Five novels in one OUTRAGEOUS volume. The best description for this absolutely incredible set of novels. Douglas Adams has just become my favorite writer and The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy my number one favorite book for this year, at least.

I kept reading about this book so many good reviews and I was so happy when I received it as a birthday gift from a very dear friend. But still I wasn’t expecting something as amazing as this. Reading it was a true delight and an infinite pleasure. Douglas Adams creates an incredible (and when I say incredible, I mean truly incredible – meaning you can not believe it) world, or better said, universe.

I started laughing from the first chapter, when reading :

You know,” said Arthur, “it’s at times like this, when I’m trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I’d listened to what my mother told me when I was young.”
“Why, what did she tell you?”
“I don’t know, I didn’t listen.”

And then :

“Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.”
“Very deep,” said Arthur, “you should send that in to the Reader’s Digest. They’ve got a page for people like you.”

The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a set of five novels : 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, Mostly Harmless and the bonus one – And Another Thing…

The series follows the adventures of Arthur Dent, a hapless Englishman, although the story also follows the adventure of other major characters: Ford Prefect, who named himself after the Ford Prefect car to blend in with what was assumed to be the dominant life form, automobiles, is an alien from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse and a researcher for the eponymous guidebook; Zaphod Beeblebrox, Ford’s semi-cousin and the Galactic President; the depressed robot Marvin the Paranoid Android; and Trillian, formerly known as Tricia McMillan, a woman Arthur once met at a party in Islington and the only other human survivor of Earth’s destruction.

The story begins with Arthur’s house about to be demolished, while the Earth is also about to be demolished for a hyperspace bypass. Ford Prefect saves Arthur and they hitch a ride in a Vogon ship, which angers the Vogons. They are released through an airlock and appear in space, and against extreme odds, they are picked up by none other than Zaphod Beeblebrox. From there, they go to Magrathea, where they start trying to find the answer to life, the universe and everything, and once they do, they start looking for the Ultimate Question. They go to the restaurant at the end of the universe, to stop a murderous civilization, and do a lot more, with nothing but their wits and luck, the latter being the abundant.

It’s a science fiction book, abounding in humor. So many jokes and so much irony that it got me laughing so much. Most of the stories seem so absurd that you can only start laughing when trying to imagine them. The language is so natural and easy to read, that once I started reading the book I couldn’t almost stop doing it.

It’s a must read book, a book that, if you don’t read in this lifetime, you will regret it while taking your last breath.

Some lines from the book that really got me :

There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.

“My doctor says that I have a malformed public-duty gland and a natural deficiency in moral fibre,” Ford muttered to himself, “and that I am therefore excused from saving Universes.”

The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.

“Space,” it says, “is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.”

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 — whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man — for precisely the same reasons.

The last ever dolphin message was misinterpreted as a surprisingly sophisticated attempt to do a double-backwards-somersault through a hoop whilst whistling the ‘Star Spangled Banner’, but in fact the message was this: So long and thanks for all the fish.

It is known that there are an infinite number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Therefore, there must be a finite number of inhabited worlds. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the Universe can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the population of the whole Universe is also zero, and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely the products of a deranged imagination.

“He was staring at the instruments with the air of one who is trying to convert Fahrenheit to centigrade in his head while his house is burning down.”

It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.

“Nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws.”

All you really need to know for the moment is that the universe is a lot more complicated than you might think, even if you start from a position of thinking it’s pretty damn complicated in the first place.

In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.

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