For me, it's a bit like Monty Python's Holy Grail. I saw it alone as a young teenager and I just didn't really get what the fuss was about. But there were a few things that struck me as brilliant, like the glimpse of the guards just about to throw a cocunut attached to a pigeon just to settle once and for all the movie immersion-breaking issue of how that coconut got there (we don't see if it works). On further watchings the Holy Grail seems more brilliant than I expected, and I've gotten more out of it, but it's... well, hype is hype.
The HGttG style is also a bit unique, often inverting and twisting ideas in a way uncommonly stated. Needlessly so, often. And it just absolutely revels in it.
A word of caution about the series: it starts off with a silly apocalypse and really eventually gets dark. Like you, I may also be placed in the Total Perspective Vortex for this, but I really recommend slogging it through to the sixth book. It's only half Adams or so, but it's certainly a necessary palate clenser after the fifth book and I think it revives the spirit of the first. (By the way, I am absolutely certain both the Question and Answer show up in context with each other, but you've really got to get to the end of Mostly Harmless, and that story is anything but.)
Keep in mind too that nothing about the Hitchhiker's Guide is canonical. It always changes when adapted to TV or radio or movie, and it has a damn hard time being consistent with itself. Which is also part of the fun.
This seems to be a rule with absurd humour. The good bits are golden, the average is quite mediocre, and then in popular culture old the good bits are remembered so that the thing end up being overall overrated. Same with Monty Python
I imagine Adams would be thrilled to hear you think his work is absurd. He makes fun of things that are overrated
It's satire.. The idea is to make fun of logic. Especially, logical logic
If you're reading for content and not stopping to appreciate the words, you might be missing the point. Reading Adams is a bit like reading poetry in this respect. Consider slowing down or, if this doesn't work, listening to the radio play. HHGTTG was originally written for radio after all. You might also consider watching the BBC TV series from the 80's. Unlike the movie, it's actually pretty funny.
Hopefully, you'll come to appreciate that Douglas Adams was a man who really knew where his towel was.
I read it when I was maybe 12 or 13 and could still really enjoy Monty Python. I read it a year or two ago and liked it a lot, but probably at least partially out of a sense of nostalgia.
But it's treatment of abstract ideas was, to me at the time, both entertaining and interesting. The book (among many others) setup a young "me" to appreciate some of the more serious philosophy that I read later in my early teens and 20s.
Thinking back on it, I was introduced to the radio show first (I had a 2nd generation bootleg, on cassette). Maybe that made me ready for the characters?
"Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (read by Douglas Adams)"
Try to track it down. I found it very enjoyable to listen to.
I first read it entirely on accident. I was maybe 12ish, and technically "on vacation" visiting my father and his mother (neither of whom I was close with), and got dragged along very early one morning to go garage shopping. One of the sales had this HUGE purple hardbound book for only $1. It was the version that had all 4 novels and the Zaphod Plays it Safe short story (this was long before Mostly Harmless was released). I figured for $1, any chance of mental escape from being forced to awkwardly hang out with relatives I didn't have anything in common with was worth a chance. Plus the book was huge. I went in with zero expectations and fell in love with it pretty much instantly.
Thing is, the Guide (the local translation of the radio play and then the book) was about my 4th or 5th science fiction thing ever (after some Star Wars and Star Trek I had seen in TV, and some occasional book, probably Heinlein), and for a ~12 year old, it was a formative experience. Not a single Monty Python or Dr Who contact prior to that.
The author had been reading and writing sci-fi for decades, and he was asked what he considered to be the "golden-age" of science fiction, whether it was the material he first read in the 30s or 40s, or later.
I can't remember the exact reply, but it was along the lines of:
"The golden age of science fiction is ... 13. At 13 you are just becoming aware of the world around you enough to really comprehend the ideas in the story, but your personal experience is limited enough that it is all still new, and your mind is blown.
Therefore the golden age of sci-fi is whatever sci-fi you were reading at 13."
Possibly Peter Graham, looks like that's to whom Hartwell attributes it too.: https://books.google.com/books?id=uYs2NbD-d4oC&pg=PA81&lpg=P...
I mostly had the same reaction when reading the books some 15 years ago. I won't go as far as saying that I didn't find it enjoyable, but it wasn't the "laugh out loud" experience I was expecting given its fame and popularity, especially in my/our (as in nerdy/techy) circle.
Eventually that kind of humor (also later discovering Monthy Python and Terry Pratchett) grew on me, and more than anything I is meant to provoke is a smile, more than a laugh (although it certainly can) and now I remember the characters and situations fondly.
Also, I find it has a sort of meme-like quality, making it "funnier" as people (and you) keep referencing to it and you understand the reference.
You might have missed your window.
I would be curious to know how you feel about Fear and Loathing, and anything by Hemingway.
