“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 Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
No one told me this bizarre story is as poignant as George Orwell’s Animal Farm and so much more hilarious. But it is. It explores the meaning of “life, the universe, and everything” with a series of peculiarly dull and careless men, mice, and machines. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is one of those books that holds too many quotable quotes and memorable scenes and unassuming characters that I almost hate to do my little review which will inevitably miss and overlook these brilliant things. Almost.
This book’s theme: we are not in control. Zaphod Beeblebrox steals the Heart of Gold, obtains the infinity improbability machine, and accidentally saves Slartibartfast, Arthur, and Ford. Deep Thought spends seven and a half million years answering a single question, the ultimate question that no one understands. A passing thought is sucked into a wormhole causing an intergalactic misunderstanding. And god is a computer. This book is dripping with delicious juxtapositions, paradoxes, and surprises – the sheer magnitude of the universe juxtaposed with the smallness of a human is played with over and over like a yo-yo. Or an intergalactic rollercoaster.
Part of the surprise of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is in the realization of how relatable this ludicrous story is. These galaxy traveling, world exploding, babel fish wearing, mud laying, regular maniacs are living the story of the world we know. These characters experience improbability, pretend to understand the ultimate question, and keep waking up like normal humans who think they are in control but aren’t. It’s all quite hilarious. And dark. Thank you, Douglas, for showing me a new genre and making me feel like maybe I do have a sense of humor.