I had a friend in college who was a huge fan of this book and Douglas Adams’s writing in general. It bordered on the obsession some Monty Python fans have for a certain holy grail based movie. He even tried to write a story in the same style. I never really “got it” so eventually I bought the book and gave it a shot.

I read a few chapters. Still didn’t get it. Returned it to my shelf. A decade past.

Needing something lighthearted and quick after that last emotionally draining book, I decided to give Hitchhiker another shot. Honestly, I still don’t quite get it. At least I’m not rapidly into it like some people (and if you love it, that’s perfectly fine.)

The late Douglas Adams’s humor is odd. It’s a mix of honest bluntness toward the silliness of society and goofy descriptions, including names. One such example is one of our “heros,” Zaphod Beeblebrox. You just can’t say that name without some sort of facial muscle twitching. I certainly see his humor, and overall the story is likable, it just isn’t for me so much.

But what did I like about it?

Marvin, the chronically depressed robot, is hilarious. I wanted more of him. He didn’t seem to have much point in the book, but how he (it?) could be a downer about anything, even being saved from doom, was terrifically amusing.

Dolphins.

The cover. I have the Ballantine books edition from 1995 with raised font.

What are those floating easter eggs and what do they have to do with this book?

I know now where babel fish comes from. Always thought that was an odd name for a translation site. But now it all makes sense.

Much of the dialogue is amusing. It’s quick and matter of fact. I think it’d work very well as a play.

It’s short. I could have read it in a day if I wanted. Some books these days are getting painfully long. I’m a man, I don’t like to commit unless it’s worth it.

The planet building civilization was an interesting concept. I wonder if it’s explored more in the sequels.

After a decade when sci-fi had a surge in popularity, Adams delightfully skewers its staples.

The +10 to my geek stat for reading.

Otherwise it didn’t get much of a rise out of me. So while I don’t know if I’ll read the others, the book is very hard to dislike. I enjoyed finally having exposure to all of those pop culture things I’d either vaguely understood or didn’t get at all. Thank you, forty-two. After all, that is the answer to life’s greatest questions.

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