Sci-Fi comedy seems to be a genre all it’s own; the futuristic setting, alien life forms, and technological advancements lend themselves to a form of humor that is in the perfect position to make fun of the human condition. Douglas Adams takes advantage of this opportunity and explores the universe in such a ludicrous way as to be “mostly harmless.”
Arthur Dent is your average man living an average life in an average house with an average job; everything in his life is either boring or unfortunate. But when he wakes up one morning with a small brigade of bulldozers idling outside his front door he thought his day to be simply bad. Little did he know that this unusually bad day would lead to an absolutely mind blowing future. With the help of a friend/alien, the destruction of the planet, an on-the-run President of the galaxy, and a manically depressed robot, Arthur discovers that life, the universe, and everything therein is nothing anyone could have believed.
This book carries some history for me; I read it and two other books in the series when I was younger and loved them. Then the movie came out and I loved that as well. For those unfamiliar with Douglas Adams and this particular series let me explain: these books are not classics (except possibly cult-classics), they are not the best literary works ever to have graced the published world, and they are not exactly profound documents that provide invigorating examinations of the human condition (though there are some if you are able to stop laughing long enough to look). The best thing I can use as a comparison is The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland but in the future and without the possibility to come out of the rabbit hole. For those of you who are thinking that this doesn’t sound at all appealing you may wish to reconsider, or at least I hope you would consider reading the introduction at the very least. If you are still uninterested then this may not be your cup of tea (a drink that appears very scarcely throughout the book but is greatly sought after).
Purely comedic narratives can be tricky. I don’t know why, but as I sit here writing this review I can’t put my finger on what makes them different. The most conclusive thing I can come up with is that a comedic story never does what you would expect. As a result the reader is in a perpetual state of being caught off guard with each turn of events. For anyone who has read any of Douglas Adams’ work you will be aware that this seems to explain the mind of the man in one sentence. This style sometimes feels like what I imagine it is like to listen to the conscious thoughts of someone with ADHD who is especially bored.
I can think of many things to say about this book, but confusingly enough I also can’t think of anything at all. This, though it makes little sense, is a strangely appropriate mental state when considering the book being discussed. It is both ingenious and idiotic, creative and cliché, as well as wonderful and ridiculous. Everyone should try and read this book, though finishing it is optional. However, as a final piece of advice I would suggest reading this book aloud. As funny as it is in your head, it takes on a whole new tone when read out loud. Anyway, so long and thanks for all the fish.