It is an important and popular fact that things are not always what they seem. For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—while all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water and have a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.
Author: Douglas Adams
Synopsis: When the Vogons come to destroy Earth, galactic hitchhiker Ford Prefect rescues his friend Arthur Dent and takes him on a wild tour of outer space.
Notes: I've read this to fill a big hole in my speculative-fiction education. And in the process, I have improved my understanding of a critique partner who would note R17 all over my manuscript, and who told me that referencing the star Betelgeuse might raise unwanted associations to Ford Prefect. I had to Google Ford Prefect then, but now the alien gentleman and I are officially acquainted. So we’ll raise Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters and toast Mr. Pond, who made me read this book.
It is downright hilarious, of course. Humor novels tend to exhaust me—the constant attempt to be funny gets wearing, whether or not it’s successful—but this story did make me laugh a lot. The introductory pages, especially.
Weirdly enough, I expected a lot more resolution than the book actually provided. I don’t know if this means I need to go read the sequels, or if I can just expect that the mice gave up and never finished fixing the very large problem they’d caused. Either way, it's rather uncomfortable to imagine that Earth does not exist. But it's apparently still possible to have a lot of fun and adventure among the stars.
The characters are fun and memorable: the Abbott-and-Costello-like Arthur and Ford, goofy Zaphod Beeblebrox, uncool nerdy Trillian, and Marvin the depressed robot. The events tumble one after another, all of them so unexpected as to leave the reader in a constant state of dropjaw. And in case anyone needs another reason to read it, it’s short.
Recommendation: Read if you want a laugh. I’ll be very surprised if you don’t get one.