An analysis of the theme in hitchhikers guide to the galaxy by douglas adams

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An analysis of the theme in hitchhikers guide to the galaxy by douglas adams

For readers who need it, here is a brief recap. H2G2 — as Gaiman was the first to call the show — started life as a BBC radio sitcom in ; it went out with little publicity, but right away became a hit. The story begins with a man called Arthur Dent, described in the novelisation as "about Luckily for Arthur, though, his drinking pal, Ford Prefect, hitches them both a lift on a spaceship under the command of Zaphod Beeblebrox, a two-headed pan-galactic renegade.

The adventures that follow involve Vogons "one of the most unpleasant races in the galaxy — not actually evil, but bad-tempered, bureaucratic, officious and callous" ; a great deal of faff about the number 42; and the discovery that humans are descended not from apes, but from hairdressers and management consultants.

They also feature a "manically depressed" robot called Marvin the Paranoid Android, whose funny voice came second only to that of Daleks among playground comedians of s Britain: Born in Cambridge in — he was proud of his initials, DNA — he studied English at Cambridge University because he wanted to be in Footlights, then found himself, by the late s, a comedy sketchwriter in need of an idea.

The first novel led, over the next 12 years, to four sequels — you can buy them packaged together, as "a trilogy in five parts". He died suddenly, of a heart attack, inmid-workout at a private gym in Santa Barbara, southern California, where he had relocated with his family a couple of years before.

The Digital Village failed in the great dotcom shakeup, but parts of it survive on h2g2, an interactive resource currently billeted towards the unfashionable end of the BBC website, a bit like Wikipedia except not half so good.

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And once Adams got the imaginary-book thing going, the ways he turned it amount to a typology of the form. Sometimes, the imaginary book is used pragmatically, to shovel off boring lumps of background and exposition.

The book-within-a-book trick, in short, allowed Adams to develop a story that was both unified and modular, tight yet flexible, compact yet potentially infinite.

Within this handy framework, the Hitchhiker stories make up a sort of folk-art depiction, like on a tribal carpet, of the lates English middle-class cosmic order.

So there he is, the hapless Arthur Dent, in the middle, his maths insufficient to grasp even the first thing about his current position, in a county in a country, on a continent on a planet, in a solar system, in a galaxy, and so on.

Even now, the only way I can get the hierarchy right is by referring to the products of Mars Inc. It really was a "Book", a thing of plastic, an actual piece of tech. The Book was brilliantly brought to life in the television series, in two-dimensional line graphics, moving along behind a cursor, like on the primitive arcade games and home computers of the time.

Adams, though, went beyond prophecy not to dystopia — lots of writers do that — but to small-scale obsolescence and disappointment. The infinite improbability drive is "a wonderful new method of crossing vast interstellar distances" which runs on the energy released from ridiculous coincidences; in an explosion of surrealist mournfulness, it transforms a nuclear missile into a fully sentient sperm whale.

The method is a bit like steampunk, in that it proceeds counterfactually, but with careful logic; or like steampunk, only without the steam. An orchestrated explosion of high-end promodrivel is planned to celebrate it: In politics, the so-called postwar consensus was being taken apart by Mrs Thatcher; the BBC itself was one of her many targets, under pressure to abandon its old-style Reithian body politic and sell off bits of itself for scrap.

An analysis of the theme in hitchhikers guide to the galaxy by douglas adams

In Britain, in the early 80s, such unease found a shape, often, in anti-Thatcher activity of one sort or another, and, what with Ronald Reagan in power across the water, a furious anti-Americanism; in post-punk indie music in particular, the fashion was for using small, cheap, home-made bits of technology, as if against what was perceived as a big, dumb and incoming American demolition squad.

This perhaps is one reason Radiohead some years later found themselves doing an album called OK Computer — the title echoes something Zaphod Beeblebrox often says — with a song on it called, of course, "Paranoid Android": It might be the one thing we can manage, and better than sinking beneath the waves.

First the good news. Eagles or no Eagles, that theme tune is still terrific, gleeful and wistful and full of space. So are the animated Book extracts.

The ness of it all is overwhelming. Both my son and I agreed that the show still really rocks. Apparently the part was written with Jones in mind from the beginning — Adams knew him from Cambridge. Not that the poshness is attributable to him alone: Ford Prefect sports a Footlights-friendly boating blazer.

As the Vogons are attacking London, shots are cut in of chaps in Python-sketch-like bowler hats. It is, in fact, intolerably smug and self-adoring, the voice of the British light-entertainment panel-show pantheon. It is, in short, the voice of Stephen Fry. My son was disappointed with the 80s Marvin, mainly because he looks as if someone on Blue Peter made him out of cornflake packets.

It took me years to realise that Adams had chosen it not because it clarified the agonies to which his creation gives voice, but only because it rhymed. Call that job satisfaction? It gives me a headache just trying to think down to your level.

Last year Zadie Smith published an essay about how in her family, television sitcoms "served as.Science fiction news with a science review plus forthcoming UK Science Fact and Science Fiction book releases for the Autumn , also Eurocon / Worldcon fandom, SF author & book trade news.

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