You think you're having a bad day?

If you're going to be anywhere in the Universe - the Horse Head nebula may be the place to be....
As bad days go, it can't get much worse than Arthur Dent's bad day. He wakes up to discover that his house is about to be demolished (by a descendant of Genghis Khan) to make way for a bypass. It couldn't get any worse, right? Well, actually it the whole planet is about to be demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass. And that's only the first couple of chapters of the great first volume in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy trilogy (in 4 or 5 parts depending which edition you're reading).

This is a hilarious and prescient read. So much internet-speak comes from Hitchhikers including Babelfish and (probably) Google. The guide itself is presented in something that sounds surprisingly like Kindle. And all this was written 20 years before the Internet really took off.

Poking fun at the sci-fi genre, philosophy, religion, and the most intelligent species on the planet (take your pick from man, dolphins or mice), Hitchhikers guide is completely unlike anything that came before - although later writers such as Jasper Fforde are clearly influenced by it. It's a great rumbunctious swarm of ideas - sometimes they work, sometimes they don't, but it's completely unforgettable. I sometimes find myself quoting from Hitchhikers even though I've actually forgotten what I was quoting from - it's that sort of novel, the kind that if you enjoy it, it'll get into your marrow and never quite leave you.

With a cast of (literally) out-of-this-world characters including the wonderfully depressive paranoid android Marvin - think C3PO meets Woody Allen, the Errol Flynn of the universe, Zaphod Beeblebrox, and the guy who won an award for Norway - Slartiblastfast, it's a quite unique read. Douglas Adams was a great writer, and it was a tragedy that he died so young.


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