Douglas Adams’s The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is one of my favorite novels of all time. The story is interesting, the characters are likeable, and the humor is almost always spot on. There were very few times when I was reading the novel when I felt the story was lagging or the characters were losing their personality, two issues that are often the most problematic for me when reading novels and short stories.
What drew me into the hitchhiker’s guide at first was the flat, frank humor. Even in written form all of the book’s narration feels as though it’s being given in an ironic deadpan. As far as the humor goes I’d liken the book a lot to the “Monty Python” sketches – the same sort of wacky silliness takes place throughout the book. What makes the humor so much more appealing, however is that it is used is scattered throughout many of sci-fi’s biggest clichés to give the book a light, satirical tone. My personal favorite play on sci-fi was in the way that flying was explained. That achieving fight was simply a matter of falling and accidentally missing the ground, and that although the falling part was fairly easy, actually missing the ground was quite difficult. Many people, Adams writes, “fail to miss the ground.”
During class we saw the first few minutes of the BBC version of the Hitchikers Guide the Galaxy Movie. I noticed that a lot of the humor was kept intact and that the story and characters seemed to be remaining true to the novel, however I couldn’t help but feel that the movie lost some of the charm that the book had. Something about transferring British comedy into a written format made it feel a lot more accessible to me; In the film, all of the actors and the settings are clearly of British origins and inspiration, and because of that the story felt a lot more foreign. Seeing the BBC version, however, did make me want to watch the newer version that was released in theaters to see how it measures up to the book.