Douglas Adams was born in 1952 in Cambridge and he grew up in the East End of London. In middle school he was already the best student in school. He was the only student that ever gained a ten out of ten mark for creative writing. His first book came out in the year 1979. This book was called the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is the first book in a series of five space travel-themed sci-fi books. The book is based on the life of Arthur Dent and his friend Ford Prefect. Arthur Dent is just a normal person from the West County in England while Ford Prefect is actually an alien from a planet in the vicinity of Betelgeuse. Arthur doesn’t know that his friend is an alien. Ford has come to Earth because he had to do research for the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The Hitchhiker’s Guide is an encyclopedia which has information about everything and more. In the book is often referred to articles in the Guide.
The book starts with Arthur waking up in the morning and him noticing that there is a yellow bulldozer standing outside his house. When he asks the bulldozer driver what is going on, the driver responds that his house is going to be demolished because there has to be room for a new bypass. Arthur decides to lie in front of the bulldozer. This is the first time Ford Prefect shows up in the book. Ford walks to Arthur while he is lying in the mud and asks him to come to the local bar and have some beers. This is mainly because Ford needs to tell Arthur that he is an alien and that the Earth is going to be destroyed that day. After Ford had told the bulldozer driver that he wasn’t allowed to knock over the house in the time they were gone they went to the pub.
Nobody in the bar really believed the story Ford told about the fact that he is an alien and the Earth is going to be destroyed until they heard a loud sound outside. The sound was coming from an enormous spaceship that was roaring through the sky. The spaceship sends a message to Earth in which they say that the Earth needs to be destroyed because it has to make way for a new bypass for the space travel highway. This is one of the many examples of the great sense of humor of Douglas Adams. The book is filled with irony.
A few seconds before the Earth is destroyed Arthur and Ford manage to get onto the alien ship. This was made possible with a device called the ‘electronic thumb‘. The ship is actually part of the Vogon Constructor Fleet. Vogons are known to be the ‘Most unpleasant races in the entire Galaxy’. Therefore, the Vogons will throw any unwanted people off their ship. The only thing worse than being thrown into space is having a Vogon read you his poetry before throwing you into space. This particular ship is run by Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz. He doesn’t like most things, but he especially hated hitchhikers. When the guards find the two stowaways he decides to throw them off the ship after he has read them some poetry.
In the meantime, the book describes a scene in which the President of the Galaxy, Zaphod Beeblebrox, steals the ‘Heart of Gold‘ spaceship. This scene has at the first look nothing to do with the actual storyline, but the two storylines come together a little bit later. This happens a short while after Arthur and Ford are thrown out of the Vogon ship.
The chance that someone is picked up in the thirty seconds that you are alive in open space after you are thrown out of a spaceship is almost zero, but Arthur and Ford actually manage to do this. They are picked up by Zaphod Beeblebrox in the ‘Heart of Gold’. This was all due to the ‘Improbability Drive‘ in this ship. This is quite an important thing in the book, because it is the reason that Arthur meets Trillian, who is a girl he tried to pick up at a party. Also because of the drive they discover the legendary planet Magrathea.
On Magrathea they discover that the Earth was actually a computer which was built to give the answer to the Ultimate Question.
Here I wrap it up for the book summary. I do this because it’s not the assignment to write the whole story again, but my main reason for this is that my book report is becoming WAY too long.
I think that ‘The Hitchhikers Guide’ is one of the funniest books I have ever read. This is due to the brilliant form of irony and the British humor. The book isn’t really hard to read if you’re not a native English speaker. However, there are a lot of terms and names Douglas Adams has made up, but it’s sometimes unclear what these words mean. The book has gained a cult status with science fictionfans all over the world. For example there are a lot of companies which have the number ’42’ in them (the book claims that ’42’ is the answer to the question of life, the universe and everything).
I recommend this book to anyone. It is a very amusing book which is easy to go through.