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A thumb for Hitch-hiker [Mar. 9th, 2005|08:57 pm]
[Current Mood |exanimateexanimate]

I have a confession to make, and rather a painful one for a geek like me.

I had never read The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Until now.

I don't exactly know why that is. I've owned the big compendium book for years and made a stab at it a couple times, but never really got anywhere with it. The movie is coming now, however, so I decided to pick it up in paperback (the big compendium book having run away from home at some point, it would seem), and give it a go. I've also watched some of the TV series and listened to some of the audiobook. Why I never finished any of them still remains a bit of a mystery to me, but that has all been rectified with the purchase of a $7.50 paperback.

First of all, I was surprised at how slim it was. I think I've been avoiding it partially because I believed it much more of a time commitment than it turned out to be. I picked it up Sunday evening, and have already finished it without trying all that hard.

Second, reading THGTTG at this point is a bit like watching Casablanca for the first time in your 30s. You already know the bulk of the story and the best lines. The one thing I noted as I read along is that, despite this colloquial familiarity, I had no notion of how the book actually ended. Now I know why. It doesn't so much end as rush to a halt. As humor, it is quite entertaining. As story-telling, it kind of blows.

Nevertheless, I now feel prepared for the movie. Go me.

[User Picture]From: darthfox
2005-03-10 02:13 am (UTC)
does your Compendium Volume have the introduction from mr. douglas adams where he explains that the radio show was kind of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants affair, and the novel came out of that, so it did in fact just kind of -- end? the subsequent books (a) get progressively weirder, to the point where so long is way out there and mostly harmless is too weird for me on most days, but (b) come to more graceful conclusions.
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[User Picture]From: tevriel
2005-03-10 02:24 am (UTC)
What you said. Although I thought Mostly Harmless sucked for reasons other than weirdness. (If you want maximum hitchhiker enjoyment, IMO, it's still a trilogy in four parts. And even So Long is semi-optional, since the main story is pretty much finished by Life, the Universe and Everything and then it's sort of "So what happened to them after that?)

But... yeah. The first book is based on the radio show, and inherits all its situation-derived problems. The books themselves as books get better. It's a bit like judging Terry Pratchett by The Colour of Magic (e.g. non-accurate).

The other advantage to reading the rest of the books is that you get some new material. While there was Hitchhiker radio show that went past the events covered in the first book, it's a whole 'nother plot entirely.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-03-10 02:59 am (UTC)
Dunno. Can't find it. But I was aware of the origins. It was a fun read.
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[User Picture]From: kagomeshuko
2005-03-10 02:20 am (UTC)
I've never read THGTTG. I am even semi into geek culture and have watched some of the TV show. I'd watch it as I fell asleep because it was on late.

I'm 22, and I finally saw Casablanca about a month ago, I guess. . .

And, first comment? (well, at least it said there were no comments when I went to post this. . .I don't know. . .and don't really care.)

Stein Auf!
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[User Picture]From: losgunna
2005-03-10 02:21 am (UTC)
Honestly, I had no use for HHGTTG. Just didn't find it that entertaining.

Dirk Gently, however....
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[User Picture]From: tevriel
2005-03-10 02:26 am (UTC)
I'm that way about the Simpsons.

Dirk Gently ruled.
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From: trillian_dent
2005-03-10 02:55 am (UTC)
Douglas Adam's reading Dirk Gently :)
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[User Picture]From: tevriel
2005-03-10 03:06 am (UTC)
I cannot parse that sentence in a way that produces meaning for me. Could you expand, please?

My best guess is that you are voicing an approving sentiment to a Douglas Adams reading of Dirk Gently, e.g. audiobook, and the apostrophe is just misplaced. Am I right?
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From: trillian_dent
2005-03-10 03:29 am (UTC)
You are, indeed, correct (commenting when very tired).

DNA just does an incredible job of reading both Dirk Gently and Long Dark.
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[User Picture]From: trillian42
2005-03-10 03:17 am (UTC)
Nice username :)
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From: trillian_dent
2005-03-10 03:30 am (UTC)
It was either this or some obscure reference to Vogon poetry. :)
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[User Picture]From: wilfulcait
2005-03-10 02:37 am (UTC)
I've never read it either.
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[User Picture]From: brujah
2005-03-10 03:25 am (UTC)
I never read it, either, sweetie. But my reasoning is completely illogical: My ex wanted me to read it and pushed and shoved and generally waved it around to the point that I grew sick of the sight of the damned thing.

