The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the first in a five-part ‘trilogy’. (Don't ask, it was a typo by the publisher that has remained) by Douglas Adams, adds British humour to sci-fi with biting satire and wit.
On a cold morning Arthur Dent wakes up, goes through his usual routine, gets a cup of tea, sees a bulldozer outside his window and checks the mail. Realising something is amiss, Arthur runs outside to encounter the first of countless problems that will plague him. It turns out Arthur's house has been marked for demolition to build a highway.
This problem pales, however, when an intergalactic demolition crew arrives to destroy Earth. Luckily, Arthur's strange friend Ford Prefect manages to get the two of them off the planet mere seconds before Earth expires. Armed with only a towel, an electronic thumb for signalling spaceships and "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," Arthur and Ford set off. Travelling on a ship that runs on improbability, Arthur and Ford encounter a depressed robot named Marvin; the two-headed, ex-hippie President of the Galaxy, Zaphod Beeblebrox; and the only other human left, a woman named Trillian.
Adams shows his unique style of humour in scenes like proving the existence of God with a fish, showing the effects of improbability on reality, and explaining a drinking game that involves mind power and the answer to life, the Universe and everything. Adams also uses British humour to joke about tea, the United States, poetry and alcohol. There are entire chapters where Adams rambles on about a completely irrelevant subject before continuing with the story. These footnotes are what to me is one of the key contributors to the appeal of the book. Fast readers might find themselves puzzled as the chapters fly by. This is a book to read pensively. Douglas Adams also vividly captures the art of comedy, which is to turn the expected upside down and then twist it once more for good measure.
Overall, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy provides non-stop humour and entertainment for the mature (and immature) reader. Adams captivates readers with his zany writing style and keeps them coming back for more. I’ve just started reading the second part in the series “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe” and the humour is just as deadpan as in the first. For instance, Zaphod Beeblebrox's full name is Zaphod Beeblebrox the Fourth. When asked why, his only response was "There was an accident with a contraceptive and a time machine."…
The five books of the trilogy are entitled:
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
Life, the Universe, and Everything
So Long and Thanks for All the Fish
I look forward to completing the rest of the series. These books are a must read. Go on, you’ve got nothing to lose but £6.99, and you’ve literally got a whole universe to gain.