from a planet somewhere near Betelgeuse and that they have to get off the planet before it’s demolished. An alien race of bureaucrats called Vogons intend to destroy Earth to make way for a “hyperspace bypass“.
After escaping onto one of the Vogons’ ships with seconds to spare via hitchhiking, and then being read Vogon poetry (the third worst in the known Universe) as a form of torture for sneaking onto the Vogon ship, Arthur and Ford are thrown into open space. They are inadvertently picked up one second before asphyxiation by the Heart of Gold, a ship which was stolen (as opposed to launched) by President of the Galaxy (in a government unheard of on Earth) Zaphod Beeblebrox, who happens to be Ford’s semi-cousin. The ship is piloted by Zaphod and Trillian, whom Arthur once met at a party, and attended to by clinically depressed android Marvin. Ford and Arthur learn of Zaphod’s immediate intentions for the ship: finding the legendary lost planet of Magrathea, which supposedly built luxury planets. When they do, Arthur meets an old resident, Slartibartfast, who tells him some rich clients (known to humans as mice, which are three-dimensional representations of hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings that only had representatives on Earth to monitor its progress; the mice in question were in fact thought by Trillian to be her pets, though if anything the case was the opposite) have reawoken the Magratheans from cryosis for one more job. The planet to build is Earth Mark II, to replace the now demolished Earth Mark I, which the Magratheans built not as a planet but an organic supercomputer to calculate the Question, not the Answer, to Life, the Universe and Everything. The Answer is already known to the mice. As Deep Thought told them, the Answer is 42, but this only makes sense if the Question is known. Earth was, in fact, demolished five minutes before the Question was calculated.
The mice explain it will take too long to wait another ten million years for the Earth Mark II to produce the Question when, as a last-generation organic byproduct of the computer’s matrix, they could simply find the Question imprinted in Arthur’s brainwaves. Of course, they have to kill him and remove his brain, prepare it and dice it. Fortunately, a distraction is caused by way of the Galactic police, who come to arrest Zaphod for theft. Before the four of them are killed by the police in the chase, the officers’ life support is cut off and they die. Back at the Heart of Gold, they find Marvin, their savior—he had plugged his external feed into the policecraft’s input port and uploaded his horribly depressing views on life. The craft responded by committing suicide, in an act that took the on-board life support system with it.
Zaphod decides to take the Heart of Gold to the restaurant Milliways, and their story continues in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.
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