During my early elementary school years, my father would read me classics in order to “expand my knowledge base.” In reality, I think he just needed a way to force him to read books himself. We moved through “The Lord of the Rings,” “The Chronicles of Narnia” and other such tales until finally landing upon one of the greatest fiction books of all time. The sci-fi epic, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, written by Douglas Adams, kept me enthralled as a youngster.
As Arthur Dent moved through universe after universe, following his insane friends and a depressed robot, I could easily follow along and found it quite humorous even at a young age. Recently, however, I decide to pick it up again and a quite different experience awaited me. While, on the surface, it was just as comical as I remembered, there were many elements of the story that had simply flown over my head.
Throughout the book and the rest of the Hitchhiker’s series, Adams explores many aspects of humanity and points out truths about our world that we simply overlook.
The first book in the series begins with Arthur Dent lying in front of a bulldozer trying to prevent the destruction of his house. This soon becomes a pointless action as an intergalactic fleet of bulldozers arrives to destroy Earth. Arthur manages to escape the demolition of his planet with the help of his friend Ford Prefect and together the pair journey through a ridiculously imagined universe. They soon discover that Earth was merely a supercomputer designed to discover not the answer to the meaning of life (which happens to be 42) but instead the question to which 42 is the answer. Confusing right? The book ends with our protagonist escaping from the clutches of…well…mice, and then the book leaves off with a cliffhanger as the characters decide where to go to dinner.
The subsequent books follow a similar trajectory (and by that I mean there is no trajectory), but do not be turned away by the random path. While it seems to be nonsense, it is simply Adam’s way of surrounding big, somewhat depressing issues in humor. Throughout the book he talks about the stupidity of human interactions with one another, shows that governments are always flawed, and tries to determine just what is the meaning to life.
After reading this, the book probably sounds dense and philosophical. Its not. That’s just what I took out of it. You can easily return to a blissful child-like state and skip the passages of Adams’ opinions. And if you do it is still an incredibly hilarious enjoyable read. What makes “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” great, however, is the fact that it is an entire man’s philosophy in an incredibly enjoyable, 200 page package.