Book Review The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy | Hamro Patro

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Book Review: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

   Pranjal Khatiwada - Feb 28 2023

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a classic science fiction novel by Douglas Adams. Originally released as a radio serial in 1978, the book follows the journey of a common man across the universe, encountering a variety of odd and interesting characters, worlds, and situations. Adams’s absurd and wry humor in the science fiction genre serves to both entertain and make the reader think about the world around them.

In the novel, Arthur Dent loses his home due to a planned bypass. Fortunately, his alien friend Ford Prefect arrives in time to inform him that Earth is about to be destroyed for a hyperspatial express route. Consequently, the two hitch a ride on a Vogon spaceship, but are forced out into space, where they are eventually rescued by the Heart of Gold starship, bearing an infinite improbability drive. There Arthur reunites with his love interest, Tricia McMillan who was with Zaphod Beeblebrox, the president of the galaxy.

The Heart of Gold takes them to Magrathea, a mythical planet. It is here that they find out that Earth was constructed by hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional creatures to discover the question to the answer of life, the universe, and everything, which was established to be 42 by the supercomputer Deep Thought. However, the group is in danger as the mice who commissioned the building of Earth wanted to purchase Arthur’s brain to find the answer. Luckily, they are saved by the Galactic Police who apprehend Zaphod for stealing the Heart of Gold. Thanks to Marvin, the depressive robot, the group manages to escape after he causes the police’s computer to commit suicide. Finally, the group heads for the Restaurant at the End of the Universe on the Heart of Gold.

One of the major themes in this novel is the idea of a chaotic universe and the insignificance of individuals in the grand scheme of things. Adams employs humor to illustrate the absurdity of life and the universe, such as when the characters realize that the supercomputer, Deep Thought, which was built to answer the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything, is only capable of giving them the answer of “42”. This is meant to demonstrate that, as individuals, humans are incapable of comprehending the true complexity of the universe and are limited in our understanding of the world around us.

Adams uses the concept of individual insignificance to remind readers that, while we may think of ourselves and our lives as important, we are but small players in the grand scheme of things. Despite our search for meaning and understanding, in the grand scheme of things, we are but a speck of dust in the universe. It’s a sad reality that people often try to escape this thinking, and try to go over the top. However, it is sometimes okay to just chill out and go on with the flow of life.

“Just chill out and occupy yourself until you end up dead”
We often find ourselves in situations where we feel lost, trying to make sense of our lives. In these instances, it can be helpful to just “chill out” and “don’t panic” and take it easy, focusing on whatever activities bring us joy and keep us occupied until the end. It’s a reminder that life is short, and that it’s important to make the most of it while we can. Take things lightly, with a bit of a sense of humor, and live life to the fullest.

Adam also uses humor and satire to explore a universe of seemingly chaotic and unpredictable events. The novel uses humor to subvert our expectations of science and the universe, creating a unique blend of comedy and science fiction. The book makes use of science fiction in a way that is unlike other works of the genre. Instead of relying on the rigidness and predictability of the laws of science, the novel utilizes chaos and uncertainty as its primary source of humor. This comes in the form of random and unexpected occurrences, such as the sudden appearance of a giant whale or the planet-building machine that changes the landscape of a world in a matter of minutes.

Vogons are known for their rigid adherence to rules and regulations before they undertake any mission. For those who appreciate order and structure like me, I found these characteristics of Vogons highly attractive. The methodical, organized way in a seemingly absurd world stands out as yet another theme that Adam has explored for the readers to think about.

There were many great characters in the novel. However, I like Marvin, the depressed robot the most. His conversations were often filled with dark humor and sarcasm. He is a symbolic representation of the loneliness and despair of intelligent life in the universe. Marvin is depicted as a robot with a worn-down body and a sensitive mind. He is the perfect example of the duality of intelligence and loneliness that is so common in modern life. In a world where knowledge and understanding can sometimes be a burden, Marvin reminds us to not take life too seriously, and that it’s okay to feel a little down from time to time.

In conclusion, this novel provides readers with a captivating mix of wit, adventure, and thoughtful musings. With its unique blend of humor, creative wordplay, and philosophical exploration, Adam’s novel is an enjoyable and entertaining read. It is a story of immense depth that has spawned several adaptations and sequels for fans to enjoy. Its unique narrative structure, humor, and distinctively British wit make his book an absolute must-read for any lovers of science fiction and comedy alike.

Just remember, DON’T PANIC, and JUST CHILL.

Pranjal Khatiwada
Grade: XII, Lobuche
Deerwalk Sifal School

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