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I was once told by a friend "I don't read SF...but I like the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy"

  • Feb 24, 2011
"I don't read SF...but I like the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy"

That was what a friend once told me. She did not read SF or fantasy, although she did like what we now call paranormal romance.  She liked the Hitchhikers Guide of the Galaxy,

Even if the plot involves aliens, spaceships, planetary construction, plots 6 million years in the making, and transcendental beings, she was convinced it wasn't SF.


I think the tone of the novel, the strongly comedic, and the genius of making the infodumps comedic commentary rather than serious and dry dollops of information. There is a ton of world building in Hitchhikers, as much as any other SF novel.  Adams builds his universe with the same enthusiasm as any hard SF author, but the tone of his world building, and the way he goes about it, feels tongue in cheek.  

Can you imagine a dry and technical explanation of the babel fish going over anywhere near as well as Adams' humorous explanation for it? Or the Infinite Improbability Drive?  A "serious" tone would have made it just another SF novel.  The comedy, however, makes Hitchhikers not only palatable, but an essential part of the SF canon.

I recognize now, too, the characters are recognizable tropes and types. The Everyman, the girl he lost, the world traveler, the politician in way over his head...they are broad characters, but they work, and we identify with them, and enjoy their adventures, trials and travails.

HHGTG is SF for those who don't like science fiction (or don't think they do)--and its for the SF fans, too. 

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February 28, 2011
I'm like your friend, I loved this book the first time I read it and I'm not a big SF reader. Adams has a great writing voice that makes it accessible to everyone.
February 28, 2011
Great review, Paul! This is definitely a good one to get someone started in sci-fi ;) Thanks for sharing!
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Paul Weimer ()
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All 5 books of the The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy By Douglas Adams together in one volume.
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