7.0 Don’t Panic
Hitchhiking has always been an alluring thing to me: adventurous (potentially dangerous, to be more accurate), a sense of achievement (when successful) and most importantly – free. The idea goes wonderfully with youth when one has excessive adrenaline, naïve hopefulness and no money. In practice, it is much harder to do than what appears in the movies. It takes a lot of courage to flash your thumbs to strangers at normally remote areas of the world. Nonetheless, the idea of hitchhiking spaceships around the stars – I would kill for it.
The name of the book is quite misleading as the book is not actually about how to hitchhike in between the stars. The title is referring to an electronic book frequently referenced throughout the story. It was a resourceful, sometimes ridiculous, compilation of information of universe. At the time Douglas Adam broadcasted the series, the Wikipedia like electronic portable booklet was quite ahead of its time. Wild imaginations and long baffling names were equally abundant between the pages. In the guide, the description of Earth, as a young member of the universe, was sparse. In fact, Earth has got only one line:
Within the first couple of pages of the trilogy (which has actually got 5 parts, you see, this book was not meant to make much sense), Earth was destroyed to make an inter-galactic highway. Only two human virgin galactic travelers escaped the extinction. They traveled with a vogue galactic president, an omni-depressing robot and a writer for the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. They traveled together in most part, escaping the vicious alien attack, exploring the origin of universe, contemplating the meaning of life and haphazardly saving world.
With its often outright bizarre logic and chaotic parallel timeline, the book was a brain-twisting read. Mice was the most advanced civilization in universe? 42 was the magic answer to the origin of life? Earth was just a giant computer constructed to compute the ultimate question? The man who controlled the universe lives with his cat in a wooden shack? What is inside and what is outside? The secret to flying was just to forget falling?
“If there’s anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now.”
Besides it wilderness, the five parts thick trilogy was also a funny read. The protagonists’ clumsy adventure in a rather fantasy world was an easy page turner. The author also mingled some interesting philosophy in between the laughter and chaos. The book is far from a hardcore sci-fi with coherent future technologies, but it runs with unconstrained imagination. It offers a peek to the pop literature during the early 90’s.
One side note – I can’t imagine anyone who would fall in love with cold sandwiches, however good it is. Sandwich, seriously?