The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams [These notes were made in 1988:]. This piece of radio whimsy reads rather oddly. It works best if one actually imagines it being spoken aloud in a dry tone by someone with a BBC accent, which is hardly surprising, since that's how it first reached the world. I found it amusing and quick -- it runs only 152 pages -- but I'm surprised at its staying power. Certainly it has that undertone of contemporary relevance which fortifies all good fantasy, but there's nothing particularly profound about its insights, nor is there anything especially attractive about either its peripatetic plot or its oddball characters. There's Arthur Dent, everyman from Earth [just noticed the awful publisher pun:], who is saved from Earth's destruction at the beginning of the story by a somewhat cynical space traveller, a sort of cosmic version of the students who compile the Let's Go books, named Ford Prefect. There's a two-headed President of the Universe turned spaceship thief called Zaphod Beeblebrox, and they all fly around the universe in this spaceship which runs on improbability. This is the source of much amiable nonsense. But one suspects that if it hadn't garnered a cult following through radio (and, Dad says, a TV series), they would not still be reprinting these flimsy whimsies.