He still asks me if I've read it and I still tell him to go fuck himself.

*sweet smile*

If I had a brain I'd take it out and play with it and most likely? I'd lose the damned thing. :P
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-03-10 08:59 am (UTC)
Back to the Future.

That's the movie I tried to get my ex to watch that he steadfastly refused. For years.

Imagine my irritation when I learned that he loved it because his new wife loved it.
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From: cktraveler
2005-03-10 04:02 am (UTC)
Actually there's a reason it ends so abruptly. Adams was so far past his deadline when writing it that the publisher called him up and demanded the manuscript IMMEDIATELY. Adams finished the page he was on and sent it right in.

The actual ending of the story is the end of Restaurant at the End of the Universe, which is also where the first series of the radio show ended. That's where you have the thematic symmetry and the character development arc and such.

The subsequent books each tell self-contained stories that follow on from there. Life is actually a reworked rejected Doctor Who script that reads more like Dirk Gently with space travel. So Long was added afterwards to give a satisfying conclusion to the series.

Mostly Harmless was written because Adams was sick of people demanding another Hitch-Hiker's book, and I recommend skipping it ...
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-03-10 09:03 am (UTC)
Oh, so I'm not done. Back to the search for the runaway compendium....
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[User Picture]From: dharawal
2005-03-10 04:32 am (UTC)
Quite frankly, HHGTG has lost its' charm, I found it screamingly funny the first time i read it, and i have all the books in a couple of ways, singularly and in compendium.

But then I found Terry Pratchett, and Pratchett is so much more funny, and pithy and profound, his humour leaves Douglas Adams so far behind, that even if DA had lived, I don't think he would have ever caught up in the funny stakes.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-03-10 09:04 am (UTC)
Have read some Pratchett and enjoyed him much. Did notice some similarity.
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[User Picture]From: djeu
2005-03-10 09:18 am (UTC)
Not that much a fan of sci-fi, but I still knew it was one of those books you should read eventually, so I got the 5+1 edition late last year, and tried reading it.

The first one was good.
The second one was nice.

The problem is, I stopped reading at some point during the third and fourth because it was TOO weird for me. I don't know, but for me the book kind of went beyond that realm of believability thing, like instead of being immersed in the book, I just had no involvment, and didn't care anymore. I usually enjoy weird or nonsense humour, but this just felt like way too much.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-03-10 09:38 am (UTC)
Yeah, I can see that. Fans say that the first two are the best.
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[User Picture]From: wolflady26
2005-03-10 10:41 am (UTC)
I've felt that way about a lot of things - like your beloved Star Wars. I never watched the whole original trilogy until its re-release, when I was in my 20's. By then, I knew who Luke's father and sister were, and the whole series didn't impress me all that much. That impression was made only worse by the new trilogy, which I thoroughly loathed. And like you said, Casablanca was like that when I finally got around to seeing it.

It's also why I put off a lot of classics. I didn't see The Godfather until a week or two ago, because I figured it would be a similar experience, though it turned out I really liked it. It can be hard to break the habit of not watching something! :D
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[User Picture]From: channelpenguin
2005-03-10 04:29 pm (UTC)
My re-reading of HTGTTG 'trilogy' in my early 20's (original reading was at age 10 or so I think) made me realise all the philosophical/cosmology/physics ideas that DA was obviously pretty au fait with that I'd only caught up in reading about in the intervening years. I could appreciate a lot more in the books than I had originally.
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[User Picture]From: apostate_96
2005-03-10 06:56 pm (UTC)
Congratulations on rounding out that aspect of your education! And, yeah, it's definitely one to read for the humor value as opposed to story. But it still makes me laugh, and has lines that my friends and I like throwing back and forth at each other...
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[User Picture]From: finding_helena
2005-03-10 08:24 pm (UTC)
I never actually read it either, because I listened to the radio plays and read the scripts, and after that the books seemed too redundant. But I am familiar with the basic story because of the radio plays.

I haven't seen Casablanca either, and since I'm living with an old-movie-phobe, I doubt I'll get around to it anytime soon.
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[User Picture]From: cosmicbandit
2005-03-10 08:39 pm (UTC)
I've read the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th books but for some reason I have never gotten around to the start of it all.
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