Are you in book 4? I had to crawl my way through book 4 a bit, but once you get to book 5 it is well worth it.
What do you usually associate the quotation with? :)
To each their own and whatnot.
It's how I got into it.
A quick note to Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy newcomers, your mileage may vary depending on your background. I read all the books when I was a kid, and absolutely loved them. And when the most recent film came out, a bunch of engineer friends and I went to see it. Me and the other British friend howled with laughter throughout, but the two other (from India and Brunei) looked utterly baffled. So, it may, based on this limited sample, play better to those with a British sense of humour...
As a kid, Douglas Adams was my first major introduction to British humor, and questions about "what does that mean exactly?" drove me to learn a lot more about it.
"Green Wing": http://www.amazon.com/Green-Wing-Plus-Special-Format/dp/B00C...
(As well as "Black Books" "The IT Crowd" etc).
It was nice that the original Marvin and Simon Jones (Arthur Dent in the original radio and TV versions) had cameos though.
> There is a feeling which persists in England that making a sandwich interesting, attractive, or in any way pleasant to eat is something sinful that only foreigners do.
> “Make ’em dry” is the instruction buried somewhere in the collective national consciousness, “make ’em rubbery. If you have to keep the buggers fresh, do it by washing ’em once a week.”
I ate some sandwiches in the UK. They were dry and rubbery
"The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't."
"The knack of flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss."
(I've forgotten which book it's from)
Let me know if there's anything I'm missing.
It's arguably bad UI, as I'd imagine most people would expect functional buttons to be at the top of a full-page UI, and not shoved down to where you usually have a status bar or footer. The coloring and flat design doesn't help either, as it looks like some sort of badge rather than a button.
PS Love the idea of your calendar and hope to consult it....
My personal recommendation is to grab the audiobook version that's read by the Douglas himself. As an American, there's a little bit lost between British/American English and some of the humor is missed (sometimes changes are even made -- in the American version of the book that I have "Biscuit" is replaced with "Cookie"). I'm an audiobook junkie (speed reading has killed reading fiction for me) and I usually stay away from books narrated by the author because the quality of the narration suffers. Such was not the case with Adams' narrations -- they're excellent and I picked up on several things that I missed from my original (several) readings.
I was very sad when he passed -- a heart attack while working out that was probably complicated by his legendary drinking. It was almost sadder when the latest book came out as evidence that nobody could pull off that series but Adams.
The books and the author are endlessly quotable (and recognized by nearly every programmer I've ever worked with), but my favorite of his -- from the Dirk Gently series -- is "Let us think the unthinkable, let us do the undoable, let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all." I use it every time a project is proposed that someone thinks is "nuts" or "impossible" and it sits on the background of my Visual Studio code editor as a reminder. :)
That's awesome. I need to find time to reread these. Thanks for sharing
Alas, our office was broken into one day, and about the only thing the thieves took was the little CD player hooked into our phone system next to the reception desk that played the series which we had on CDs (the thieves also took the CD boxed set after smashing one of the discs on the floor - making the stolen set basically worthless). Sad day.
The interview contains a version of one my favourite stories of his starting at 2:55. The whole video is worth watching.
Edit: To save the unknowing a link click, May 25th was two weeks after Douglas Adams' passing.
According to Prak, it is impossible for both The Answer and The Question to be known in the same universe; should someone know both the question and the answer, the universe would cease to exist and would be replaced by something more bizarre and inexplicable. The narrator teases the reader that another theory states that this has already happened before.
I posit that the Ultimate Question is, "How many times have the Ultimate Question and Ultimate Answer been known, and thusly the universe been eradicated and replaced by something more bizarre and inexplicable?"
Sounds like quantum stuff which would be right up Douglas Adams' alley. Cool theory, CiPHPerCoder! I'd agree you've nailed it
As upsetting as the recent death of great musicians and authors have been, no one's death hit me as hard as DNA's did. The thought of no more Svlad Cjelli stories always fills me with sadness.
Fondly remember meeting him briefly at the big bookstore near ULU in London to sign it when it was released.
Sometimes I regret I gave it to my then-girlfried ;)
― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: nonhitchhiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, washcloth, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet-weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitchhiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitchhiker might accidentally have "lost." What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the Galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.
That usually gets people hooked enough that they don't need encouraging to go find and digest most of the rest of they have time.
(note: I never listened to the original radio series, that might be even better)
I am a big fan of his work and thinking about all the books he did not get a chance to write tears me up even now.
I just haven't fully processed his death yet, I am currently reading all the 30+ Pratchet books in my collection.
I always know where my towel is. Every day is Towel Day for me.
Thank you, Douglas Adams!
French : Fait comme, espece de heuapy freaup.
Nederlands : U bent een froopy hoop.
Long live the King - Long live Belgium.
I'm sorry : I'm talking complete bollocks. It is friday night.+